My dear old computer died last Saturday night, after I had written my post about The Road, but unfortunately while I was in the midst of writing my Movie Mayhem post… Since then, in the scramble to see about fixing it, and the struggle to decide which new computer to buy, this movie review post has been weighing on my mind. Ridiculous. So here I am borrowing the work computer so I can post the thing, and have done with it…!!
I have some extremes here – an overall good collection of movies, framed by a great one and a really terrible one. Lots of interesting stuff for sure.
The Hurt Locker – Kathryn Bigelow – USA – 2008
This movie has been getting a lot of attention lately, since it is plugged into the Oscar race in a serious way, and as I found the attention is pretty deserving. It is a really interesting look at the life of a soldier, focusing on what makes a particular bomb demolition expert tick. I can’t say much about it’s accuracy or true-to-life-ness, but as a film it was relentless in its vision. While never being scary, per say, it was knuckle-whiteningly tense. Jeremy Renner’s performance was quite good. I wasn’t completely blown away, but it was certainly one of the more intriguing ‘war movies’ that I’ve ever seen.
Nine – Rob Marshall – USA – 2009
The really terrible movie I mentioned? This is it. Based on a film by Federico Fellini that was turned into a musical and now back into a film (why??) this was an absolute disaster – garbled, nonsensical musical numbers with terrible lyrics and boring instrumentation, mixed with a who cares tale about a famous film director who’s personal life is falling apart while no progress is made on his highly anticipated new film. A pretty, and large cast, only made matters worse since my opinion of Penelope Cruz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, and Sophia Loren among others only plummeted based on their involvement in this production. I’m not incredibly feminist, but I found the portrayal of women in this nauseatingly degrading, and with it’s tag line – Be Italian – what, pray tell, is the film’s opinion of Italian women? Horrible movie.
A Far Off Place – Mikael Salomon – USA – 1993
This movie haunted me for many years – it was one that I vaguely remembered watching and thought about frequently for some reason, but couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I read A Story Like the Wind by Laurens van der Post, and it all came back to me. One of Reece Witherspoon’s earliest roles, it is an epic tale of adventure and survival in the Kalahari Desert, told fairly well. Now I just need to read the book, which is the sequel to A Story Like the Wind, and see how good a job Mikael Salomon actually did!
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam – UK – 2009
I felt generally “meh” about this film. Granted, it was visually stimulating, but for all the pretty colors and bizarre storyline and Tom Waits as the devil, I found it pretty boring. I wanted to be more engaged with it, so ultimately it was disappointing. Still, I’m glad Gilliam finished it, and I do feel the need to re-watch Time Bandits for some reason!
Orlando – Sally Potter – UK – 1992
This was the great movie that I mentioned. Oddly enough, I liked it much more than the book! Under Potter’s direction it translated surprisingly well into a movie, and while I had worried that Tilda Swinton would be too chilly to play Orlando, I actually liked her very much. The music was great, and the way the familiar events of the book were strung together was perfect. There were some modifications that were not entirely justified in my mind, but I found myself less up-in-arms about that because the movie just worked so well for me. I finished it with a feeling of total satisfaction. Excellent movie making indeed!
Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick – USA – 1957
I’m getting ever closer to finishing watching all the Kubrick movies! This one was another very interesting look at war, this time through the eyes of a French troop during WW1. It showed how the gritty work of war, suffered by the men in the trenches, is often merely the political maneuverings of the generals and other top officials. It’s a sad, frustrating movie about the court marshal and execution of three soldiers picked at random for so-called ‘cowardice’ after a disastrous battle that makes the generals look bad in the papers. Told in a straightforward way, but with a careful build up of tension, the movie ends on a rather profound note. It lacks the Hollywood happy ending, for which I am grateful, and finishes with something so much better. Excellent work from Kubrick once again.
There!! Now my mind can be at rest. The new computer doesn’t come until next week, so if I don’t pop round to all my favorite blogs as regularly don’t imagine the fault lies with you! This break from the computer is good for me, right? So they tell me…!