Sunday, January 21, 2007

Flickering Images

I watched four movies on DVD this weekend. Those who know me well know it's usually impossible to get me to watch even a single movie very often. I always feel like I should be doing something else. Reading, drawing, writing. Something. This weekend though I decided to catch up on a few movies I'd been meaning to watch, and so I did. So what were they?
First was The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg. It's the one about the foreign guy who ends ups living in JFK Airport. The idea appealed to me, so I wanted to check it out. I was less than impressed. Very professionally done, as one would expect from this star and this director, but overall just a little too pat and not at all believable. Yes I've heard it's based on a true story, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say 'loosely' based.
Next up was the Illusionist, starring Edward Norton and Jessica Beil. I liked this one The cinematography was great, with sepia tones and the edges of the screen flickering like an old silent film. Norton was intense. Beil was pretty. No real surprises here, but a well done film with nice period detail.
All I can say about the third movie, M. Night Shymalan's Lady in the Water, is that this is one of those films where I think the film maker's reach exceeded his grasp. This movie almost works, but the idea remains kind of fuzzy and the plot really doesn't make any sense. Characters make enormous leaps in logic with little or no reason and they accept the incredible way too easily. It's just an odd film. I was also a little disappointed in that it wasn't exactly about what I thought it was about. The advertising says it's about a character from a bedtime story who gets caught in our world and needs help to get home. It's not. The water nymph in the story is clearly stated to be a member of a real race that once had frequent dealings with humanity. She isn't human, but she isn't fictional. So while there may be a bed time story told about her race, she isn't a character from a bedtime story. I was sort of hoping she'd actually escaped from a book and needed help getting back. Like what if Snow White was stuck in the real world. That's my kind of story.
The fourth movie was a Canadian production called Beowulf and Grendel. It's about, well...Beowulf and Grendel. It's not a bad movie. It's a hardboiled take on the old Norse saga, with the various vikings cursing and talking like contemporary tough guys. It kind of works. I mean if you made a literal translation of what people said, rather than giving it the Tolkien sort of forsooth talk, vikings would probably have been a pretty crude bunch. What gives the film a real kick though is that it was shot on location in Iceland. Real ice flows. Real icebergs. Real fiords to pine for. The weather and the backgrounds really help drive the stark nature of the story home. And Grendel's mom is one ugly bitch. Not a bad sword & sorcery film, really.
Anyway, that was the weekend that was. Probably be some time before I see that many movies again in that short a space of time.


Bentochan said...

I saw almost all of those too.

The Terminal made me very unhappy about the levels of banality and calousness in the modern world.

I saw the ending coming in The Illusionist, but still enjoyed the ride. It has such a great period feeling to it from the film style, even though we all know the world wasn't sepia then. It was black and white.

Lady in the Water made me cry for some reason. I know I was crying at the end, probably for the characters and the one guy with the foreknowledge of his death and fate, but yes, plot baffling. Still, it was pretty.

Beowulf and Grendel is on my Netflix list, no arrival date in sight. Did you ever see the other Beowulf? The one with Christopher Lambert? So good, and yet so, so bad.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

The end of Lady in the Water was very emotional. I think that's what he was going for. Like I said, I don't think it was a bad movie. It just didn't quite gel.

I didn't see the Christopher Lambert Beowulf, no. I just keep walking past it at the video store and thinking, "That will probably be really bad..."