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"Clockwatchers" surprised me in many ways. At first I thought was just going to be a quirky comedy about resentful temps, I was wrong. There were many things in this satire that came unexpected. I was surprised with it's meticulousness, every scene looks like it was arranged to resemble an office to the slightest details. You can strongly feel that dry and dead air, and the way everything seems to move without any change, in a monotonous pattern that will slowly but surely kill you're personal energy. I never knew that an office could feel so oppressive, and this film portrays it was successful accuracy. Another thing that surprised me was the unexpected seriousness, I actually found myself thinking about some of the character's observations on careers and goals, how sometimes we can totally lose our identity when all we try to do is to please others and maintain a decent salary. When "Clockwatchers" was over, I actually found myself depressed, and menaced by the possibility that my life could turn out like the characters'. But, bleak elements aside, this was also a pretty funny film as well. Parker Posey delivers a juicy performance, her pessimism never ceases to entertain. The other actresses are also good, and most of the scenes they share together are enjoyable to watch. The only thing that could of used some fixing was the film's last half hour, it dragged on with the whole "new girl" plotline and the final conclusion was too vague to satisfy. But still, "Clockwatcher" is a good film, a unique blend of snappy humour and depressing accuracy that usually succeeds.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
There aren't many films that unfold with a true grace, like a bird spreading it's wings in a beautifully restrained manner. "The Sweet Hereafter" is one of them, it is an engrossing film that doesn't rely on emotional manipulation to effect it's viewer, it tells a tale like it is, and in the end, that is exactly what makes it so good. The film studies a small Canadian town in the face of tragedy, and carefully layers a series of intertwining stories involving a handful of locals who have all been impacted by the occurence. Every character seems to have a normal life at first, but as the film progresses, it becomes clear that they do not. They are emotionally void people who all harbour secrets and lies, and as much as they want to believe what they're doing is right, deep down they know it's not. Intense emotions of guilt and grief run through them, but for unusual reasons. "The Sweet Hereafter" examines the things that surface after the wake of a tragedy, after the eminent shock and sorrow, how people's lives become so deteriorated and barren. The film skillfully uses different perspectives, places and time to explore the span of everything involved, asking why some things in the universe are out of our control, and if they happen for a reason. I was impressed with the film's meticulous structure, every frame is measured delicately to maximise it's power, and it works 100 percent of the time. From stark to striking, it's visuals work just as well as it's intellect. Ok, so Russell Bank's novel is a bit clearer, but Atom Egoyan's take on it is just as effective, if not more. Another thing that makes this film shine are it's performances, Sarah Polley and Ian Holme are both superb, both exude with a gentle sadness that genuinely convinces. In all, "The Sweet Hereafter" is a film that needs to be seen, it is a beautifully realised and haunting film that's virtually impossible to forget.
The Green Mile (1999)
Well-acted, but story could use some fixing
"The Green Mile" is the kind of film that oozes with confidence that it is going to win a slew of awards, where some scenes look like they were made so the Academy would play them as a clip while announcing the nominees. Some people have been blown away by it, while others have brushed it off as a self-important piece of rubbish. My feelings fall somewhere in the middle. I think "The Green Mile" is a likeable film, but not exactly worthy of getting a "Best Picture" nod. The main thing that makes this film strong is it's collection of exceptional performances. Tom Hanks delivers the goods (surprise, surprise) in almost every scene, while the lesser known actors that surround him also shine. I was especially moved by the actors who played Dell and John, both give sincere performances that are truly Oscar worth. The story definitely sounds shmaltzy when you here about it second-hand, but the director does a pretty decent job with. It's a simple tale of a couple of prison guard's discovery of a miracle, ultimately making them reassess their own emotional lives. What I didn't like about the plot was that it too long and became redundant at times, and some of the character's aren't handled very well. There was a bit of sporadic immaturity in the lead characters, they sometimes acted like schoolboys instead of grown men. Percy and Wild Bill weren't explored enough, and both got their "just deserts" too harshly and easily. The supernatural aspect of the story was made well with emotional intensity, as well as a surprisingly low amount of cheesiness, some moments were actually quite powerful and moving, especially towards the end. "The Green Mile" could of been a lot better if unneccesary scenes had been ommited and it moved at a faster pace. It's still a pretty good film though, despite it's flaws.