I saw a movie …

It was called, In Bruges.

This is what I thought about it.

Notice the way Bruges' stunning architecture is featured heavily the promotional materials. Disgusting in its conspicuousness.

Notice the way Bruges’ stunning architecture is featured heavily the promotional materials. Disgusting in its conspicuousness.

On the surface, Martin McDonagh’s 2008 comedy crime flick probably seems like just another story about the foibles of two wizards and a vampire as they try to survive a series of wacky adventures in one of Belgium’s most famous cities. But beneath its slick veneer of brutal violence and unending profanity is something much, much more subversive and, quite frankly, sinister. Just like every Adam Sandler movie is a not-so-subtle commentary on the degradation of society and the avocation for mass suicide, In Bruges is clearly the masterwork of the Belgium Tourism Commission or whatever the European version of a chamber of commerce is.

I’m just going to be out-and-out with you: I have no evidence to back up this claim. No evidence other than common fucking sense, that is. I’ve got eyes; I’ve got ears. I can see the way McDonagh bombards his audience with establishing shot after establishing shot of Bruges, each a showcase for the city’s unique and utterly beautiful medieval architecture or the splendor of its many winding canals. I can hear his characters as they engage in repeated conversations about the inarguable majesty of “The Venice of the North.” Again and again, the movie stops dead in its tracks so that its characters can gaze in wonder at the splendor of the The Church of Our Lady or take in the breathtaking view from atop the Belfry or speak in hushed tones about the way the city takes on a dreamlike quality when a blanket of fog cloaks its stoned streets and ancient architecture in the infancy of daylight.

In fact, the only character to even suggest Bruges is anything less than a utopia is the dude who plays Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, but he’s totally the villain of the movie because he’s played by an actor with the audacity to star in remakes of both Total Recall and Fright Night and is therefore obviously meant to be seen as the Iago of the piece. As an audience, we’re meant to boo and hiss every time he dares speak of Bruges with anything less than total reverence. The monster.

Still, I have to admit, although I hate how the movie industry has, though subtle manipulations, transformed into a way for companies to encourage people to pay to watch advertisements, In Bruges is not without its charms. I’ve already mentioned the curse words and bloody stuffs, so there’s that. Plus, both Mad Eye Moody and Voldemort are quite good in their parts, despite the heavy makeup and CGI effects to make them appear more like muggles. But it’s the dude who plays Bullseye that’s the real treat here. He pulls off a mentally handicapped villain so convincingly, I’m pretty sure he could find a successful career in government should Hollywood decide it no longer needs to keep churning out terrible remakes of good 80s movies. Plus, a racist dwarf — not a typecast Joe Pesci, by the way — figures heavily in the plot line.

When its not beating you over the head with how awesome the city of Bruges can be when the mist clings to the air on a dewy morning (or, through the movie’s villain, ironically telling you that Bruges is lame because its buildings are all old), the movie does a good job of moving briskly along with genuinely funny and/or moving scenes, clever dialogue and interesting, well-rounded characters. If nothing, In Bruges is tremendously watchable, which is way better than most commercials these days.

Basically, if you want to see a really nice Tripadvisor page — the kind in which all the photos are of the grounds and other stuff you actually want to see and not just people’s kids and a bunch of closeups of minor shit like the grout in the bathrooms or the way the carpet pulls up slightly in one corner — stretched out to movie length, then In Bruges is the way to go. It’s way better than Escape from Tomorrow.


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