We live in a small country town (Brenham, TX – population ~13,000), and love it. One drawback, however, is that there is only a single movie theater here, six-screens showing the absolute worst of Hollywood crap…we call it the Yokelplex. There has been only one exception, which is when they showed Gone With the Wind on the big screen in partnership with a local community theater that was staging a play about the making of the movie. But other than that – a constant parade of dreck. For example, here's the current playlist:
21Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a WhoDrillbit TaylorLeatherheadsNim's IslandSuperhero MovieTyler Perry's Meet the Browns
Not every movie on that list is execrable, but most are, and none are compelling enough to get my entertainment dollars. We've been to see maybe 5 or 6 films at the theater, and we've lived here for a year and a half and I *love* going to the movies.
What does this have to do with In Bruges? Well, nothing directly, except that we had to drag ourselves into downtown Houston (90 minute drive, to the sadly decaying Angelika Theater – more on that at the bottom of this article) in order to find a movie worth seeing. And, to me, this is indicative of the drought of good films being produced by the mainstream American film community. Are there occasionally good American films? Yes. However, most of the mainstream films are simply horrible.
At one point we were so desperate for movie entertainment that we took a couple of weekends to visit the Yokelplex and see the films that were most highly rated by the combination of RottenTomatoes and IMDB. One weekend it was The Spiderwick Chronicles, which we knew was primarily a kid's movie, but I've got an open mind and have loved many "kid" pics, such as The Incredibles. Well, Spiderwick was so bad that we walked out, something we rarely do. It wasn't really bad, it was just incredibly derivative and boring. As are most mainstream films that we are able to go see.
However, In Bruges, is a different story altogether. We had seen some brief trailers for it, and it looked kind of like an action comedy, and it is…sort of. But it's much more than that. First of all, it's so well written that it shames virtually every American film we've seen in the last few years, with only a few exceptions like Michael Clayton, Superbad, and Stranger Than Fiction. Second, it defies expectations at every turn – and not in the in-your-face, clonk-you-over-the-head, artless manner of most mainstream American films – but in subtle, unexpected, and even frightening ways.
I really don't want to talk too much about the film because I don't want to spoil it. Suffice it to say that Bruges is the name of a city in Belgium, and Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson (who also played the father with the little girl in 28