Give me a little clarity in the theater

Now that an agreement has been reached in the Hollywood writers' strike, the Academy Awards telecast will go off as planned. I love to watch movies and enjoy watching the awards to see if my opinion matches up with the voters. I've seen three of the top contenders for Best Picture this year and while each was fantastic, I'm noticing a disturbing trend among the storytellers that I don't think I like.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Now that an agreement has been reached in the Hollywood writers’ strike, the Academy Awards telecast will go off as planned. I love to watch movies and enjoy watching the awards to see if my opinion matches up with the voters.

I’ve seen three of the top contenders for Best Picture this year and while each was fantastic, I’m noticing a disturbing trend among the storytellers that I don’t think I like.

 “No Country for Old Men” is one of Joel and Ethan Cohen’s best. Javier Bardem’s character is the baddest, most amoral character — along with the one with the worst haircut — ever to appear on film.

Interestingly, when I saw it, the theater was filled with old people. I was the only one in the audience under 65, I would guess. My son said they probably thought from the title it was for senior citizens.

If you haven’t seen “No Country,” but plan to, you might want to stop reading here, because I’m going to reveal the ending. Rather, I should say “how it ends,” because I sure as heck did not understand it enough to reveal anything significant.

Tommy Lee Jones, who plays an aging sheriff, is seated at a kitchen table speaking to his wife. He was droning on about a dream he had had the night before and my mind wandered momentarily. Then I looked up and the credits were rolling.

We don’t know for certain whether the lead character played by Josh Brolin is dead; the same for his wife; and what happened to the money?

While perhaps it was just over my head, we never know for sure because we never see them. And what did that dream have to do with anything? I don’t know. I had quit listening.

I wanted to rewind it and listen to his dream again but it was in a theater and not on my DVR.

Then I saw another hot movie, which is nominated for the Best Picture Oscar — “There will be Blood.”

This one stars Daniel Day Lewis, who apparently lives in a cave somewhere and only emerges every five or six years to accept a role — but it’s always a good movie.

Actually, “There Will be Blood,” shared several similarities with “No Country:” both took place in the past; both are set in the Western U.S.; and both feature amoral leading characters who think nothing for sticking it to their fellow man.

But most disappointing, both had endings that did not make sense to me.

I don’t know, maybe I have adult ADD or something. While I enjoyed the heck out of both of these movies, I left each feeling somewhat empty, unsatisfied and confused.

I think I prefer a movie in which we see the bad guy get his comeuppance; the hero get the girl; and the good guys come out on top. I don’t even care if the bad guy gets off scott free; the girl cheats on the hero; or the good guys finish last, as long as I can understand it.

Such was the case with the other Best Picture nominee I saw this year — “Eastern Promises,” another great film. Vigo Mortensen is a bad guy who wants to do good and does; the bad guy is sent off to prison and Naomi Klein gets to adopt the orphaned baby. All is right with the world.

That’s how a movie should end — in a nice, neat tidy package — and I hope it gets recognized for it. I don’t want to see directors rewarded for befuddling the audience — it will only encourage them to do it more often. I’m confused enough by real life as it is. I want a little clarity in my leisure time.

Comments

Rusty Shackleford

Oops. I've erred, apparently. "Eastern Promises," it turns out, is not a Best Picture nominee. It should be. Mortensen, however, is up for Best Actor. Sorry for the error.