Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Ghost Writer, or, "Finally--something released in 2010 that's worth the price of admission."

I've been holding off writing about this movie because I've been trying to think of what to say about it other than "Go see it."

That's the weird state I always find myself in when I actually enjoy something creative. I never know when I'm going to get the urge to do an autopsy on a movie or hold it out to you cupped in my hands like a baby bird.

CRITICAL MATTHEW: Perfect image, dude. Autopsies are performed on the dead. Baby birds are alive.
MATTHEW'S THERAPIST: See? It's like the talking cure! All you have to do is keep speaking and all your inner questions are answered.
MATTHEW'S FRIENDS: No! No! Don't tell him that!
MATTHEW'S FRIENDS: Because it's impossible to get him to shut up as it is! Now we'll never hear the end of him!
MATTHEW: That reminds me of a story.

My therapist laughed when I told her "This is a picture of
two idealized versions of me duking it out."

Plus this is a thriller, so the less I say, the more you'll actually be able to experience what I did when I saw it. So let me throw out a few thoughts and impressions, and we can talk about it afterwards. Meaning: first of all? Go see this movie. Now.

Thoughts and impressions: I don't know where in Europe they filmed the Martha's Vineyard scenes, but it sure as hell looks authentic.

Who would have thought that Pierce Brosnan would have such a great post-James Bond career as an actor? (And that means you, too, Matador.)

If this movie had been made in the 70's, Michael Caine would have played the Ewan McGregor part. And this movie could have been made in the 70's. It's hard not to compare it to Three Days of the Condor or The Parallax View.

It's also next to impossible not to think of it as a thinly-veiled allegory about Roman Polanski's exile status. A guy shut up in a remote bunker besieged by the media? It's not just the plot of the movie; it's the director's life. (So you can totally see why he was attracted to the project.)

The movie starts out creepy and never stops, helped in no small part by the Alexandre Desplat score. And shots like this:

That's not a film frame; that's a photograph. It can stand on its own as an image whose effect is greater than the sum of its parts. If they were selling posters of this image, it would adorn the living rooms 5 out of every 6 NYU film students.

What else? There's a GPS bit that is so brilliantly simple that it's worthy of every Hitchcock comparison you can come up with. And this movie also has one of the greatest final shots of any movie made in the last 20 years.

All of which we'll talk about when you see it. Deal?

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