Sunday, 2 April 2017

spoons and the well adjusted mathematician

I've just watched a movie about a man who compulsively arranges spoons, is a clever mathematician and also a hit man.

That's just a selection of the myriad threads in the story, mechanically acted by Ben Affleck. It came up as a recommendation for me to watch and I did, for once, browse the trailer. I should have realised that it was a recent movie which I'd never heard of, and that this could have been a clue.

Our man Ben helps modest farming types with their tax matters, can shoot melons off a fence at a mile distance and add up incredibly long numbers instantly in his head. He's the sort of clever clogs that solves 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles upside down. In minutes. So there, Matt Damon. Good Will Hunting AND Jason Bourne in one.

Even with John Lithgow as a scientist businessman, a Treasury investigator played J.K. Simmons somewhat reprising his role from the excellent Burn before Reading and Anna Kendrick as a chipper company accountant there's no real sign of a rescue for the screenplay.

Indeed, Anna Kendrick manages to slip out undamaged before the last reel, like she'd had enough.

I suspect this is the kind of movie that could be studied,. I'm sure the reviewers will be divided, with some extolling the brave choice of subject and depth of examination. Others may find the quantity of 'tell, don't show' rather high in order to unravel the plotlines, the overuse of flashbacks, or the use of tropes to signify just about everything.

Clever maths? write it all around the glass walls of a meeting room. Big discovery? Ensure half is on one side of the room and the rest is several strides away on the other side. Learn to fight? Go, like that fella in Iron Fist, to the same place that Uma Thurman had to visit in Kill Bill. A martial arts place in the middle of Asia. Need a gun scene? Get a massive gun and ground mount it for the melon shots. Mild yet tough man? Make him wear a Clark Kent suit and glasses when he's not being an action hero. He can soon change into an -er- Action Man top when the need arises.

I nearly left out the flashback soundstage scene with the weeping martial arts master forced by the unflinching father (reading Jakarta Times), to keep battering the two brothers for their own fighting education.

There's more, of course. Real plot spoilers that I won't give away. Although I doubt if anyone will reach for this video on the strength of this review.


Pat said...

I've recently acquired Netflix and presently enjoying House of Cards although sometimes I blink and I missed Zoe's exit. I also have to have a code to prevent myself inadvertently clicking on something I don't want to buy. Otherwise its great.

rashbre said...

Yes Pat, I enjoyed House of Cards and thought that the American spin on it actually worked well, with Kevin Spacey up to various sly deeds. The Zoe bit didn't happen when I was expecting, although it was a key feature of a certain episode. I'm sure you have seen the original British version, which is also worth a re-watch (also on Netflix I think).

Another Netflix series I enjoyed was Jessica Jones, which although from the Marvel universe is good city noir and even has David Tennant as the baddie.