6 Degrees of Harry Potter III
This past week J.K. Rowling set the twitterverse ablaze with a cryptic message that had Harry Potter fans chomping at the bit. The tweet was in reference to the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which currently is in the early stages of pre-production. We’ll have to wait until November 2016 before we get to return to the world of muggles and wizards, but in the meantime we can play a little 6 Degrees of Harry Potter while we wait.
Last time we ended off with the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw played by Kelly Macdonald; so this is as good a place as any to begin. Before she was Nucky Tompson’s wife on Boardwalk Empire she was married to Josh Brolin in the Coen Brother’s brilliant 2007 No Country for Old Men. This movie gets better with every viewing. The Coens won a best picture Oscar for their story of a man on the run after he finds 2 million in cash at the scene of a horrific gun battle. Javier Bardem plays the sociopath hitman who is employed to retrieve the money. He is easily one of the most menacing villains in recent film history and oh that hair. Along with the great performances; what makes this movie so compelling is what the Coens’ chose to omit rather than reveal that really propels the story. We never get to see the huge confrontations in the film only their aftermaths. Even the sound design is minimal, no action movie soundtrack is added, only the atmosphere and dialogue of the scene are there to ratchet up the tension. Along with Josh and Javier, Kelly shares the screen with Woody Harrelson.
Woody has come a long way from playing the lovable but naive bartender from Hanover Indiana on Cheers. Last year’s True Detective was a revelation, along with some of his other performances like The People Vs Larry Flint or The Messenger, but the performance I want to talk about today is that of Roy Munson: the one handed bowler in Kingpin . This movie is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine and I would have to say Bill Murray’s Ernie McCraken is comedy gold. According to legend, the scene at the end of the film when Ernie bowls three strikes in a row wasn’t edited together but actually accomplished by Murray. The crowd’s reaction is genuine.
The crowd’s reaction to The Monuments Men was genuine as well; genuine indifference. I really wanted to like this film, it had so much going for it: great cast, true story and (my personal favourite) art history, but it couldn’t make up its mind what kind of film it wanted to be. Some parts tried to pull at your heartstrings where others tried to create suspense, neither with any real payoff. The movie had no real flow; you could literally shuffle all the scenes and play them in a different order and it would have made very little difference. Everything felt a little forced, especially the little Ocean’s cheekiness tacked on at the end….. ‘oh those guys’. And what guys they had: along with Bill, there was John Goodman, George Clooney and Matt Damon.
Matt Damon plays along Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Martin Scorsese is undoubtedly one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and Jack Nicholson is considered one of the greatest actors of our time, so it pains me to say, this is not one of the greatest films of all time – despite the fact it won best picture the year it came out. It feels really heavy handed to me and I blame it on Nicholson. His performance has the subtle nuance of a Black Eyed Peas song. He is more cartoon in this film then when he played an actual cartoon character in Batman. There’s still a good movie in there but it could have been great. The star studded cast goes deep with support players like Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin.
Alec Baldwin is the narrator in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. It is hard to believe, it has been 10 years since Gene Hackman has starred in anything. He is perfect as Royal Tenenbaum who lies and cheats his way back into his estranged family’s lives. This movie too gets better with every viewing.
Gene Hackman is far and away from his lovable rogue persona of Royal compared to the calculated menace of Little Bill in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. This movie as well won for best picture and deservedly so. Clint Eastwood returns to his Western roots with a taught tale of revenge, redemption and damnation. Richard Harris plays the
Duck Duke of Death who is run out of town by Little Bill. Richard Harris also plays a little know character known as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
There goes another 6 degrees (best picture edition).