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Nov 20, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Lions for Lambs; Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

A couple short takes so that I can catch up before the holiday:

Lions for Lambs
When your in high school (or maybe college), often times, though not often enough, your teachers might bring in a movie to demonstrate a theme or analogy to the current events of the day. Covering the Civil War in history class? Watch Glory. Covering Watergate? How bout All the President's Men? Not coincidentally, the star of that film is the director/co-star of this one, which I might show if I were covering the ongoing war in the Middle East.

A bit unfortunately though, the movie feels a bit too much like class, which (as I alluded to with the marketing efforts previously) is probably the chief reason it's failing at the box office. It's preachy. It's lecture-y. It doesn't feature splashy action or much of a plot to speak of, and the sets are sparse, to say the least.

But that's a shame, because Robert Redford has a clear message for its audience, and it's a powerful one that gives the film an edge over most political thrillers these days. It's not ambiguous - in fact, the message smacks you over the face. You! Are you pissed about what's going on with the war, or in general with this country of yours? Do something about it!

It resonated with me, and it's worth seeing.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Do yourself a favor and don't read reviews for this movie (except this one, of course). I read two for this heist-gone-wrong flick, after the fact, and was glad I didn't beforehand, as both revealed a pretty significant spoiler pretty nonchalantly. Don't make the same mistake.

This is an actor's showcase, a film with few characters that is owned by each of them. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke play a pair of brothers seemingly on different paths in the world. A plan to grab some cash is hatched, it goes horribly wrong, and what's left is a pretty gripping drama of desperate people doing desperate things that only pile up as time goes by.

Worth a look for the performances by Hoffman and co-star Albert Finney alone. The fact that it was made by 80-something Sidney Lumet is just icing on the cake.

Fletch's Film Rating (for both):

"Darn tootin!"

2 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Lions for Lambs; Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

Sheamus the... said...

devil is on the list...

Linda said...

Just found your blog thru IMBd, well done! I really liked both these films as well. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead may just get the #1 spot on my "best of" list this year. I'll be out here reading!