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Mr. Brooks


David Smedberg
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Just recently, I read an essay at First Things on the failure of the New York Times to live up to its calling as canary in the cultural coal mine.

Well, thankfully, even if some of their book reviewers have lost it, their film reviewers have not. Stephen Holden is bold enough to say what I have not seen any other reviewer say: "If [Mr. Brooks] is not as sadistic as the “Saw” and “Hostel” movies, it is as malignant in its insistence on the omnipresence of evil.".

This movie was recommended to me on its strengths (acting, mainly) - but the scene of the first killing, with its obviously sexual analogy and implication of the audience, makes it obvious (to me, at least) that the movie is of a piece, as Holden says, not with character-based studies of serial killers (like Silence of the Lambs, which I can admit is worth watching, despite its extremely difficult subject matter), but with murder porn like Hostel or Saw.

Anyone else seen it, and disagree? (Not that I'd recommend seeing it if you haven't already, of course.)

Update: No, actually, Joe Morgenstern got it, too, calling it "deeply loathsome", although his review is too brief to give much reasoning.

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

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Haven't seen it, but I thought it was very interesting that it's getting such poor reviews -- even hot-tempered rants -- and yet it got 3.5/4 stars at Christianity Today Movies.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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CT's review says that "Reprehensible as his crimes may be, Brooks represents a struggle with sin we all can relate to." I strongly disagree. We all struggle with sin, and some of us even with addictions, but I don't see how this movie could possibly be taken as a meaningful commentary on either of those things. It makes weak gestures at moral complexity (as when Brooks

suggests that jail might actually be the solution for his daughter's nascent compulsion, if not for his

), but overwhelms them with moral complicity. What else can we call the

portrayal of both Atwood's (Demi Moore's investigator) ex-husband and his lawyer as utter creeps, without a shred of decency

?

That makes their murders seem, not hideous, but somehow satisfying, in an "I-bet-you-didn't-see-that-coming-bitch" kind of way

. Moreover, if Mr. Brooks had any kind of moral sense of the terrible-ness of his crime, he would never allow Mr. Smith to become part of it. Mr. Brooks represents less a struggle with sin than with its inconvenient effects on one's social life. Any recognizable struggle with sin would start instead with acknowledging the effects of the sin on the internal, spiritual life of the sinner, an acknowledgement which in my opinion is entirely lacking here.

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

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Good Morning, Mr. Brooks: Unlikely Buddy Flicks

This summer's new cult comedy classic might be Mr. Brooks; whether it ultimately makes the weight will depend on whether it sticks around in theaters long enough for somebody to see it, which in turn probably depends on just how badly certain people involved in the production want that tax write-off. The picture, which stars Kevin Costner as a notorious serial killer who's also a successful businessman and who's married (to Marg Helgenberger, so it's not as if he ought to be desperate to get out of the house), classifies serial murder as an addiction, while misclassifying Demi Moore and Dane Cook as people I want to watch when I go to the movies. It's ludicrous through and through, but what really turns it into camp is that Costner has an imaginary friend -- Marshall, played by William Hurt. . . . Mr. Brooks did get me to thinking about the relative health of the imaginary-friend movie. . . .

ScreenGrab, June 5

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The opening frame of this movie is an on-screen statement that says (I'm paraphrasing) "The hunger had returned to Mr. Brooks' brain. It had never really left" or something like that. Forgive me in advance for this having nothing whatsoever to do with the film, but shouldn't it be "returned to Mr. Brooks's brain" with an 's' after the apostraphe?

If don't know why it strikes me as funny that they could have gotten this wrong, but then again, I could be the one who's getting it wrong...

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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No, "Brooks'" would be correct in that sentence.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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I think both options are correct these days.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Interesting, I always learned that a singular possessive should add 's, even if the word ends in s. A quick google search turns up this page (see "Mr. Jones's golf clubs" in Rule 2) and this page(see "James's hat").

Oh well.

Edited by popechild

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Interesting, I always learned that a singular possessive should add 's, even if the word ends in s. A quick google search turns up this page (see "Mr. Jones's golf clubs" in Rule 2) and this page(see "James's hat").

Oh well.

You and Peter are both correct. Mostly, it depends on the style preference of the publication. Personally, I'm with you on the "always add 's to singular possessive," mainly because it's clear whether written or spoken, and who's going to argue with Purdue U? But I was taught the other way in school.

What you really don't want to do is add 's to form plurals <_< As in "Mr. Brooks owned many hat's."

or add an apostrophe to the possessive neuter pronoun: "This thread has gone off it's subject."

Black comedy is very, very hard to do well--and by well, I mean it must somehow either acknowledge or restore the true moral order by the end. The Ealing comedies such as The Ladykillers (and less effectively, the Coen bros. remake), The Lavender Hill Mob, and Kind Hearts and Coronets are prime examples. Fargo and Raising Arizona might qualify.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 6 months later...

What an odd, strange, weird little movie.

I fail to see how anyone could take it seriously (3.5 out of 4 stars!?!?), but then, maybe some people had an easier time accepting the "reality" of this story than I did. I, for one, simply never bought the idea that Costner's perfect family man also happened to be a serial killer, let alone one who goes to 12-step-group meetings to deal with his addiction; and I, for one, simply couldn't buy how easily or casually the movie suggested that Dane Cook might want to come along and witness (and possibly even commit) a killing for himself.

What I did notice was how incredibly lurid the film was, not only with its violence (add this to the list of recent throat-slashing classics, along with Sweeney Todd, Eastern Promises and probably some other films I'm forgetting) but with its sexual content. Naked people are not merely depicted having sex; they are depicted being shot in bed, their corpses are depicted after they have been repositioned in bed, their naked bodies are depicted in photographs taken by several different people in several different scenes ...

And on the DVD, we discover that there was a scene of Demi Moore having sex with a gigolo, too, but it was cut out of the film. Interestingly, on her date with the gigolo, she briefly mentions a friend who studied theology. Given all the references in this film to prayer, etc., I guess that was supposed to have some sort of resonance.

(Oh, and footnote re: that 3.5-star review: I do not agree that Waitress "asks us to support an adulterous relationship". But that belongs in another thread. I agree, though, that Demi Moore's "action sequences feel tacked on" -- they really do feel like they came out of another movie entirely.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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