Monday, 31 January 2011

Random Thoughts on Random Viewing

It's not that I haven't seen a number of films over the last few days, it's just that increasingly I find that I don't relish going into any depth on any of them. Perhaps the time has come, as the Walrus might have said, to talk of other things... However I shall perservere with this journal in the hope of finding renewed enthusiasm. In the meantime, here are a few random thoughts:

Green Zone (2010): War films fall just about at the bottom of my viewing preferences, however well thought of they may be -- although I seem to make an exception for subtitled historical epics, having happily sat through John Woo's lengthy two-part "Red Cliff" last week. Generally, however, that genre ranks even below boxing sagas and disease-of-the-week potboilers. Yes, I suppose Matt Damon was just fine as the increasingly-disillusioned soldier in Iraq unable to find any WMDs, but did I care? I suppose one of these days I shall 'have to' watch "The Hurt Locker" as well.

The Room (2006): Even though this French horror flick has a ridiculously low rating on IMDb, it sounded as if it might be worth a look. Well it wasn't. For a start it was appallingly dubbed, as if that might find this trash a wider audience, and it was full of artsy-fartsy staging. The saving grace for what it is worth, is the presence in the cast of the Down's Syndrome actor Pascal Duquenne, so very memorable in "The Eighth Day" (1996) with Daniel Auteuil. Gosh, was it really that long ago -- where do the days and years fly??

My Name is Khan (2010): This Indian movie starring Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan was cut by some forty minutes for its international release, presumably scissoring all of the usual song and dance interludes. Khan plays an Asperger's syndrome idiot savant at loose in post-9/11 America. While actually quite watchable, the movie was artfully contrived and tweely manipulative with its banner-cry of tolerance. His character (a Muslim) wants to redeem himself with his lovely Hindu wife, who is grieving after her young son is killed by prejudiced teenaged thugs; his goal is to meet the president and to declaim "My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist". It still took over two hours for him to accomplish this end in the face of bigotry and his own psychological shortcomings (and that was without the singing and dancing!)

Invictus (2009): I understand that Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort "Hereafter" is attracting a number of negative reviews along the lines of 'what in the world made him approach this subject?' (to which the obvious answer is that he is well aware of his own mortality). The same question might have been asked about this film which focuses on South Africa in the years after Nelson Mandela's release from Robbins Island and his success in partially reuniting the divided country by winning the World Rugby Cup, despite ingrained animosity against the Springboks amongst the majority of his black countrymen. A worthy subject, impeccably played by Morgan Freeman as the charismatic Mandela and Matt Damon (again) as the Boer team captain with his cod-Afrikaans accent, but a rather strange choice for the versatile Eastwood. However, at this stage in his remarkable career, he is entitled to go where his heart leads him.

Harry Brown (2009): This is one exceedingly nasty movie from the always watchable Michael Caine, but again a rather strange late career choice. After his wife dies and his one mate, Tom Bell, is terrorized and then murdered by yobs on their council estate, Caine goes into Charles Bronson avenging mode, but with rather less style than the now derided "Death Wish" films. Local police detective Emily Mortimer has twigged that Caine's senior citizen is responsbile for the rash of murders on her troubled patch, but her snooty captain has his own views on zero tolerance for crime. It takes a riot, her severe beating, the death of her partner, and a lot more murderous mayhem for Caine to remain at large -- but hopefully not to confront us with a "Harry Brown, Part Two".

That's it for today. I shan't comment on Auteuil as the Marquis de Sade (definitely not in the '96 flick mentioned above, but in "Sade", 2000) nor on the two '30s films I watched for light relief nor on a couple of clangers like "Ninja Assassin" which made me decide that bed was the better option. Happy viewing!
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