Movie Review: “Lust, Caution” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”
Saw two movies at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas this week – Lust, Caution, directed by Ang Lee, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, with Ethan Hawke and Sexy Ass Marissa Tomei ( that is actually her full un abridged name, I checked. I first found that out when I saw her in My Cousin Vinny). It’s interesting how these two movies have many similar themes but are portrayed in such contrasting styles.
Lust Caution is about a young group of Chinese collegiate actors during WWII who decide to fulfill their patriotic duty by exposing and killing a traitor in the government who is working for the Japanese. They act their way into the traitors life, with the lead role going to a girl who tries to seduce the traitor to get close to him. Once she enters the life of this complex and dangerous man, the degree to which she dedicates herself to her character is consuming, for it is the only way she can accomplish her mission and stay alive. The magnetism between her ‘character’ and the traitor is not only compelling, but is really a beautifully unfolded story.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead also involves a lot of lies, acting, suspenseful and dangerous relationships, and emotional frenzy just as Lust does, but the storytelling couldn’t be any more different. The movie is about two fuck-up brothers who go to desperate measures to salvage their own fucked-up lives. They try to work together to do so, but everyone in this movie has an agenda and tries to cheat their way towards achieving their goal. While the goal starts off as simply trying to make some quick cash, their history of deception catches up to them, and as their problems snowball they find themselves simply trying to stay alive. What’s compelling here is the uncensored ruthlessness on display that portrays the lengths people will go to save their own ass; in this movie, these lengths usually involve family betrayal. In the end, justice is delivered by an unlikely source, which completes the cycle of betrayal. Both movies are really depressing, Lust in a sad way and Devil in a fucked up way. But, both movies are also really good. Ethan Hawke plays a great loser, and Sexy Ass Marissa Tomei, wife of one of the fucked up brothers, is naked half the time, and God, Sexy Ass Marissa Tomei is sexy. Of course she is married to a really ugly guy in the movies, just like when she was married to Danny Devito in My Cousin Vinny. Why do cast directors not realize that doing that jeopardizes the realistic-ness of the movie? It’s a crying shame, I swear.
Lust, Caution: 4 out of 5 ninja stars (it takes place in China. I couldn’t think of anything creative. does this make me racist?)
Before the Devil: 3.5 out of 5 spanks on Marissa Tomei’s ass