“Little over a month, and we’re at the end of the Edward Norton project. So much easier doing a quick one like this instead of a 100 movie project. I’ve already got the next couple planned out. Just gotta take a few days to get my purchase queue down and let theatre stuff settled before moving on.

Kinda sad that we gotta end it on this note. I justify all of the other movies Ed’s done that I may not care for, but this one I can’t really make excuses for. It’s a bad movie. I said as much when I saw it. I blame DeNiro, though. He hasn’t been good at picking movies this century.

I said it before, but I can see why Norton would be drawn to this movie. It’s a great character role, but a serious character role, not a comedic one. While he’s played conflicted jailbird or soon to be jailbird before, here he really is someone who deserves the time behind bars. Add in the dialect and mannerisms and cornrows (oh yes, there’s cornrows) and it’s a much different character than we’ve seen before. If only the rest of the movie was better.”

Leaves of Grass

“Can you honestly say you’ve heard of this movie before today? If I wasn’t such an avid Edward Norton fan, I prolly wouldnt have. It only played in a limited run in select theaters. Didnt even make it to Boston. Such a shame because it’s a great one. I actually considred it for my bday movie night this past year, but then Tucker & Dale came along.

In Leaves of Grass, Edward Norton plays a dual role of completely unidentical twins Brady and Bill. One is a clean cut college professor, the other is a redneck pot dealer. The good brothers gets lured into a scheme to rescue the other from some trouble with the drug lords, and it all goes to hell from there. Dark with a touch of comedy, just the way I like it.

The two characters couldnt be any more different, and Norton masterfully turns up the contrast. Between the accents, the attitudes, the appearances, all different. But not too different. He’s still able to establish a familial relationship, with himself. Kind of a very fine line when you think about it. He needs to create two characters that are distinct enough that you can keep them separate, but same enough that you still believe they’re family. Even if it’s estranged family.”

The Invention of Lying

“This one hardly counts. Ed’s only in it for about 5 minutes. Actually the YouTube clip clocks in at 2:36. Let’s watch it, shall we?

I saw this movie at the theater on a whim. I’d been getting interested in Ricky Gervais, prolly with all the Golden Globe stuff, and had a free evening. The roomie I had back then joined me. I did not know Norton had a cameo. It wasn’t until halfway thru his scene that I even recognized him, and even then I wasn’t quite sure until I IMDB-ed it at home. A few months later, I’m watching the DVD at the apt. The roomie walks in “”You bought that? I thought you didn’t really like it”” “”Yeah, but Edward Norton’s in it. I had to”” “”What? He’s in it?”” It almost took longer to describe the scene than it would have been to just rewind and play it.

Even if it’s only a short part, it’s a fun one. This movie is filled with some fantastic cameos and bit parts, definitely it’s biggest strength. Norton was a less obvious choice (among names like Tina Fey and Jeffrey Tambour) but he proves that he can run with the big dogs of comedy. Again, we’ve been over how he’s best known for his dramatic roles, but he can play the comedy game too.

As far as the rest of the movie, I do have some rather strong feelings about the movie. The premise is original and clever. The failure is in the execution. It starts off great. A lot of fantastic dialogue and shock comedy. And its an intriguing scenario that gets you thinking. I have two major problems with it. The first is that there’s a difference between not lying and being overly forthcoming. It’s one thing to answer questions with some overly truthiness. It’s another to just announce TMI items when you meet someone. Even if that’s your entire inner monologue at the time, not lying does not equal no filter. Any of those moments just seemed forced.

I could have gotten over that. However, my bigger issue was the anti-religious turn the movie took about halfway. Its not that I have a problem with the point they were trying to make. I may not necessarily agree with it (I dont) but I am okay with people expressing their opinions. My problem is that the movie really didn’t need to go there. Yes, I’m actually about to advocate for a romantic plotline, but if they’d just stuck to that it would have worked much better. Or at least not played up the religious storyline so much. Ricky Gervais has always been clear on this thoughts on the subject, but he doesnt hafta beat us over the head with it. They just keep driving and driving the point that it goes from clever to (anti)preachy and it just overpowers everything.


Oooh in crossposting this entry, I found my old write up. Not sure why it’s not on my index page, but here it is…

Really intriguing premise. The movie started off hi-larious. I found a strange sorta irony in how humorous the real truth can be. Such completely off the wall statements kept coming from all directions, delivered in a very matter of fact manner. Although my favorites were the ones that were written down–names of places, slogans, etc. But then somewhere along the way, the novelty wore off. They realized there had to be a story that went somewhere, and it sorta didnt. I ended up quite bored for the entire second half.

There were also a lot of consistency and conceptual issues. Most of them were forgivable, but there was something just a bit off about the overall concept that I cant quite put my finger on.

On the acting side, mostly liked Ricky Gervais. I’d never actually seen him with more than a bit role or 5 minutes of show stealing during an awards show. He reminded me of Eddie Izzard, which is a very good thing because Izzard’s got the only British comedy I like so that made me like Gervais. Although there was the occasional bit of douche bag overload in his character. Never been a fan of Jennifer Garner, and I prolly never will. But her bubbly cuteness worked well, although I think she played a bit more of an airhead than was intended.

However, the best was the cameo –> featured size roles. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, even Edward Norton (who snuck up on me. Had no idea before he was in this, and with him being my favorite actor, Im usually on top of these things). All of them were just brilliant.

Yeah that’s the short roundup. Your best bet would prolly be to watch the first half of the movie, then hop theathers over to Zombieland just in time for the awesome cameo. Or figure some other clever way of only watching the good half of this flick”

Pride and Glory

“Pretty much every actor’s gotta have the “”cop drama”” on his resume. Here’s Edward Norton’s. Another one on the list I dont remember much from. Cops. Colin Farrell. A standoff in a convenience store. A poolhall fight. Guess Ima hafta pay attention to this one.

I do hafta say, Im loving all the Spanish he speaks. Yeah, he’s got a gringo accent, but he’s otherwise got a pretty good command on the language. This is another where he’s combining tough, smart, and vulnerable. He always manages to get the mix right, but I’ve found he’s more impressive or at least more memorable when he’s closer to one edge or the other. Or maybe it’s just that this movie is a little thin, so he doesnt have as much to work with.

The whole cop drama thing is so overdone. Crooked cops. Conflicted cops. Crazy cops. Careless cops. Calculating cops. We’ve seen it all. This one doesnt really add much to the mix.

Yeah so much for paying more attention. I’ve spent the past hour scouring YouTube for that Brave trailer that has The Dollyrots “”Because I’m Awesome””. I still can’t find it.”

Moonrise Kingdom

“I suppose I could technically file this one with the Edward Norton project, even though it’s a new release. I actually considered waiting until the end of the project (at this rate, I should be done within a week or so) but I dont like holding off on high priority movies for more than two weeks. I’m stubborn.

I first heard about Moonrise Kingdom from Ed’s twitter. I cant remember what he tweeted, a poster or something. First thought was “”huh””. My feelings towards Wes Anderson are similar to my feelings on Woody Allen (wow, same initials, mind = blown). Dont care too much for his work, but appreciate its artistic value, and if given the opportunity, I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him. I had an apprehensive feeling of “”ugh, Ed why do ya hafta be in this movie because now I’ll hafta see it””. Coming out of the movie, that changed to a “”thanks, Mr Norton, or else I’d have never seen this””

Here’s my deal with Anderson. I’ve seen a few of his movies and didnt quite get them. His stuff is often touted as dark comedy, a genre that I \m/ love. However, before I knew better, I expected more comedy (Death to Smoochy style) and got mostly dark. On top of that, there’s this awkward vibe to his movies. You can tell that he thinks something is funny, but can’t figure out if the actors are in on the joke or maybe are too far in on the joke. Maybe they are so convinced it’s funny, but they forget to convey it to the audience. I dont know. It’s just weird. I watched Royal Tenenbaums multiple times hoping I’d just missed something, or that it would just click and I’d understand it. I gave up. I enjoyed Fantastic Mr Fox, but that was such a different animal (pun not entirely intended) it hardly counts. Moonrise Kingdom, finally a step in the right direction.

Things just seemed to fall into place more this time around. It was still _very_ Wes Anderson, but by now I can appreciate a lot of it. I loved the quirky shots and the detailed sets and props and the neurotic characters. The tone balance was much improved too. Instead of a dark undertone with moments of levity, this film had a brighter feel with interspersed dark moments. It was actually kinda cute, but just the right amount of little bit messed up. A lot of that came from the fact that a majority of the cast was prepubescent. You’re not exactly gonna have Tenenbaum storylines with a bunch of kids.

The cast was fantastic as well. I absolutely adored our lead couple, Sam and Suzy, played by newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. I was actually half convinced thru the whole thing that Gilman is Glenn on Mad Men, but he’s not. Just similiarly misunderstood characters who happen to look alike. Hayward’s expressions were just priceless throughout. The kids were precocious without being annoying, and outcast enough to be relatable for me at least.

Okay, Edward Norton gets his own paragraph because, well, this is my blog. He was certainly my fave character, but I suppose he was at an unfair advantage for that. Of all the veteran cast members, none chewed more scenery than our boy Ed, and no one seemed to have more fun than he did. We haven’t seen this caliber of character acting from him since Death to Smoochy, and I love it. He seems to be back on track after a few questionable movie choices in the recent path. With a spot in the new Bourne coming up, he certainly looks to continue that pattern.

The other adults were fun and quirky as well: Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Bruce Willis. All very well suited for their roles and for the world of Anderson. Also, major bonus points for the score. I’d bet the music sounds strange out of context, but it fit the feel of the movie quite well.

Moonrise Kingdom – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

The Incredible Hulk

“Hearing about Edward Norton being cast as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk left me with equal parts excitement and confusion. And some skepticism as well, but that’s usually a given with any superhero movie since they can hit just about anywhere on the spectrum. But I was excited to see my favorite actor venture into this world, especially because I had high hopes for him cleaning up a misfired franchise. But I was also confused because I never woulda pegged him for the type.

The consensus at the time was that it was a vast improvement over Eric Bana’s venture helmed by Ang Lee, but something was still a bit off. Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon’s Avengers taught us how to do the big guy right. Watching this now, I still cant put my finger on why this wasn’t as successful. I just remember having a general “”meh”” feeling on the subject.

I guess there is a bit too much desperation in Bruce. You dont see much to his character other than panicky reaction. Some more depth would have been nice. I also never bought his chemistry with Liv Tyler’s Betty Ross, but then again, I’ve noticed on this project that he seems to have trouble in that area. Norton apparently did a lot of uncredited rewrite work on the script. His final cut wasn’t entirely kept, but much of the details were. I’d be curious to see how it’d have turned out if it were fully his.

Mmm yeah now I see some of the problem. Hulk still looks too plastic. Not quite the Macys Day Parade balloon that he was back in 2003, and at least he’s a slightly more manageable size, but CGI still hadn’t quite caught up yet. The realistic detail is there, but the texture is off. He could be a bit smaller too. The whole conservation of mass thing bugs my inner nerd. Oh who am I kidding. My nerd is by no means inner.”

The Painted Veil

“I reluctantly dragged myself to the theater to see this one back when it was released. I didnt really know anything about it, but something just screamed “”High school English class””. My mind grouped it with Scarlet Letter and Wuthering Heights and other such works. I thought the movie was gonna be long and dragged out and boring. I never expected to be as enthralled and captivated as I was.

The short summary does sound kinda dull “”A British medical doctor fights a cholera outbreak in a small Chinese village, while also being trapped at home in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful wife.”” But its incredibly gripping and far darker than I would have ever guessed. Edward Norton plays Dr Fane. He starts off as this adorable sap who is hopelessly in love with Naomi Watt’s Kitty who just walks all over him. But then he proves that he actually does have some huevos when he essentially blackmails his wife into following him into that disease ridden village. That scene (starting at 3:40) made my jaw drop. And it just gets deeper from there, as he makes harder hitting passive agressive moves against his wife. You wouldnt think to find suspense in a movie like this, but the tension is just so high (just as during that dinner scene with the uncooked vegetables), it just knocks the wind outta you.

Looking at this phase of his career, Norton has certainly chosen some complex characters, and Dr Fane is no exception. As I’d just been saying, he starts off as a pushover, and then becomes rather cunning, and then, well we wont spoil it. It’s just a phenomenal performance. After being robbed of Oscar glory for American History X, it seemed like Ed spent a good while chasing down another chance. This certainly could have been it (it was getting some longshot buzz) if only more people had seen this movie.

But of course, his performance would have been nothing without a strong leading lady. Naomi Watts has such fire and stubborn defiance as Kitty. She too goes thru just as much of a transformation, though her arc is different as get goes from spoiled brat to opressed prisoner to, well, where she finally ends up. The cast also boasts Liev Schriber (which is where he first met his now honey Naomi) and Toby Jones.

I love this score too. So hauntingly beautiful. Matches the tone of the film perfectly.”

The Illusionist

“Hollywood seems to always have a thing for competing movies. Right now it’s the two Snow Whites. Recent memory also had the two Truman Capote films. Coming up there’s two about Steve Jobs. Back in 2006, it was the two “”magic”” films. If you’re scratching your head at that statement, it’s prolly because The Illusionist turned out to be greatly overshadowed by it’s perceived competitor, The Prestige. Oh yes, now you know what I’m talking about. The Prestige won out because it was a bit flashier, had bigger names, had a more intense story, and oh yeah the whole Christopher Nolan factor. I’m not gonna try and convince you that The Illusionist was better. Heavens no, I’m on Team Prestige all the way. But I do want to stand up for this movie and keep it from the obscure oblivion it has been relegated to.

The Illusionist isnt without its flaws. Too many of his illusions involve CGI. I never quite bought the chemistry between Edward Norton’s Eisenheim and Jessica Biel’s Sophie. The pace is a little slow. But it’s still a beautiful movie, if too sappy for my taste. Edward Norton delivers another fantastic yet understated performance. We get a full performance with the accent we only heard bits of in Kingdom of Heaven. And like Down in the Valley, we have someone who is perfectly sweet on the outside, but hiding a darkness inside. If I weren’t falling asleep from staying up to watch my Spurs play last night (we will not discuss how THAT turned out) I may be able to write more on the subject.”

Down in the Valley

“I remember pretty much zero about Down in the Valley. I remember running in the rain from my dorm room to the nearest indie theater the day I noticed this was playing. I dont know if I’d even bothered to watch the trailer before I left. I was beyond soaked, and had my jacket drying out in the seat next to me. As far as the movie, I just remember Edward Norton is a cowboy and he’s got a kinda sketchy relationship with Evan Rachel Wood (does she ever have a relatoinship that’s not inappropriate, on film or otherwise?). I’d totally forgotten about Rory Culkin until the opening credits. Oh yeah David Morse as the dad. Vague recollection of that. Guess it’ll be like the first watch all over again, even though I think it’s my third.

OhMyGee itty bitty Hunter Parrish with long shaggy Zac Hanson hair, and Google fails me for finding a picture.

Right. Edward Norton blog. We’re kinda reaching an interesting part in his career. After having a bunch of roles that had some core similarities, he went for a string of unique characters, such as his cowboy, Harlan. He plays the western gentlemen so well, but you can just see the hint of something else lurking beneath the surface. You wanna get swept up by his char, but for some unknown reason you’re just a bit uneasy about it. Just when you think this movie’s gonna be sappy it gets dark quick. Something about it feels a little off though. I think maybe it’s that the girl gets on my nerves. She’s not very smart, and this whole thing could have easily been avoided. She’s like the Kim Bauer of the movie.”

Kingdom of Heaven

“I’m breaking my rule. I’d told myself no more than two project movies in one day, after a few dragged out days on the AFI project. But here I am, with a third Edward Norton movie today. I was good about spacing them out, though. I took a dance and shower break between the first two, and a laundry and This Means War break between the next. Besides, my movie queue is at a rather small size and timing wise this 2+ hour one fits better today.

Kingdom of Heaven is a hardly registered blip on the Edward Norton scale. I’d bet that if you watched this not knowing he was involved, you would miss him entirely. That’s because for his portrayl of King Baldwin (who has minimal screentime to begin with), he’s entirely masked. This is also the first time you hear Norton with an accent, so his voice is tough to recognize. I remember not being entirely sure it was him when I saw this at the theater.

Also, on an unimportant ExpDel trivial note, all of Norton’s previous films have been grouped together on my movie wall. That’s because when the collection first got big enough to label and catalog, I tried grouping like things together. From there I just put new acquisitions at the back of the pile. I actually had to hunt for this one a bit cause I wasn’t sure how far along the wall to check for it.

I dont think I’ve seen this since buying it. At the time, I only knew Edward Norton and Orlando Bloom. Reading thru the cast list now, there’s so many other names I recognize: Liam Neeson, David Thewlis, Michael Sheen, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons. This was 2005, so I was just starting to hit my groove movie wise. Playing a lot of catch up, figuring out how to get to the theater often. We hadn’t quite hit obsession I dont think.

My God, Ridley Scott certainly seems to enjoy his epics, doesn’t he? Here’s another one for the pile. I remember that being my initial impression of the film. It was long and well, epic. I found the subject matter interesting, but the story too drawn out. We’ll see how it goes today. And in true epic fashion, you never really catch anyone’s names. I’ve also never really been a fan of big battle scenes. I’m pretty sure I’ll be grabbing laundry to put away soon.”