a good day

Submitted by la miller on 28 May, 2009 - 00:21

Turned in a paper this afternoon and on the way to catch a bus home thought, "Today would be a great day to catch a matinee."

I've been meaning to see a matinee at one of the downtown theaters for months. Seriously, too long. It was now or never. So, I grabbed some portable spring rolls from a nearby Vietnamese food cart and ducked into see [w:The Brothers Bloom].

Yeah! Perfect matinee fare: Beautiful actors! Stylish costumes! Hip, noirish production design! Amazing locations! Huge explosions! And it's all about con men! What's not to love?!?

Stars Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, Mark Ruffalo and Rinko Kikuchi are all sexy-beautiful. And they're all great actors. The story is playful, slightly philosophic and well written. Stephen (Ruffalo) and Bloom (Brody) are world-class con men. Orphaned from a young age, they've only got each other and the stories they work as part of the con. Oh, and they've got Berlin, Montenegro, and other mystique-soaked European haunts to act as backdrops for their well-cut silhouettes. (Adrien Brody will single-handedly bring back the derby and grey tweed jacket.)

Then the girl walks in.... Well, actually she kind of rather poorly drives her yellow Lambroghini in. Penelope (Weisz) is a lonely and rich eccentric. She's also brilliant and socially awkward enough to charm the scarred Brody. All the while, of course, he's charming her -- you know, as part of the con. Anyway, a large mansion, watermelon pin-hole camera, steamer boat to Greece, train ride to Prague and, not to give too much away, big explosions follow. Have I mentioned Bang-Bang (Kikuchi) the svelte and silent sidekick who works magic with explosives? She's hot. As the con unfolds, everyone wears fabulous hats, looks sharp, and fiddles with playing cards—shuffled, flicked, slipped up sleeves, picked, tossed and played, you name it. (They must have ordered a gross of decks for the production.)

Sound fun? It is.

There are a few moments that drag in the beginning of the third act, but that might be because they really knock it out of the park in act two. Act three rallies with an expected, but unexpected, twist. (And more explosions.) The ending's sweet and poignant. And the stunningly gorgious Brody and Weisz drive a little green Volkswagon into the St. Petersberg sunset.

This is writer/director Rian Johnson's second feature. It's a great sophomore effort. He handles the material and actors with ease. The con man script can get a little complicated, but the emotional element to the story really rings true and holds any loose ends together. There is a nostalgic longing to The Brothers Bloom that is somewhat similar to Wes Anderson's work, but without the edge of cynacism.

In summary, The Brothers Bloom kicks off what I hope to be a fantastic summer movie season. I give it 4 1/2 sunflowers.

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Speaking of movies, there was a crew shooting downtown today—lots of trailers and security. Wonder what it was. The Oregonian website offered no clues.

To complete my good day, I stopped by my local watering hole for a happy-hour beer. I swigged on the sunny/breezy sidewalk and read the New Yorker. As luck would have it, neighborhood friend Ben happened to have had the same idea and nice beer fueled chatting ensued. I realize it's not quite summer vacation, but I'm savoring today as a preview.