21 March 2011

Movies: Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass (2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1151359/

Bill Kincaid, an Ivy League professor of philosophy, has completely severed his ties with his family in the the small Oklahoma town where he grew up.  Just as his career is about to move to the next level he receives a call that his twin brother Brady, a small-time pot grower and ne'er do well, was murdered. Bill rushes back home, only to find that Brady is very much alive and has tricked Bill to return the only way Brady knew would work.  Brady's girlfriend is pregnant and Brady plans on retiring from the business, but he has a few loose ends to tie up with the regional drug kingpin, and Brady needs Bill so that he can be in two places at once.

Written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, probably remembered most as Delmar in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", although he's been in plenty other good flicks.  Stars Edward Norton as both Bill and Brady, Susan Sarandon as their Mom, Tim Blake Nelson, Keri Russell, and Richard Dreyfuss.  Plus a good supporting cast.

Good cinematography, edited together well, the whole cast does a great job in their roles.  As a whole the film had a decent story, even had some growth for some of the characters. 

However this movie seemed like a well built airplane that just lazily taxis around on the runway for an hour and fifteen minutes before it takes off and actually flies. Once that plane is in the air, all that lazy taxiing about suddenly becomes relevant and everything makes sense in the end.  I felt that ultimately the end was enough to make the wait worth it. I have to admit that quite a few times I was wondering if it was going anywhere and was almost ready to give up on it. I'm glad the film finally got going when it did, it really saved the movie as a whole for me.

It's a dark comedy / crime drama - but a lot of times the comedy is subtle and is almost overshadowed by the weight of the drama.  It could almost have been a Coen brothers film, but wasn't quite as snappy or driven from scene to scene the way Coen brothers films tend to be.  Still, it seems as if working with the Coens rubbed off a little on Tim Blake Nelson.

Overall I liked the movie, even though I spent the first hour and change wondering where the heck it was going. I was glad to see that pretty much everything we are shown in that first hour has bearing on where the movie ends - nothing shown us is wasted. It's sort of a shame, though, that a movie that is well put together as a whole still seems lacking on some level. It's good enough, but probably easily forgettable.

The movie has a tiny bit pertaining to noodling. I only mention that because I noticed that noodling references seem to have become more prominent lately. I dunno why - either they've always been there and I'm just noticing, or it really is getting mentioned more.

By the way, if you've not seen "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" I recommend you do.  It is worth seeing at least once.

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