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Monday, March 22, 2010


I saw Public Enemies the other night and Inglorious Basterds a couple of weeks ago. Both movies had a big impact on me, but I wasn't quite sure just what kind of impact it was. They were gripping tales, that was for sure, but they weren't happy movies, it wasn't a grand adventure. There was a constant undercurrent of lethal tension. Were they good movies? Did I enjoy them? Those are a little harder to answer. Were they good? Well, they were well made, they told their story very well. Did I enjoy them? I'm not so sure, but I think I have finally figured out what the effect these movies had: they were so full of information it was like getting hit with a hundred pound sack of mail.

Every scene in Public Enemies opened a new can of worms. Oh, once upon a time J. Edgar Hoover was a young man. Once upon a time there was no FBI. In the beginning there was political wrangling over funding the FBI. In one shot during a bank robbery there was a placard for the FDIC displayed at a teller's booth. The mob had armorers. Baby Face Nelson was a lunatic. Don't ever try to rob a bank in Sioux Falls. There is the hostage standing on the running board and hanging onto the side of the car during a get away and there is a gangster letting fly with his Tommy gun six inches from his ear. He doesn't flinch. He must be deaf by now or so stunned by events that he doesn't even notice. Al Capone maybe gone (or maybe he hasn't come on the scene yet), but Frank Nitti is running a big operation. I wonder who takes in more money? The Governement or the mob?

Update: I was talking to Ross about this and his take was that there was no "edge" to Public Enemies, no engaging story line. He also thought Inglorious Basterds was funny. There were funny bits, but the overall story was pretty frickin' grim.

Reminds me of Burn After Reading and War of the Roses by Danny DeVito. Supposedly comedies, maybe? But actually pretty grim little stories. Give me a fantasy adventure like Indiana Jones anyday.

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