Rest in peace, Paul Newman. He was a gorgeous man who lived a gorgeous life: he made brilliant movies, raced cars, loved his wife (here's a great photo of them), and donated over $200 million dollars to charity. Additionally, his limeade is one of my favorite beverages.
I watched two movies this weekend. The first was Burn After Reading, the new Coen brothers flick, in which they return to their typical more lighthearted fare after No Country For Old Men. Burn After Reading is a goofy caper film with a couple shockingly gruesome murders sprinkled in for kicks. The ensemble cast centers on a recently fired CIA agent, Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich), whose vendetta memoir ends up in the hands of two idiotic gym employees, Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) and Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand), whose feeble attempts at blackmail provide most of the plot. It's an entertaining movie but not one of the Coen's best- the tone is sort of a happy medium between Fargo's morbidity and O Brother Where Art Thou's silliness, but I think it would have worked better had they gone one way or the other instead of treading in middle ground. Nevertheless, it's worth the price of admission just to see Brad Pitt's performance. His absurd hairstyle, his spastic arm movements, and his "scared face" were absolutely hilarious, and I hope he starts making more comedies. The other talented actors are all good but not great in their roles, with the exception of J.K. Simmons as the CIA supervisor. His scenes were among the high points of the movie. In summary, I liked Burn After Reading, but not as much as I hoped that I would.
Secondly, I finally saw Boogie Nights, the 1997 film starring Mark Walhberg as a budding porn star Dirk Diggler. It's great! I can't believe I had never watched it before. Dirk is a teenager working as a busboy when he is discovered by porn producer Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds, nominated for a Oscar in the role) and he quickly becomes a star in the business. The story is set in southern California from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, and director Paul Thomas Anderson does an excellent job of capturing the music and style of the period without it coming across as a parody. The ensemble cast is one of the best I've ever seen- John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, etc. and they are all brilliant, especially Julianne Moore as the cokehead mother hen Amber Waves. Like an episode of VH1's Behind The Music, the characters in Boogie Nights go through a steep rise, followed by a drug and ego induced fall, and lastly, a redemption in which they reunite as a makeshift family. The most remarkable part of the film is how likeable and sympathetic the characters are, despite the fact that they're also, well, cokeheads and pornographers.