At the Movies: Mar. 21, 2006

May contain spoilers. =P

V for Vendetta (WATCH IN THEATER/OWN DVD)

V for Vendetta Poster

I enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t pretentious, supportive of terrorism, or important like all the previews said it was. It was just a cool look at a dystopian future. And I’m a sucker for the “power to the people” theme.

I drove down with my two buddies Brendan and Ryan to Nashville to see it on the IMAX at 10PM on a Thursday. It was worth it. Not quite as impressive on the IMAX screen as the other movie I saw there, Batman Begins, but still fun.

Before I saw the movie, I saw this movie poster, which is well-designed. It has that Viva la Revolucion feel to it. The faded colors brighten up the three major themes of the V which represent a triad, London, V, and Evey in the middle. The choice of fonts is interesting. A good designer worked on this product.

For whatever reason, this wasn’t the poster used in the promotion of the film. The actual posters are the more traditional dark ones with detailed, close-up views of V, making it look like every other Underworld/Van Helsing/The Crow/Terminator/etc. poster.

V concentrates on destroying symbols and awakening the people to the reality of the tyrant government. Much like bin Laden tried to do. Except V lives for the memory of Guy Fawkes.

What’s most interesting to me is how the stars are used. Hugo Weaving was no doubt chosen for his association with the Watchizicihzkhoawski brothers from the Matrix, but you never see his prototypical Agent Smith face. In a way I kind of miss that because his face is so distinguishable. On the other hand, never showing his face matches with V’s character, tantalizing but never putting the focus too much on himself instead of his ideas and cause.

Natalie Portman, the focal point of the movie poster, instead of the mask of V, turns into the main character of the film. I guess she pretty much played the same character as she did in The Professional. But I thought she was good. The prison conversion is interesting.

Anyway…yeah…the rest you can fill in…these are just some of the thoughts I had that I don’t think everyone else is bringing up.

Hysterical Blindness (WAIT FOR TV AIRING)

Hysterical Blindness

Uma Thurman is too depressing as a loser girl trying to score in this film. I wonder if she’s ashamed with this film now or if she sort of treasures it as her memory of a decade long past. Not that she should be ashamed…just sort of embarrassed at how silly and low in self-esteem her character is. It makes me wince thinking about when she’s trying to get a guy’s attention at the pool table.

My girlfriend and I were trying to figure out Juliette Lewis, who’s also in this film. How come she’s been in so many good movies? She’s not exactly hot, but she’s sort of slutty hot. She’s not a good actress and she’s always pretty annoying. But she’s established herself in Hollywood history. Somehow. Like Steve Gutenberg and David Caruso and Fairuza Balk.

Paradise Now (RENT)

This movie continues the theme of movies that got villainized in the media just so writers would have something to fill up their latest columns. Paradise Now follows two Palestinian friends who get selected to carry out a suicide bombing mission in Israel.

Paradise Now

At first one is skeptical and the other thinks it’s a great opportunity. By the end, they’ve changed their minds. One man meets a charming woman whose father is a well-known martyr, but she was western-educated and no longer sees violence as productive and only as an excuse for Israel to continue what it’s doing. The relationship is brief and fleeting but the man, whose father was a collaborator with Israel, becomes more committed to the cause as the day comes closer.

I think most people will note the obvious scene where the man passes into Israel and the camera lingers on how nice things are in Israel, about how food is plentiful, women wear skimpy clothes to the beach, and technology is prevalent.

I thought this film was even-handed and worth watching. The two friends are not fanatics. Blowing themselves up does not consume their thoughts along with rage. They’re somber, quiet, modest.

I didn’t understand much of the dialect however with subtitles I can make out a lot of words that are similar to modern standard Arabic.

Brokeback Mountain (RENT)

The last movie to get snubbed because of its subject matter. I mean, how the FUCK did Crash win? Crash was like watching an after-school special…from five years ago. It was out-dated. I wasn’t even clear what the moral lesson was. So when Matt Dillon pulls that chick he felt up earlier out of the burning car right before it explodes, is the lesson that she should have let him feel her up because maybe he wouldn’t have been so generous when she was trapped in the car? I’m confused.

If it wanted to just show how fucked up life is, it didn’t even do that well. Being discriminated against isn’t a series of isolated vignettes that happen over the course of a week. Being discriminated against is like having a cloud over you all the time, thinking everyone is always judging you, pushing you inward and making you angrier and more paranoid.

None of the characters were racist. They were just assholes. Major league assholes. You could re-shoot the movie with just white people and it’d still be the same movie.

Anyway, Brokeback Mountain. I read some reviews and commentary online about the film after I watched it because there’s an ambiguous scene near the end that doesn’t really fit in and I wondered if I just missed something. Apparently it’s supposed to be ambiguous like in the book. I just felt it was odd because ambiguity is not a theme in this movie. Subtlety and fear and having to hide true feelings is what it’s about.

Heath Ledger plays a pretty good cowhand who’s got the brooding voice with a cowboy accent. I thought his performance was damn good. Gyllenhaal’s character is needy and dreamy.

I read that the gay community doesn’t really agree with the relationship’s development in the movie but I thought it was powerful and believable. The movie was quiet, slow, and subtle. They have to cover up their relationship but clearly they cannot hide it from their wives and children. Ledger’s character is a lot worse at covering it up.

It’s a very sad story. It’s also a beautiful one. And what’s most interesting is that this should be a classic American movie. It takes a very good snapshot of America that isn’t often seen but is the heart of the country. Ranching, small hick town life, horse and pony shows, fireworks, big country, just getting by, avoiding the Army, making good by your family.

Brokeback Mountain

Obviously this film will never been seen that way, because word that OMG Jake Gyllenhaal takes it in the ASS by Ledger early on in the movie will keep most people from watching it, but it shows America without all the makeup and pretense.

The last complaint I read from some gay commenters was that the film spent too much time on the relationships the two men had with their wives. But wasn’t that how their lives were? They could only get together every once in a while, but most of their time was spent trying to make a living and be with their wives and raise their kids? One of the saddest scenes is the last conversation Ledger and Gyllenhaal have.

If it were a toss-up between Crash and Brokeback Mountain, Brokeback Mountain should’ve easily won. But then again it still, er, sticks in my craw that Gladiator beat Traffic.

The Squid and the Whale (RENT)

Jeff Daniels as an elitist writer and professor and Laura Linney as his more successful protege wife, with two boys, one of whom is being manipulated by their parents through a divorce and the other younger boy who is dealing with his new-found sexual capabilities.

The dialogue is hilariously tragic. One son asks his dad about whether he should read a certain novel by Fitzgerald. His dad condescends something like, “Well, Great Gatsby is his finest work, although Tender is the Night has its moments.” The mom answers, “You should read it yourself and come up with your own opinion.” The son responds, “I don’t want to waste my time.”

The Squid and the Whale

William Baldwin is the tennis coach who obviously starts fucking Laura Linney. He’s found a good role in this movie, which seems to have been perfectly cast. Baldwin always says “my brotha” at the end of everything, which would drive me crazy if I were the dad but is pretty hilarious from a viewer’s point of view.

And that’s sort of the overall feel of the film. Laughing at other peoples’ pain.

Intacto (BORROW SOMEONE’S DVD WHEN YOU’RE BORED)

Intacto

A weird, incomplete film that didn’t live up to its potential. It’s based on the premise that people contain luck which is a thing that can be robbed of you. People who are found to be lucky are rounded up and offered a bunch of money to compete against each other, the winner taking all the others’ luck. And then there’s the guy in the white suit who hasn’t lost at Russian Roulette in forever, accumulating fucktons of small mementos from all his previous victims which contain their luck.

I read some reviews of this film and they all agree that there were a lot of cool ideas here but none of them were fleshed out as much as they should have been. Sigh.

Syriana (WATCH IN THEATER/RENT)

Far better than fucking Munich. Rather than try to make a point like Munich did, Syriana was like a documentary showing the complex relationships between the U.S. and the Middle East. Clooney is great as Bob Baer, whose first book I loved. Damon is good too. I like the emir who Damon is consulting.

Syriana

The sense you get watching this film is that the whole situation is so fucked up it’s beyond repair. That the politics are worlds above your own and that people will stop at nothing to win. It’s pretty scary. No place for idealists.

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