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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Guard (Limited Release Date: 7-29-2011)/Throllhunter (Limited Release Date: 6-10-2011)

The Guard
        A funny thing happens when your movie's exact genre can be summarized in Three words fewer. Take for example, 'Horror Flick,' or, 'Inspirational True Story.' There are certain beats that can be expected in such a film, and while that fact can prove comforting, it puts a real ceiling on just how good your movie can be. The Guard is a, 'Buddy-Cop Movie,' through and through, which is already a pretty heavily populated genre, One difficult to make an impression in. It has plenty of things going for it; The unique location of Ireland, a leading man as wonderful and unique as Brendan Gleeson, and the always reliable Don Cheadle.

         Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Gleeson) is a man of questionable moral virtue, but a real knack for his job. He's not against swiping the occasional drug from a random criminal, but at the end of the day, he gets the job done. Into his tiny town comes a vicious murder, and with it, FBI agent Wendell Everett, a man as attached to withholding standard practice as Boyle is to destroying it. Gleeson is an inspired cast, playing a lovable dirty-old-man in a way that few could. He's easily the best thing that the movie has going for it, though cinematographer Larry Smith does render the film in all kinds of eye-popping colors. But The Guard can't escape what it is; Even in the hands of a first-time Director (John Michael McDonagh) and an, 'exotic,' setting, the thing is far too heavily cliched to make an impact. As always with foreign films, I recognize that much of the film's culturally-based humor and nuance likely went over my head, but I can only judge the movie for how I saw it. The Guard is comprised of a stand-out performance confined to a largely ordinary film.

Grade: B-

        The, 'Found-Footage,' phenomenon in the Horror genre is largely seen as an American innovation (at least here), but the rest of the world has more than gotten their feet wet. Take Spain, who's [Rec] (Later remade in America as Quarantine) was released One year before Cloverfield. That tradition carries on with Trollhunter, a Norwegian faux-true story about a band of young filmmakers (Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, and Tomas Alf Larsen) following a reclusive mountain-man (Otto Jespersen) on his secret missions to -you guessed it- hunt trolls.

        Through every Norwegian film that I have ever been exposed to runs a deep sense of dry humor, and Trollhunter is certainly no different. Jespersen, a well-known comedian in his country, has all kinds of fun drolly reciting the various practices and rules about trolls, his jaded woodsman proving to be the film's best aspect. The trolls are big and goofy looking; Before they're seen, you could be forgiven for thinking the movie might try to scare you, but once the cat's out of the bag, it's all fun and games. There is, of course, nothing wrong with making a pure dry comedy with these kinds of strange trappings, but I can't help but see a missed opportunity in not trying to maintain the Horror angle after 15 minutes. As with The Guard, I have no doubt that my enjoyment would have been bolstered by cultural familiarity, but I know I've found other films from the area far more tickling than this. Despite an initial intensity, and some pretty strong One-liners, Trollhunter is (amazingly) something of a dull affair.

Grade: C+

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