Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Cassandra's Dream

The reason posting was so lax over the weekend was that most of us here at ShineBox were down for the count, in bed, sick.

But there was but one thing that got me out of bed, doped up to my ears and it was the fact that Woody Allen's new picture, Cassandra's Dream, opened up in Salt Lake City.

I've been terribly excited for this film for a while, I've turned into quite the Woody Allen nerd in the last few years. (And he's crazy if he doesn't think he influences young filmmakers.)

But this film delivered on all counts. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell play brothers Ian and Terry, both are in dire need of money. It's actually kind of funny, the level of favors being asked progress from small to large and what's asked in return gets larger and larger. Ian goes to Terry, asking to borrow a car and 300 pounds. Terry replies by explaining that not only can he not do that, he lost 90,000 pounds playing poker and needs to borrow Ian's savings to make payments to the loan sharks so they won't break his legs. The pair of them go to their Uncle who says that he can help them, but he needs them to kill a man so he doesn't go to jail for the rest of his life.

The film broods slowly, forcing you to boil in the indecision of the brothers. Are they going to help their Uncle? Can they live with a murder to solve their problems?

The moral dillemas and choices made by the characters in the film are portrayed in such a realistic fashion it's bizarre. In film, murder is an easy thing, but Woody Allen manages to make you feel the burden of the decision they have to make.

I don't want to give away too much about the movie, and I would bet that you'd all be as split on it as the critics are, but the debates about the film afterwards have been quite fulfilling. Did they have a choice? Was it all fate?

The acting in the film is top-notch, Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell and Tom Wilkinson are a trifecta that simply can't be beat. And with Woody Allen's choice of cinematographer and composer (Vilmos Zsigmond and Phillip Glass, respectively) you know he's simply not screwing around with his craft. I'm continually surprised by how well Woody Allen can ape Hitchcock (from Match Point to Manhattan Murder Mystery) he's able to create a tone of suspense with as much care and skill, but somehow, I don't think people will remember that about him.

I also want to specifically call out Colin Farrell for how bloody good he was in this film. He's so unsure of himself and his choices and his sadness and depression get you in the gut.

Long story short, go see this picture.

I know I'm going to try to go again.

(Also, this actually doubles my excitement for his next film, set in Spain, starring Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz.)

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