Here's my review of In Bruges which I just saw on DVD.
It's one of the films nominated for a Golden Globe tomorrow night in the comedy section:
In Bruges is a black comedy whose idea arose from a vacation writer/director Martin McDonagh took to the pristine town of Bruges, Belgium. McDonagh reflected in the DVD featurette that he was in awe of the town's medieval beauty but had the simultaneous feeling of being incredibly bored after two or three hours. He took these two disparate feelings and split them up over two characters. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleason are a pair of hit men who are paid by their boss to go to Bruges for an undisclosed assignment. They are supposed to pose as two tourists and maintain a low profile while waiting for a phone call. Ken (Gleason) takes an interest in the sights of the town and jollily obliges, while Ray (Farrell) is very bored. He is somewhat of a cultural boob with low intellectual curiosity but he gets more likeable as the film progresses as we slowly see that he starts to develop a curiosity about living a better life. He is also bored because he has just accidentally shot a boy and is coping with guilt over that. Ralph Feinnes also enters in the story a little later as the enigmatic boss. The film is also populated by the kinds of characters that come with small-town comedies: An obnoxious Canadian tourist, a pregnant innkeeper, an alluring coke dealer (who Ray falls in love with) and her unfortunate boyfriend, and an opinionated midget.
The film reminds me of Analyze This or Anger Mangement in that it features a star (Robert De Niro or Jack Nicholson in the above examples) making fun of their screen personas. Colin Farrell is playing to type in an extreme sense, reflecting his public image: Shallow and mostly interested in booze and women. (In real life, Colin Farrell is an avid reader and student of history who would be the kind of guy who's interested in a place like Bruges, but I digress). It's an interesting mix of genres but as is the staple of this genre, the black comedy, there are usually meaningless deaths. I won't spoil what happens but I grew close enough to these characters that I came to hope that we wouldn't be seeing anything bad happen to them.
The film also has an interesting and curious romance between Ray and the cokedealer. She seems to give him a lot of chances but it turns out that she has a dark side to her as well.
The dialogue was really good and it was clearly an engaging film but a pet peeve of mine in the dialogue is that everyone talks the same and uses the f-word in every sentence. The screenwriter did such a great job of giving everyone distinct personalities so I wish they would give them distinct styles of speech.
So, this makes my list of rankings as follows. I have now seen 25 2008 films, and they are ranked as follows (I have to sleep on In Bruges for a while to see where I'd like to rank it):
1. Gran Torino 2. Slumdog Millionaire 3. Wall-E 4. Burn After Reading 5. Be Kind Rewind 6. Quantum of Solace 7. In Bruges 8. Valkyrie 9. Milk 10. Iron Man 11. Blindness 12. Dark Knight 13. Bottleshock 14. Brideshead Revisited 15. Indiana Jones 16. Step Brothers 17. Gonzo 18. W 19. Madagascar 2 20. Love Guru 21. Get Smart 22. Pineapple Express 23. Flow 24. Baby Mama 25. Happening 26. 21: Bringing down the House
Oh, what do you know, I've seen 26 films from 2008! Films I would like to see ASAP: Religulous, Frost/Nixon, Encounters at the End of the World, Films I would like to see after those: Revolutionary Road, Benjamin Buttons, Day the Earth Stood Still, The Reader, Tropic Thunder