Smile Through It II: The Next Chapter

Chasing dreams, because I can

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Cohens and Dons

Posted by Oli on Tuesday 21st October, 2008

Up at 6am this morning to get K to her Uni train for her long day – 9am lecture start and solid work through until 4 – pretty epic, really.  Still, if one will choose the hardest working course outside of Law and Medicine, what do you expect?  What I expect is, of course, huge backlash from every single student who reads this blog telling me that they’re course is just as hard-working as any other.  I won’t believe them, though.  Especially the Media students…

Back home I managed to get through quite a bit of stuff, looking into a couple of new business opportunities which may help me in setting up the company I most want to run as well as getting through some Live Life stuff which has been sitting on my desk for a while.

Around 10ish I gave in and took myself off to bed for an hour as I couldn’t keep my eyes open, then got myself up to head in to the flicks to catch Burn After Reading, the new Cohen brothers film.

I must confess I’m not exactly a Cohen brothers fan.  Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing apart, I tend to find their films a little too quirky and impenetrable for my tastes, however much I want to like them desperately.  No Country For Old Men is a case in point, where the majority of the movie had me gripped and was really well put together, but the last act just left me cold.  It wasn’t even as if I could pinpoint what they were trying to do and addmire it, as I frequently can and do with films I don’t like but see the merit in.  I was just baffled.

Burn After Reading is more my kind of thing.  It’s got the Cohen quirks, but at a much more restrained level and features a fantastic cast doing some of their best work in a long time.  Not just George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, either – J K Simmons knocks his ever-so-brief role out of the park and hits all the right comic notes and the rest of the cast are equally impeccable.

The plot is cleverly convoluted without getting beyond the audience.  The confusions and mix-ups that make a good thriller are in place, as is the almost trademark high-violence of the Cohens, albeit somewhat restrained from some of the rest of their pieces.  Pitt really lets himself go and looks like he’s having a wail of a time, but then I’ve been a fan of his for years, since the days before he was BRAD PITT or Mr. Jolie.

With the up-coming Changling, I think both Mr and Mrs Pitt are coming back to show that they have the talent to raise themselves above the kind of tabloid-fodder which has caused or reflected many a career misstep.  I’m always excited to see either of them work and when they come up with a cracker – as in the case of Fight Club, Se7en or Legends of the Fall for Pitt, Gia or Girl, Interrupted for Jolie – it always really pleases me.

If you’re a Cohen fan, there’s much to admire and it’s definitely a “Cohen” film, but if they’re not your cup of tea, don’t necessarily let that put you off – this is a far more “mainstream”-feeling movie with a more accessible structure, plot and storyline than much of what has come before.

Back home after the flick I caught up with a friend who I’ve not seen properly for far too long, which is always nice, although we could only squeeze in a quick hour before I had to grab K from the train, change hurriedly and pick Dad up for a trip to see MK Dons courtesy of Clydesdale Bank.

It was the first time I’d been to Stadium:MK and I have to say I was mightily impressed.  It’s a lovely stadium and the pitch was immaculate.  The game was pretty good, too – entertaining and interesting to watch the way the Dons play under Di Matteo, although with the final score resting at 2-1 to Stockport after an own goal in the last minute, it could have been a better result.

It was interesting to reflect on the power of team support, though.  As a Saints (Southampton) fan, whenever I go to a game, I get incredibly involved and tend to scream and shout with the rest of them.  If we lose, I’m always in a bad mood for most of the rest of the day.  On the other hand, watching the Dons, who I follow and support as a local team, I wasn’t overly bothered by the result.  It was a strrange feeling of under-whelmedness, I guess, which I found intriguing.  Maybe if I watch more games (which, incidentally, I’d love to do) I would have more of an investment in the club and their results, but as it was last night was just a really fun, if slightly chilly, night out.

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