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American Hustle is David O. Russell’s newest movie, and stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. It is a movie about two con artists (Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld and Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser) who are forced by Detective Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to help him catch other criminals in the act of bribery. The plot is actually a lot more complicated than that, made all the more complicated by the eccentric characters which populate the movie. 

Let’s talk about the characters, then. Christian Bale has always dedicated himself to his movies… to the point that it’s rather unhealthy. In the Machinist, he lost sixty pounds for the role, and then gained it all back within a year for Batman Begins. 

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Yeah, looks pretty drastic to me. In American Hustle, he’s taken to gaining a lot of weight. And unlike in Batman Begins, he did not use that weight to build muscle. That isn’t the only thing he does in this movie, of course, and his acting here is just amazing. Sure, it can feel a bit fake at certain points in the movie (mostly during the beginning), but you’ll forget all about that when you watch a scene of his with Jennifer Lawrence, who plays his crazy wife. 

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I know, people overuse that word nowadays. But she is crazy, and Jennifer Lawrence pulls it off magnificently. It’s so believable, which is why Christian Bale’s performance is enhanced whenever they’re in a scene together. It’s hard not to believe that this woman isn’t nuts, so his own reactions seem authentic and… rather comical with a dramatic overtone. 

You’ll know what I mean when you watch it. Let me talk about the plot again for a moment. The movie begins with Christian Bale making an elaborate combover, and immediately throws you into the middle of a sting operation. Oh, and Bradley Cooper messes up Christian Bale’s combover.

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David O. Russell is nothing, if not brave. It takes a lot of guts to just do that, and trust that whatever you’re watching is interesting enough that you don’t shrug and walk away. 

It’s here that you truly see Martin Scorsese’s influence on David O. Russell. The beginning reminds me of Goodfellas, although a lot funnier, and pop songs from the 70’s undercut a lot of emotional scenes. This can get a bit annoying, if I’m being honest. At times, it’s really awesome. Especially if you like the song, and think, “Exactly! That’s what I would’ve chosen!”

But, the soundtrack feels… impatient. There are plenty of scenes in the movie where you felt like an emotional punch was delivered to your gut, but the scene was disturbed by some obnoxious song. Why not let Amy Adams just act? The actors are too great to be dubbed over with music, and it brings me to my next point. American Hustle is entertaining, fast-paced, dramatic, and funny. 

And a little empty. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try to do my best. Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell’s previous directorial feature, was an amazing movie starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It was simple, really. It was about a guy that beat up his boss, who was having an affair with his wife. He gets out of a mental institution, and ends up training for a dance competition with a nymphomaniac. (In retrospect, it doesn’t sound that simple.) It also cost very little to make (especially in comparison to American Hustle’s budget), and garnered some awards. (Jennifer Lawrence got an Oscar for it.)

And it’s better than American Hustle. Yes, I normally like movies with some violence, some intrigue, and some con men. The Sting is one of my favorite movies of all time, but American Hustle just feels hollow in comparison to Silver Linings Playbook. I feel like David O. Russell was pressured to up the stakes, rightfully so. But the music, the unreliable narration, the elaborate outfits… They’re all supposed to be icing. They’re not supposed to make up the cake entirely. 

That isn’t to say that this isn’t incredibly entertaining. Like I said, the acting here is incredible. Bradley Cooper essentially plays the villain, and I’m not going to say: “But he makes you feel sorry for him.”

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Not at all. He wasn’t written to be sympathetic, or even realistic. Almost none of these characters are realistic, but he plays his role with such relish and unpredictability that I can’t help but hope that he was the protagonist. Louie C.K. plays his superior in the movie, and you’ll see in their scenes together why I think that.

When Bradley Cooper asks for 2 million dollars, his boss tries to tell him an ice fishing story from his youth. He interrupts him halfway through, and guesses what the ending is. Flustered, his boss tells him that he’s wrong, and he doesn’t deserve to hear the story. Later on in the movie, Cooper asks Louie about the ice fishing story, and again, interrupts him to make up his own ending for the story. It tells you everything you need to know about this character. He’s a control freak, and with his fast-talking personality, he gets away with it most of the time. He can’t stand it when someone else is talking, and he tries to show that he’s smarter than everyone. 

If you’re looking for a sympathetic character, you could look to Jeremy Renner. His character is one of the more realistic portraits of the movie. He plays Mayor Carmine Polito, and Christian Bale is tasked with the difficult job of piling evidence against him to put him and his colleagues behind bars. He’s a corrupt politician, but he does what he does for the city of New Jersey. It made me think of something Christian Bale’s character said to Bradley Cooper. 

I’ll paraphrase, since my memory isn’t good enough that I can remember it perfectly. But, it went something along the lines of:

“The world isn’t black and white. It’s extremely grey.”

Pretty much every antihero in movie and television shares the same view (I do, as well), but I think what makes this morality speech stand out from most is that it doesn’t really refer to Bale. Or Adams. Or Lawrence and all the others. It refers to Carmine Polito. He’s a good guy that does illegal things for good. He’s a big slap to the face of Bale, and I thought it’s one of the smarter things in the movie. All these characters are grey, but Polito’s character is the only one that seems realistically so. 

That’s probably the downfall of this movie, but don’t let this movie’s little faults scare you away. It’s ridiculously entertaining, and I was laughing throughout the movie. If Cooper, Bale, Adams, and Lawrence win awards for it – I won’t be surprised in the least. They acted their asses off, and they deserve them.

But I just don’t think the movie really deserves any more awards than Silver Linings Playbook received.

~Jian

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Saving Mr. Banks is amazing. I know that, as a reviewer, I should first summarize the whole thing for you, and then tell you my thoughts on it in a detailed and intelligent way. But, there’s just no denying that – for me – this movie is awesome. 

So, now that we have that out of the way, I’ll summarize the movie for you. Saving Mr. Banks is a behind-the-scenes biopic of how Mary Poppins was made. P.L. Travers (the great Emma Thompson), the author of the Mary Poppins books, received offers for the movie rights of her beloved books for twenty consecutive years until she was finally convinced by her agent to give Walt Disney (the brilliant Tom Hanks) a chance. That’s the basic plot of the movie, and with those two actors working together, it was already a guarantee for me that it’d be a great experience.

However, one of the biggest surprises was Colin Farrell’s performance as Travers Goff, P.L. Travers’ father. Her childhood is told in a series of flashbacks, normally starting when P.L. Travers is annoyed by a section of the script, and the flashback then shows why she’s annoyed with it. It’s pretty interesting, and it’s easier than some voiceover narration or a lengthy conversation where Emma Thompson is forced to explain every one of her choices. The rule, “Show, don’t tell,” was clearly taken to heart by the writers and director.

Back to Colin Farrell. I thought he was great in In Bruges, but it wasn’t one of those mind-blowing performances that you tell your friends about for months until they forcibly stop you from telling them any more. His performance in Saving Mr. Banks, however, is one of those performances. He plays an alcoholic that dotes on his daughters very much, but seems to be unable to escape the urge to drink. The character is both haunted and happy, angry and contemplative. 

There’s a great scene in the movie where his children are chasing a hen, and he tells them, jokingly, that it’s no hen. It’s their evil Aunt! Later, when he’s about to go to bed with his wife (Ruth Wilson, Luther), it’s revealed that she’s been pleading for him to let her ask her sister for help. There are a few more surprises in the movie, but I won’t spoil them for you.

Back to the present. (Or the 1960’s.) The first scene where Walt Disney appears in the movie is a favorite of mine. The scriptwriter, Don, tells Travers it’s not a good idea to call him Mr. Disney. He likes to be called Walt. Disney then rushes out of his office, and in the background, you can see an entire shelf of oscars, polished as can be. They go out of focus, and you see Tom Hanks’ best smile. 

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I think it was then that Travers decided to do her best to make his life miserable. She calls him Mr. Disney, and continues to do so even though he keeps insisting he call her by his first name. In a masterful scene, Travers lists her demands, and you can see the look on Hanks’ face as she insults his life’s work. Tom Hanks version of Mr. Disney is very interesting. Unlike a lot of actors, he never overdoes it. When he becomes angry near the middle of the movie, you know it. But he doesn’t fly off the handle. After all, you don’t get your own theme park if you throw a temper tantrum every time someone is being unreasonable. 

Emma Thompson, however, has the most difficult role of all. She has to play a difficult, cold… hag. There’s really no other way to put it. I mean, even Emma Thompson admitted that Travers was a bit of a hag in an interview on Graham Norton. But, despite that, she manages to put a lot of heart into the performance. This is a woman that’s seen things, as a child, that she never should have seen.

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As such, she spends her life writing books for children so they won’t have to see the horrible things around them. She uses the joy and wonder that she still possesses in her heart on her books, while putting on a facade of detachment and bitterness when interacting with other people. There’s a wonderful scene in the movie where she starts letting her guard down around her driver Ralph (Paul Giamatti). 

When she first met him, she made it very clear that she did not want to be there. When they see some beautiful scenery on the way to Walt Disney studios, Ralph cheerfully says: “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“If you like that sort of thing,” she replies promptly.

“Well, I do,” he says slightly crestfallen.

But he ends up her only friend, anyhow. I can talk for much longer about this movie, but to do so would mean telling you about some really interesting scenes and I want you to discover those scenes for yourself. The score is beautiful, and the main song is both happy and somber, just like Disney and Travers.

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~J.A. Romano

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about gritty fantasy or grim dark fantasy, and I had the pleasure of talking a friend’s ear off about everything I knew on the subject. And, it struck me. Gritty fantasy, or books with anti-hero protagonists, have been around for a lot longer than I thought. Let me specify this. I mean, if we were to talk about strictly anti-hero protagonists, we would spend a very long time discussing whether or not mythological Greek heroes counted. (Achilles!)

I’m talking about Glen Cook Black Company style. Game of Thrones. Blade Itself. Those kinds of books. In Game of Thrones and Blade Itself, the magic is substantially underused. There isn’t a strict system like in modern high fantasy books (everything by Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks), for one. I think it’s an ironic thing. With a lot of gritty books that try to prove themselves to be every bit as dark as Game of Thrones, they try to be as different as possible from Lord of the Rings style novels. For the really good gritty books, they seem to use the same style of magic from Lord of the Rings style books. (Albeit without a whole new language. Who has the time for that nowadays?)

In my book, the Line of Corruption, my protagonists are all questionable in their morality. We have a former mass murderer, a mercenary with the potential to be the strongest in existence, a politician that controls everything in his city… It’s all very questionable. I like it that way. I like those types of protagonists. They’re very interesting to write, and I like to think that there’s a good market out there for them. However, I have to face the fact that everything has most likely been thought up. I didn’t create a mind-blowingly original magic system (I couldn’t access the mind of Brandon Sanderson. The guys from Being John Malkovich weren’t up for it).

So, if a kid like me is writing “gritty” heroes (although they’re in a world where a definite magic system is in place a la Brent Weeks ), it’s safe to say that the gritty genre isn’t really a subgenre anymore. At least, not what people might think. Right now, George R.R. Martin is considered to be one of the most popular writers alive, and a legend in fantasy literature. Moorcock and Cook started it, GRRM took it to the next level, and Joe Abercrombie’s now in the same level. The Knight in Shining Armor is a cliche. No doubt about it. But, I’m afraid that anti-heroes with questionable morals are quickly becoming cliches, if they’re not already.

Speaking as someone that likes gritty stories a lot, it’s hard to come to terms that it’s no longer as revolutionary or as edgy as it was in the 70’s-90’s. Winter has come and gone. Now it’s summer, and all our dark anti-heroes are baking in the sun with all the rest of the knights in shining armor.

I do think that the next “big thing” will be dark epic fantasy. The Way of Shadows (one of the most popular books of that particular genre) is already well known. But, it’s not yet at the same level of infamy as  Game of thrones. (Which is fair. That’s something that FEW writers will ever achieve.)

Or maybe Tolkien-style stories might make a comeback. Nothing wrong with Wheel of Time-like stories as long as they’re original enough. Maybe books like Mistborn may come into the limelight, too. A Mistborn Tv series. Or maybe Urban Fantasy gets a big shout out. I don’t know. Fantasy, as a whole, is changing practically daily. I still like gritty stories, but I am looking forward to reading stories that don’t try especially hard to have “unlikeable” characters. Filling your entire cast with Joffrey-wannabes doesn’t help, from what I hear.

So, what do you think? Any ideas as to what the next BIG THING will be? Leave a comment. Might be that you’re right. Do you disagree with me? Feel free to tell me why. Now, I’m going to go read a fantasy book. Care to guess what genre it belongs to?

~Jian

I wrote a post earlier on how I was working a bit more on the sequel LoC, and it got me thinking on my current responsibilities as a writer. Jukepop Serials has given me the great opportunity of uploading three chapters a month, making it immediately available for everyone to read. And they have some wonderful incentives, too! Like I said before, I’ve reached a new point in my career as a writer because I’m also concentrating on the sequel to my first book.

So, it’s time to put behind my past as a Panster (look it up!), and adhere to a daily writing routine. Here’s how my current schedule looks like.

5 PM: Write in Radio Silence for forty minutes. Reread, edit, and if necessary, rewrite.

6 PM: Write in LoC sequel for forty minutes. Reread, edit, and if necessary, rewrite.

7 PM: Alternate between other projects, and write in whichever one I choose for forty minutes. Reread, edit, rinse and repeat.

So, that’s my writing schedule. Not as hardcore as some other writers, perhaps, but I’m beginning a slow crawl to, dare I say it, becoming a professional writer? Now, I don’t mean professional as in a bestseller. But I do want to have the habits of a real author.

I’ll be posting weekly updates on how this is going, but I want to talk a little bit on my first few days of following this routine.

Day 1

5 PM: I literally realized I had to follow my schedule when I was three minutes away from 5 PM. So, I stopped watching shows on my computer, and began writing Chapter 7 of Radio Silence. I managed to finish most of the chapter before I got burnt out, and reached the 40 minute time limit. I reread it, edited it, and considered it a job well done.

6 PM: I went through all of the existing chapters, and added a few things to tie up a few inconsistencies. Also wrote half a chapter in the perspective of both Maheus and Ambrose. Deleted a scene or two from the perspective of a new character I introduced, and planned the next few chapters. I reread what I wrote, edited the entire document, and considered it a job well done.

7 PM: I reopened an old project I started with my sister, and I started deleting and writing a few new scenes. I can’t really divulge much information about it, but let’s just say it’s very different from Radio Silence and the Line of Corruption sequel. It was a breath of fresh air, and I considered it less a ‘chore’, and more a break from the two earlier projects.

In summation… It was a good day.

Day 2

11 AM: Started a little early because the next chapter of Radio Silence had to be done. Completed chapter 7. Reread it. And… rewrote it. The ending was just terrible. I don’t know what I was thinking. Reread what I wrote, and I made a massive factual error. I’m glad my mother managed to spot it, and so I rewrote it again. When I finally finished, I was really proud of what I managed to accomplish. Had my family review it, and after some changes, I uploaded it on Jukepop Serials.

I’ll stop right here. I suddenly realized that such a strict schedule was not for me. I couldn’t really stick to times like these, because my mood varies a lot. But, I did realize that I had to have some order in my writing. So, I’ll continue to set apart some time every day to write for Radio Silence, for the LoC sequel, and for one of my numerous other projects.

It’s very refreshing to go back to a daily writing routine, and I honestly feel a lot more productive about everything. It’s difficult. I mean, I’m two days into it, and I’ve already abandoned one part of the schedule.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for my idols. So. Right now, I’m just wondering how I’ll get through Day 3. And Day 4. And Day 5…

If you don’t hear from me for over a week, at least you’ll know why.

Oh, I’d love it if you took the time to comment, and tell me what you think. Do you follow a schedule? I know I wrote a post about schedules earlier, but I’m curious to know if you tried a similar template/schedule to mine, and how you coped with it. I wanna hear all about it. Thanks.

~Jian

Hey, it’s been awhile. Miss me? No? Well, I’ll still chew your ear off with my stories. So, I’ve been kind of busy the past week reading my novel, Line of Corruption. I realized a few things about it while I was reading it. I have way too many run-on sentences near the end of the book (when the fight scenes became very hectic), and I really miss writing in the world of Line of Corruption.

I miss writing about the characters, I miss the magic system, I miss… Well, everything about it. So, I’ve decided to start working on the sequel to LoC a bit more. In the week after I finished the Line of Corruption, I quickly started a new file for the sequel, and wrote eleven thousand words setting up the groundwork.

After reading over the current chapters I’ve already written for the sequel, I have no idea what I was thinking at a few sections. “Who is this incompetent writer?” I shouted. But, I had a ton of fun just reading about the characters that I’d made up almost two years ago.

So, I’ve begun working on the plot for the sequel. I think I have a very rough idea of what I want to happen. I’m no longer fumbling about in the dark like I was with the first book, and now I’m working on the title for the sequel. If I’m working on the first book, I think… The Circle of Insanity would be a great title!

Nah, I’m kidding… No, I’m serious. I’m kidding. I’ve introduced maybe four new characters in the chapters I’ve already written, and I’ve fallen in love with them already. I can’t say they’re great characters, because I feel like that’d be egotistic, but I love writing from their perspectives. I can’t divulge too much, because it’d be spoiling a lot.

But, I just want to talk about both the joy and the meh parts of writing the sequel. I want to make this the Empire Strikes Back of sequels, or the Godfather II of sequels. So, it’s difficult to think of a way to make this a lot cooler, a lot more visceral, yet still staying true to the book I finished almost a year ago.

Most of the characters, at the end of LoC, experienced life changing event. That isn’t a spoiler, because that’s normally a given. Unlike the first book, I need to plan almost everything about this book. I can’t walk blindly in a circle with a blindfold. (Interesting fact: it is impossible to walk in a straight line with a blindfold. See why I’m thinking of the Circle of Insanity? )

I also need to answer a lot of questions I set up in the first book, and make sure I explain anything the reader might construe as deus ex machina. Basically, I need to work a lot harder on the sequel. Sounds miserable, doesn’t it?

Well, weirdly enough, I don’t find any of it miserable. I happen to think it’s very fun, and it’s yet another challenge of my skills as a writer. For Xenon Bane, I also started working on a sequel before I gave up on the series. I wrote maybe… twenty thousand words in the sequel before I stopped writing. It was so much better than Xenon Bane, and I want to do the same with the LoC sequel. I want readers to read the first ten chapters and think: “Well, I won’t be getting any sleep tonight. This is going to be fun!”

It’s like my reaction when I watched season two of the BBC series, Sherlock. I loved season one, but season two episode one was a game changer. Finished the entire season in one day.

Do you have any experience working on a sequel? If so, feel free to comment and tell me about your fun times and not so fun times.

I realize this has been a short post, but that’s really all my thoughts on it. It’s fun and challenging. I’ve had to rewrite a lot more than when I wrote LoC, since I’ve noticed some slight continuity errors here and there already. Like I said, there are some really slow moments, but if you allow it, it will take you out on a really great ride.

~J.A. Romano

Okay. If you’ve been blogging for at least a week, I think you know what I mean. Writing relies on people being interested in the characters you create, but blogging relies on people being interested in what you say. So, after an entire year ( I think ) of blogging, you’d think I’d have learned a way to not worry or obsess over Likes. I mean, Likes aren’t that important, right?

That’s kind of true, but I can’t help but wait for someone to Like my posts, sometimes. A single Like makes a huge difference. This isn’t my attempt at telling everyone to Like my posts, but it’s worth writing about the insecurities that I am sure every blogger – at one point – has felt. I’m now going to list all of the things I’ve tried to avoid obsessing over the Like.

So, a friend of mine told me awhile back that the trick is not to care. And you know, I actually like that concept. But, I think caring is what makes me strive to make better posts. I could just write blogposts for myself, but do you really want to read my rants about books and movies I don’t like? You do? Well, I doubt you’d like to read about it every day.

And caring about the posts that I write is what prevents me from posting everything I write that’s less than insightful. I have technically written 100 posts, counting this. But I haven’t published the dozen drafts I have saved because I don’t think they’re good enough. So, not caring about what you do? While it’s a good concept, it’s not really great in execution.

The second thing I tried was just tell my friends to check the post out, and since we normally have the same opinions, they’d normally Like it. However, this isn’t ideal because most of them don’t actually blog. They occasionally post, but they don’t really care for it.

So, I always felt guilty asking them to check out my newest post. I still do that, but I’m much more casual about it, now. I only bring it up if it relates to the conversation. Like, when my friend was having trouble writing. I just told him I wrote a little post about it ages ago, and pass him the link. Then I just give him the shortened version of it.

The third thing you could do is to write depending on what people want to know. This could actually work, but if you always just write about popular culture like Kim Kardashian’s new baby, or Channing Tatum directing Magic Mike 2, I don’t think you’ll have that much fun at all. Unless that is what you actually want to do.

I, personally, like writing about my experiences as a writer, and I occasionally review movies and books. I get an average four Likes on my posts about writing (if it’s a good day), and maybe one to two Likes (at most) on my reviews. This doesn’t mean that people like posts about writing more, and hate reviews. I just think that there are a lot of other more popular reviewers out there, and my reviews are generally about movies that are no longer in theatres. And people have the Nostalgia Critic for stuff like that.

Yet, I just started a new series called Classic Thursdays where I take movies deemed as classics and see if they hold up to my eyes. I write it partially for me, and partially because I just think that blindly liking movies because they’re called classics is rather weird. Also, because I think my generation really should watch some unknown classics more.

The final option is to just quit blogging. No point in fussing over something if only two people pay attention, right?

Well, if everyone listened to that, schools would be in real disrepair. So, I won’t quit blogging because I haven’t earned my popularity, yet, as much as a lot of other, better bloggers. But I will continue to write about my experiences as a writer, and if anyone is interested, they can read it and enjoy reading about my mishaps.

This has been a short post, but I’ve just been thinking about this for a long time, and that’s really all the advice I can offer. It’s not much, but it’s something. Hope you’ve enjoyed the post!

~Jian

Let me explain the new series I just started, Classic Thursdays. I write a review of a classic movie every other week of the month. I review movies given the status of classics by more than a few individuals, and write whether or not I think they deserve their classic status. There will be some spoilers, but I’ll be sure to write a warning before a massive one. So, for the first post in the new series, I decided to take on a relatively new classic called No Country for Old Men.

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That was taken from the late Roger Ebert’s ten best films of 2007. And if he called it a perfect movie, I think No Country for Old Men counts as a classic in the sense that it received almost universal critical acclaim. In fact, there’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to what it all means. There’s also a notable film critic that chose No Country for Old Men as the #1 movie of the decade, and MSN chose it as best film of the decade as well.

So, hopefully, that explains why I’ve chosen it as the first movie for Classic Thursdays. I remember a good friend of mine recommended it to me a year ago, and told me that it was his favorite movie. So, I watched the first eighteen minutes, and wasn’t impressed.

At the time, I really wasn’t in the mood for something so serious, so I decided to watch it another time. Then I watched it maybe a few months ago, and I gained perspective on the movie. It is a good movie, but I don’t consider it a classic. Let me explain.

In the first thirty minutes, you’d think that the main character is Llewelyn Moss (portrayed by Josh Brolin). But, the real main character is Anton Chigurh (portrayed by Javier Bardem). He is also the antagonist. Josh Brolin plays a hunter that stumbles upon the aftermath of a bloody shootout between two different drug cartels, and finds a suitcase of money. He takes it and hides it at his home. It isn’t long, of course, before the cartel finds out that it was him who took the money because he visits the scene of the crime again just as they arrive.

It’s at this point that you realize that his character isn’t very bright. I mean. Let’s face it. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. But, he does know how to fight back and run. I can give him that. Eventually, the drug cartel sends Anton Chigurh (don’t worry if you can’t pronounce his name. No one else in the movie can, either) and a game of cat and mouse ensues.

I’m reminded of an exchange between two characters on the sitcom, That 70’s Show.

Michael Kelso: “Let the game of cat and mouse begin!” 

Fez: “What happens to the cat if the mouse is retarded?”

And at times, you can get frustrated with Josh Brolin’s character. I discovered a good way to stop being frustrated with him, though. I came to terms with the fact that Javier Bardem’s character is the main character. So, I simply started rooting for Anton Chigurh. I know, horrible of me. But, I enjoyed the movie immensely once I started to think of Anton as the protagonist.

Warning. There will be spoilers from this point on. Look away now.

Looked away? All right. Now I’m going to do my best to “analyze” this movie. Though I’m horrible at proper analysis..

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A lot of people have complained about the last thirty minutes of this movie. Why? Well, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) gets killed by the OTHER cartel offscreen. Yup. Anton Chigurh kills Llewelyn’s wife, and lives to kill another day. It ends with Tommy Lee Jones’ delivering a staggeringly awesome performance as he tells his wife about his dream. Now, in an attempt to give you a fresh analysis, I didn’t read the entire Wikipedia page on it. I’m going to give you my take on it, and if it lines up with the take of all the other people.. well, good for me. If not, well, good for them, I guess?

Anyways. Llewelyn Moss reminds me a lot of sheep. And I’m reminded of the idea that humans are really smarter sheep. I think the reason why a lot of people have complained about Josh Brolin’s character is because it feels so familiar. He’s a normal guy, right? And it makes people wonder how they would act if they were in his situation.

And what truly makes people dislike his character is simply because there is a chance that they would panic just like him. Anton Chigurh, in that sense, is more like a wolf. This feels really cliche, I know, but this is what I felt when I watched this movie. Anton Chigurh is an unstoppable force, and everyone knows it. Josh Brolin, however, is not the immovable object.

I think the Old Men are the immovable object. (Going off the wayside a bit there, Jian.)

Well, I was thinking about the paradox about the unstoppable force and immovable object, right. And while I’m not the best informed on this theory (hardly), I do think that the character of Anton Chigurh fits as the unstoppable force. And I think that the pedestal that the Old Men (basically, our ancestors) reflects a lot of what people think nowadays. They will always look back to the past, and romanticize it. For the majority, it’s part of our nature. Every generation thinks that the world is going to end with them.

Anton Chigurh’s job is to mock them for hero worshipping the past so much. Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes look to the past, and think, “Well, everything was good back then. No psychos like we have today.”

And I’d be completely wrong! One of todays biggest misconceptions among the populous is that crime has gone up. In reality, crime has gone down by 25% since the 1950’s. Crimes went largely unreported back then because we didn’t have the technology to really do anything about a lot of crime.

Now, if someone sneezes and wipes the snot on a handbag at a store, the police know about it. The media, in part, helps feed this idea. The media wasn’t as well-informed in the 1950’s, and crime reporters didn’t hear that much about crime. (In fact, L.A. Confidential represents the end of the era where the police didn’t tell the media about practically every crime.)

I’m part of a good generation. Sure, we have our own little problems (don’t get me started about our celebrities), but it’s not as bad as the Middle Ages, is it?

BELL
Okay. Two of ’em. Both had my father. It’s peculiar. I’m older now’n he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he’s the younger man.

I think it was that particular line which gave away the fact that this was a satire of modern culture. Or, at least, that’s how I view it.

Now, I could be wrong and I could be misinterpreting the movie. But that’s the point, I think, of this movie. To make up your own opinions on it. I remember a scene from Life of Pi where Pi’s father tells him that animals have no souls. What you see in their eyes is your own thoughts and emotions reflected back at you.

I think that’s what movies are, really. And this is what was reflected back at me when I watched it.

So, is this a classic? I don’t think it’s earned that, yet. Is this a great movie? It is. I enjoyed this movie immensely, and I like the fact that I had to think about a lot of its themes. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first post of my new series. Comment if you have any thoughts to add, or if you completely disagree with me on every level. I would love to hear what you guys think.

~Jian