The last two Netflix Flix:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Kind of a mess, but a very entertaining one. Written and directed by Shane Black, who brought us the “Lethal Weapon” series (and, it should be noted, was in the original “Predator”). One way to describe the movie would be to call it a very off-beat Robert Crais novel. It’s very self aware, and constantly making fun of itself, and then suddenly there will be a few moments where it takes itself seriously. Overall, I’d have to say it works, largely because of Robert Downey Jr. in the lead and (especially) Val Kilmer in a great supporting role as a PI known as “Gay Perry.” It’s definitely the kind of movie where you need to hit pause before you head to the bathroom; otherwise, you’ll have no idea what’s going on by the time you get back.
In the Valley of Elah. I really liked this one. Directed by Paul Haggis, it tells the story of a father (portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones, who is simply magnificent) who is desperately trying to figure out, first, why his son went AWOL, and second, after his body is discovered, why he was murdered in gruesome fashion. The horror, the agony and the tragedy are etched in the lines of Jones’ face, as they are in the face of Susan Sarandon, the soldier’s mother. In the course of Jones’ investigation, nothing is as it seems, and after a while it seems that the entire U.S. Army is determined to keep him from the truth. Charlize Theron, playing a local cop who ultimately joins Jones in his quest, is outstanding (and, sans makeup, almost unrecognizable). The supporting cast, which includes the seemingly omnipresent James Franco, is outstanding, particularly Frances Fisher in a brief role as an over-the-hill topless waitress and Jason Patric as the Army Investigator – entirely professional, but never entirely helpful in Jones’ quest to find the truth about what happened to his son. But the movie belongs to Jones – and he once again proves that he is one of the great actors of our time.