It’s almost 2am on Monday morning, and I’m excited to get up in six hours to see Joy Division, so this daily wrapup is going to be on the short side. I also saw only four films today, so I’ve got less to cover. You calling me lazy? Then you’ll love how I started this fine, grey Sunday.
Instead of getting up to see the new Herzog documentary (it’s playing again in a couple days) I got two extra and utterly blissful hours of sleep. Then I ran off to the Royal Ontatio Museum to see Redacted. Overall, I liked the film; I also respect it’s intentions, similar as they may be to Casualties Of War.
More than anything else, I was intrigued by De Palma’s methods, even though that was also the movie’s weakest point. That is, he’s simply too in love with a glossy image to make footage that really looks like it was shot on a soldier’s camcorder or pulled from YouTube. The HD sheen definitely hurt the movie’s credibility, though in the end I was happy enough with the final mix that I let myself be carried into the very ugly proceedings.
The rest of the day was also a mixed bag. For some reason that’s so terrible I don’t even want to ponder it, movies long on style and short on substance have of late been called five pounds of potatoes in a fifty pound bag. (I know, I’m just so southern and rural. Shitfire!) Feel free to substitute gold, or shit or Shogun Warriors if that helps. Regardless, I saw two 5/50 flicks today.
The first was M, a South Korean movie which, I finally puzzled out, is about a writer coming to terms with the death of his first love and possible muse. The style is totally overboard: loud, fast cuts, deliberately unrealistic lighting, scenes that almost look stagebound, and a repetitive set of plot devices that triggers yawns instead of neural sparks.
I vaguely expected something like this. M is from the director of Duelist, a fllm that both tired and irritated me up until I walked out. (I later caught the second half when I had hours with nothing to do.) That was in 2005, and things haven’t improved a lot, though I did stay for the entire film this time. I’m not necessarily going to recommend it, though.
The other 5/50 was the French sci-fi movie Chrysalis. (There have been about forty-nine thousand movies with that title; this one is directed by Julien Leclercq.) In all honesty, I didn’t expect to like this one, either; it’s been a long time since a French genre movie really grabbed me by the balls. Chrysialis does have some commendable qualities: an appropriately futuristic sheen, good (if overlong) fight scenes and a story with a lot of potential. Additionally, lead actor Albert Dupontel has a great face, and I’ll be happy to see him in other films. He was in Irreversible as well, but you didn’t get to focus on him as much. Here, the camera worships his face.
But the movie also has too few characters, so plot developments are telegraphed like a turn of the century booty call and the plot is stretched to a millimeter thickness over the scant 91 minute running time. I’m not going to tell you not to see it, but it’s hardly Primer. Hell, it’s not even Gattaca.
Ironically, since I began with Redacted, today I also caught another vaguely high-profile film about the use of video cameras: George A Romero’s Diary Of The Dead. It’s really not the movie I expected to see (which is mostly a good thing) but there were also a lot of obvious ideas that would have made it more interesting. There are definitely problems: self-awareness, amateur acting and a thematic spin that’s as hard to miss as a 747 in your bathroom.
That said, I had a good time with it. I’m one of the people who loved Land Of The Dead, and I think that’s a better movie than this one, but there are some great ideas and genuinely excellent sequences in Diary. Audiences will be just as divided this time. The love/hate is going to be a battle. The gore is plentiful (if largely digital) and every once in a while a bit of dialogue squeezes in that isn’t totally on the nose. Also: you’ll never look at the Amish the same way again. I’m voting positive on this one, if not even close to overwhelmed.
In addition to Joy Division, tomorrow might include: Sukiyaki Western Django; Lee Kang-Sheng’s Help Me, Eros; Paranoid Park; or a totally different selection. Wait and see.
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