I thought “No Country for Old Men” was simply god-awful. Because the Coen brothers, who manage to give new meaning to self-indulgent, have concocted a movie that is extremely violent and totally pointless, the critics have labeled it a modern masterpiece. Movie critics, nearly without exception, are as gullible as the O.J. jury.
These same critics also gave multiple thumbs-up to “There Will Be Blood.” This is another very long, violent movie that also makes no sense at all. My idea of Hell is having to sit through this and “No Country for Old Men” on a double bill. Everyone is talking up Daniel Day-Lewis, the star of “There Will Be Blood,” for an Academy Award. I find that a little odd because throughout the entire movie he sounds exactly like John Huston in “Chinatown.” Maybe the point of this homage was that whether a man’s insatiable greed is for water or oil, he will inevitably wind up with the exact same voice.
Another problem I had with the movie is that it’s extremely dark. I don’t mean its subject matter, I mean its lack of illumination. It’s one thing when the action, such as it is, takes place below ground level, but even after the villain is very rich and living in a mansion, it appears that he can’t afford anything but 20 watt bulbs.
Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much from “Sweeney Todd,” not being a fan of director Tim Burton or star Johnny Depp. What I did expect -- especially in a musical -- is that I’d be able to understand the dialogue and the lyrics. The truth is, after wasting 20 minutes trying to figure out what the heck Depp and Helena Bonham Carter were saying and singing, I simply threw in the towel. My wife, who stuck it through to the end, reports that every five minutes or so somebody got his throat cut.
For what it’s worth, two friends of mine who have been active in motion pictures, claimed the reason I couldn’t figure out what was being said was because the sound mixing was so bad. That doesn’t surprise me. Tim Burton is so concerned about the way his movies look that he pays scant attention to anything else. However, I think that this time around he had a hand in the hair styling, as both Mr. Depp and Ms. Carter wore theirs the same odd way that Mr. Burton wears his.
That brings us to “The Kite Runner,” which, unlike most of the others, had something to say about actual human beings. The only drawback was that it had a tedious second act and, so, it seemed to take a terribly long time saying it.
Some years ago, my wife, who goes to many more movies than I do, observed that scenes taking place in public restrooms had become commonplace. That struck me as highly unlikely, but I soon discovered that she was right. At one point, in fact, I saw four or five movies in a row and each one of them had a conversation or a fist fight taking place in a men’s room. I don’t know in what parallel universe these movie makers dwell, but not only have I never seen a fist fight in a bathroom, but I’ve rarely heard two words spoken in such places.
For my part, what I’ve been noticing is that a fair number of movies have adopted the rape of males as a plot device. Whereas I don’t recall its ever being employed during the first 25 years or so that I was seeing movies, I have now come across it in “Deliverance,” “Prince of Tides,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Mystic River” and now “The Kite Runner.” That doesn’t include “Brokeback Mountain,” where sodomy was the order of the day, but at least it was consensual.
To tell you the truth, I find myself longing for the good old days when every movie didn’t last close to three hours and a guy could be humiliated and still keep his pants on.