If you're a dude, or a girl that likes to rock a buzz cut, you can use clippers and do a solid job. Especially given time and practice, and a good hand-held mirror (the back is, as you would imagine, pesky).
But say you don't have clippers. Or you don't want a buzz cut, you want something a little more dynamic. So you decide you're going to cut your hair with scissors.
What you soon discover is that using scissors to cut your own hair is difficult. Usually scissors are hand-specific. So you have right-handed scissors. But it's awkward to cut the left side of your head with your right hand, so you use your left hand. Oops. The scissors don't respond to the squeezing of your left hand. They won't cut. So you have to bend and crane and contort to snip certain spots of your head. And what about the back of your head? Unless you have a really great multi-mirror set-up, you're cutting blind. Disaster ensues.
What happened when I cut my own hair? I put down the scissors, tilted my hair left and right, and thought "you know what....this doesn't look too bad!" I showered. I left the house. Later that night, while in line to get into a bar, a friend, standing behind me, guffawed. I turned. She was laughing. "What," I asked. "You have so many bald spots on the back of your head! What happened?" She counted. One, two, three, four, five, six. She laughed harder. "Who cut your hair?!" ......"Uh..."....."I cut my own hair..."
Man on a Ledge has similar patchiness.
Director: Asger Leth
Man on a ledge: Sam Worthington
His brother: Jamie Bell
Brother's girlfriend: Genesis Rodriguez
Bad Guy: Ed Harris
Negotiator trying to talk Worthington off said ledge: Elizabeth Banks
Sarcastic cop who warms up to Banks: Ed Burns
Cop in charge: Titus Welliver
Worthington's best friend who is also a cop: Anthony Mackie
Man on a Ledge has a main plot. Sam Worthington and his crew are trying to steal a diamond.
Then there are subplots galore. Worthington and Elizabeth Banks. Banks and Ed Burns. Banks and Titus Welliver. Banks and other police officers in general. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez. Ed Harris and a building unveiling. Ed Harris and a politician. Ed vs. a watch. Anthony Mackie and evidence. Mackie and Worthington. Worthington and the Tactical Squad. The News/Kyra Sedgwick and The Situation (situation being a man on a ledge). The Crowd and The Situation. And the homeless looking guy.
Then there are backstory plots. Banks, playing a negotiator, failed in a recent negotiation (WHAT HAPPENED???). Worthington's went to jail for Reason-X (WHAT HAPPENED???). Worthington's and Bell's father died (they're playing brothers), and Worthington keeps mentioning him to Banks. Worthington's backstory/Reason-X has its own backstory. Which ties into Welliver's backstory. And Mackie's. Rodriguez teases Bell (her boyfriend) with descriptions of past sexual encounters (WHAT HAPPENED???).
We'll say the main plot is someone's hair when you're looking at them dead-on. It's styled in a non-classic way (hence the gimmick the plot relies on (see movie title)). It looks interesting, but isn't anything groundbreaking; you've seen it before (Phone Booth, Liberty Stands Still, Ocean's Thirteen).
Then you see the sides and the back. And you wonder what happened. The classic line "did you get in a fight with a lawn mower?" pops into your head.
The movie provides us with one flashback. This is where we see Worthington in jail, see that he and Mackie are friends, see his father's funeral, see him fight his brother at the funeral, see how the two officers escorting Worthington try to break up the fight and this gives Worthington an opportunity to escape, see a chase scene, see a car get jacked by a train and Worthington leave the wreckage just fine.
All other backstory information is delivered via exposition during the movie's present tense. The flashback is, then, an outlier. Is like a chunk of hair that is longer than the rest. This is because flashback is corporeal, we SEE what happened (and seeing, in the medium of film, is as real as things get). And exposition is ethereal. We listen, we envision. The two, flashback and exposition, don't provide the same experience, much less the same information. It's the difference between someone telling you how good Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits are and actually eating one. Or, in this case, seeing someone eat a CBB (and since film is a vicarious experience we are also "eating" the biscuit).
The backstories and side-plots try to tie together, but the lack of visual confirmation, I think, ruins the connection. If there had been a flashback showing us Mackie and Welliver doing the dastardly things the exposition describes, we'd feel more tension as they act in the present (because we'd have witnessed the discrepancy). As is, you know something is up, but if you don't catch the implications of the exposition, if you forget the names of the characters, you won't understand why Mackie and Welliver do what they do. (Think about Minority Report. We hear how sad Cruise is about his son's abduction. The flashback SHOWS US what Cruise went through. It's something we can recall later when Cruise thinks he's confronting the kidnapper).
Then you have the bald spots. (SPOILERS)
Mackie is shot. But we don't know what happens to him. Does he live? Does he die? He looks like he's about to die? He's confessing like someone about to die. But we don't see him die. Does he live?? Worthington's father is alive, was the bellhop! How the fuck did they pull that off? How did he infiltrate the hotel? How did they fake his death? What did he even "die" of? How long was Worthington escaped from jail before going out on that ledge? Bell mentions practicing the heist for a year. How did Worthington avoid police for a year? Did he just stay in that storage garage for a year? If Mackie found the storage garage in, like,...an hour...how come no one found it before? How long was Worthington even in jail for? Oh, and how did they practice the invasion of Harris's treasury? It seems like they had blueprints. How did they get the blueprints?
So, yeah, from the front, the movie seems okay. While it's not anything spectacular, while it may not impress a lot of people, some people may think it's cool. May say, "Hey, I liked that movie!" But upon closer investigation, you see holes, tufts, good intentions compromised by limitations. It's as if we're watching a sequel to a movie that never happened.
Did I like it:
Yes? In a way that "I wasn't expecting anything, so the fact that there were positives made my day." And I liked the people involved. I even liked Jamie Bell--which shocked me because every time I watch King Kong (which I love) I hate Jamie Bell more and more (I think he did, in KK, a horrible, horrible job of acting).
I thought Banks dominated. The other actors are okay. But I think Banks has an energy everyone else lacks.
There are cheesy fucking New York jokes. "I'm from the Bronx!" ::punch someone in face::
In case my disgust doesn't come through, I think region jokes are stupid. Also, I hate when a comedian or someone on stage goes "Hey there SEATTLE, WASHINGTON" and the crowd, since it's Seattle, Washington, cheers. If I, for some ridiculous reason, am ever in a front of a large group of people giving a speech. I'm going to yell "How are we doing Topeka, Kansas!" And we won't be in Topeka so no one will applaud. I'll ask if anyone knows how Topeka is doing. After I've thoroughly confused the crowd, I'd move on to the real speech.
If you want a movie that does flashback better see The Debt. If you want to see a movie that goes hard on both flashback and exposition see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If you want to see a movie that eschews flashback and does exposition as a means of unveiling information to slowly build up to a bullet-riddling climax, and does so AWESOMELY: watch Training Day.
At its best, parts of Ledge made me think of Die Hard. I have NO idea why. But that's what I thought of?
Watching this movie, I can't help but wonder...why makes this? I really wonder why, if shows like Law & Order and CSI are so popular, why doesn't anyone write a movie that's the same style but just two hours? I think I would rather watch two episodes of SVU than this movie?
Okay, so, with all this said. I still "liked" it. Shot selection was above average. We're given a lot of scenery, a lot of details. The camera includes the world, not just the faces of the actors.
If the movie were another half hour, or another hour, I think it would be better. I would rather it not had any flashback or exposition and just started at the beginning of the story, with Worthington and Mackie as partners, and working its way through all the stuff that's "revealed" along the way. You lose the "mystery" and the plot "twists" but you gain actual drama (again, see Training Day).
The most interesting thing to me about the movie is its use of sub-plots. There's a lot going on. Which puts a lot of meat on the bone. But it's not totally cooked meat. If that metaphor makes sense.
-that the movie leaves you hanging (pun?) on some details
-the variety of actors
-the mixture of heist, mystery, and gimmick
% Character / % Actor's Personality or Previous Roles
Bell: 10/90 (I hate when he attempts to act; this seemed like he was being natural, and him being him was fine with me)
Mackie: 30/70 (similar to Adjustment Bureau)
Burns: 50/50 (I'm unfamiliar and couldn't tell how much was character and how much him; I thought he was cool)
Sedgwick: 100/0 (why's she in this movie???????)
Worthington: Avatar; The Debt
Banks: Zack and Miri Make a Porno; Our Idiot Brother;
Mackie: The Hurt Locker
Harris: The Truman Show; A History of Violence; Copying Beethoven; Gone Baby Gone
Welliver: Gone Baby Gone; The Town: Lost