Watching Michael Haneke’s newest film is somewhat of a challenge. He is a filmmaker who has always had a very bland and bleak feel to his movies. He tries to emulate life it self in all of its grays as his narratives become sort of just the viewer watching events unfold in a slow and realistic manner. His newest film is probably his least mind-taxing film as it is a story of love in the face of death. Haneke asks the audience to feel instead of think here as we watch a couple go through love, grief, and ultimately loss. I watched Amour with the eagerness to love it but like most Haneke films it is hard to embrace, which is unfortunate because for the film to work you must embrace it and feel for its two main characters. Instead of feeling for them I was lost in the movie’s stillness. I was lost in the way that it sort of slowly let things play out instead of giving the narrative a more emotional kick. I guess simply put I just didn’t get this movie. I hate saying that because it is a movie that many people have loved but for me it felt like things were too distant for me to care about. Amour is coy instead of in your face and for me personally it is a movie that is just too hidden for me to fully grasp or be effected by. Haneke is a great filmmaker and his movies have always been ones that I have admired but here I admire it more than I love it, which in essences is betraying the very nature of the movie. Amour is a movie that is supposed to make you feel and yet it failed to make me do so. I guess sometimes we have to accept the subjectivity of the movies and realize that sometimes a movie is made for other people than yourself.
One of those throw away January films, Broken City is a mildly entertaining exercise in modern film noir. Broken City on paper sort of looks like it should have been a more edgy film but its script is a lackluster story about a mayor and his numerous plots. Starring a very good cast, Broken City at least has a few interesting actors to keep the movie from becoming stale. Russell Crow is good as always as the scheming villain and Barry Pepper is a nice touch as New York’s new golden boy. Then you have Mark Wahlberg who is enjoying his lead man status without the right lead man material. A couple more Broken City’s and Wahlberg will be back begging for his high profile supporting roles. This is a throw away movie if there ever was one but somehow, someway I was entertained for 2 hours. Broken City isn’t a good film at all but nor is it a particularly bad one. It is a movie that is perfect for the bland and not particularly interesting month of January.
Following in the footsteps of (500) Days of Summer, Playbook is a wonderful “indie” type rom com that is uniquely clichéd. Directed by the interesting David O Russell, Playbook is a look at a very dysfunctional set of people who live and die for their Philadelphia Eagles. Rounded out by a great cast and a smart, witty script, Playbook is one of the best feel good movies to come out in awhile. Even with its shortcomings Playbook is the perfect romantic comedy for a younger and more original generation. The thing that strikes you first about the film is how great the cast is. Each member of the ensemble is both likable and hilarious and their ringleader is the excellent Bradley Cooper. Cooper has never been better as he tip toes the line between sanity and insanity. Jennifer Lawrence is solid as well as the lead female character as she is able to shed her teenage look to play a damaged young adult convincingly well. The rest play their roles respectably well and you have to admire how Russell is able to mix in all of these interesting actors together. His direction here is great but you have to also applaud what a wonderful script Russell has written. Russell is responsible for this product as he has created and assembled all the right pieces for this sentimental piece of art.
Silver Linings Playbook isn’t the perfect alternative to the usually sloppy romantic comedy film but it is a great escape to the troubles and hopes of others. Heavy on the comedy and heavy on the heart, Playbook is just the right amount of sentiment.
It’s been about 3 years since Bigelow released her Best Picture winning film, The Hurt Locker. Bigelow earned a lot of respect for that film but her newest film will earn her a lot more. Zero Dark Thirty is a tour de force of a thriller about the hunt for the most wanted man in the world. It is a movie that begins with the phone calls of 9/11 and ends with a body bag as the film maneuvers a plot that runs on for 10 years. It is a film that chronicles the hunt for closure and it is one of the most intense and poignant films to come out in awhile. Bigelow has never been better as she directs a movie that is not afraid to show the hunt for Bin Laden in all it’s loose and fragmented morality. She is a fearless filmmaker and Zero Dark Thirty works because of that. What is most surprising though about the film is how in the middle (politically speaking) the film is. Bigelow and crew don’t pick sides and show the events unfolding without any sort of manipulation. That is impressive for a film that could of gotten caught up on it’s own political thought process.
The main theme of Zero Dark Thirty has to be the hunt for closure. Our main characters sacrifice their lives and time to bring closure to a nation. The film doesn’t cheat the audience of closure with an impressive climax (Seal Team 6) but it asks the question of whether or not closure is possible in this world. Can we ever find closure and put down our guns when hate and violence still plague this world? Bigelow impressed me with The Hurt Locker but she blew me away with Zero Dark Thirty. It is an incredible entertainment as well as a thought provoking film about the search for justice and a definitive conclusion. Where do we go next?