Monday, December 11, 2006

Bloody Awful

Saw BLOOD DIAMOND tonight with blog pal Meg. It was okay. Poor film wore its earnest heart on its sleeve. I fear they tried so hard to make a middle of the road movie, they'll please no one. I was quite bored with all the machineguns and explosions. It had the same oversensory non-thrills as the last eighteen years of Cubby's Bond films.

The plot points were executed with Swiss watch precision that screamed "Hollywood Epic...Oscar can you hear me?" And I feel for the cause they're trying to make into a blockbuster. But where was the heart behind the paint by numbers? Even the hit rap song over the credits felt like a calculated, group-think decision. I'd really like to see what Mr. Zwick woudl do with a microbudget and no studio goons perched on his shoulders.

Did anyone else notice how fast Oprah jettisoned her campaign for Forrest Whitaker in favor of ratings-friendly Leonardo Dicaprigay? No matter how many times Oprah said Leo's getting the Oscar, all I could think was Did he have the same dialect coach as Kevin Costner? Why hasn't that guy been fired?

And what exactly did Jennifer Connely's character being slutty and not wearing a bra in war-torn Africa have to do with any kind of reality women live in? None of the women I saw the flick with could figure that out. We were laughing DURING the movie.

Just goes to show that the geeky screenwriters who don't know what to do with women in real life don't know what to do with them onscreen either. Shocking. But obviously a good decision to continue hiring 95% male for the films Hollywood's actually hoping to trick 51% of the population into seeing. Morons.

I don't care what great performance is in it, or how worthy the social cause may be. I'm declaring a moratorium on my viewing of African War Films. Enough already. This ban will join my refusal to see Vietnam War Films, World War II Films, Vietnam War Films, Holocaust Films, Pro Pedophile Films, Disease of the Week Films, and anything by Peter Greenaway or anyone involved in creating the abomination of celluloid that was HAPPINESS (though by all means, see that film if you need to learn how to projectile vomit on cue for the rest of your life. Seriously.).

Oh, and films that feature bad spelling, i.e. THE PURSUIT OF THE HAPPYNESS OF WILL SMITH'S CHILDREN ALSO EARNING PAYCHECKS AND OPRAH PRAISE...WITH INNAPROPRIATELY EROTIC MOVIE POSTERS. (I hope all those overpaid marketers get Christmas pink slips for crafting a poster that has four references to pedophilia with an unwitting father and son. Unreal. No, I'm not being too hard on them; having studied and worked in commercial advertising, let me tell you...those aholes know exactly what they're saying. They pretend to be the dumb ones while behind closed doors they laugh at how dumb we are.)

SPOILER (if you're clever, and give an eff): At least BLOOD DIAMOND didn't make the same horrible story mistake THE LAST SAMURAI committed. Which means Ed Zwick is listenting to Laurie Hutzler, mayhap?


inkdestroyedmybrush said...

oh come on, what do you REALLY think? ;-)

MIM said...

OW. A little irritation there...

Checked the link to the "Last Samurai" discussion. Very itneresting. I loved a LOT of what went into Last Samurai, but was disappointed in it... pretty much all in character development and storyline. Maybe I read too many reviews and critiques around the time I watched it, but some things have jumped out at me over the years:

(1) Was the Algren character even NECESSARY? Seriously.

(2) Not enough to make Algren an accomplished captain, but NO, we have to make him (a) a whiz at languages (way to cheat subtitles), (b) massively guilty, and (c) a drunk. I agree with the other article that says they could have just made him an arrogant, racist punk to begin with, rather than beat people over the ehad and tell everyone "he killed all those people, but he feels SO BAD about it";

(3) You know more about martial arts than me, so I'll ask you -- how much noise should a sword NOT make when being drawn from a wooden/ leather scabbard? For a silent weapon, unsheathing these suckers is a LOUD piece of business.

(4) OK, so the Ken Watanabe character is an old-school samurai, sworn to the emperor. Fine. What does that make the samurai who served in the emperor's army anyway? Wouldn't have he made a compelling character? Doesn't Ras-al-Ghul look like overly stubborn next to the samuri willing to adapt in order to continue serving the Emperor?

(5) Who was really the LAST Samurai? Ras? Or Maverick? Was this a thematically logical move, or a blatant Hollywood movie-star ego stroke?

Again, I LOVED the cinematorgraphy, the score, the art direction, the fight choreography, the direction, the actual moments of subtlety by both the Western and Japanese actors, a whole honking bunch of the film. I bought the film on widescreen DVD the week it came out...

...and those five areas above still bug the bejeesus out of me.


PS -- Gotta disagree on the Pursuit posters. Just speaking as a dad of a 5-year-old dad, I guess, I didn't read ANY of that illegal and horrible stuff into it. Oh well.

Kid Sis said...

Ah, Charles. Still want to hear the end of that discussion about what YOU really think about the treatment of women behind the scenes in comics. Man, you were on a role!


Totally agree with you on Last Samurai. Sooo wanted to love it, and there were elements that I did love. Your questions are right on (insert impossible whooshy sword FX here).

Check out this other article by Laurie: She does amazing work, and is a great teacher.

Hostage prompted me to note the increasingly common tactic of starting a film with some failure or guilty action on the part of the protagonist. I discussed other recent examples of this misstep in The Last Samurai, Troy, The Alamo and Hidalgo in my blog entry on the Epic Hero.

I’m not sure if this ploy is the result of trying to shoehorn every protagonist into Joseph Campbell’s reluctant mythic hero mold (even thriller protagonists—which clearly don’t fit the paradigm.) In my view of film, only one of the Nine Character Types fits the Campbell mold. There are eight other possible emotional dynamics and dilemmas to consider.

Perhaps the over use of this kind of opening is meant to gain a quick measure of sympathy for the main character. Whatever the reason, this choice throws a thriller out of emotional balance and makes the set-up feel contrived and clich├ęd, terms which appear over and over in the mostly negative reviews of Hostage.

This disappointing outcome is a shame because there is a lot to like about the film. The color saturated graphics in the credits are reminiscent of Hitchcock. The film has striking visuals throughout and is stylishly directed with by French director, Florent Siri. Bruce Willis gives a powerful yet restrained performance. Yet none of this can salvage the false emotional dynamic which propels the film forward.

Audiences will forgive many things in a film—cheap production values, a no name cast, logic holes and even a mediocre plot line—but the one thing they will NOT forgive is an emotional pattern that doesn’t ring true.

By the way, re: PURSUIT. Of course it wasn't meant for you. You're a loving dad and husband. What's disturbing is, it was designed for the pedophiles.

MIM said...

Ah, how I miss the days of us discussing films... of course, sicne we're both colossally busy, that's probably a sign we're doing something right.

The more we talk, the more I think I should just check your recommendations for stuff I miss in theatres on a regular basis. Our similar sensibilities frighten the bejeesus out of me.

And shoot, I need spell-check when I respond here. Dang.