"3:10 to Yuma" - Everyone loves a good western, and everyone loves a good unsuspected hero film. Plus, everyone loves a suave Russel Crowe, and who isn't interested in seeing what cooky shenanigans Christian Bale has gotten into this time? "3:10 to Yuma" is all of this and more, a splendid pie baked from all these ingredients, plus a few tons of gun powder, creepy Ben Foster, and a little bit of heart in the middle. It's a solid movie that reminds us of another era, an era where men were heroes, and they protected their women and loved their mamas, and they didn't engage in violence unless it truly meant something to their livelihood (ie: stagecoach robberies and pinkerton plunderings=food and fancy guns).
"Six Feet Under" (TV) - Looking for a good distraction, a life lesson, something to punch you in the teeth, yank you out of reality and into a world where, upon careful pondering and countless experiences, you finally surrender to death?
I didn't mean it like, it's a bad thing. It's a brilliant thing. Created by "American Beauty" writer Alan Ball, "Six Feet Under" is truly beautiful, subtle, imaginative with just the right amount neck shivers. If you watch "Six Feet Under," be prepared to fall in love with the Fisher family, to know each of its members, to relate and to feel, to understand and to completely misunderstand. Be prepared to have conversations with loved ones that have been dead for years, with dead ones that you never got a chance to love. You'll mourn its final episode, and you'll remember it forever, and it'll take a piece of you with it way down deep into the grave.
(*Scroll all the way down for a particularly fitting scene from "Six Feet Under")
"A Knight's Tale" - Not exactly new, but not exactly old, add this one to your tribute-to-Heath movie night. Watch it with a tall glass of Yellowtail Australian wine, and go ahead, weep your eyes out, because like it's star, this one's a keeper. Do keep in mind, however, that this is no ordinary film about knights and fair maidens. In this movie, not only will you witness the rambunctious singing of "We Will Rock You," but you'll also see a dance sequence to David Bowie's "Golden Years." You've also got back-talking women and, yes, Paul Bettany in rare form as a gambling-addicted, knight-heralding writer named Geoffrey Chaucer. Also, for some reason or another, I know that I'll always remember Heath Ledger best by his role in "A Knight's Tale." It's the innocent yellow curls, the headstrong speeches and youthful pride, the sacrifices he makes for love, and, of course, the way he looks in that green tunic. And while Sir Ulrich Von Lichtenstein of Gelderland may not be Heath's most memorable role, it is certainly his most delightful and, in so many ways, his most fitting. I really love this movie. I think anyone would if they gave it a try.
"Eastern Promises" - Highly unexpected, this movie isn't what you think it is. Yes, there's violence, but it's not your basic Cronenberg violence hell (see "A History of Violence"). It's willful and weirdly sweet. You'll want to meet it again and again to absorb all of the different nuances, to explore each angle of each relationship, to let it sit their on your palate and dance, just like a good glass of wine. Not to mention, Viggo's performance, as can be expected, is swollen with levels and grades and hues and movement all on its own. This is a very rewarding film, and its title, which I found completely pretentious six months ago, becomes more gratifying once you truly understand it.
"Dexter" (TV) - While the second season hasn't hit shelves yet (and I can't find out when it does, for the love), the first season of Showtime's "Dexter" is just supreme. It's like "CSI," only the characters are better, the violence is redder, the blood splatters longer, and, well, the dialogue is not completely moronic. By day, Dexter Morgan is a forensic scientist and blood-spatter specialist for the Miami PD. By night, he's a raging lunatic serial killer, but not just any raging lunatic serial killer. Dexter Morgan kills OTHER lunatic serial killers who are not brought to justice by the law. He is, in a way, a very jaded vigilante. Michael C. Hall is crazed and vicious in this role, not to mention tan and sexy. The buzz on this show is white hot right now, but it's not all for nothing. Trust me, you'll be addicted and enthralled. It's coming to TBS sometime in the next few months, but I wouldn't in a million years choose TBS over Showtime. You'll miss all the deliciousness, the murderous goodness. Plus, because of the writers strike, the edits for TBS will not be supervised by actual writers, so continuity could be messed with, and that's no good.
"Candy" - The real reason that I rented "Candy" was not to wallow or to cry or to try to remember a different time. I really rented "Candy" because, well, it was the only film starring Heath Ledger that I hadn't seen, and also, I felt compelled to know why, exactly, it was that he chose this role. As a fresh, handsome face with an underrated knack for his craft, one can only imagine how many roles a man like Heath Ledger has been offered. But he took so few roles during his short life, that one also has to wonder. So why "Candy?" I've seen so much bad drug cinema that the thought of one more heroin needle prodding my television screen makes me want to gag. But I rented this one, and I liked it. It's horribly sad, as Richard Roeper so eloquently put it in his 2006 review, "the feel-bad movie of the year," but really, it's a love story. And it's been a while since I've seen a really sad love story. Abbie Cornish is riveting, a real starlet, and while we should watch her closely in the coming years, the real revelation in this film was Ledger himself. And after watching "Candy," I finally understand what it is that Ledger has done. He's painted a picture with all of these different colors, different characters, bad boys and cowboys and maniacs and tragic romantics, and in light of this picture, we can finally see the actor that we've never seen before. "Candy" is the hymn, the sad lover, and as we wait in desperation for The Joker, here is the final true Heath Ledger role. It is fitting and, somehow, complete.