Written by: Cormac McCarthy
Publication Date: September 26, 2006
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: Postapocalyptic fiction
Movie Adaptation: Directed by John Hillcoat. Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron and Robert Duvall. Screenplay by Joe Penhall. Release date: November 25, 2009. Studio: Dimension Films/The Weinstein Company
First of all, I want to say that when the next Movie Book Smackdown was going to be Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning 2006 novel, The Road, Kai B. Parker from The List and The MILFcast said that it was his favorite book of all time. That’s a big compliment. Comparing the book to the movie is like comparing Granny Smith apples to Washington apples.
This is a harrowing story about a nameless father and son trying to survive in a postapocalyptic wasteland. The Earth has died, but life still goes on in some aspect. Humanity has turned on itself. The father and son are traveling in a gray, desolate world where they have to watch out for robbers and cannibals.
Reading the book was a much different experience than watching the John Hillcoat movie. The book was an epic, chapter-less story about the survival of a father and his son. The reader goes through the trailers of finding clean drinking water, where their next meal is going to be, building a fire to keep warm from the gray, cold snow and rain. McCarthy’s words are simple, direct and unflinching, describing the horrific conditions of living after the world dies. The primary strength of the book is the father and son relationship. It was the anchor that made me wants to see what will happen to them, even thought it already revealed in the movie what happened.
It made it an uncomfortable experience to read about a black, dead, ashen world that wares on your patience. The run-on sequence of event made me uneasy. Having no quotation marks, no distinction between different characters made you disoriented. In the beginning of the book, the son annoyed the hell out of me with his redundant questions.
Final KO: The book and the movie have their strengths and weaknesses. The book had more establishment of the characters and reading McCarthy’s words made the characters feel like they were in more peril. The movie does some of the mental work for you. You see the desolation, the charred remains of houses, cities and forests. It’s a draw.
I know that my top list is coming three months late. Being an avid follower of the Academy Awards, I wanted to see as much of the nominated films as I can before the big ceremony on Sunday. I have to say that ranking this list was a colossal undertaking. I had over fifteen movies that I gave 4 1/2 star or higher ratings to and now, I think I have definitive list.
First, I wanted to give out some honorable mentions to the movies that missed the cut; Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Every Little Step, World’s Greatest Dad, The Hangover, District 9, The Cove, and Food Inc.
Now to the my top ten favorite movies of 2009 from number ten to number one.
10. Antichrist – When I initially reviewed this movie back in October for my “Creep-A-Thon”, I gave it a five star rating. The more time passes, the more I think I thought I misinterpreted Lars von Trier’s intentions. He said that he was not doing his best creating this film. It seemed too avart-garde for its own good, especially the opening sequence with the slow motion action, the swelling orchestra music, and un-simulated sex. To borrow a quote a fellow LAMB, Tom Clift from Plus Trailers, “It is one of the most flawed masterpieces you will ever see.” Chaos reigns!
9. The Road – This film has gotten the shaft during awards season. It was bumped from the 2008 season, because The Weinstein Company wanted to promote that horrible movie, The Reader. Yes, this movie is unflinchingly bleak account of a world after an unknown apocalypse, but this movie is a look at world that could be possible if we continue down the path that were going. Viggo Mortensen gave one of the best performances of the year and he was overlooked. Why the resistance? It it because it’s not “a happy, happy, joy, joy” world. Is it because it’s greay, light gray and dark gray? I don’t understand.
8. Up in the Air – After the overwhelming hype surrounding this movie touting it as “the movie of moment, a movie of the times,” I was hesitant that I would be disappointed with it. In the hands of Jason Reitman, I was proven wrong. It is a wonderful take on corporate downsizing and the need for human connection. The writing is strong and the performances from George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga were exceptional.
7. (500) Days of Summer – I heard the deafening buzz surrounding this movie when it premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. This is another movie I thought I would hate. When I saw it in the theaters, the beginning of the movie bored the hell of out me, but something happened that I begun to become engrossed in this story about the girl that got away. There is one particular split screen moment that made my heart ache for a long time after the movie was over. I thought this was a breath of fresh air to dying romantic comedy genre.
6. Drag Me to Hell – I didn’t see this movie at theaters, because I thought it was weird that it was released in May. People were scared shitless seeing this movie. After hearing numerous people putting this on their top ten lists, I wanted to check it out, I’m glad I did. Sam Raimi blended the perfect ingredients of horror and comedy to create a kick ass story about a sweet young woman being forced to fight for her soul. The still above it from my favorite part of the movie.
5. A Single Man – When I heard that renowned fashion designer Tom Ford wanted to make movies, I thought that he was crazy to do so. I didn’t think that much about when it received a good response at the Venice Film Festival when it was bought by The Weinstein Company. It because one of my eagerly anticipated movies of the year. When I saw it, it was visual eye candy, the lushness of the color, the costumes, the subtlety of taking story of heartbreak not boring. Colin Firth gave one of the most nuanced, brilliant performances of the year.
4. Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” – When the trailer of this movie choked me up, I wanted to see it immediately. I was not disappointed when I saw a raw, emotional performance from newcomer Gabourey Sidibe playing titular character that has to endure the shit storm that fell on her. Her perseverance, being able to see light in world full of darkness is truly inspiring. Mo’Nique played against type to make Mommie Dearest look like Carol Brady. Wonderful piece of cinema.
3. The Brothers Bloom – This movie flew under the radar for a lot of people because it came out in limited release during the summer. I wanted to see it and it was nowhere to be found. On DVD, I saw what the fuss was about. After being left cold watching Rian Johnson debut film, Brick, I was taken by surprise by this tale a pair of brothers who are con men. One brother, Bloom wants to get out of the game, but the other wants to pull off one last job. I particularity loved Rachel Weisz who played the mark for the duo, Penelope. She is an eccentric woman that is trying to find her place in the world. I could relate to that.
2. Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino came back in a big way with the release of his latest movie. I wasn’t too hot with Grindhouse or Kill Bill: Vol. 2. The trailers for this movie suggested that it was non-stop Nazi killing movie, instead we get a beatuiful narrative about revenge on an epic scale. Tarantino wants to make the audience uncomfortable with the tension-filled scenes that stretches out five minute too long for some. He created one of greatest villains of all time with Colonel Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter” played by Christoph Waltz.
1. The Hurt Locker – I first heard of Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraqi war drama when it was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards in 2008. It wasn’t even released until July of 2009. I saw this movie and I was transported into a world of this bomb disposal unit circa 2004. The tension from the first frame had me hooked. I felt like I was watching a documentary, not a fictional movie. The slow motion of a bomb exploding. You felt like you are feeling the air violently pushed out of your body. The standoff in the desert. Brilliant. The way a fired bullet falls to the ground. I loved this movie. That’s why it’s my number one movie of the year.
I told the boy when you dream about bad things happening, it means you’re still fighting and you’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry.
— The Man
Finally, I saw The Road. It has had a difficult journey to its opening. It was supposed to be released in November of 2008, but The Weinstein Company decide to push it back a year so they could focus on The Reader. It was supposed to come out October 2009 then it was bumped back to Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving came, it was nowhere to be found, because it was in limited release. I had to search to find a theater that was showing it. This movie was lost in the shuffle. I don’t know why.
An unexplained catastrophe has happened to the Earth where plants and animals have been wiped out years before. Days blur into one another as a handful of people are struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where there is limited food, and acts of cannibalism running rampant throughout the land. The Man (Viggo Mortensen) and the Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travel around the desolate landscape to find some semblance of life.
Sometimes the action flashes back to after the catastrophe happen when the Wife (Charlize Theron) urges the family to commit mass suicide like the other families in the area. The Man does not want to do that. She doesn’t share his optimism for humanity running amok outside that could come into their house kill the wife, rape the son and eat them. She decides to leave her family to walk into the wintry night.
The Man and Boy come upon a farmhouse to find a shred of food, but they find a family hanging by nooses. The Man makes an impulse to use their last remaining bullets on their pistols to end their lives. Somehow, this plan is scraped the Man decided to conserve their last two bullets. It might have been a good thing, because when they rest in an abandoned car they hear a gang bus coming in the distance. They hide in the woods for the gang to pass looking for fuel and food.
When one of the gang members (Garret Dillahunt) is taking a piss out in the woods, he discovers the duo cowering down a ridge. The Man asks the Gang Member to leave them alone to go on their way. The Gang Member tests the Man. He shoots the Gang Member in the head when the man threatens the Boy with a knife. They escape deep into the words when the gang scours the woods to the people that killed their fellow member.
The duo are continuing to head South for the shoreline for some signs a civilized life to counteracts the savagery they see everyday fighting hunger, going to days without taking a bath. When they do get a bright light in the form of a mansion of the road, they are able to have the basic necessaries like food, hot water, clean clothes or toothpaste.
Their joy is short lived when the Man hears a strange noise in the house, thinking that it is another looter is coming to kill them. They decide to leave, but happen upon a legally blind man, Ely (Robert Duvall). The Boy wants to help the Blind Man, but the Man is hesitant to give him their last remaining food to him. The men talk about the how the world collapses as foretold by the Blind Man and humanity is lost. The blind man leaves.
The father and son decide to keep going south. They have to get to the coast before they starve, are captured by refugees or worse.
Some movies work better in books, because the subject is too much for the typical moviegoers. Damn, this movie is depressing. It is bleak and dark. No hope. Nothing. I wish for those flashbacks more often. If the apocalypse happened tomorrow, I want to be the ones mercifully killed. If I had to endure the endless sorrow, I couldn’t take it.
The world is gray, dirty, bleak, and vile. The only color you will see in this film is fire, flares and patches of spilled blood. The movie constantly punishes the viewer with it’s stark imagery, the terrain blackened by fires, the trash, the abandoned cars, etc.
Judgment: This movie shows you that the bond between father and son will be tested.
I have been light on the reviews this week, because my computer decided to act damn fool. Everything is fine now. I decided to list the movies that I want to see this Oscar season.
**Quick note: I did not put “An Education” on here, because I will be seeing it tomorrow. Also I forgot to put “The Lovely Bones on my list. Maybe that should tell you something.**
“A Serious Man”
The Coens Bros. latest movie about a Jewish man that has a fucked up life in the 60s is not my cup of tea. I heard that this movie caters to Jewish people. It has an unknown cast. Hmm.
“The Last Station”
I heard some serious Oscar buzz about the Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer and James McAvoy vehicle. A movie that shreads light on a semi-unknown person like Leo Tolstoy would interest me.
When I saw the trailer for Clint Eastwood’s lastest, I was intrigued. This is not a typical biopic. Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon plays the captain of the South African rubgy team, Francois Pienaar trying to unite the nation at the 1995 World Cup. I typically don’t like inspirational sports movies, but I am willing to give this a try.
Guy Ritchie’s movies have been hit or miss, mostly miss. Anyone remember “Revolver”, “Rock N Rolla”? I enjoyed the multiple trailers about the reinvention of Arthur Conan Doyle’s master sleuth. I wonder how Robert Downey, Jr. interpretation will say to audiences.
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
It’s not because it’s Heath Ledger’s final movie role, but the visuals are breathtaking. The fantastical world that has Heath, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law playing the same role is interesting to me. Read the rest of this entry
I totally forgot about the trailer for “The Road” that was released a couple of weeks ago. It had a slew of controversy over the stock footage that was placed in the beginning of the trailer to make more marketable to audiences. This movie was delayed for a year because the Weinstein Company wanted to push “The Reader” in it’s place. Big mistake.
I guess the whole Slumbog “Slumdog Millionaire” craze has died down. Finally! This is the next big Oscar contender at the end of the year.
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Charlize Theron. The movie will have a mid-October release.