Monday, 2 August 2010

Movie Meme, Day 2: A Movie More People Should See

I’d probably say that all the movies I like are films people should see more, but there are some movies that just don’t earn much money. Eventually classics reach cult status and their viewership increases exponentially as the years go by, but with recent film it’s a different ballgame. Give or take 2001 or 2010, I’d say that 2007 was probably the best year for films for the last decade. It sucks that one of the three best films from that year managed to go by with little notice, earning a mere 25 million at the box-office and racking up zero Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe or SAG Award nominations.
I’ve singled out the screenplay as one of the decade’s best as Ethan Hawke’s performance as one for the decade too. And really, the movie’s that good. Two deadbeat brothers (one more obviously deadbeat than the other) hatch a misguided plan to rob a jewellery that leads to such tragedy that calling it a melodrama would just be mean. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a film so tautly created that I respect it as much as I love it. Sidney Lumet has a knack for becoming second fiddle in his films. He’s always doing such a good job of making his actors shine that I forget he’s the one helming them. The thing is, though the actors shine here, it’s Lumet who defines the brilliance in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. He’s always been known for his almost painstaking love for realism and the film is handled so brilliantly. Yes, everyone was going wild for the other bit of visceral directing that year, and sure I was going wild for that period flick but Sidney Lumet was so obviously head and shoulders above all other directors that year. It really does suck that he’s never been Oscared…
I’ll praise the brilliance that is Ethan Hawke to my grave, but it’s unfortunate that so few get to enjoy him in this – which is probably his best performance. Speaking of which, this is probably the best work from Phillip Seymour Hoffman too. Unless you’ve been in jail for the last ten years (or living in a cave) you’d know that Hoffman singlehandedly ruled the latter half of the decade. Add that to the fact that Albert Finney, one of the legendary greats, turns in a tour-de-force performance as their father and that Marisa Tomei’s woman-in-the-middle turn is even better than her excellent turns in In the Bedroom and The Wrestler and add that to the fact that Oscar nominees Amy Ryan and Michael Shannon give brilliant cameos and you’re probably wonder why you’ve never heard of this film…
Kelly Masterson (the screenwriter) is a cruel mistress. To say that Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead doesn’t give a damn about its implications is a gross understatement. It keeps on surprising you at every turn, though it’s never for the “shock” factor and always in service of the excellent script. I’m a little in love with it in all its delicious irreverence and lewdness, and though it’s not one that will appeal to all it deserves to be seen just because it’s that good. It’s easily one of the twenty five best films of the last decade…and definitely one that more people should see. Have you seen it?
      
And the MEME continues…this is actually easier than I anticipated…

6 comments:

Jess said...

WOW! That was an amazing description of a movie that's been in my queue forever and never risen to the top. I'll definitely make sure it gets seen in the next few weeks. Glad you're finding it easier than you thought so far.

TomS said...

Andrew, I have not seen this one...you do intrigue me, though.
(By the way, is anyone welcome to join this mont's exercise? What's the protocol? Help me get started...shoot me a message...)

Alex in Movieland said...

oh, yes. This film is probably a 9/10 for me. Outrageously ignored by Oscar. PSH at his best (that year he was also incredible in the leading performance in The Savages; how ridiculous he didn't receive a BA nom, at least for one of them. i am aware of the supporting one, but that don't count)

Film Intel said...

I've seen this, albeit quite a while ago now, and I must admit I struggled with it. Certain parts of it didn't seem to fit with other parts and in the end, I was starting to feel myself getting frustrated with it. Admittedly, this was quite a while ago (I think back when it first came out) but I really didn't enjoy it. In terms of PSH performances I like the other film that Alex mentions (The Savages) to a much greater degree.

Fitz said...

This movie was so wraught with tension I thought I was having a panic attack. My counterpoint at Nevermind think this is Hoffman's best performance and I can't disagree with him.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jess i’ve learned that I DON’T need to write an epistle. i hope you like it, it’s not for all.

tom sent you a message.

alex it’s true. yes, that was a tough year but psh was just brilliant.

film intel the savages was great (if uncomfortable). both psh and linney ruled.

fitz tension! yesiree!