Saturday, February 17, 2007

Review – The Departed

C’mon and give Scorsese his Oscar for cryin’ out loud. Otherwise he’ll never stop making movies like this. And he needs to stop. The world just simply doesn’t need another two and a half hours of ultra-macho gangster crap. Matt Damon plays a cop working as a mole for Irish mob boss Jack Nicholson, and Leonardo DiCaprio plays Damon’s opposite, a cop working undercover in Nicholson’s organization. Some of the violence was well-staged, which helped to offset the predictably heavy dose of homosexual panic that underlies almost everything in the whole picture. However, I was genuinely surprised by how terrible the script was. The macho posturing infects the dialogue so heavily that in places the characters don’t even seem to be talking to each other. Thus whatever potential this production might otherwise have had is swiftly undone by the terrible writing. Overall this comes across as Mean Streets slicked up and lobotomized for Hollywood consumption. Mildly amusing. [Note: they gave him his statue. Now let’s see if he stops.]

Review – Amelie

Normally I don’t care for movies as self-consciously quirky as this one, but for some reason this time around it sort of worked. The non-story swirls around a distracted young French woman whom fate inspires to perform secret good deeds for people. Thanks at least in part to some good camerawork, editing and effects, this doesn’t turn out to be anywhere near as tedious as a one-paragraph review no doubt makes it sound. Mildly amusing

Friday, February 2, 2007

Review – C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America

Ever since I read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle in high school, I’ve been a big fan of alternate history. This “mocumentary” is an excellent case for the importance of playing what-if games with history. Relating the post-Civil-War history of the Confederate States beginning with the premise that the South won the “War of Northern Aggression.” In the process, the audience is brought mindful of the eerie similarities between a fantasy society based on de jure racism and reality where de facto racism still thrives. For example, I was tempted to scoff at the broadly ridiculous scene from a movie “made by D.W. Griffith” about the post-war capture of a crudely-caricatured Lincoln (in blackface, no less) until I remembered that Birth of a Nation was no more racially sensitive than the parody. Overall I was surprised to find myself more impressed with the fake ads sprinkled throughout the production than by the alternate history itself. Somehow the simple, everyday aspects of American culture recast in an apartheid light – such as “Cops” redone as a show about capturing runaway slaves – struck me as more profound than the broader speculation about how a Confederate victory would have turned the tide of history in other directions. Worth seeing