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The Way of the Gun (2000)
What line from this movie sums it up, more or less? "Almost Every Line from the Movie"
"The Usual Suspects": brilliant, innovative, Oscar-winning screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, creative low-budget directing from Bryan Singer, giving the film a visual flair and some overall superbly directed action scenes.
"The Way of the Gun": screenplay by and directed by McQuarrie himself. I thought: "this should at least be interesting? Del Toro is in it?" Yeah, let's watch that.
The opening scene is, in my mind, a classic. It shouldn't be spoiled by trailers of people, so I'm not going to.
Then the opening credits follow. They introduce us to the awe- inspiring score by Joe Kraemer, who's been composing for movies that are insulting to his dramatic abilities as a composer. The score, at that's no-one but the director's fault, practically saves a big chuck of the movie.
The movie starts dragging before you realize it. But it's okay, at first, because of some truly brilliant, "it's-like-Mamet-had-sex-with-Tarantino"-"pieces of dialog writing.
"There's always free cheese in a mousetrap."
"Karma's justice without the satisfaction. I don't believe in justice."
And, my personal favorite:
"The only thing you can guess about a broken down old man... is that he is a survivor." Wonderful performance by James Caan.
Then you have two secondary characters (of which there are way too many in this film): Taye Diggs & White-Mexican guy. White-Mecixan Guy is the serious one. (always bad if you remember the name of the actor and not the character - no one says "Brad Pitt in Fight Club", they say "Tyler Durden says...")
Ryan Philippe plays Parker. That name you'll remember after seeing his performance. Philippe surprised me. I only knew him from "IKnow What You Did Last Summer", which was more fun-then-freight, and "Cruel Intentions", a good and somewhat underrated attempt at modernizing "Les liaisons dangereuses". Sarah Michelle Gellar outplays him in that one, though.
But in this he squares off with Benicio Del Toro's Longbough. Del Toro I first saw in The Usual Suspects. A whole string of great work followed: "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas", a short part in "Snatch." that stole the entire movie, a wonderful comedic performance in the underrated "Excess Baggage" and of course, "Traffic". An Oscar well deserved. Del Toro is the kind of actor who always stretches himself in his performances, always doing something new. In this one, he made the wise choice ("suggestion to McQuarrie" says IMDBtrivia) of keeping silent most of the time. Some of his facial expressions alone makes some scenes in this worth watching.
So how come this movie started dragging after a good hour? It was a long wait for a shoot-out-ending which is, admittingly, fantastically choreographed and leaves the viewer with a climax to remember. But was it worth the long wait?
The problem to me is that, visually, the film is quite boring most of the time. In terms of lighting, creating the "mood, feel, style, what have you" that a movie with this kind of script deserved. Now it's just people talking like they're living chess pieces, just there for the plot to take place.
There is an occasional inspired shot, especially in the last half-hour when things start to get rolling again. All of a sudden you're paying attention again. Thanks to Dick Pope, D.o.p.
Aaron Sorkin, whom McQuarrie could be if he went political, realizes his writing is basically "people talking brilliantly" and that he needs a competent director to make it visually interesting, fit for a film. That's why he lets others direct.
McQuarrie hasn't directed a film since "The Way of the Gun", but he is writing again. I enjoyed his occasional fingerprint in "The Tourist", a movie I otherwise didn't enjoy at all.
Let's hope him and Bryan Singer get together and do a crime movie together again.
"Until that day then?" Until that day.
Breaking Bad: Shotgun (2011)
Jumped the shark? Hell no. Killed the shark and then revived it? Hell yes.
I have to passionately disagree with the previous IMDb-guy-who-thinks-he-knows-everything-about-writing.
BB did NOT, at all, "jump the shark" in this episode. Walter convincing Hank to go back after Heisenberg makes perfect sense if you stop and think at where Walter is at in his life right now. He's a flawed man, brilliant at times and incredibly stupid at other times.
This episode was about Walter losing control and, most importantly, being superseded by everyone he's involved with. Jesse, of course, but also Skylar. And Gale, most importantly. A dead guy, a former "student" of his, is being called a "genius" by a guy who Walt has envied for years.
Throw in too much alcohol and you have a classic piece of writing (reminded me a lot of the pool scene couple of seasons back). That was Walters/Heisenberg's way of telling Hank "you're not the alpha male. I am. I'm Heisenberg".
This is his way of saying "I'm still Heisenberg. Come and get me".
It's like a classic Western scene. One cowboy telling another cowboy: "get back in the saddle and come get me. I'm ready for you". Except, this is Walter, so he would only say this under the influence of too much alcohol (the pool scene proved he can't hold his drink) and when his ego is being beaten up by a guy he spent years envying.
This is me talking. You can agree or disagree. You can love this episode or hate it. That's fine. But to say BB has jumped the shark is ridiculous.
If, instead of subconsciously saying "Come get me. I want you to come and get me", Walter had gotten up and stabbed Hank in the eye with a fork: that would have been a "what the fudge moment, the bad kind. (Also, go to hell censorship. This is the internet. I shouldn't have to censor myself.)
This was the good kind. I was on the edge of my seat. Once again, the writers and actors surprised me. To quote Walter: "I never saw it coming."