Monday, January 09, 2006

Always Bet on Black

This is a swell movie and was also a swell movie years ago when it was Crimes and Misdemeanors. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is perfect as lucky Irish jerk Chris: his fleshy, saturnine face, tumbling speech and penetrating glare bubble up through his plucky tennis-pro persona and reveal the murderous voluptuary beneath. It’s hard to believe that he also played Gimli the perverted dwarf in Lord of the Rings. Emily Mortimer is delightful as his clueless GFF Chloe Hewett, Matthew Goode is note-perfect as her brother Tom Hewett, whose job is to be thin and jolly and handsome and have a wonderful time. Scarlett Johansson plays Nola Rice, who starts out on a delightfully subtle, vulnerable note before mega-morphing into a shrieking harpy, but she is always very good at acting and such. E. Hastings pointed out that Rice looks like she’s about to burst into tears whenever she’s discussing her acting non-career, although in real life Scarlett Johansson is a famous actress! Talk about movie magic! The movie’s central question, whether it is better to be lucky or good, is interesting although of course you don’t really get to choose that kind of thing; it also suffers a little from trademark Woody Allen intellectualism (i.e. Chris ostentatiously reads Dostoyevsky early on so we know he has depth). The direction and cinematography are invisibly assured and perfect (and reminds me why filmmakers rely on the small vocabulary of traditional pans, pushes, etc.), and the soundtrack is an amazing selection of famous, scratchy opera performances. All in all, this movie made me think it would be very nice to be an immensely wealthy person in England, and also that it is not nice to do murders. Recommended viewing for people who are trying to decide between these two options!

1 comment:

Boots said...

ACtually, Chris ostentatiously reads Dostoevsky early on so that we know he's a social-climbing striver/schemer, which you can tell because he reads it with the Cambridge Companion and also because he no less ostentatiously brings up Dostoevsky with the dad later on in the movie. So in fact it's to show us, Ari, that Chris has NO depth. Personally the Chris character reminded me of a working-class British Pat Bateman, but that's just me.