Sunday, June 03, 2007

Our Mr. Brooks

Saturday was a busy, busy day, but we managed to make it to Mr. Brooks, the new Kevin Costner movie.

I'm not a particular fan of Costner's. I liked his work in Silverado, The Untouchables and Field of Dreams, but haven't been
'whelmed by his later work.

I lean toward the dark side in my entertainment choices. Think Kill Bill in films, Dexter on TV and Carol O'Connell's Mallory in books. Mr. Brooks was right up my alley.

The film is uneven with way too much going on, but the scenes between Costner and William Hurt, who plays Marshall, Mr. Brooks' alter ego, are terrific.

At first, it was weird to see Hurt and to realize he is supposed to be part of Brooks, but--after a bit--you get used to it, and it is a very effective way of seeing what Brooks is thinking. The contrast between the very restrained Brooks (he wears a bowtie, for heaven's sake) and the gleeful Marshall make for some great creepy scenes.

One of my favorite parts of the film has Mr. Brooks trying to fight his compulsion to kill by attending Twelve-Step meetings. The scene mocks society's viewpoint that any and all behaviors can be considered as addictions.

Although I would never have thought to cast Costner as a serial killer, his stiff acting style makes for a believably compart-
mentalized Brooks. And Hurt is reprising his over-the-top creepy role from History of Violence, one of my favorite films of 2005.

When the film is focused on Costner and Hurt, it's great. When it focuses on Demi Moore, it wobbles. She plays a multi-millionaire homicide cop going through an ugly divorce to an obviously younger man while trying to track down the Thumbprint Killer (Costner) and re-capture another killer who has escaped from prison. I thought the director wasted time giving her an elaborate backstory. I would have preferred more of a focus on the Mr. Brooks/Marshall story, or on bringing Demi Moore into contact with Coster a la Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling.

Brooks is curious why a multi-millionaire would work homicide cases. I was far more curious about Brooks' backstory than I was the cop's.

There's another subplot involving an amateur photographer, played by comedian Dane Cook, who accidentally captures Mr. Brooks on film during a killing. The photographer decides to blackmail Mr. Brooks into taking him along on his killings. The scenes between Brooks and Marshall discussing "Mr. Smith" and what they should do about him are terrific.

Finally, there's yet another subplot involving Mr. Brooks' teenage daughter who quits her first year of college to come home. Brooks accurately assesses that she is hiding something from her parents.

The film is just too busy and relies too heavily upon unrealistic plot contrivances, but I still found it great fun. I'd give it a B based on William Hurt's performance alone.

I'll be back later today with another post on this year's Book Expo America.

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