What movie was that...?

28 February 2011

Funny Games

directed by Michael Haneke

Michael Haneke has done this before. No, seriously, he has. Funny Games is a scarily close remake of his earlier work of the same name (some have even claimed that it a shot by shot remake. Almost, but not quite), and Haneke’s genius has never been more apparent than in these twin horrors. I’m all for appreciating the original (in the case of a remake situation), but when the author of both films is the same person, and his remake is crazy similar, I would encourage you to see both, but to not be ashamed of preferring the newer over its elder sibling. In light of that statement, let me make it known that I love the 2007 remake just slightly more that its OG counterpart, and so I will be reviewing the Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet gem. Even at the very beginning, Haneke seeks to disorient the audience with a fantastically jarring opening title sequence (that music!) in which a seemingly well to do family heads to their weekend getaway. Things take a turn for the horrific when two young men turn up at the lake house and pose a friendly challenge to the fam: try to survive the night. Yes, yes, I understand Haneke’s critique of society’s bloodlust slash desensitization via the depiction of violence in the media. Yes, I get it that Haneke’s vision grew to become not only more prophetic with the passage of time, but more pertinent (especially as his remake seems to comment directly on such trash as the torture porn horror of the Saw and Hostel films). These things are entirely valid and do contribute to the artistic value of Haneke’s work, but where Funny Games truly leaves its counterparts behind is in Haneke’s ability to horrify through insinuation, to overwhelmingly disturb in a universal, cosmic sense with hints, innuendo and dark, dark humor. Funny Games will knock the hell out of you, it will cause you to wring your hands into oblivion, and with hardly any traditional onscreen violence. Every actor in the film delivers some of their best work, the cinematography is brilliant, and directing will leave you breathless.

Note: Funny Games is one of those films that my little brother wrote off as Eurotrash exploitation (he never saw the original, and would hear none of my pleadings), but when I duped him into actually watching the remake, I managed to convert him. If you ever run into him, just ask, “Hey DC, what did you think of Funny Games?” 

27 February 2011

Oscars 2011, Best Picture

As I wait with bated breath for our annual celebrity shmoozefest to begin, I will share my thoughts on the Best Picture category.

Best Picture:

Deserves it: The Social Network- David Fincher strikes back after his Benjamin Button travesty to craft a meticulously meticulous and cerebral critique of Generation Text (wow, that was a horrible pun, BC).
Winter’s Bone- Debra Granik’s tale of family ties has truer grit than many of the other noms this year. In fact, if she takes home the Oscar, I will be just as happy as if Fincher gets one for the trophy case.

Doesn’t deserve it: Toy Story 3/ True Grit- These were good films, but come on, Academy. In fact, I am inclined to deduct quality points from any film featuring a Randy Newman song (I’m looking at you, TS3). And as far a True Grit is concerned, I talked in my earlier review about the Coens having some sort of reaction to regular folks claiming that their movies “always end so weird. What’s up with that?”, instead allowing their film to linger past its natural expiration date.  

Screwed: Fish Tank- Watch out, AMPAS members, because if Andrea Arnold had her druthers, she’d chuck a brick through each of your windows. No love at all for one of the finest films of the year. What gives?!

26 February 2011

Oscars 2011


Drum roll, please. It’s a little late, but here are my thoughts and gripes about the sham that is the 2011 Academy Awards. As always, my personal winners will be receiving homemade awards. So, you’re welcome, Jennifer Lawrence.

Let’s just go right on down the line, leaving best picture awards for last.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Deserves it: James Franco- While I don’t think this is a Best Picture kind of film, Franco’s genuinely stunning performance was superb.

Doesn’t deserve it: Jeff Bridges- He was great, to be sure, but I kind of feel like I saw this performance already in Crazy Heart, only dirtier this time around.

Screwed:  Casey Affleck- Michael Winterbottom’s borderline exploitation film, The Killer Inside Me, was mostly miss, but Casey Affleck’s talent cannot be tamed.
Jim Carey- I love you, James Carey (get it? Because of I Love You, Phillip Morris? It was awesome. Go see it.)!

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Deserves it:  John Hawkes- I thought the award was clearly Bale’s for his wild genius in The Fighter, but I have come to my senses, and John Hawkes is an untouchable miracle in Winter’s Bone.

Doesn’t deserve it: Mark Ruffalo- Like Bridges in True Grit, Ruffalo was great in The Kids, but not award caliber.

Screwed: A 2 way tie betwixt Michael Fassbender, who was astonishing in Fish Tank, and Josh Brolin for his nightmare inducing bad guy in True Grit.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Deserves it: Jennifer Lawrence- There were some excellent performances this year, but there’s really no question in my mind about who came out on top. Jennifer Lawrence.

Doesn’t deserve it: Annette Bening- Sorry, Ms. B. Your particular yet hip lesbian mom routine left me wanting.

Screwed: Katie Jarvis- Katie Jarvis was a marvel to behold in Andrea Arnold’s stunner, Fish Tank. For shame, Academy.
Hailee Steinfeld- How in the hell is Steinfeld’s integral and inspired turn considered a “supporting role”? I guess the silver lining is that she is guaranteed the win now, since she doesn’t have to go up against Jennifer Lawrence.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Deserves it: Hailee Steinfeld- In a room full of badassery, none can hold a candle to Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. It was close race, though, Melissa Leo.

Doesn’t deserve it: Helena Bonham Carter- I love you, Helena, but stoic and mannerly does not an award caliber performance make.

Screwed: Hailee Steinfeld- How you managed a supporting nom out of this deal is bull. Maybe you need to give Rooster Cogburn a call to have him hunt down the bastard who killed your Lead Actress nomination.
Also screwed: Rebecca Hall in both The Town and Please Give. Did you not see these films, Academy?

Best Animated Feature Film:
Deserves it: The Illusionist- Usually, I just cite how outclassed all other animated films were by Pixar, but Chomet’s The Illusionist is a treasure. Go see it.

Doesn’t deserve it: How to Train Your Dragon- As evidence by the scant 3 films in this category, I’m sure Dragon is only there to make it a 3 horse race.

Screwed: Sadly, as always, there are too few animated films to declare a screw job.

Best Art Direction:
Deserves it: The King’s Speech- The courtroom gasps as BC goes against his deep rooted filmic values and roots for the dreaded “period” film. The proof is in the wallpaper, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

Doesn’t deserve it: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Come on, Academy! Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan had 6(!) filmic points of reference. Really? Wasn’t the task for you two just “hey, let’s just make this look exactly like the other films.” And Warner Brothers probably just gave you the key to the HP storage bloc. Yeah, truly difficult.

Screwed:  The Social Network- The visual equivalent of seeing inside Jay Gatsby’s home, festooned with teak furniture and social privileges just beyond your reach.

Best Cinematography:
Deserves it: Jeff Cronenweth- The Social Network was enragingly stunning in terms of visual style. Bravo, Mr. C.

Doesn’t deserve it: Roger Deakins (True Grit)- My hand is trembling as I type this. Don’t hunt me down, Mr. D. You are still my hero. It was those awful long shots of Bridges and Steinfeld riding through the nighttime desert that lost me.

Screwed: Bill Pope (Scott Plgrim vs. The World)- Your cinematographic stylings rocked and rolled. Lame, Academy. Lame.

Best Directing:
Deserves it: David Fincher- It was a perfect storm, and Fincher is Poseidon. All hail the Fincher.

Doesn’t deserve it: Oddly enough, the Coen Brothers didn’t nail it with True Grit. It was off somehow, and it went on too long (you should have ended it with Mattie in the hole, Joel and Ethan. You know it’s true).

Screwed: Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)- He shouldn’t win, of course, but anyone who can keep that many plates a-spinning deserves some recognition. Come on!

Best Documentary Feature:
Deserves it: Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz- Exit Through the Gift Shop entertains and subverts the genre it simultaneously elevates. Mad props!

Doesn’t deserve it: Inside Job- This doc was great, but jeez, does the Academy HAVE to nominate every political doc? I would almost rather see Babies up for a nom than something easy like this.

Screwed: RIZE- Every year it’s the same grudge from me. David LaChappelle, your lack of recognition for your filmic triumph is like my JFK assassination. And I will one day unmask the grassy knoll shooter, mark my words.

Best Film Editing:
Deserves it: Jon Harris (127 Hours)- Hell yes, Jon Harris! You edited the hell out of Danny Boyle’s frenetic opus.

Doesn’t deserve it: The King’s Speech- I loved the film, but it was very by the book (for me, that is).

Screwed: Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)- Again, anyone who can keep this many tantalizing elements in order and deliver such a dazzler deserves at least one trophy of a golden man to put on the old mantle. Seriously, this was like the editing equivalent of a Sleigh Bells album.

Best Foreign Language Film:
Deserves it: Dogtooth- Giorgos Lanthimos crafts a film that is one part bizarre, one part- well, it’s all parts bizarre, but the result is something truly astounding.

Doesn’t deserve it: Micmacs- Seriously, Academy, just because it’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet does not mean you need to automatically- wait, what? The Academy didn’t nominate this oddly paced and inconsistent fairy tale? Oh, well good job, then. Finally, we agree on something.

Screwed: A Prophet- Simply put: it was amazing.
Best Score:
Deserves it: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: the duo crafted a stellar score that resonates like nobody’s business. And subtle as hell.

Doesn’t deserve it: See the screwed section.

Screwed: Tron: Legacy- Are you going to look me in the eyes and tell me that the whimsy of John Powell’s score out-charmed the distorted electro genius of Daft Punk’s score? You know, Academy, it’s like I don’t even know you.

Best Original Song:
Deserves it: Every other song but Gwenyth Paltrow’s musical trip to the dentist, Country effing Strong. If this song represents the best the film has to offer in terms of music, then it will be a sad year for film. Somehow, though, I knew this atrocity as going to be nominated, just like I knew, deep down, what was going to be wearing the little red coat at the end of Nicholas Roeg’s classic film, Don’t Look Now. It didn’t make it any less horrifying, however.

Doesn’t deserve it: I think I just covered it.

Screwed: Every song written for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World- The songs were perfectly crafted to represent each musical character (the bands), and each song worked to forward the story. Isn’t that what great songs are supposed to do? Did I miss something?

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Deserves it: The Social Network or Winter’s Bone- Both of these films speak volumes, in vastly different ways. Aaron Sorkin does it in The Social Network by actually speaking volumes, and the result is verbal jousting and dialogue lyricism at its finest. Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini allow the quiet to speak just as much as the words, which is a feat and wonder to behold.

Doesn’t deserve it: Toy Story 3- you really have no business being in this category, TS3.

Screwed:  The Town- Chuck Hogan’s fiction about Boston’s many sides is the stuff of classics, and writers Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard adapt the novel into a time bomb of an action drama.

Best Original Screenplay:
Deserves it: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (The Fighter)- The writers craft a juicy morsel for every actor and actress to sink their teeth into, even Sugar Ray himself. Nice work.

Doesn’t deserve it: Lisa Cholodenko, and Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right)- I liked the film, but I didn’t love it.

Screwed: Nicole Holofcener (Please Give)- Holofcener’s story about manners, guilt and the right thing to do is biting and endearing in every way. Asleep at the wheel again, Academy?

Kids

directed by Larry Clark

After reading another stellar review for the film La Haine on the fantastically fantastic blog, On the Road Again, I found myself thinking about Larry Clark’s dark slice of life, Kids, penned by the twisted mind of Harmony Korine and acted by a full roster of (at the time) no name actors all hungry to make themselves heard. While La Haine is a more fully realized film in terms of story, a more rewarding and, frankly, stronger piece of filmmaking (great review, Paul), Kids is a staggering portrait of modern youth, of egocentric, amoral and pre-life experience cynicism that cares for nothing beyond its immediate orbit of instant gratification. The film revolves around Telly (a great Leo Fitzpatrick), who prefers to screw virgins because they are clean, and his quasi-junkie friend Casper. Casper and Telly roam the streets and find numerous situations (of varying degrees of legality) to fill their otherwise aimless day, while Jennie (a career defining performance by Chloe Sevigny) seeks out Telly to deliver some terrifying news. Clark’s filmic eye disturbs, even in broad daylight (and in public), but it is Korine’s script that shocks to the core. Perhaps I just don’t get Mr. K. Perhaps I miss the point of his films the same way I sometimes miss the point of some modern art, but films like Gummo (just typing that title sent a shudder through me), Julien Donkey-Boy and his epically disturbing opus, Trash Humpers (if you are having trouble visualizing what sort of film would possibly have a name like that, please watch the following trailer immediately), leave me exhausted and icky. As I have said before: I am all for pushing the boundaries of film and taking the art form to the next level, but shock for shock’s sake is not my cup of tea. I am not ready to write Mr. Korine off just yet, however, because I feel that one day, as I watch whatever oddity comprises his latest endeavor, his collective vision will finally click for me and I will be able to see his work with new eyes. Until that day, though, I will remain an odd duck in the film geek world: a full on lover of all things indie who somehow cannot embrace the Harmony Korines and the Todd Solondzes (Storytelling, Happiness) of the cinematic world.

Let’s not get it twisted: La Haine and Kids are NOT the same film. I just find myself talking about these two films in relation to one another because of the closeness of their release dates, the cosmic similarities in terms of subject matter (disenfranchised youth, urban violence), and the overall feeling of heaviness (to quote Marty McFly) that seems to cloud the world after imbibing in such harsh tonics. Both are worth watching, however.

Please, don't shoot the messenger:

23 February 2011

Back to the Future

directed by Robert Zemeckis

Since I am on the topic of things that were awesome in 1985 (and still are, btw), I guess I had better talk about Back to the Future, one of the finest time travel films ever to be made. And it’s all thanks to great writing, great directing and great acting. Michael J Fox pressed hard to play Marty McFly, working day and night while simultaneously starring on Family Ties, and the result is something truly perfect, never to be duplicated. Christopher Lloyd is iconic as loony but brilliant Doc Brown, and Lea Thompson is a spitfire dreamboat as Marty’s mom slash romantic pursuer (come on, we all know the plot). And leave it to Crispin Glover to bring a whole new level of strange to an otherwise (on paper, that is) quirky yet endearing supporting role. Huey Lewis brings his A game to the soundtrack, and Zemeckis turns his shit up to 11 to create a good to the last drop sci fi comedy that is guaranteed to put a smile on any face. Until Shane Carruth unleashed his titanic sci fi mind job, Primer, Back to the Future was probably my favorite time travel film, and the film is just as funny, just as enthralling, and just as much fun as it was the very first time I saw it. I know I have reviewed this film before, but it was just sitting there on my movie shelf, begging to be watched.

And just in case you want to have a little fun...

21 February 2011

Pee Wee's Big Adventure

directed by Tim Burton

With a freshman debut like this, it’s a wonder how Tim Burton found work after Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. This is not to say that the film is bad (far from it), but that it was so wonderfully strange, so wonderfully peculiar that it threatened to alienate a lot of people. Lucky for us it didn’t, and Burton went on to make the excellent Beetle Juice, then direct the hell out of Batman (which was, at the time, the most expensive film ever made). Paul Reubens is the comic responsible for a lot of things (some of which are a bit on the blue side), but Pee Wee Herman, his man child personae, has endured in a way all his own. Back when Max Headroom was hawking Coke and The California Raisins were trying to get us all to read (ugh, what a nerdish thing to reference, BC), Pee Wee Herman was building massive foil and rubber band balls and hanging in his playhouse with his zany friends (hark! Is that Laurence Fishburne dressed as a cowboy?), and it was his big adventure that started it all. It was Mr. Ruebens who saw the potential in Burton after glimpsing the epically odd short film, Frankenweenie (dubbed unsuitable for children and never released by Disney), and it was the perfect storm of weird that made Big Adventure so amazing. Be forewarned, those of you who haven’t watched this film before: Paul Ruebens is a taste not savored by all (my dad hates him with a passion), but for those of you who “get it” (I know, I know. What a subjective phrase.) will find yourselves greatly rewarded.

Funny Note: There is a scene at the end of Big Adventure, when everyone is watching the film of the film (you’ll see), and Pee Wee himself has a cameo in his own film. His voice is absurdly dubbed (to hilarious effect), and I remember the first time I watched Lars Von Trier’s amazing film, The Element of Crime, in which Von Trier has a cameo of his own. Let’s just say that when I regaled the story of the segment to my brother, I referred to it as a real “Paging Mr. Herman” moment.

14 February 2011

The Dilemma

directed by Ron Howard

I’ve spent the last few weeks eating all my art film vegetables like a good boy, so don’t judge me for stuffing my face with a little cinematic junk food. Ron Howard’s dud is exactly that, by the way, and it shows. Vince Vaughn rocks his usual snide but somehow kind of lovable shtick as Ronny, who catches BFF Nick’s (a predictably rotund Kevin James) wife cheating with studly mystery man, Zip (who else? Of course it’s Channing Tatum!). Ugh, I can feel my acid reflux acting up just recapping the tired plot, and no doubt about it, kids: The Dilemma is tired in every way. In fact, the only glimmer of promise in the whole film is, surprisingly, Channing Tatum, who brings a strangely enigmatic level of weird to the otherwise generic “mistress” role. Hive five, Mr. T. Channing Tatum is a wild card in that he can make such trash as Step Up (AND Step Up 2: the Streets) and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, yet somehow redeem himself with earnest performances in Stop-Loss (which was surprisingly good, btw) and this film. I can’t get a read on you, Tatum, and for that reason, you intrigue me. The Dilemma is, unfortunately, a film as bland and lifeless as it seems, and only those film geeks with a true desire to glimpse every glimmer of hope, however dim the surrounding context, should even give this film a chance.

12 February 2011

The Kids Are All Right

directed by Lisa Cholodenko

I judged this film right from the outset (despite so loving many of the actors and actresses in the film), having only watched the trailer with halfhearted disdain, but I’ll be damned if Lisa Cholodenko’s film, The Kid Are All Right, didn’t make a believer out of me. Cholodenko also co-wrote the film about the trials of the modern family with Stuart Blumberg, and she displays a true eye for all things minor and significant. It doesn’t hurt when such talent as Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo bring their A game to roles that could easily fall into a clichéd disaster of progressive BS. Ruffalo delivers a fantastic performance as sperm donor Paul, as well as facial expressions that are as priceless as some of Steve Coogan’s gems in Hamlet 2. And holy hell, Julianne and Annette: you two have always been exceptional actresses, some of the finest of your generation, but these performances rank among your best, most effortless work yet. The Kids Are All Right is a must see, and it is guaranteed to pleasantly surprise. No love for Julianne this season huh, Academy? You should be ashamed of yourselves. And you should also be ashamed of yourselves for not nominating Hailee Steinfeld in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category. Seriously, did you even see that film? But I digress, and I will always give credit where credit is due. I apologize for doubting your film, Lisa.

P.S. Never fear, fellow film geeks, for my annual critique of the good old Academy and their infinite genius will be happening very soon.

11 February 2011

Black Swan

directed by Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky is a bold filmmaker, and I mean bold in the explorer, philosopher, alchemist sense: a true visionary who refuses to acknowledge any limits. In (that’s Pi for all you literature majors), Aronofsky delved into the mind and the metaphysics of mathematics. In Requiem for a Dream, he showed us the darkest heart of a life unsnuffed, a hellish downward spiral of lingering trauma, and in The Fountain, he bravely salvaged a film from the rubble of flaky A-listers who felt the need to drop out of classics in the works so they could star as mythological heroes in lesser projects (there’s a back story here. Go find it). In The Wrestler, Mr. A gave us a ramshackle opus about the will to survive, and with Black Swan, Darren probes the psyche with a zealot’s fervor. Natalie Portman is her best ever (even better than her revelatory turn in Léon) as Nina, the fragile perfectionist who fears what might happen if she lets herself go. When her director (a reliably stunning Vincent Cassel) casts her as both Odette and Odile in his new interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Nina’s nerves begin take their toll, and she struggles to reconcile the two personalities she plans to embody. Portman and Mila Kunis (in full on, spectacular siren mode) set the screen ablaze with all sorts of chemistry, so don’t sit too close to the screen (or you’ll get burned. Get it?). Black Swan is trippy, twisty, and tantalizing; a true blue, swing for the fences feat that is as heady as anything this side of Mulholland Drive. Cinematography-wise, I wasn’t thrilled: I’m just not a fan of that sort of washed out, sort of “realistic” lighting that shows us life’s flaws. It reminds me of when the lights come on in the bar at 2am and you get a good look at the creatures of the night. Chilling. But hey, that’s a personal preference. I’m more partial to the ornately elegant look of The Social Network (this year, at least), but I would take a vibrant, David LaChappelle cinematographic gut punch, RIZE-style, any day of the week.

10 February 2011

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

directed by Tommy Lee Jones

A tidbit for the brain pan (and a potential Trivial Pursuit question): Did you know that Tommy Lee Jones and former VP Al Gore were dorm mates in college? It’s true. And now for the review:

Tommy Lee Jones quietly and fiercely directs this fantastic Western about friendship, betrayal and the strength of a man’s word. And Barry Pepper is in top form as Mike, who comes with Pete (Jones) to fulfill a vow made to a friend. The film bears a weight that comes through the screen, and director Jones brings the no nonsense style that has come to defining his acting presence. The result is a staggering and stoic piece of filmic art, as well as a wonderfully indispensable addition to the grand Western canon. 

09 February 2011

127 Hours

directed by Danny Boyle

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of a hiker who gets trapped by a boulder and must drink his own urine to stay alive, finally freeing himself by sawing off the pinned appendage and miraculously escaping the wild. Urban legend? It was until it actually happened to a guy in 2003, and Danny Boyle spins the true story of Aron Ralstin like the hyper kid in school who just couldn’t sit still. Think of 127 Hours as the polar opposite of Gerry, Gus Van Sant’s vast, ethereal, (I felt like throwing an Oxford comma there, for old time’s sake) and horrific film about being trapped in the wild. Those of you who know what I am talking about, great. Those of you who do not know what film I am talking about need to go watch Gerry immediately. There are extended segments on Gerry where silence overwhelms you, but Danny Boyle’s film about isolation and survival drips with energy and electricity. Boyle films like a man possessed, and his work shows a zest and a passion eternally renewed with each endeavor. But a film like this is a house of cards that must rest upon strong shoulders, and Boyle lucked the hell out with James Franco. Franco, who I have come to really respect as of late, plays Ralstin with no frills naturalness that disarms as well as astounds. Is it Oscar worthy? I don’t think so, but it is still well worth the watch. Claustrophobic types: consider it immersion therapy. 

04 February 2011

The Fighter

directed by David O. Russell

I won’t bother you with the real life details concerning Irish Mickey Ward and what made him outstanding as a boxer, but I will say this to Mr. O. Russell: you got mad squabbles, kid! Russell crafts possibly his finest film about a Lowell, Massachusetts family of fighters who bust ass to realize their dreams. Mark Wahlberg has delivered most of his best work while in Russell’s care (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabess), and he exceeds even my expectations (which were high as hell) as Ward, the too nice for his own good bruiser with a body shot like nobody’s business. Amy Adams is fantastic as Mickey’s hardass girlfriend, Charlene, and Melissa Leo busts every ball in her path as Alice, the tough as nails matriarch of a family of scrappers. But the film belongs to Christian Bale, who plays former boxer (and Mickey’s older brother) Dicky Eklund with such wildness, such visceral desperation and such honest force that he renders all other contenders for Best Supporting Actor irrelevant. And this is a marvel in itself, because not only was Jeremy Renner a time bomb in Ben Affleck’s incredible film, The Town, but Geoffrey Rush amazed me in The King’s Speech. In all honesty, I thought the award belonged to John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone (he still gives me chills), but that was before I watched Russell’s gem. Bale’s performance is one that will linger, as will the amazing screenplay. The tricky part about the genius of the script, however, is something hard to pin down, and I truly wonder how much of what is said (especially during the tense argumentative sequences) was actually written on paper prior of filming. Like Blue Valentine, the film resists key characters delivering key lines that “resolve” the situation, instead allowing life to happen in front of your eyes, life in all of its frustrating, enraging, unfair power that will move you in ways you may not enjoy. Russell is a true filmmaker, and Wahlberg was too right to convince him to get on board. He fills each frame with a tender grit that compels you to interact with the film. I still think David Fincher deserves the Oscar for best directing (Social Network), but if Russell takes it home, I would not be disappointed.