Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Video Reviews - A Billy Bob Thornton double

50c videos and time at home can be a time consuming occupation. Fortunately, I restrict myself to one a week.

The Man Who Wasn't There

I watched this one last week, being that I had seen it in the shop and thought that I might like it, but strangely never got it out. This is perhaps one of the darkest comedies possible, either that or it isn't funny. Filmed in black and white, humour as black as can be, and an actor who makes depression seem like delight, you might be challenged to see any light at all. But Billy Bob Thornton is a cool actor, for whom I have gained a lot of respect. He is one of those solid actors who can be the complete character, and despite appearances has quite a range (as evinced by his Oscar-winning turn in A Simple Plan).

Here he is the lead role and narrator of the story, an unaspiring barber in a routine mundane life. He is suddenly impelled to actually do something different, to finally try to better himself... but a series of consequences consume four lives including his own (and also breaks the clavicle of Scarlet Johansson's character Bitsy).

Watching it was almost reminiscent of reading The Outsider by Camus, in the numbness that the lead leads. His murder of a friend, the trial leading to his own impending execution are all just humdrum excursions on his way through life.

It was a cool movie to enjoy, as long as you are unhurried.

Monster's Ball

This week I decided upon Monster's Ball, mainly because of seeing the other Billy Bob Thornton movie the previous week, but it turned out to be a good choice. I only knew that Halle Berry won an Oscar for her role, a deservingly so.

The movie is almost one long unmitigated personal disasters for all concerned. All of the disasters had large repercussions except for one, the very last one when suddenly it becomes obvious to Leticia (Berry) how fate has dealt to her yet again. But she takes it silently and in that way the film elegantly ends, Leticia swallowing the pain and learning to accept.

As long as you are prepared for the most depressing of melodramas, I highly recommend Monster's Ball simply because it is honest and unflinching and in a heartbeat, moving.

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