THE INSIDER: The Mann Who Knows About Film

In Michael Mann’s THE INSIDER, we start blindfolded and ingoing into a foreign road. It epitomizes much of the rest of the film: blindfolded characters who can’t watch their surroundings, but the surroundings watch them, like Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) in his house; or entering into a series of territories, like Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) does in trying to present his story to different men of the media. We’re in the era of access, and it runs both ways: we inform about others, and others inform about us. It is a film that explores the exposure of people, their information and the numerous avenues to spotlight it, for better or worse. This in a series of subplots and real-life characters that offer Mann the best material he could hope to find on a magazine article in Vanity Fair.

Continue reading

Advertisements

HEAT: Empathies of Badasses

In Michael Mann’s HEAT, crimes and personal relationship/friendships are one and the same. The title and word “heat” is defined by a connection or nearness to someone else, whether it is a detective or a lover; the two are almost identical. There are as numerous crime sequences as there are romantic ones; they fight wives as they fight cops/criminals in the streets, but they can’t escape from either of them. Indeed, HEAT is part macho man western and part romantic melodrama, both an attractive piece of manliness entertainment and a touching, even if overdramatic, film. But how well does this action film deals with with the non-action, the romance and the melodrama of it, is what elevates it as much as it sometimes decreases it.

Continue reading

THE PRESTIGE: 1901: Prologue to Science-Fiction

The most enduring image in Christopher Nolan’s underrated noir thriller, THE PRESTIGE, for me is the one from the enormous, mysterious box. The appearence of it is menacing; it is the slow approach of the camera, like the intimidated people around it, and the score’s economical but dooming theme that serve it a spellbinding aura. The box is reminiscent in a lot of ways to the strange, mystifying monoliths in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, as both of their presences are ominous, and their existence incomprehensible. The people who are around them aren’t able to understand or fully identify them, and thus these objects remain as enigmas. Both of them are mysteries, but mysteries about our humankind and the future, which predicts men’s gradual insight into a place where we will understand and build these things. They represent men’s evolution into something Godly.

Continue reading

TERMINATOR SALVATION: Lost Identities

McG’s TERMINATOR SALVATION is a good action film that doesn’t have much else outside the actual action. Thematically, the franchise has long relied on action sequences as a symbol for the characters, with the coldness of the machines’ killings traced back to the numbness of their creators and what it says of them; the counter-productive technophobia that we have and how its growth declines our own lives, with the constant use of mechanic tools – from guns to robots – slowly overwhelming the men. Indirectly, Cameron’s films make the people seem like the bad guys, with the machines as evidence of what is sometimes their failure: the loss of their ability to feel, and thus care about each other, as they kill themselves over time. TERMINATOR SALVATION continues this theme rather well, with Connor (Christian Bale) and the rest of the humans acting as the killing machines while they chase Marcus (Sam Worthington), blurring their differences with the robots while they’re at it. But once the violence stops, so does the competence to manifest this theme – or anything, for that matter. Continue reading

TERMINATOR/TERMINATOR 2: Bones of Violence

James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR begins on a field of human skulls in a destroyed society. The film cuts to a guy working late in night on a garbage truck – i.e. human’s dependence on machine – and out of this, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is born and looks out from a rooftop to see a technological-strong society. It is a revelatory shot from Cameron and a Biblical recreation with a twist, as it is a technological paradise that is found by the naked robot and, in this, men are the God. The opening is a rememberance of the rebellion that men had on earth after their primitive origins and a suggestion that in the future the same revolution will be of the machines having it on men, as a cycle of creations substituting the creators; human skulls replaced by robotic bones – a point that is underlined again in the sequel’s opening with the robot’s face replacing John Connor’s after a fire. Continue reading

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON: Ode to Life

I’ve gone back to David Fincher’s THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON more than any other film of the past year. And I’ll admit, in waiting for it to be released in DVD or Blu-ray, and reading the complaints of dullness from the detractors on the film, I wondered whether the film was going to stand up. But yes, it has. The more I’ve gone back to it, the more I’ve been enthralled by the film’s gradual emotional build-up: Fincher’s attention on the way things begin and develop, the short stories that come and go in the narrative, and in life, until it all starts to end. It is a film of great romance that fights with dreadful thoughts, with melancholies on the prospect of death and a poignancy when remembering our lives, one that leaves more than a lasting impression.

Continue reading

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: Under the Spotlight

Depending on where you’re sitting, there’s nothing more irritating or joyful than Oscar Time — that time when the chosen films are thrown in to be dissected, piece by piece, as everyone’s opinions start to weight in. It can be joyful if your favorite film is the one nominated and wins, and it can be irritating if yours doesn’t, or if you just generally loath the idea of the The Academy’s nominations. Nevertheless, I now have to jump on a bandwagon, in talking about the present film-to-talk-about. And since I still haven’t chimed in on this film at all, here is my take of Danny Boyle’s SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

Continue reading