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Beaks here... The Fantastic Fest reviews keep pouring in! Sounds like it's been an amazing week of cinema, maybe the best ever for FF. Here's Augustus Gloop with reviews for Rian Johnson's THE BROTHERS BLOOM and Ji-Woon Kim's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD...
The Good The Bad and The Weird ------------------------------ This was the audience favorite of the fest, and it's easy to see why. Westerns really seem to be in fashion, and we're getting to see some really great films as a result. It's been 20ish years since I saw The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, so watching this Korean remake was a little like a dream or deja-vu. The general plot is the same, with the details changed, and there are numerous obvious homage shots. What really sets this apart from the original is the humor. The 'Weird' character manages to get through every fight with his own unusual style, making use of what resources are immediately available. In one hilarious scene, he uses a diving helmet as armor while he takes out half a dozen opponents. Not unlike Jackie Chan might be if he played a gunslinger, there's one shot where he trips and slides down just three or four steps, avoiding bullets and shooting while he slides. That's just a small part of an epic ten or fifteen minute extended gun battle that doesn't pause for a moment. From the beginning train robbery to the epic final confrontation, every moment of this film was pure concentrated fun. The Brothers Bloom ------------------ Writer and director Rian Johnson has brought a fun, quirky con film for the first of Fantastic Fest's secret screenings. Stars Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz are joined by a fantastic supporting cast including Rinko Kikuchi as the Silent Bob of asian vamp explosives experts 'Bang Bang', Robbie Coltrane as the friendly accomplice 'The Curator', and Maximilian Schell as the ominous Russian ex-mentor 'Diamond Dog'. With stunning sets and exotic locations, The Brothers Bloom most reminded me of the masterpiece Topkapi, which screened last summer at the Half-Ass a thon. When the two lifelong conmen, brother Stephen and Bloom pull off their latest job, Bloom is despondent about the life he's living, only able to follow the lines written for him by Stephen. Before leaving retire to an island paradise, he tells his brother he just wants to live an unscripted life. Three months later, his brother tracks him down to encourage him to pull off one last big con before he quits for good. The target: Penelope Stamp, a reclusive billionaire heiress played by Rachel Weisz. It is Weisz's character that really gives heart to the movie, with her naieve exuberance and spirit. Locked in a mansion her entire life, she has devoted herself to one obsession after another, and when she meets Bloom, she devotes herself to becoming a smuggler (his alleged former profession). As their adventures continue, she pursues her new career, walking through each situation like Holly Golightly. Brody's Bloom is morose and pining, even during the happiest moments. Maybe he just has sad eyes, but I didn't feel this was his lifetime best performance. In all, The Brothers Bloom was a fun show, but audience reaction was mixed. The conclusion to the long con was somewhat predictable, and some felt that it should have ended sooner. The introduction with school-age Stephen and Bloom could have been expanded into a delightful kids film, and fit the tone of Weisz's arc, but did not quite jibe with the ending. I enjoyed that unlike many such films, Bloom didn't stop after each con to explain to the audience in flashbacks what had actually happened. The viewer is smart enough to follow what's going on, and the point was not to con the audience. Recommended for a good time, but not a groundbreaking film. -Augustus Gloop

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