Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Savages

“People are dying Wendy, right inside that beautiful building right now. It’s a fucking horror show and all this wellness propaganda and the landscaping is just there to obscure the miserable fact that people die, and death is gaseous, and gruesome, and it’s filled with shit and piss and rotten stink.”

Jon Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a college professor and writer of scholarly work in Buffalo. Wendy Savage (Laura Linney) works temp jobs and is a struggling playwright in New York City. The pair are brought back together to deal with their estranged father’s (Philip Bosco) increasing dementia and failing health.

This is a film about the tough choices and circumstances families go through with the ailing of their parents. It doesn’t shy away from the pain and guilt inherent in the tough but necessary choices so many families are put through dealing with parents who can no longer take care of themselves.

There are no simplistic Holiday sappy moments here. These people aren’t going to live happily ever after, but they will struggle and survive, learning about life and themselves in the process. It’s not always pleasant, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes funny, but there are many memorable moments throughout the film’s near two-hour running time.

In terms of performance it is really a three man piece. Linney, Hoffman and Bosco do well in their roles as family members who care but don’t quite know how to take care of themselves, let alone each other. Each one is terrific in their own way. Hoffman’s Jon is a man who wants to control a life out of control and is forced to deal with his long standing issues with his father and the forced deportation of his longtime girlfriend (Cara Seymour). Linney is just right as a woman who has gotten so good at lying and rationalizing that it’s become second nature to herself, her family, and the married man (Peter Friedman) she is having an affair with. And Bosco balances the anger and sadness of a man slowly losing control of his own mind.

The naming of the Savages, although perhaps a little too clever, works well as these children (Jon and Wendy) living out their own dreams and lives are forced to return and deal with harsh reality. It’s not a perfect movie and does contain a couple of almost-too-cute-for-film moments (including the aftermath of Hoffman’s tennis injury), but its got a good bruised heart which it’s willing to share.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

“There’s a whole in the world like a great black pit, and the vermin of the world inhabit it, and its morals aren’t worth what a pin can spit, and it goes by the name of London.

For those unfamiliar with the original story and the Broadway musical, the plot involves a young barber named Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) whose wife Lucy (Laura Michelle Kelly) and infant daughter Johanna are taken from him by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Turpin steals the women for himself and sentences Barker and banishes him from London forever. The film opens with the return of Barker years later under the new name of Sweeney Todd

Todd has returned to London to take his revenge. To get close to the Judge, Todd opens a new barbershop above Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) Pie Shop who informs him his wife is dead and his daughter Johanna (Jayne Wisener) has been raised by the Judge. Todd’s revenge and his frustration of not being able to kill the Judge soon start a body count which Mrs. Lovett finds a, shall we say, unique resolution.

Tim Burton returns with his keen eye and the film looks magnificent. This London is everything it needs to be; we believe Sweeney Todd lives here.

Most of the parts aren’t cast for their voices but the younger stars stand out immediately. Ed Sanders who plays the good-hearted but rather dim orphan Toby and Wisener and Jamie Campbell Bower as Johanna’s young suitor Anthony Hope give great performances blow the doors off the theater with their musical numbers. And Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, and Sascha Baron Cohen all fit in well and prove they too can carry a tune.

And then there’s Mr. Todd. Although physically Johnny Depp is perfect for the role, many, including me, were unsure of the logic of casting Depp in a role where he needs to sing throughout the film. We needn’t have worried. Depp proves up to the task providing a more than adequate voice to go with Todd’s vacant stare and murderous heart. If this performance doesn’t earn him and Oscar nomination I’d suggest he should rightly pull out his razor and do some hunting of his own!

The film trims the lengthy Stephen Sondheim musical to almost exactly two hours. Because of this the film’s story and narrative, pushed forward by great music and score, have a quick pace yet still ample time to hit all the right notes. You want a complaint from me, here it is - the film is too short! Here’s a film I would have gladly spent another 30 to 40 minutes with and enjoyed myself all the more. My only other complaint, and I admit it’s a small criticism, are the matching of shots in a couple scenes, most notable during “A Little Priest” as the cleaver in Todd’s hand moves in the different camera angles during his dance with Mrs. Lovett. I’ll admit it’s a small issue, but that’s all I can really find to complain about.

Sweeney Todd isn’t really your average Christmas film. It’s dark, moody, bloody, vengeful, and doesn’t contain a either a happy ending or an important moral lesson. What it does have is a look, sound, a style and a soul unlike anything else seen on film this year. It’s like a demented version of The Music Man, and although the plot and songs themselves are sometimes quite macabre they’re also quite catchy and moving. It’s not the film to pile the entire family in the car to see, but all the same it is a must-see for fans of both great cinema and musicals, and of films that become more than their parts and enthrall and entertain you completely (even when the body count starts to rise).

Charlie Wilson's War

“You can teach them to type, but you can’t teach them to grow tits.”

Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), a junior Congressman from a small district in Texas, did the impossible. Not only did he spearhead the largest covert war in United States history, but he kept it a secret for years.

Wilson, a member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and the only Congressman from a district “who doesn’t want anything,” was in an unique position to change the world while nobody was looking.

After learning about the Afghan resistance against the Soviets, and being cajoled into providing more assistance by a powerful political contributor (Julia Roberts), Wilson with the help of his friends and CIA operative Gust Avrakotots (Philip Seymour Hoffman), over the course of the decade began increasing the money, weapons, and training being put into Afghanistan and began fighting a covert war which only a scant few even knew was taking place. And we aren’t talking a small increase here; we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

Where to begin? It’s nice to see Hanks in a slightly more tarnished role, though some of his fans may object to his womanizing and boozing “Good Time Charlie” it’s a nice harken back to characters he played earlier into his career. At this point in his career he also effortlessly infuses the character a weight and humanity allowing Charlie to carry the film with ease and allow us to dismiss, and even enjoy, his short-comings.

Also worth noting are Philip Seymour Hoffman, almost sure to pick up some awards gold for the controlled insanity of Gust, Julia Roberts in a nice supporting role, and the many women of Charlie Wilson who include Amy Adams, Hilary Angelo, Cyia Batten and Charlie’s support staff (which he refers to both as his Charlie’s Angels and Jail Bait throughout the film) Wynn Everett, Mary Bonner Baker, Shiri Appleby, and Rachel Nichols. They provide many of the film’s funniest moments including Hoffman’s first scene waiting outside Charlie’s office doing nothing but watching the women work.

The script, penned by Aaron Sorkin, balances the absurdity and reality of the situation in a way that’s mesmerizing. Although you can enjoy the film simply as one of the strangest untold stories in history, Sorkin also infuses an underlying message about these events, about the nature of government, and about US responsibility abroad; all of which have increased resonance given the US role in world affairs today.

Those expecting a warm and fuzzy Hanks’ flick like The Terminal, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle might be a little put off by the more adult subject matter, but I would heartily recommend the film to everyone. Great performances and one of the best scripts of the year make Charlie Wilson’s War a winner.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

“It ain’t easy to walk to the top of a mountain. It’s a long hard walk, but I will walk hard.”

The collaboration between Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow is a perfect parody of recent overly serious and sentimental music biopics like Walk the Line and Ray which examine the entire life of an artist with all the skill and depth of a Behind the Music special. The film follows Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly, who plays the character from the age of 14 to 71) who faces the tragic death of his brother to an unfortunate machete accident, the disapproval of his father (Raymond J. Barry), drugs, booze, and women, to become a legend.

Although it helps if you’ve seen the films this one parodies it’s not a necessity to get most of the jokes (though you will miss some of more subtle moments including specific shots and camera work). Reilly is terrific in a role that let’s him prove just what a great dumbass he can play. And, as he proved in A Prairie Home Companion (read that review), he can sing. It’s a combination of the music and sharp unrelenting wit that transforms this film from the regular mass produced parodies like the Scary Movie franchises, and moves into the elite company with This Is Spinal Tap and Airplane.

Aside from Reilly, there are several good supporting performances including Jenna Fischer and Kristen Wig as two of Dewey’s wives, and a damn fine performance by Tim Meadows (yes, Tim Meadows! Who knew he was even still alive!) who plays Dewey’s drummer, friend, and drug guru.

Although the film doesn’t keep the breakneck laugh-a-minute pace it starts out with all the way through, the many high-points more than make up for the scattered lows. Some of my favorites are Dewey and Darlene singing “Let’s Duet” which aside from being the best song of the year provides a perfect spoof of the genre, Tim Meadows opening line which sets up the endless parody of Walk the Line, the best marijuana scene captured on film in recent memory, a great scene between Dewey and the Beatles (Justin Long, Jack Black, Jason Schwartzman and Paul Rudd as funny as he’s ever been as John Lennon), and some hilarious word and music jokes (watch out for The Temptations and a joke about Dewey and an up and coming rap artist). Several jokes and gags (the sinks, the often repeated deadpan line of Dewey’s dad, the recurring drug introduction scenes) are repeated but somehow they are funny each time, and I never became tired of them. As parody the film frees itself to step on a joke or two to make its point, but also finds more than enough big laughs to fill its relatively short running time of an hour and a half.

The film isn’t for everyone, and there are scenes I’m sure some will no doubt take offense, but in terms of comedy it’s a gut buster of a comedy which relies more on brains than gross-out humor. The only other film from this year that made me laugh harder than Walk Hard was the terrific British farce Death at a Funeral (read that review), so I’m pretty comfortable naming Walk Hard: The Dewy Cox Story the best American comedy of 2007. Get on your feet and walk to the nearest theater. Walk Hard.

P.S. I Love You

“I wish I had someone dead telling me what to do.”

Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) are the cutest couple ever! They met cute, their first kiss was precious, and they even fight cute. This movie is so stuffed with cuteness it makes The Care Bears Movie look like Schindler’s List. Problem is, he’s dead. But don’t worry, it’s not a downer because Holly even mopes cute.

After an excruciating long lead-in we learn Gerry has died and left letters and presents for Holly to be sent to her over the course of the next year. In movieland this is a cute adventure, but in reality this is almost insanely cruel forcing a wife to continue pinning away for her dead husband. So early on you realize this film relies completely on movie logic (also known as the lack thereof).

Gerry’s letters bring back memories and uber-cute flashbacks as well as gifts and instructions. No, nothing smart or magical about the meaning of life from a man who knows he’s dying. Instead we get Holly singing karaoke and taking a trip with her two best friends (Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon) to Ireland.

The film is just relentless. Even the bartender (Harry Connick Jr.) at her mother’s (Kathy Bates) bar, who hits on her at her husband’s funeral, has that cute but dumb movie guy thing down cold. There are no surprises here, only more forced cuteness and canned laughter and tears.

Swank feels oddly out of place her in a traditional chick flick and I can’t help but wonder what kind of blackmail it took to force her to do this film. As an actress known for her strong roles in previous films, she’s badly miscast in the role of a the whinny Holly. I can only assume she wanted to prove she could make an inane romcom like everybody else, but she should leave such twaddle to Kate Hudson and Mandy Moore.

For a film about a man dying of brain cancer this is about the sunniest film I can remember. Sure it tries to fit in sad moments in between all that sugary sweetness, but it’s hard to feel sad when you’re going into insulin shock from the amount of pixie sticks being relentlessly shoved down your throat. Mark this one up to a mistake folks, and do what Holly should have done early in this film, move on.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


“Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your ass.”

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is a bit of an outcast at school with a small circle of friends including cheerleader Leah (Olivia Thirlby) and her best friend Bleeker (Michael Cera) who she decides to sleep with, which leads to some unforeseen consequences.

On discovering her pregnancy, and quickly dismissing the other options after a trip to the local abortion clinic, Juno decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption. She finds Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) from and ad in the Penny Saver and everything seems like its going to work out, but this is a comedy so you know there will be some bumps along the way.

What I must mention first is the wonderful script by first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody. Filled with quotable one-liners (the film includes a terrific line about doctors which might be the funniest on-screen diagnosis of the medical profession I’ve heard), and moments both humorous and poignant, it just might be the best screenplay of the year. What surprised me most was how the film would introduce a typical Hollywood plot point making you sure you knew where the film was headed only to immediately take a 90 degree turn and lead you somewhere else. Nearly every decision here is the right one.

The film is completely centered around the performance of Ellen Page who knocks this one out of the park by flexing her muscles and displaying a wide range of acting ability. She was scary as hell in last year’s Hard Candy (making men cringe all over the country, read that review) and here shows great range in comedy as well as drama. It’s one of the best performances of any actress this year.

And she’s not alone. Michael Cera is perfectly cast as the lovable but unsure best friend, Bateman and Garner both put in nice turns in characters who are not quite what they initially appear to be (and make you forget recent career misteps like The Ex and Elecktra) and Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons are terrific as Juno’s parents. Also worth mentioning are Thrilby as Juno’s confidant and Valerie Tian as Su-Chin in a terrific role outside the abortion clinic in a short scene which sets up all that is to follow.

Jason Reitman makes all the right decisions here and the cast takes this terrific script and gives us one of the best films of 2007. Witty, sweet, and downright lovable, Juno is a must-see.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

National Treasure

National Treasure is a treasure hunting movie of the finest caliber. With great locations, strange clues that must be deciphered intertwined into U.S. history, a race against time to find the treasure, a great cast, and peppered with action sequences but with its soul relying on the characters’ intellect rather than only their brawn, it’s all you can ask for, and a little more. Disney has had mixed success in its live action movies, but this can be put alongside the best of the bunch.

The movie begins with John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer) telling his grandson the story of a great treasure of King Solomon passed down through the generations and protected by the Knights Templar and Freemasons who eventually smuggle the treasure to the New World and hide it, leaving a series of clues by which it might later be uncovered. Through mischance the Gates family has the only known clue to the treasure which he now passes on to his grandson.

The rest of the movie takes place years later as Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) has finally deciphered the clue and starts the search for the treasure. Along for the ride are his assistant Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), Ian Howe (Sean Bean) a profiteer who soon turns against them, and Abigail Chase (Dianne Kruger) who works at the National Archives and joins the search when they discover the map for the treasure has been written on the back of the Declaration of Independence and decide to steal it in order to protect it and the treasure from Ian.

The movie continues across the eastern United States as our heroes race to solve the clues before Ian or the FBI can track them down. From New York to Philadelphia our heroes race to solve a mystery and find the treasure.

The package comes with quite a few special features for a one-disc DVD release. Deleted scenes and the original ending for the film (which is pretty good) and an anamorphic sequence are available with or without director commentary. Also included are documentaries on the making of the film, (pretty standard stuff here) and quite a few special features that have to be unlocked. Included in these are a documentary about actual treasure hunters, a short feature about the Knights Templar, a list of features for Verizon users, and an entertaining feature and game about cryptography, codes and puzzles. All in all, a very nice collection. The only real disappointment is the lack of any commentary for the film itself.

I loved this movie in the theater and it works just as well on DVD. It’s wonderful fun, and the rare thinking man’s action flick. The information about the Templars and the Freemasons (including some of our founding fathers) and the

amount of history discussed and used to decipher clues makes for a much more interesting movie than your regular summer movie fair. Also, the heist of the Declaration of Independence is so well thought out and done, it makes the film worth seeing just by itself. As to whether the treasure is real or if they find it, it doesn’t really matter. What the characters learn about history and about themselves is the main quest here. It’s the journey, more than the destination, that matters.

The DVD extras are quite numerous, though most seem geared to teenagers and children rather than adults (this is a Disney DVD after all). The documentary for the movie is pretty standard stuff, and the shorter features on the Knights Templar and on real life treasure hunters, while interesting and well done, are not long enough to give more than basic information. I do like the decision to provide the code in the booklet that comes with the DVD that allows you to unlock the second level of extras for those of us who don’t want to take the time to figure out the code. Aside from the lack of a director’s commentary I’m very happy with this Disney DVD.

Added note: The sequel to the film National Treasure: Book of Secrets, scheduled for release the end of 2007, will find Gates and his tema uncovering the truth behind the mystery of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. I don’t know if the magic of the first film can be recaptured, but with Kruger, Bartha, Harvey Keitel, and Jon Voight back on board and the addition of Helen Mirren, Ed Harris and Bruce Greenwood, I’m looking forward to finding out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Man in the Chair

“Will you be willing to pay the price to be the man in the chair?”

Cameron Kincaid (Michael Angarano) is a troubled kid, in trouble at school, with the law, and at odds with his overbearing step-father (Mitch Pileggi); his only escape is through film.

One day after school he meets Flash Madden (Christopher Plummer), a drunken loudmouth who seems to know more about films than anyone Cameron has met. Flash worked for years as a gaffer in the movie biz and was given his nickname from Orson Wells (Jodi Ashworth) on the set of Citizen Kane. Cameron strikes up an uneasy friendship with Flash and convinces him to help make a student film. Flash persuades his friends at the nursing home, all of whom worked in the movie business, to help and Cameron finds himself with the most experienced crew any student has used to shoot his first film.

There are many things which work in the film. First off the performances are good across the board especially those of the leads, Plummer and Angarano. Although Plummer’s performance smells a little of Oscar Bait there’s enough to enjoy.

The film also has some issues, aside the the believability and coincidence of all these events happening at the same time just when they can help fix everyone’s lives. The entire subplot of the mean kid (Taber Schroeder, who comes off as a second rate William Zabka) is a complete waste of time. As is the confusing subplot of Flash’s hatred for the local dog pound. Neither of these threads lead anywhere, nor are they all that well told or at all interesting. The story of the family relationship with Cameron, his step-father and mother (Mimi Kennedy) is well set-up but isn’t given the same time and care as the rest of the film, and leads to a hastily forced conclusion that I had trouble buying.

Also troubling are director Michael Schroeder‘s forced attempts at odd camera effects which I got tired of very quickly. These jumbled images might mean to add an extra layer to the film (like a poor man’s Tony Scott), but they simply don’t work. Sadly these shots only come off as distracting at best, and, more often than not, both intrusive and annoying.

Man in the Chair has its problems. It’s predictable, it’s a little naive, it’s poorly explored subplots and simplistic periphery characters keep getting in the way of the main story, and the director thinks he Federico Fellini. Even with these problems there’s still much here to enjoy including some good performances and a love of cinema. I’m still giving this film a moderate recommendation despite its issues. It’s not a must see by any stretch of the imagination, but if you can overlook its many faults there’s a good film in there trying to get out.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Golden Compass

“That is heresy!”
“That is the truth.”

The story centers around Lyla Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) a young girl with a great destiny, in a parallel world ruled by a theocracy known as the Magisterium. In this world a person’s soul exists outside their body in the form of an animal who can talk and think. Children’s souls, or Daemons as they are called, are able to change shape until the beginning of adolescence where their Deamon chooses a permanent shape. The reasons for this are a substance known as Dust, but we’ll learn more about that later.

Lyra leaves the comfort of Jordan College with the lovely but secretive Ms. Coulter (Nicole Kidman). With the help of an Alethiometer, a small golden compass which can tell the truth of the future and the past, Lyla learns much about herself, Ms. Coulter, her uncle Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) and others, and begins an adventure over the seas and through the Arctic with Gyptians, witches, and armored polar bears.

Although quite pretty and filled with talking polar bears, Daemons and witches, the story doesn’t always feel as magical as it should. There are several good special effects including the Daemons themselves changing shape, talking, and reacting emotionally to various stimuli. I also quite enjoyed the different looking technology of the world. And the look of the witches, especially Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green), flying through the air and fighting in battle is well done. Throw in a huge polar bear fight, the horror of intercision, and some bloody battles and you’ve got the basis for a fun ride.

In a film centered around a child the casting becomes hugely important. Luckily for us Dakota Blue Richards does a great job as Lyra capturing her rambunctiousness and independent attitude. Ben Walker and Charlie Rowe also have some nice moments as Lyra’s friends from Jordan College. Hopefully the casting of Will in the sequel will be as good.

There are more than a handful of characters introduced over the course of the film, and more to come in the next one. Because of this some of the nuance has been cut away or simply lost in this trimmed down film version. We don’t learn as much about the Gyptains or the Polar Bears as we do in the books. One of my favorite scenes from the books, involving the discussion of Lyra and Iorek Byrnison (Ian McKellen) about the differences between humans and bears and why you can fool one but not the other, has been removed completely.

Religious Note - Some are going to object to the theocracy of the Magisterium as casting the church or organized religion as the villains of the piece, but it is a fantasy world where polar bears talk and people’s souls are outside their body changing shape and talking to people! Simply put - it’s fantasy, deal with it. And for those who don’t believe that a church run state can take it’s power too far and act in ways that can only be described as evil, I’d suggest you take a short look through history, starting with The Inquisition. Now back to the review…

Although the film works in many ways there are some problems. The first is the film’s lack of focus and flow early on. We jump through different scenes all meant to introduce the characters and the world, but they are only loosely and hastily cut together in a way that seems more like greatest hits from the book than a film version of the full story.

Also troubling is how long the film takes to let us in on the secrets of the world and the point of the story. In a novel you can tease the reader, but in a film (especially one which has to remove much of the excess scenes and plot to make its under two-hour running time) you need to explain such a dramatically different world a little better. Those who haven’t read the book may wonder just what Dust is and why it’s so important. Stay patient, the explanation is coming, though you’ll have to wait about 100 minutes to get to it.

I would recommend reading the books, at least the first one, before seeing this film, or taking someone with you who can answer your questions. At the screening I attended those who hadn’t had experience going in with Philip Pullman‘s world seemed lost and bewildered for most of the film. And much like The Two Towers those who have read the book may be upset by the chosen ending of the film which leaves a large portion of the first novel untold. Is it a great adaptation? No, not really, but it’s passable, and likely the only one we’re ever going to get.

The Walker

Paul Schrader has penned some great scripts (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ), he also wrote Light of Day (and directed Cat People). The Walker, which Schrader wrote and directed, falls somewhere in between.

Carter “Carr” Page III (Woody Harrelson) is an escort to the wealthy and influential woman of Washington D.C. He’s what is known as a “walker,” he walks ladies from place to place providing company, juicy gossip, and companionship. Although he delights in telling his clients about the hot topics in our nation’s capitol, he speaks very little of his own life or of his long time relationship to a struggling artist (Moritz Bleibtreu). To some he’s an acquaintance, to others an embarrassment of his name and the legacy of his father. Harrelson does well in balancing the different facets of the character who will turn the other cheek and offer a smile even in the most dangerous circumstances.

Carr’s life is thrown for a loop when his favorite client (Kristin Scott Thomas) finds her lover murdered. Unable to stand the scandal it would deal to her and her Congressman husband (Willem Dafoe) she refuses to call the police, leaving Carr to do it. A District Attorney (William Hope) and a Detective (Geff Francis) smelling scandal and headlines go hard after Carr and his life of ease and leisure comes to an end.

There are many good things to say about the film. The look and feel of the characters and setting have style (too bad there isn’t more substance). There are several good, though not great supporting peformances from the likes of Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty, and Lily Tomlin.

Although much works, there is just as much that doesn’t. Harrelson is good in the more comedic parts of the film but struggles with the more dramatic scenes (and his accent leaves a little to be desired). The story contains good elements but they don’t seem to lead anywhere as a character study is quickly dropped for a run of the mill murder flick taken from the perspective of one of the suspects - the least interesting and informed perspective you can have in such a film.

Although there are several elements here the film just never clicked for me. I think the movie is worth seeing, though I wouldn’t actively seek it out as you will probably have to do for this small independent film which will play mostly in art houses. Gossip, whispering campaigns, and a rather uninspired murder mystery don’t add up to much more than casual fancy, and sadly, in the end, that’s all The Walker really is.