I’ve been behind on BSG for about three episodes, and I finally caught up today. OMG they totally tore it up on the season finale! I had just complained recently that they needed to pick up the pace, and boy they did that and then some! The reversing of having Baltar as Six’s delusion was brilliant, and having Boomer and Six changing the Cylon’s minds, the one year jump in time to after settling on New Caprica, plus the sudden Cylon invasion–bravo! My faith in the BSG writing staff has been fully restored.
I watched some pretty good films recently, plus a bunch of others not really worth mentioning. I’ll talk about the good ones, and mention a couple of the disappointing ones (only because I expected more).
Memoirs of A Geisha – Generally better than I had imagined, despite the niggle I have with the main female leads all played by current popular Chinese actresses instead of Japanese. For a film adapted from a novel written by a white guy, you should never expect authenticity, and if you disregarded that, the film really wasn’t that bad, especially if you aren’t put off by a healthy dose of melodrama (the style of the film lends itself well to melodramatics).
Jarhead – I really looked forward to Jarhead because I loved American Beauty (although Road to Perdition didn’t do much for me), and because I simply love good war films and expected at least an above average one from Mendes. Visually, Jarhead was just gorgeous–particularly the scenes in the desert with the burning oil fields. There were some very powerful scenes in the film, and while it’s nothing like a conventional war film, I feel that it will have a place among the greats as one of the best to have conveyed the sheer psychological toll military life has on a person–how military training transforms you into something you never thought you’d become, and could never go back once you’ve been in that mental state.
King Kong – It was pretty much what I expected–a thrill ride with some heart. It’s not the kind of film I would ever consider as one of my favorites–not because it did anything wrong, but simply because of incompatibility of the director’s style and my personal taste. Sometimes, taste is just a highly personal thing–either you’re on that wavelength or you aren’t. I’m sure some of my favorite films would make Peter Jackson shake his head and snort.
Good Night, and Good Luck – It was a good film, and I expect nothing less from George Clooney as a director. However, as much integrity as the film portrays and possess itself, it’s somewhat sterile and lacked passion. I’m not saying a film has to wear everything on its sleeve, but maybe being a little more emotionally indulgent would’ve taken away the coldness of the tone (unless you cross into the Spielberg zone of sentimentality–then it’s probably more harm than it’s worth).
Pride & Prejudice – I really didn’t mind that it wasn’t authentic, as we’ve seen too many Jane Austin adaptations by now anyway. I only cared if the film was a good one, and IMO, it was, despite some strange acting from Kiera Knightley. Strange, because the way she expressed certain facial emotions was quite different from how most people would, but different certainly does not mean bad–thus I use the word strange. It’s funny that everytime I pop in one of these English period dramas I always expect to be bored at some point, but every time I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Dark Water – I’m going to be a typical male for a moment and throw my intellect out the window. *Ahem* Please Jen, put back all the pounds you’ve lost. You really were lovelier when you had some meat on them bones. The film itself? I thought it was directed quite well, with good use of cinematic techniques to tense up the audience. Hitchcock would be pleased.
Flightplan / Red Eye – Why am I lumping the two together? Well, I watched them a day apart, and both were so similar in premise that it was inevitable to compare the two. Red Eye is the more mainstream of the two–with all the expected Hollywood styling, humor, and cliches, although I wouldn’t say it’s bad at all–quite entertaining in fact, in a popcorn kind of way (although smarter than your typical popcorn flick). It was interesting to see that Wes Craven can do a mainstream film well, without having to rely on the shock factor of horror material. Flightplan was definitely better directed of the two, as it was more intelligent, more intense, and with less Hollywood glamour. I don’t know if that makes it a decidely better film–I guess it depends on your taste.
Brokeback Mountain – It’s as good a film as you can expect from Ang Lee–who’s certainly an intelligent and sensitive director. Technically, I think Lee’s gotten much better at handling static scenes–he used to be pretty bad with using bland camera angles during talking heads scenes, cutting back and forth between two people during a conversation in such a way that it drove me nuts. Excellent acting from both leads, and a surprising performance from Michelle Williams, who I only really knew from the TV show Dawson’s Creek.
Munich – It’s interesting that the less Spielberg-ish a film he makes, the more I respect and like him as a director. It shows that he’s capable of not leaving his foot prints in a film when it calls for that kind of treatment. He’s been doing more and more films like that the older he gets, and I for one feel it’s the sign of a director who’s getting better instead of becoming a hack or a self-indulgent egomaniac like some of his peers.
I said there were a bunch of other films not even worth mentioning, and unfortunately, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is one of them. It felt like Burton had an interesting idea, but couldn’t find ways to make that idea connect with the audience emotionally. I don’t know how many versions of the screenplay they went through, but what they ended up shooting probably was either a couple versions too few or too many (meaning they either didn’t rewrite enough, or rewrote too much)–all the essentially emotional elements were missing. Another disappointing one was the latest Harry Potter film. Not that any of the previous ones were cinematic masterpieces–to me, all films like it are disposable entertainment–popcorn flicks, if you will. However, even on that level, Goblet of Fire disappointed, with emotional threads unconnected, or severed in all the wrong places. I don’t read the books, so I don’t know how faithful the films are, but whoever was responsible (Rowling or Kloves), it was noticeably less involving than the previous films.