Reviews written by registered user
|18 reviews in total|
Two good, fair movies have been made this year about the eternal
Israeli/Palestinian war. I prefer "Paradise Now," a tense-low budget,
no-stars movie, that portrays two young Palestinian suicide bombers.
"Munich" is about the cycle of revenge and response caused by the
massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. It's a compelling
movie, as unpleasant and uncomfortable as is the subject.
Spielberg portrays an Israeli hit squad that gradually loses its moral certainty as assassination piles on assassination. A key moment in the film is when when a young, idealistic Palestinian terrorist talks of the need of a homeland -- much as Israelis talk -- and the dawning realization on the assassin's leader, Eric Bana, that not much in the way of moral space separates the terrorists from the hit squad.
Unlike others, I did not care for the omnipresent "French connection" in the movie. One is asked to believe that an old man on a farm seemingly has all the information in the world at hand, including the addresses and bios of Palestinian terrorists. This was a cheap plot trick in my opinion, a quick and easy, but hardly credible way for the hit squad to find terrorists. Better would have been a gritty search, blind alleys, and a mistake or two along the way.
The obvious message of the movie is that violence begets violence and a better way must be found. Spielberg doesn't suggest that better way. I won't bore the reader with my solution, but attempts to look at the Palestinian/Israeli problem in a even-handed manner is a good trend.
This is a pretty decent movie with a couple of flaws. First, I have
trouble accepting Ben Affleck as the young Jack Ryan. He looks and acts
like a college sophomore, not a CIA analyst.
That's minor compared to point two. To paraphrase Waylon Jennings "Don't you think this Nazi bit done got out of hand?" 57 years after World War II ended and the moviemakers are still coming up with Nazi plots to control the world? We all know why. Political correctness demands that only blond haired and blue eyed people be bad guys. So, the bad guys have to be Nazis...who else are there: Canadians? Swedes? Hardly persuasive...
Ben Stiller and Gweneth Paltrow's acting in this movie should get them pelted with rotten eggs. They are unattractive characters -- nothing wrong with that -- but also made to be monumentally boring. Paltrow never seems to wake up and Stiller is entirely too awake. The whole movie consists of characters talking slowly with lots of pauses so the patrons can munch their popcorn. Timing is everthing in comedy, so they say, but this one seems to have been timed with a calendar. Gene Hackman is pretty good, as are his elevator operator buddies, but the Tenenbaums -- including mama Anjelica Houston, who I have always liked -- are zombies. In fact, that would be a good title for this movie: "Zombie Jamboree."
The conservations are interminable in this slow-moving gangster flick. I almost screamed,"Quit talking and do something!" Tarentino, to say the least, is not a master of pithy dialogue. If you cut about an hour of the chatter Pulp Fiction might be a good movie.
For me this film is marred by unlikely politics. Jean Brodie is an enthusiastic fascist. OK. Lots of people liked fascism back in the 1930s. But Miss Brodie persuades one of her students to go to Spain and fight for fascism and Franco. Did that ever happen? The reverse is certainly true. All sorts of intellectuals waxed poetic about the glories of Communism and the Spanish Republic and encouraged young men and women to go to Spain and die fighting for the cause. Many accepted the call -- including George Orwell who came home thoroughly disillusioned. But I'm not aware of any movement to enlist American or British volunteers to fight for fascism and Franco. Thus, the movie would have been truer to its time if Miss Brodie had been a leftist and persuaded her student to fight for the Communists.
It's somewhat illuminating that the meanest, most ruthless, most liberated woman in American literature appeared in a book and movie in the 1930s which portrayed a women of the 1860s. Scarlett O'Hara is the greatest female character of our heritage. Who else comes close?
Well, there are some good points to this movie. Cameron Diaz and
Penelope Cruz are lovely ladies. Diaz has a meaty role as the undervalued
lover; Cruz plays the perfect woman about whom all men dream. Thus, she is
not half as interesting as she thinks she is.
This might have been a good romance/psychological thriller if the
science fiction elements to the plot had been completely, totally,
absolutely omitted. Sorting out reality and Cruise's dreams could have made
for a good movie. But the incredibly inept sortie into science fiction
makes this movie a joke -- and not a very funny one. The first hour or so
of the movie is interesting; the last half hour is ridiculous and boring.
The movie might have been worth seeing if a truly interesting and surprising
ending had been devised. But it wasn't and this movie was stupid.
What you can say about this movie is that it was not directed by Zhang
Yimou who did (if I'm not mistaken) Raise the Red Lantern and Ju Dou which
were excellent movies. This is similar -- but inferior -- to Zhang's work.
Gong Li, the lead actress, is less sensual than usual, the story is
convoluted and complicated, the ending is exactly like that of every other
movie I've seen in which Gong Li is the lead, and the story strains
The lead male character, Zhong, is sort of a Chinese Tom Cruise. The women all love him, despite the fact that he's a louse. He suffers horribly because they suffer because of their love for him. Nobody suffers as much as Gong Li. Tragic ending predictable. The photography was good. That's about all.
Maybe it is unfair for me to review this movie because I walked out
well before the end. That's odd, because I usually like Shakespeare on the
screen and I enjoyed Midsummers Night's Dream once, many years ago, when I
saw it on the stage.
I think that two things did me in: that squeaky twerp with the Shakespearian name, Calista Flockhart, and Michelle Feiffer sitting in a giant clamshell. Well, I suppose you could say it supposed to be a comedy -- but when the scenery is funny and the actors aren't, I'd say we have a bad movie on our hands....
For those who pay attention to such things, Gong Li shows more skin
than seems to be usual in Chinese movies. Not that it matters, of course, to
people like you and me who only watch movies because of their cultural and
Impending doom overlays every scene in Ju Dou and the closed in, claustrophobic atmosphere creates an almost unbearable tension. The photography, of course, is exquisite, the acting subtle, and Gong Li is beautiful. The ending, however, is less that brilliant. A little unanticipated twist to Gong Li's fate might have made this an exceptional rather than just a very good movie.
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