Friday, December 11, 2009

Films Seen Recently

Transsiberian (Brad Anderson, 2008): A curious crime drama where the viewers know more than any single character, and wherefore, the film is less of a whodunnit than a study of how a rather implausible crime and further implausible events are mishandled by the culprit. As in many such films, the deus ex machina denouement is absurd.

Happy Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008): This was my second viewing. Some notes about Poppy: ... However, even if she is at times irritating, it is striking to note that she is an energy provider, and not someone who needs constant bucking up (and hence not an energy sink). So even though her "giving" is ill-advised at times (when others are not receptive, e.g.), it is generally quite harmless. Many others in the film are so wounded inside that they end up burdening others with their sorrow, anguish and general pessimism. Hence, I consider the "burden" she puts on others by almost pushing them to share in her cheerfulness as a happier alternative than to remain aloof, or to burden others by one's sullenness or sour mood.

Of course, if she was more aware, she would modulate her "pushing" as per the situation (when in the film it is almost a monotonically exuberant cheerfulness). It is as if she is a compulsive cheerio (and since the root is compulsion, or her nature, it is not a matter of choice which others can then emulate). And being a compulsive cheerio, she does exacerbate certain situations (e.g. with Scott) in which a calm silence could have been better.

District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, 2009): Interesting take on human rights and on class warfare, shallow characters and video-game-weaponry mar this otherwise interesting and uncharacteristically misanthropic film.

Lakeview Terrace (Neil LaBute, 2008): I saw this film after it was highly recommended by a favorite reviewer. Social misfits are interesting character studies. The film is a curious take on race relations in the United States. I also recommend The House of Sand and Fog (Vadim Perelman, 2003) for those who like this film.

Sexy Beast (Jonathan Glazer, 2000): Ben Kingsley as a psychopathic gangster in a remarkable, bravura performance. In a flawless white shirt. The starting and the ending of the film are cute and atmospheric.

Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009): An exercise in signature-style, film references and award hunger, the film is notable (as far as I am concerned) only for the strong and memorable performance by Christoph Waltz. The scenes drag on for too long at times, while some reviewers see that as the point. Mr Tarantino never has much to say, but revels in his formal ability to say that little. And his formal ability mostly consists in long takes and inane dialogue. Unimpressed.

Doubt (John Patrick Shanley, 2008): The film looks good, the actors do their jobs rather well (especially Ms Streep and Ms Davis), but the film is quite flat in tone, and the characters are not deep enough for one to care about them. It pans like a story, not a real occurence. Which is perhaps because, after all, it is a literary adaptation.

1 comment:

S. Hall said...

I'm glad to finally read your thoughts on a Tarantino film. I highly enjoyed Inglorious Bastards, myself. I'm a sucker for his ability to rip-off exploitation/sub-genre films in such a polished manner. Also, his dialogue has me laughing precisely because it is so blatantly inane, which probably comes from me feeling "in" on the joke. That said, it does feel like more junk-food cinema/pure escapist entertainment than anything of lasting value.

I do share your opinion of Doubt and Transsiberian, however.