Monday, April 06, 2015

Worthy movies noted

Seeing I was complaining about un-worthy Hollywood movies, maybe I should I mention two decent ones watched over this weekend:

Defiance, the 2008 film with Daniel Craig in the lead was shown on one of the free to air stations Friday night.  I vaguely remember a review of it on the Movie Show, and I don't think it made much money at the box office, but I thought it was very good.   Telling the true-ish story of a few brothers who helped hundreds of East Polish Jews hide out from the Nazis in  the forest was engaging and very interesting.  I felt sorry for Daniel Craig, whose make up requirements for most of the movie seemed to involve being sprayed with fake dirt and grime, but he gave a solid performance.

I see that Ed Zwick directed it.  He also made the under-seen American Civil War movie Glory, and I must catch up with that one again.

*  The Maze Runner:  my son had read the books and wanted to see the movie, so we got it out on DVD.   Sure, it's Young Adult territory here, and, somewhat improbably, the group of young men who have been experimented on in some mysterious fashion have set up an ordered, polite, functioning mini society that is like the exact  opposite of  Lord of the Flies.   (It was also never explained how they managed good hairstyling after three years - at the very least, the elevator supplies should have been shown as including hair wax.)

But I'm nitpicking.   It's actually (for the most part) well acted and crafted, and is rather good for its genre.   Certainly, the setting truly shows how these days, if you can imagine a physical setting, digital effects can easily make it seem convincingly real.  

The movie is set for a sequel, and I hope it at least makes the improbable set up for creating the Maze more convincing...


John said...

Yes, Defiance is a good movie. Forget Hollywood Steve, movies like Defiance are rare gems there. These days I rely on SBS for French and European movies. Much better strike rate.

Anonymous said...

I like Defiance too. Glad to see your taste in movies isn't completely bad.
SBS had a great movie on last night too - Margin Call


John said...

Yeah Margin Call is even worth a re watch, something I rarely do. SBS is also running "Generation War", a German series on WW2. Not that good but worth looking at just for the different perspective.

John said...

BTW Steve, SBS will be showing "We Were Soldiers." Mel Gibson plays the lead but it is still the best Vietnam war movie I have seen. Apocalypse Now doesn't compare and was a poor rip off of that brilliant novel, Heart of Darkness(Joseph Conrad). Gibson is a good actor but I don't like him as a person.

Steve said...

Sorry John, watched it, didn't like it. Not that I have ever liked any Vietnam War movie all that much - Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket were all over the top lurid in their own ways.

But with "We Were Soldiers" - it was certainly an attempt to do a more realistic version of an actual Vietnam battle, but it still went excessive in one particular way - the depiction of battle injuries.

I find that if movies that are meant to be realistic show things like bullet wounds and the blood splatter and spray in too close detail, I can start finding myself flung out of the story because I start thinking about how the effect was faked. I remember particularly finding that with the gun in the mouth suicide in Full Metal Jacket - you remember the scene, I guess - so that what was meant to be a dramatic highlight left me unaffected. Funnily enough, I recently watched the episode of Sherlock where Moriaty pulled out a gun unexpectedly and put it in his mouth, then cutaway to just hear the gunshot and Sherlock's reaction. A more affecting scene because you can't how the injury was faked.

They were many scenes in We Were Soldiers that had a similar unintended jarring effect on me as that one in Full Metal Jacket. Not just bullet wounds, but the napalm and phosphorous injury; too much.

Apart from that, you underestimate my inability to enjoy a Mel Gibson movie! I have just never cared for him or his movies. There's just a likeability problem I have always had with him, even way before we knew what a jerk he could be in real life. I can't explain why, just as I can't identify clearly why I have never liked Matthew McConaghy as an actor either.

I also didn't think it looked like Vietnam (and checking up, it was California), and didn't think it was particularly well directed as for understanding the physical set up of the battlefield.

But it was very realistic, and looked remarkably dangerous, in its use of Iroquois in particular and other aircraft. Its hard to imagine how it got insurance cover to be made.

It deserved some credit, I suppose, for presenting the enemy as real humans, but that didn't play a large part in the film overall.

I could go on, but that's enough.

Although I can remember little of it now, I did think the Michael J Fox/Sean Penn Vietnam movie Casualties of War was quite good. I think it counts as the one Vietnam movie that I didn't have a problem with.