"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Million Dollar Movie

I was taken with Mark Ruffalo’s performance in “The Kids Are All Right” last year and friends said, “If you think he was good in that, you have got to see ‘You Can Count on Me.’” I finally got around to watching “You Can Count on Me” over the weekend and they were right. Laura Linney and Ruffalo are both wonderful and give the kind of performances that are so believable you forget they are acting.

The movie, released in 2000, was written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. It is tender without being sentimental. Lonergan shows the kind of restraint that I cherish–he never hits us over the head, never goes for the obvious, over-the-top emotion. He lets uncomfortable feelings hang and is confident enough to leave matters unresolved. It is so expertly directed that watching it, I was reminded that great directing is not just about technical wizardry, it is about serving the story, understanding pace and rhythm, and respecting the audience enough to fill in the blanks. This movie proves that you can be modest without being precious. I’d like to watch it again soon.

9 comments

1 Matt Blankman   ~  Feb 28, 2011 4:47 pm

Excellent film. Funny, painful and poignant. I recall seeing it by myself in a theater on Broadway and 62nd street on a rainy day and sitting there for a while after it ended.
Broderick is also very good, as is the Culkin kid.

Linney was nominated that year, I believe. It's one of the great performances by an actress in the last decade or so. As good as Ruffalo is, it's her show. That scene where she drives home after her tryst, alternately laughing with delight and feeling horrendous remorse - just brilliant.

I think this film also hits a certain nerve if you have siblings.

2 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Feb 28, 2011 5:08 pm

I'd like to see this,Laura Linney always takes over any film she is in.

AB, couldn't add this to your Oscars thread as was at work (where WordPress still hates me)

Things I would rather do than watch either The King's Speech or any Oscar's broadcast:

Watch the Best of Michael Kay on DVD and count the times he makes bad puns
Put on my "Generation Tres" t-shirt and go have a catch,imaging what could have been
Google Suzyn Waldman pics and compare hairstyles
Attend a Japanese parliament budgetary debate session
Make up new John Sterling home-run calls

Yes, guilty film snob here! Down with Hollywood! Up with Cinema!! Cmon Chyll, back me up here!!

3 cult of basebaal   ~  Feb 28, 2011 5:44 pm

Things I would rather do than watch either The King’s Speech or any Oscar’s broadcast

Eh, that's just plain silly.

There have been much, MUCH worse films chosen as best picture winners in recent memory than The King's Speech (I'm looking at *you* Crash, Slumdog Millionare, Million Dollar Baby, No Country for Old Men and The Departed).

It's a bit obvious and pedestrian to be a great film (and it isn't), but the performances are great throughout (Firth richly deserved his win) and in the absence of a truly standout film it's a totally cromulent winner.

I'm all for being a film snob (and if we're going to play the snob card, I'll be happy to compare the films I've seen on the big screen in say, the last 30 days or so), but simply being dismissive of a well-regarded film *before* even giving it a chance is simply childish and says far more about the viewer than it ever could about the film ...

4 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Feb 28, 2011 5:54 pm

[3] Self-admitted film snob, already pleaded guilty! Life too short to pend valuable music-listening or take-a-walk hours on pedestrian films..I stand firm!

5 cult of basebaal   ~  Feb 28, 2011 6:16 pm

I stand firm!

You stand on ignorance.

6 Matt Blankman   ~  Feb 28, 2011 8:24 pm

[3] The King's Speech is a fine Best Picture winner, really. Not a great film, but not an embarrassment, either. Stellar performances all around (I thought Rush actually gave the best performance), despite some very odd directorial choices (what was with all those wide-angle distorted shots?).

However, I think No Country for Old Men is a great film, and while Eastwood and Scorsese have done much better work, I liked both of those films a great deal.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 28, 2011 8:57 pm

Easy now, fellas. I appreciate the passion but let's not get knuts. Especially since this is an ode to a lovely movie!

8 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 1, 2011 4:46 pm

[6] NCfOM is a great monster movie for 2/3rds of its length, fantastic really, think a western-tinged The Terminator and then, well, it turns into a complete train wreck, structurally AND thematically. The big off-screen occurrence is a complete authorial contrivance and the conceit then advanced, that the story is the Sheriff's in the end, is a terrible miscalculation that mistakes banality for insight.

It's not completely the Coen Brothers fault since the film is reasonably well adapted from McCarthy's novel and much of the trouble is with the source, but overall, it's a disappointing , disjointed effort at the finish.

Million Dollar Baby is middlebrow Oscar bait and The Departed, well, what a hot mess that film is.

9 NoamSane   ~  Mar 1, 2011 4:51 pm

You Can Count on Me is one of my favorite films. Impeccably made in all respects. ... I guess it enhances my appreciation that my older sister and I grew up not far from the town where it was shot in Upstate NY and we lost our parents when we were young. Still, a great example of what greatness can be achieved on a slim budget.

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