Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Apocalypto and Blood Diamond

I just wanted to come over here and weigh in on the two movies I saw over the weekend.

First up:

Mel Gibson's masterpiece "Apocalypto."

This movie is really good. It also serves as an intense kick in the pants. A major sequence of the film takes place while invaders are killing and raping pretty much everything in the village of the main character (Jaguar Paw, played to perfection by Rudy Youngblood). I have to say, the sequence was so brutal and heart wrenching, if I weren't with my brother I might have cried. The make-up effects for the gore was superb.

The story was exceedingly simple and that's maybe something filmmakers forget they can do these days. It's about a guy who gets abducted into slavery and wants to get back to his wife. That's it. No Internal Affairs investigations, no rug-pull endings, no Keyser Soze, no nothing. A guy wants to get home to his family and it works.

The character work is astonishing, especially when you take into account that the vast majority of the cast have never done ANY acting work.

I know I say this a lot, but pieces of the cinematography were stand out. There's a shot that dollies maybe thirty feet, beyond Jaguar Paw and then cranes ten feet over the edge of a waterfall. It was outstanding.

As far as the language is concerned, I think Mel Gibson (say what you will about him personally, but professionally, screw yourself) is making other filmmakers look extremely lazy. I mean, nowadays, it seems as though audiences are capable of reading subtitles, so there's no reason to do a movie in any language but the right one. I think Passion of the Christ's Aramaic might be half the reason The Nativity Story flopped. People just didn't find it as authentic.

Anyway, long story short, go see Apocalypto, it's good.

Next up, Ed Zwick's "Blood Diamond."

There's not much to say about, it's fairly by the numbers. There wasn't anything overtly terrible about it, but I have three major beefs with it:

1) It's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too fucking long. It needed thirty minutes trimmed out of it. At 2 hours and 18 minutes, there's no reason it couldn't be thirty minutes shorter.

2) Most of those minutes need to come out of the film where they are trying to make Leo look like an action star. He's really, really good in the movie but when it stops being an interesting character-driven political thriller, it turns into a really boring action film. Leonardo DiCaprio is not an action figure, please refrain from using him as such.


3) I knew about the politics about diamond trafficking going into the film, so it didn't hold any surprises for me, but I don't think that Zwick did enough to make the situation clear to someone who doesn't already have a prior knowledge about the process. Maybe he was trying to balance preachy and interesting, but I think he could have been more informative.

I feel like Zwick just pulls punches for no reason. In this, it wasn't a scathing enough explanation about the politics of diamonds. In Last Samurai, Tom Cruise should have committed Seppuku on the battlefield.... I don't know.

It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't great. It looks like Zwick is in the same league as Ron Howard and Tony Scott. They so badly want to be with the big boys, but just can't make a film any better than "pretty good" and more often than not, not even that good.

(On a side note, I picked up a copy of the book "The Good German" last night. I'm half way through it and if the movie is half as kick ass as the book is so far, we've got something to look forward to on Friday. I'll write more about it when I finish the book.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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