In Bruges, Mr Brooks, Burn After Reading.
This carries a tag line of "Shoot First. Sightsee Later." Yes, it's gangsters and guns in Bruges, Belgium after a shoot out in London goes wrong for two Irish hit men. I have never seen Brendan Gleeson in anything before, but he proved to be a captivating screen presence, as was Colin Farrell. Both managed to elicit sympathy in characters you'd prefer not to meet at the best of times. But the biggest surprise for me was Ralph Fiennes as I've never been a fan of his. He comes into the story when it becomes a matter of honour and needs to do a bit of dirty work himself. It's a chilling and stunning performance. A mix of darkness, tragedy, comedy and the surreal, expect to laugh, enjoy the setting and possibly reach for tissues.
Alerted to this one by Martin at Do You Write Under Your Own Name? It's a serial killer story with a twist; the sort of twist that turns everything on its head. If the psychopathic serial killer is a paranoid schizophrenic, Kevin Costner's Mr Brooks hardly ever appears without his alter ego ("voice") played by William Hurt in a very chilling performance. His latest killing goes wrong when he is seen by someone and a little bit of bribery comes into play. But the witness is not after money. Oh no, he wants something else in the first of a series of original and unexpected twists. Hot on the case is a wilful, stubborn detective played (convincingly) by Demi Moore; the detective having something to prove. One part of the plot was a bit ludicrous, but with suspension of disbelief, further twists come into play before the end. Mrs Brooks is played by Marg Helgenberger of CSI who was originally unrecognisable. Has she gone under the knife recently?
Even though I was not fully convinced by Kevin Costner's performance, the movie does grab attention. I was roasting some butternut squash to make soup when watching. Eventually, I remembered what the smell was. The soup never got made.
Burn After Reading
Having loved Fargo, here was another Coen brothers and Frances McDormand vehicle with the added bonus of George Clooney and John Malkovich that I couldn't resist. It's all a bit surreal with the label spot on: "...outrageous spy comedy about murder, blackmail, sex addiction and physical fitness." When Malkovich's character walks out of the CIA after rejecting a move/demotion, he decides to write a memoir. The disc gets into the hands of two gym employees who attempt to blackmail him, but the disc contains some rather poor revelations which complicate matters. McDormand plays one of the blackmailers motivated by wanting money to purchase a series of cosmetic enhancements. Brad Pitt plays the other, in what was a revelation of a comic performance for me. (I am probably the only woman in the world who did not really notice him in Thelma and Louise; he was just a six pack on show.) McDormand does quirky and Malkovich does rage as beautifully as usual. Tilda Swinton does an excellent turn as an ice cold, English, posh totty, let down wife. Burn After reading contains scenes with excellent comic timing from an ensemble cast. This is one I will watch again and I expect to laugh more on the second innings.