Friday Special: Five Movies. In Five Words.

MagnetoTakeFive

HAPPY FRIDAY all! For this Friday, I’m inspired by my friend Josh’s newest idea of doing a minimalist but thought-provoking post…

Five Movies. In Five Words.

I’ve sort of have a thing with the number five so hey, why not try this out. I know Fassy, er Magneto would agree 😀

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

TTSS_SmileyAstute

The Secret of Kells

SecretOfKellsPanelEthereal

The Heiress

Heiress_DeHavilland
Crestfallen

Legally Blonde

LegallyBlondeElle
Vivacious

Le Samouraï

LeSamorai_TrenchCoatTaciturn

Well, I try to mix up the genres and capture the essence of the film, or at least one of the main themes, in one word. Thanks again Josh for coming up with the idea! 😀


Well, any thoughts on these films and/or the five words?

Everyone’s a Critic – Flame & Citron, Faster Reviews

Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic! It’s been about three months since the last EaC post, and as always, we’ve got two very different genres from FC’s loyal readers/contributors. Special thanks to my pals Paula and Ted!

FLAME & CITRON (2008)



Made in Denmark in 2008, and based on actual events, the largely unseen Flame and Citron takes us into the world of two members of Holger Danske, the Danish Resistance during World War II. The Nazis have invaded and taken over Denmark. The Gestapo, Wehrmacht, Abwehr, and SS are everywhere. In this lethal atmosphere, two Danish patriots liquidate traitors—Danes who collaborate with the Nazis—knowing that being caught means certain death. Baby-faced killer Bent (Danish actor Thure Lindhardt), known to the authorities and his colleagues in the Resistance as Flame , is intense and reckless, though there’s an ever-increasing price on this head.

Told by his partner Jørgen to dye his ginger hair or wear a hat, Bent ignores the suggestion. Jørgen, a.k.a Citron (Mads Mikkelsen – Casino Royale, Valhalla Rising), is quiet and determined. He is a relatively old hand at Resistance activities; he was involved before Bent and is the last surviving member of an earlier underground group. His involvement is presumably what led to his split from his wife and his pill habit…he sleeps in his car. They have the chemistry of longtime law enforcement partners chasing bad guys in a buddy picture (which, if you think about it, they are), but these characters are well-drawn and well-acted, so they go beyond rookie and veteran stereotypes. We see their personalities and quirks and are invested from the beginning.

Their boss is the shadowy Aksel Winther, a well-connected police solicitor, who is supposedly getting orders from the British. Can they trust him? Bent and Jørgen, and the viewer, only have Winther’s word for it. Because business must be conducted in secret, no one really knows. “There aren’t many of us, and it’s hard to tell who does what,” Bent says. As the film begins, they run afoul of Winther for a killing he didn’t order. Winther says he just wants them to be disciplined, but later it seems he is shielding some of the traitors who make Bent’s trigger finger itch. Why does Winther order Bent and Jørgen to execute certain people but forbid them from taking out the head of the Gestapo in Denmark? Is he trying to maintain all of their covers or is he a double agent?

Flame and Citron draws on film noir and previous WWII espionage movies. Director Ole Christian Madsen has acknowledged particularly Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 neo-noir Army of Shadows, about a group in the French Resistance. As in that film, colors are mostly desaturated, suggesting the austerity of life during a Nazi occupation. There is a femme fatale, of course. Mysterious and cool, Ketty (Stine Stengade) is introduced with a building dissonance on the soundtrack. She reels Bent in even though he thinks he knows her game. And in the beginning, there is also a weary-detective-style voiceover by Bent, which Madsen uses to place the viewer in much the same position as our anti-heroes. We get pieces of the puzzle, but never really know exactly what’s going on, until the end. If then. But the film is resolutely its own thing—a shadowy spy thriller with a dose of documentary style, a partial history of the Danish Resistance including a side order of star-crossed romance, all in one fascinating and affecting film. As it progresses, there is sense of increasing paranoia as the Nazis close in and the two become tangled in an ever-thickening web of lies. It kept me guessing until the end and made me think about what I would do if I were in their places.

– review by Paula @ Paula’s Cinema Club


FASTER


Faster was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson first true action film since Doom and it was pretty entertaining. The story is about an ex-con who just got released from prison and decided to go on a killing spree to avenge his brother’s death years ago. Along the way, he was being tracked by a contract killer and a veteran cop with a suspect background. The movie pretty much focused on these three characters, The Rock played a character simply named Driver, Billy Bob Thornton played the cop and new comer Oliver Jackson-Cohen played the hired killer. Director George Tillman Jr. was really trying to pay homage to 1970s action thriller, if you’re a fan of 70s cinemas like myself then I think you’ll know what I mean when you see Faster. For the most part he succeeded, but I thought he totally messed up the last 20 or so minutes of the film.

The movie starts out like its title, fast and faster. Driver got out of jail and proceeded to start killing his prey one by one. Then we were introduced to the other two characters, Killer and Cop and also we got to know a little bit about their personal lives. I think it was bold move by the filmmakers to tell the story this way, considering the trailer made it look like the film was about The Rock going on a killing spree and kicking ass, well he did a lot of that. But it was kind of surprise to see these other two characters shared the same amount of screen time as the lead character. I think that’s the weakness of the movie, instead of focusing on the lead actor, they’ve decided to also focus on the two lesser interesting characters. I would’ve preferred to see more of Driver’s background and have the cop and killer just in supporting roles.

As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this movie up until the last 20 minutes or so. I thought the ending was quite predictable and didn’t live up to its title. I wanted to see hard and fast action for the finally but it never happened. They included the alternate ending on DVD/Blu-ray that has a big action scene but it didn’t make sense so I was glad they cut it out. I just think the writers should’ve came up with a better ending and delivered a rousing action for the climax.

I do recommend it if you’re in the mood from mindless action flick, but don’t expect too much from it.

– review by Ted S.


Any thoughts about either or both of these films? Do share ‘em below in the comments.

Weekend Viewing Roundup: Le Samouraï and 1982 TRON

Happy Monday, all! Hope you had a fantabulous weekend… or at least an enjoyable one. Well it’s chilly over here, but that’s hardly news obviously… it’s Minnesota folks, if it’s warm in December then we have some serious climate issues on our hands 🙂 Well, did you get to the movies this weekend? Perhaps you went to see Tangled, which finally dethroned the latest Harry Potter movie from its box office reign. Or some of you probably saw Black Swan, which had strong opening on limited release according to Box Office Mojo. After reading my buddy Vince’s excellent review, was hoping to see The Red Shoes (did you read it yet?) which is on Netflix Streaming, but didn’t get around to it. Hopefully next weekend.

In any case, the genre jumping continues. On snowy Friday night, hubby and I ordered in and snuggled to watch Le Samouraï, which I mentioned briefly in last week’s weekend roundup. I’ve been wanting to see an Alain Delon movie, and this description of Delon’s character Jef Costello in This Guy’s list of Top 20 Badass Characters of Early Cinema intrigued me:

This is badass perfected. Costello is exacting, precise, he has the cold hard stare down pat, a man of very few words. He has the suave chicness of Bond, but remains as dark as any Noir antihero. He’s mysterious. Jean-Pierre Melville’s film is hip beyond belief, and no one could bring as much badassery to Jef Costello as the impeccable Alain Delon.

Well, that description is positively spot on. Costello is a free-agent assassin who brought the silent-but-deadly type to a whole new meaning. His glazed expression perfectly complements his impeccably tailored trench coat and stylish fedora… it’s as if they’re tailor-made to match his killer looks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man wore a classic trench coat as flawlessly as Delon here, in fact, the style of this movie can spark a whole new blog topic on its own. Not just for Costello’s clothes and his spartan-like lifestyle, but also Jean-Pierre Melville’s stylish noir direction. Right from the beginning, we’re told that the main theme of this movie is solitude… “There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle… Perhaps…” so says the quote attributed to an ancient samurai writing Bushido (though the quote is by Melville himself).

The French auteur is widely recognized for his tragic, minimalist film noirs (per Wiki), a genre I’m not too familiar with but always curious about. Le Samouraï is a fascinating look of that genre. Not sure I’d say that I enjoy it immensely though, I’d be lying if I said that. There were more than one occasion where the movie felt repetitive and tedious, overindulgent even. On the other hand, it’s also a nice break from the hurried pace of today’s movies where dizzying camera work and all kinds of special effects often ‘clutter’ the story and lessen the impact. In fact, the measured pace give the few action sequences more impact and Melville established plenty of tension in an effortless kind of way.

The gripe I have about it though, is the lack of character development. There’s little attempt to explain why Costello is the way he is… his reason for being a loner and his relationship with the girl who’s willing to risk her life to help him. It’s tough to feel any sympathy or any kind of connection with the character. The way the supposedly-perfectionist hit man conducts his business also leaves my hubby and I scratching our heads… a lot of them seemingly defy even the most basic common sense and there seems to be no real motive on his part — or any other character in the movie for that matter. In the end, Le Samouraï feels more of a style over substance and feels as distant and cold as Delon’s deadpan stare. Still, it’s worth a watch though once is definitely enough for me, but I might check out other Alain Delon movies, such as Purple Noon, which is his first major role.

The second film we saw this weekend, 1982 TRON, is practically a warm-up to one of my highly-anticipated movies of 2010, TRON: Legacy. I never saw this movie nor was I even remotely interested in it but my husband, who’s big fan, kinda sold me on it. He encouraged me to watch original before the movie comes out in 2 weeks, as the new one is a direct follow-up from the original story (one of the new posters even paid homage to the original).

The 1982 version showed hacker/arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and his friends’ quest to take back the concept that’s been stolen by a former colleague, which led him to a virtual world to battle with a ‘Big Brother’ type of program called MCP. TRON is an independent system security program created by Flynn’s ally Alan (Bruce Boxleitner), which holds the key to destroying MCP. In the new trailer, it shows that Flynn’s been missing for decades and now it’s up to his son to find his father and restores his legacy.

Y’know, I actually quite enjoyed this one, though towards the end I kinda became numb a bit from all the neon lights of the video game world 🙂 Sure it looks dated but this was made nearly three decades ago, where there was no such thing as graphical user interface and computer mouse wasn’t even invented in this pre-Internet era. So at the time, this was unlike anything they’ve ever seen and the concept is definitely intriguing and interestingly enough, still relevant to this day.

It’s pretty amusing to see the then 30-something Bridges and Boxleitner (who was the star of one of my favorite 80s show Scarecrow & Mrs. King) so young and fresh-faced. Bridges especially has that mischievous playfulness about him that’s so fun to watch. Both actors are reprising their roles in the new  movie, but of course the real star of the new show is the spectacular visuals, especially of those glowing lightcycles! 😀 A few street-legal replicas of those are apparently for sale. But before you shell out $55 K, keep in mind that these things—like Batman’s Batpod—only looks cool if you ride ’em fast (even better if you have a cape on you, too :D). The guy in the video is barely able to mount the thing, kinda looks ridiculous if you ask me 😀

In any case, just for fun, check out this fan-made original TRON trailer:


Well, that’s the roundup, folks. What movie(s) did you manage to see this weekend?