Welcome back, David Carr!

A day-late “welcome back!” to N.Y. Times Oscar columnist David Carr, a.k.a. “the Bagger.”

Carr has run a “comment of the day” from Kate who complains that little if anything in the way of late fall prestige movies have hit her local plex so far. HE’s reponse: Kate, the key to 21st Century moviegoing is to give up on the old lofty pedigree/ warm-emotional-bath feelings that award-level films have given you in the past. Forget about movies soothing your soul. You’re not going find deer and rabbits in the North Pole, and the state of things right now is probably about something other than what you’re looking to find right now.

David Lean is dead, Francis Coppola is in creative remission, James L. Brooks is apparently spent (or taking his time with the next thing, whatever that may be), Tom Hanks has became “Tom Hanks”…the empire is collapsing, we’re in the End of Days and you have to get your movie nutrition according to the terms and ingredients of the New Order.

On top of which there are many who feel that ’07 is one of the best movie years in a long time…since ’99 perhaps. Zodiac (have you seen it?) is a masterpiece. Control is close to that. No Country for Old Men is a landmark film. Have you seen Once? (I’m betting you haven’t.) Sidney Lumet‘s Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead is a Greek tragedy for the ages. Things We Lost in the Fire, The Assassin- ation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, I’m Not There, In The Valley of Elah, Ratatouille…all stirring, all exceptional.

35 thoughts on “Welcome back, David Carr!

  1. Why don’t we all just admit that nothing that came out in 2007 was better than “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” and hand all the Oscars over to that movie?

  2. I’m confused as to what relationship 07 being a great year of film has to the fact that many of 07′s best films have yet to play in a theater that normal people can go see them in? I’m excited about many films and have listened to people talking about some of them for a long time, but they’ve yet to hit anywhere near me. That can often be a sincerely legit frustration.

  3. If Kate’s bemoaning the egregious release periods of this year’s great films, then she has a point. It feels like the studios are giving up on their best stuff really quickly this year more than most.

  4. Yeah, Jeff, I don’t see what point you are trying to make… I went on vacation for two weeks in late October/early November and missed the two weekends Control played around here. And I live in Chicago.

  5. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD is an 11th grade Creative Writing class attempt at a Greek tragedy for the ages. MYSTIC RIVER is a Greek tragedy for the ages. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, with it’s inert older generation, it’s chorus in the person of Tommy Lee Jones, it’s flawed hero and it’s particular ideas about fate, is also such a tragedy. To hear BEFORE THE DEVIL mentioned in the same breath as ZODIAC, ONCE and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is troubling.

  6. I haven’t seen Before the Devil… but I’d use that ’11th grade’ description to apply to Mystic River, which is really a clumsy, awkward movie.

    Good job, everyone, for noticing the crippling flaw in Wells’s argument.

  7. Oh so now we hate on MYSTIC RIVER in these parts? I forgot. How long before you mooks start to piss on THE DEPARTED? 3..2..1..

  8. I found it shattering, spiritual and profound, but to each his own. Doesn’t really change my point on BEFORE THE DEVIL, but I’m glad we agree at least on THE DEPARTED.

  9. Hey has everyone seen CONTROL, or am I the only one who hasn’t? No one seems to complain about that one.

    I’m definitely going to catch BEFORE THE DEVIL though…

  10. No, few of us have it seems. It only played here in DC for two weeks and that seems to be the case even in places such as LA and Chicago. It’s also the point that Wells very very very much missed from that woman’s comment to Carr. The distributor would be wise to rerelease if Sam Riley somehow pulls down a Golden Globe nod, though the IFP/Spirit shutout isn’t a good sign.

  11. Feel free to explain your beef with Before the Devil BurmaShave or point me to where you’ve already done so. I liked it. Yes, I was ready to call bullshit on the tired narrative trickery, but it worked for me in the end.

  12. I’ll risk a STFU: I was way-bored with the second half of THE DEPARTED which I found overly-contrived (doesn’t help I loathe both Little Leo and Wooden Matt — and Jack’s acting just got stupid), but I absolutely hated MYSTIC RIVER. Overwrought, terrible accents, and what was with that look on Tim Robbins’ face for 2 1/2 hours? They gave him an Oscar?

    It’s not politics, either. I swear. I love Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. I love DEAD MAN WALKING. No, really. And Susan Sarandon’s in that as well — and Tim and Susan both deserved those Oscars. I was even rooting for them.

    GONE BABY GONE was ten-times what RIVER was and GONE BABY GONE has some very serious structural flaws.

  13. Yeah I just read that…see there how I ask questions, then just go look for myself like I should’ve in the first place?

    I bought the Hoffman transition, but I think I see what you’re saying.

    I also know what it’s like lately to be in the minority of opinion on a movie everyone is crazy about. You begin to wonder if you even saw the same movie.

  14. Thanks Christian, I haven’t seen Control yet either and now I know where to go. Between it, Southland Tales, and Redacted this is going to be a busy week for me in seeing movies a lot of people have ignored.

    The big problem I had with Mystic River was that it resorted to strange contrivances in the name of ‘suspense’. SPOILERS:
    It was obvious that there was going to be an ironic twist in who was targeted for revenge vs. who was really guilty, so that was one flaw. Plus the ‘innocent’ Tim Robbins was deserving of being punished anyway for the crime of vigilantism. Plus the movie’s ruminations on ‘maybe we all got in the car that day’ were overstated ten minutes into the movie.

  15. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is playing in one of the living rooms at the Landmark. There are few better ways to see a movie in L.A.

  16. Burma – oddly, your greatest problems with BEFORE THE DEVIL weren’t even the ones that bothered me so much. I’m all for a character spinning wildly out of control per PSH performance. The non-necessity of jumping back and forth in time (made embarassing by the accellerated cross-cuts every time it happened) was only part of the script’s weakness. The whole business card device (which I have harped on before) RUINED it for me. Bad enough that Hoffman’s character left it there in the first place, but just sloppy and lazy that Finch’s character would find it there afterward. The fact that his visit to the fence launches him off the deep end into near-absurdity kills the final 25 minutes (which, unsurprisingly, is precisely when the time-jumping pattern is abandoned). Up until then, they almost had me. Great performances (with the exception of the cartoonish Ryan, O’Byrne and Palladino) and near-great direction, but the script. . .ugh.

  17. Yeah, I had a lingering problem with where the Finch character ended up. I liked the idea, but it felt poorly developed. Unnatural. I appreciated the bitter taste it left in my mouth though.

  18. Wait a minute, wait a minute…. Let me get this straight. The business card device in Before The Devil (which I’ll admit is lazy and implausible) RUINS THE MOVIE, but you people accect the WILD IMPOSSIBILITIES, which strain any possible suspention of disbelief, that the plot of The Departed is strung up on??

    Most films would be considered deeply flawed with 1 or 2 coincidences. Departed has at least 4. I mean it’s a fun movie and all, but it’s not high art.

    ps- Zodiac is a t.v. movie with 30 million dollars worth of CGI

  19. Coincidences don’t necessarily ruin a movie. And there’s a lot more going on in Zodiac than you would see in a typical TV procedural.

  20. I have learned this news at Richromances.com where many Hollywood celebrities and wealthy people are looking and talking. A hot debate is taking placenow among celebrities and moviegoers.

  21. Gordie, I suppose you mean why wouldn’t Damon have ever taken it out of the Citizens/Citizins envelope? I see what you mean, but THE DEPARTED was not pitched on the same melodramatic level. I’m willing to forgive a lot of a movie succeeds on its own terms, which Scorsese’s picture certainly does.

  22. Before The Devil does not belong in any discussions regarding awards season (unless it’s about PSH, whos talents are dumbfounding), however comparing it to a n 11th grade writing class is going a bit too far the other way.

    I’m put off by the recent fad of latching on to a minor plot contrivance (the motel air ducts in No Country, the car bomb in Michael Clayton, Ed Harris’ half-assed bar robbery in Gone Baby Gone, etc) and using them as a basis for dismissing an entire film (especially in the middle of a year like this). There has never been a ‘perfect’ crime film, melodrama or not (with maybe the lone exception of Fargo).

  23. Wish I shared your ebullience, Jeff.

    There are some terrific films on my year-end list as well, but maybe only one I have seen so far this year (still got a few left to screen) that I feel confident will be watched as a near-perfect execution of story and technique.

    Yep, it’s the “Rat” movie.

    The critics are right this time and they actually almost all agree. What a concept.

    But will the Academy listen?

    And you have to agree with me, Jeff, that more than Bob Dylan, Frank Lucas, Richie Roberts, Ian Curtis, Clifford Irving, Jesse James, the Zodiac Killer, Charlie Wilson, Elizabeth or Edith Piaf, “Remy” is really the perfect symbol of our time: a rat risking his life to create beauty in a hostile world.

  24. Regarding the subject at hand, I share Kate’s frustration.

    I had to skip all the “No Country” posts on this site because I didn’t get to see it until last week.

    And I just had to skip all the “Before the Devil” remarks above, because it won’t open in my town until Friday.

    It always amuses me to see “The Assassination of Jesse James” called a flop, because I was never offered the chance to reject it. Had it been released wider, I’d have seen it.

    Seriously, a movie starring Brad Pitt that’s not even worth a release on seven or eight hundred screens???

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