More Shoddy Film Reviews

August 19, 2009

I was at Blockbusters again this weekend and I saw four more films.  Here are my half-arsed reviews!

The Good The Bad The Weird

As the name suggests this is a homage to spaghetti westerns, although surprisingly this is a Korean movie set in Manchuria in the 1930s.  Like any spaghetti western there is plenty of back stabbing, gun-fighting and intrigue.  It’s also weirdly like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  The action is frenetic, it’s very silly and really good fun.

Watchmen

I must confess I haven’t read the comic book.  Sorry… graphic novel.

This film is a whopping two and a half hours and it densely packs most of it with ideas and story.  It’s kind of like one year of soap opera episodes compressed into less than three hours.  This doesn’t leave much space for emotional involvement with the characters (of which there are many) or to astound us with jaw-dropping action.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so entirely given over to just story telling.

Thankfully the story is compelling enough to just about pull this off.

The story has some stiff competition for our attention though.  The music choices in this movie are absolutely horrible and add nothing.  Slow-mo peppers the film and I have personal bugbear about slow-mo.  The tone of the movie wobbles all over the place – which probably works beautifully in a comic book but seems a little jarring in this context.

There are a lot of problems is what I’m trying to tell you.  I’d say Watchmen is a curio: it mostly works despite itself but it is not really a good film in the classic sense.

Still, I’ve just ordered the Watchmen book so clearly the film has made an impression.  Your milage may vary.

Valkyrie

A story of the German Resistance during WWII.  Starring Tom Cruise.  Hmmmm…

Tom Cruise spends the whole movie being incongruous.  He’s a big Hollywood movie star playing a German with an American accent.  Wearing an eye patch.  And a Nazi uniform.  And has two fingers missing.  And a hand missing.  He could give the greatest performance of his career and no one would notice because FUCK ME IT’S TOM CRUISE PLAYING A GREAT BIG NAZI WHO CAN’T DO A NAZI SALUTE.  BECAUSE HIS HAND IS MISSING!  He’s just too big a star for this role, which isn’t really his fault.  In fact I think it’s admirable that Cruise has the balls to try out such a risky role.  But the film makers should have realised that expecting the audience to swallow Cruise as a two-fingered, Nazi cyclops is just too big an ask.

Other than that the script is pure Hollywood chewing gum and I can’t help but feel that the mostly British cast is there to make it seem more substantial than it is.

I think it’s a worthwhile story and a brave effort but it’s let down by some bum notes in the script and poor choice of star.  Overall an average film.

Waltz with Bashir

More War!  This time it’s about Israelis fighting in the Lebanon in 1982.  The director of this animated film goes on a journey to try to work out what memories he has suppressed from the war.  The animation is computer generated in what I would describe as 2.5D and is a great match for the unrushed, reflective tone of the film.

This film takes us through the stories of several men and their experiences of war.  The differences in their accounts and their attitudes about what happened are fascinating and should interest anyone who’s interested in psychology and memory.

I’ll warn you now that this is ultimately a depressing film.  These men find themselves caught up in atrocities that draw parallels with Nazi Germany.  Not one of the men is so crass as to say that they were only following orders but it often seems those words are on the tip of their tongue.

I was quite affected by it and if you think you can stomach such depressing discussions of the human condition then I’d highly recommend you watch it.

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