All entries for February 2006
February 20, 2006
So many films that popped out in the last quarter year or so, that it took a long time to get through it all. I find that overhyped films that other people seem to enjoy don't persuade me, seemed more like they wanted to enjoy it because it makes them feel highbrow or something, I don't know – that's generalisation. What I do know is these – I've finally found my own perfect list. The others that people talk about, like Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night, & Good Luck., Munich, Crash and The Constant Gardener did not get to me.
Instead, films which were truly emotional, which heavily affected me, caused me to think about it days after, the kind that sucks one into the screen and refuses to let go, in ways that I do not know how to explain they way I usually can for other films where my tendency to analyse prevails – these films are:
1. CINDERELLA MAN
This could have so easily been the most boring concept, most unnecessary film of the year, but under the inexplicable je ne sais quoi that Ron Howard and Brian Grazer puts into it, add to that the more than competent acting that the cast put into it, and with the combination of a creative cinematographer, excellent sound mixing and the services of the incredible talents of Thomas Newman for the score – the film actually made me tear up for the first time in a long time at a cinema.
2. WAR OF THE WORLDS
Lots of people don't get it – I shan't address that for fear of insulting anyone. But I think Spielberg delivered one of the most frightening films. I don't care about frightening films in the horror or suspense genre – what this film did is to convince that all that is happening is real, and that the characters would do what they did. In effect, they are like billiard balls, being knocked around, and they react the best that they can – a metaphor applied to Crash, but apparently no one sees it here. Perhaps I have a higher capacity to suspend disbelief than others – I understand the flaws in the ending, some apparent 'plotholes' (they're not), but I think this came out a better film than most last year.
3. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
Sure it's a kids film. What I like about it: depiction of the elder brother's sense of responsibilities, medieval knights, the dated way in which the kids speak, the way the film can be touching in unexpected ways (the scene at the train station), the brilliant shot when the two armies approach. Now, there are lots of films with clashing armies nowadays – but this one did it in momentous silence. The film is without its flaws, but it is forgivable as the undertaking was huge. For example, I thought the kids were potentially great – they just need someone to tell them to cut down on the pouting and the insecure mannerisms.
The most important film of the year. Frightening in the way it reveals how ignorant all of us are, and why. Depressing in its truthful conclusion that nothing will change because that's the way it is. We are all heading towards the precipice; some of us see it, but we cannot turn back because we are tied to those who don't see. A sincere but violent look at the realities of our hopelessly capitalistic world.
5. PRIDE & PREJUDICE
Period dramas get me – except when they're boring like Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility. Director Joe Wright infuses this with such furious passion that every single nuance and subtlety is highlighted to the audience – if the audience fails to perceive it, it is no one's fault but their own. Less about telling the story and more about making the audience feel every single idea and emotion that the characters go through. Every single one of the cast turned up top notch performances. As I haven't seen the BBC one I cannot say whether I'd ever think the BBC version of Darcy and Bennet are better. Chances are I won't – MacFadyen and Knightley were completely compelling.
February 05, 2006
FROM DIRECTOR Stephen Gaghan
AND STARRING George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Siddig, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt, and so on …
What is it about? It's about the world we live in today. It's about oil, corruption, the Middle East, terrorism, capitalism, fundamentalism, unemployment, American corporations, the CIA.
Who's in it? Everyone. It's about fathers and sons. The disillusioned CIA undercover agent. His son. The idealistic energy analyst. His wife and son(s). The reformist Arab prince. His father and brother. The quiet oil lawyer. His father. The Pakistani boy trying to ekk out a living in the Persian Gulf. His father. The corrupted heads of corporations. The old man behind the whole thing. The invisible heads working inside the CIA. The ulamas spreading the word of Allah. The anonymous-looking Chinese who are taking over firms one by one.
What's the point? Everything is connected. Who's right, who's wrong? You're asking the wrong questions, baby.
This film is about oil, but not a single drop of it is seen anywhere, the same way oil lawyers never came across the commodity they're defending. The movie keeps moving forward, so fast that if you miss a beat you realise you suddenly don't understand the whole story. And even if you were following the story carefully you may not be able to hold the entire thing in your head.
Because such is the current state of our modern capitalistic world. The film is based on a book, which is based on true events; however, everything in the film is fictional. What writer-director Stephen Gaghan (who won an Oscar for Traffic) tried to do was to present a film that reflects the way the world is, without any political bias or opinion – and he spent a couple of years just to research and write the movie. I trust him. The world he presents is a scary place. It's scary because we've been so ignorant of what's going on, most of us.
Gaghan is aided by a great cast – every one is a bit player, but they are all well-portrayed, and many will leave their impression on you. The cinematography and music are kept simple, chaotic only when it needs to be. All of this helps, because the story is complicated enough as it is.
Film is not just entertainment. Does this entertain? Depends on who you are. But if you want to have an understanding of how our world works – do yourself a favour.
Deserves Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Alexander Siddig and Jeffrey Wright, not Clooney), Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Original Screenplay.