A lot of smaller movies, particularly if they don't get stellar reviews their opening weekend, never make it to my local movie theaters. So, I finally got to see In Bruges and Mad Money on DVD this weekend. Totally different topics though possibly flipsides of the moral question of what does it mean to be really bad. Definitely some spoilers below, but as neither are a mystery, it doesn't really make a difference.
In Bruges is the story of two British and Irish assassins who screwed up and were sent to the medieval town of Bruges in Belgium. I was actually in Bruges myself only 2 months ago, and loved seeing all the canals and parks, churches and hospital as well as the main square with the huge clocktower. The main characters played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell were awesome. Gleeson is a bit older and wiser and Farrell is coming to grips with his first assassination going wrong and ending with the death of a little boy as well as the target. They've been sent by their boss to Bruges to get away from the publicity and Gleeson really enjoys seeing the touristy sights, eating the chocolate and such. Farrell however is much more interested in the pub and the people in a moving being filmed there - a dwarf and a thieving woman. All kinds of hijinks occur, especially after Gleeson refuses to kill Farrell, even though Farrell has become suicidal trying to atone for killing the little boy. Their boss, played poorly by Ralph Fiennes, arrives and tries to carry out the jobs. Lots of tension and gun chases, but all ends as it should. I think Gleeson and Farrell were most believable because they were both using their natural accents, a rough British accent and standard Irish. However, Fiennes was doing a funny cockney lower class accent and it just wasn't consistent or natural, so it became distracting. That's my only problem with the movie. It's mostly lots of talking, about being in a old city, what it means to have killed a little boy, whether being an assassin makes you destined for hell or did some people deserve to die. They do a terrific job, and it's both funny and thoughtful, with some excellent chases at the end.
Mad Money on the other hand is mostly supposed to be funny. But it deals with how people tend to go bad. Their theory is that crime is contagious. Diane Keaton has to find a job when she realizes her husband (Ted Danson, perfectly supporting) lost his job a year ago. The only job she can get with benefits is as a janitor at the Federal Reserve Bank. She watches as all the money arrives, is transported around and ultimately shredded because it's worn out. She devises a really clever way to take out some of the money just before it's destroyed so it can't be missed. She brings in Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes as her accomplices and they steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. They initially wanted to get enough money just to pay off Keaton's debt, and send Latifah's kids to school, but of course they get greedy and that's where it all goes off the rails. However, it's still a clever movie and again, all ends as it should. There are excellent supporting characters, particularly Stephen Root (from Office Space and Dodgeball plus lots of other things, but those are my favorite) as the head of the bank. He constantly walks around and pointing to his eyes says, "Everyone, everywhere, every minute." Because of his determination that it would be impossible to rob the bank, the ladies get farther along with their stealing than they ever thought. It's a funny movie, with a surprising ending. It's nice to see Keaton not as a goody-two-shoes, and Queen Latifah in her traditional mom working hard role, and Katie Holmes as a dancing ditz. Both movies get 4 stars from me.