By guest columnist k.e.n.n.y.h.
I saw this two days ago. My eyes are still adjusting back to the dull world where we live. Visual crack, that’s what this is, and ooooooh how I need another hit….
(…disclaimer: drugs – BAD. Movie – good…)
Maybe you’re trying to watch all the Oscar-nominated movies, maybe you’re not. But if there’s one category you can check off the list, it’s the Original Songs. The Best Picture movies would take over 20 hours to watch, but this one takes 20 minutes. See below for links to every song nominated for an Oscar this year, plus a few opinions of course.
The nominations for the 2017 Oscars have been announced! See below for the full list, including links to movie reviews we’ve already posted. Check back often, as we’ll update the list with even more reviews to come.
I saw this when it came out and it was difficult to write about then; and it has thwarted me even unto now. Murder by Numbers is an interesting idea which was then turned into a movie about too many things. Some would argue that complexity in today’s dumbed down cinematic market is a good thing; however, complexity is not the same as “too much.” The good idea part is not a big stretch in today’s media & information-saturated world: Two boys decide to study serial killers and forensics and investigative procedures and pull off a murder and get off scot free by beating the system. Hopefully this will not spawn more young criminals trying to prove that they are free.
Besides being a chilling notion that anyone would want to do such a thing, the idea is also pretty delightfully arrogant. We know hubris will cause the boys to fail. The kids themselves are played with predatory glee by the brilliantly cast Ryan Gosling and Michael Pit (you might have seen him as Tommy Gnosis in Hedwig & The Angry Inch) and are, thankfully, both very human, and very inhuman. They are the morbid valedictorian and salutatorian of Heathers High, filmwise. This plot line and the boys are very interesting and probably the reason the film was made. Tension is lost when a profiler/forensics detective is tracking killers who we the audience have the foreknowledge of; we learn how it happened as the film progresses but we know who and why right away. So we are forced to rely on the counter-plot.
The remainder of the film is a strained detective tale of the officer (Sandra Bullock) who is trying to shed her romantic comedy trappings – oh wait. Uh, the officer who is trying to shake the haunting memories of her own life traumas that revisit her daily, and the new partner (Ben Chaplin) being broken in by her baggage. Yeah. Now, I love Bullock and I loved Chaplin in The Truth About Cats & Dogs. So here are these two witty, delightful creatures, holed up on a houseboat, talking about murder and motives and manipulating each other… Anyway, I am very sad to say it fails to fully engage, though the conclusion is startling.
Like Jim Carrey’s widely unaccepted (by others) attempts to break out of ass-talking, Sandy trying to make us believe that her neuroses are deep and painful and also make her hard on the outside is not as successful as I would like them to be. This film only exposes her need to plumb deeper within herself (or just land a better script) to find characters that are a true departure from her previous star-making roles. It’s a far step from Miss Congeniality’s tough cop to here.
Whether the script is too obvious or the actors are still too pigeonholed (or both), I cannot say with any authority. But despite being thrust in the most interesting murder case of the decade for their city, they still manage to get all caught up in some pseudo tension about their jobs and their dynamic. Once the cops and the kids cross paths the movie improves tremendously, upgrading to “interesting,” but it never takes off like I wished it would.
One thing I did notice was the photography and editing – lots of shots where the background is easily seen through windows or cracks in walls, etc. This is always difficult from a filmic and lighting perspective and it forces us to always be looking out the window; we wouldn’t be able to see that if something weren’t going to happen there, and I think that it was a sort of cinematic shorthand to the paranoia that Bullock feels, as if something is always just outside, and it just hasn’t been seen yet. That would be cinematographer Luciano Tivoli’s work, if that means anything to you. It’s dark, it’s kind of interesting, but it won’t last on the shelf.
MPAA Rating R-violence, sex, brief drugs
Release date 4/19/02
Time in minutes 121
Director Barbet Schroeder
Studio Warner Brothers