It’s not a good time for the American occupation of Iraq. The news from “over there” is that the followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical cleric who led the Shia insurgency against the American occupation, have emerged as Iraq’s equivalent of the 1994 Republican Party. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Americans voted about Iraq, too, refusing to give “Green Zone” any mandate whatsoever. And, keep in mind that the other Iraq film that just won the Best Picture Oscar, “The Hurt Locker,” basically was one of the worst-peforming winners in that category ever. Maybe it’s just the hot button political sensitivities, war-weariness, or that it is simply “too soon.” Other critics can decide that, however, because here at the Smack, we simply want to know which film about the Iraq War gets it most right, box-office be damned!
There’s a theory that a movie, in order to succeed, only needs a handful of scenes or moments that really, really work. In other words, the macro is made from the micro. With the decade wrapped and a new one underway, I succumb to list-itis, and offer up ten major moments in films from the last ten years.
These are moments in film that just blew me away, that left me out of my body, totally immersed in the film’s emotion. This happens so little in film for me, that when it actually occurs, I’m left speechless (which is why, I guess, I’m compelled to write about them).
These are the moments I leave the theater thinking about, against which I compare my own life’s events. These moments in time are what movies are all about, and #10 on the list comes from one of my favorite films, “Superman Returns.”
The criteria I used is pretty simple: which films are not just good but really impacted the world of film? It’s relatively easy to make a film that entertains. And, in some ways, it’s even easier to make a film that does something “different” and “new.” But to make a film that both entertains and moves you, while advancing the art of filmmaking…that’s pretty hard. So let’s get this ball rolling as we reflect on a most eclectic period of film…
I recently got into a friendly debate with a close friend about “There Will Be Blood” and its quality. Of course, I couldn’t discount its quality. However, having only seen it once, I promised him I would check out the film when I had some downtime since he seemed to be building his very own church to the film’s sanctity. That promise lead to this review.
Let be outright and proceed from there: “There Will Be Blood” is clearly a better, more resonant film than “Citizen Kane” could ever hope to be. Should people consider “Citizen Kane” the best film ever made, then I suppose it so follows with “There Will Be Blood”…
Most of the time when we do a Smackdown, we take into account the factor of time and technology. It’s hard to compare “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” or Abram’s “Star Trek” when the technology in both — the cinematic techniques — have so vastly improved between films. Even films such as crime thrillers or horror flicks benefits from evolution in craft and technology.
You have to wonder if we’ll all still be so interested in aliens after the aliens finally arrive — assuming we’re alive to care. Typically, Hollywood believes in the existence of two types of aliens: lovable little critters who love moonlit bike rides and carnivorous monsters intent on humanity’s destruction. Both “Alien Nation” and “District 9” propose a third option, both using aliens as metaphors for socially-conflicted minority groups. With “Alien Nation”, the Newcomers are a vague avatar for homosexuals, blacks, and women. In District 9, the prawns most definitely represent the oppressed Apartheid-era Africans as well as the growing number of refugees in third world countries (i.e. Darfur). So, today, we throw these socially-conscientious sci-fi flicks against one another to see which one U2’s Bono would most likely write a title song for…
Both “Transformers” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” brim with elaborate action set-pieces, campy humor, and hyper-sexuality. Industrial Light and Magic struggles in both films to design the Transformers in such a way that we can distinguish one from the other. Whenever a fight erupts between Autobot and Decepticon, the on-screen action tumbles into a jumbled mess of flopping, indistinguishable mechanical parts. Sure, I appreciate the high level of detail, but not at the cost of coherent action scenes. “Transformers: RotF” especially suffers from ILM’s designs as Bay introduces a whole slew of new Transformers that simply blend together. It’s hard to appreciate large-scale action sequences when I can’t tell the good from the bad guys and thus, can’t tell who’s winning.
Now both films embrace Bay’s typical low-brow humor. Again, “Transformers: RotF” probably suffers most in this category. Gags like Sam’s mom lolly-gagging around on a college campus after eating pot-brownies or the dangling wrecking ball testicles on a construction Decepticon aren’t just dumb, they’re insulting to the audiences’ intelligence. “Transformers” had some corny moments, many centered around the Autobots fitting into Sam’s suburban life. However, none proved as gregarious and useless as those in Transformers: RotF” where the jokes simply exist onto themselves and are cracked in the most inappropriate moments.