February 19, 2006

A symposium of my own

Okay, not really.

I've been going to a message board for about 6 years now (it was originally a Scream board around the time of Scream 3 but has since just evolved into a bunch of great friends (I've even met some of them when they flew from America and The Netherlands to come to Australia!). I recently saw Munich and posted about it, I have since gotten into a discussion about it with some peeps who go there.

Who's seen it? I know Slaw (fellow message boarder - ed) has and I know he liked it (the oscar thread made that clear).

I'd love to hear some thoughts on it.

Personally, i can't really tell right now. I felt the first half was absolutely brilliant - loved every second of it. The way the story was unfolding, to things like the cinematography and score (loved the 70s influences) and the performances were pretty spot on (except for Daniel Craig who kept swinging between accents) and the action scenes were tense and exciting and it felt harrowing in all the right places.

But then the scene where Eric (who was very hot btw) goes blindfolded to that villa kind of felt unecessary (it sorta became relevant later on though, but 'tev) and from then onwards it. just. kept. going.

Like, the first half had been going so well and was so greatly paced but it turned out they still had tonnes of men to kill and it just kept going around and around and around in a loop until it sort of just stopped with Eric Bana having one of the most fucked up sex scenes i've seen in a while (er, excluding "Anatomy of Hell" - now that is absolute bonkers sex scenes up the wazoo).

Just really disappointing second half. I don't know what happened. I'm extremely happy with the first half as I said, but the second half was extremely flawed. It needed to be cut down.

I was sort of surprised how violent it was. Veery graphic. I still can't get over the fact that a man in my screening brought his (what looked to be) 12-year-old son! And they arrived 15 minutes into the movie (plus the 10 minutes of ads and trailers) and they started talking and opening packets of lollies. Nathan had to tell them to shut up.

Anyway. I'm thinking C+, but the first half was just so impressive... god. SPIELBERG! Why did you have to ruin it so...

I know the consensus seems to be that Munich loses steam as it chugs along toward its ending, but I have to disagree. I expected it to get dull but it never did. Munich is surprisingly involving for most of its running time.

The bits at the French village are my favorite parts of the film The guy who played the French father had a soft, wonderful delivery. He gave every word this great weight and it seemed like there was no effort behind it. Similarly, the woman who portrayed Golda Meir was absolutely fantastic for the ten minutes or so that she was on screen. Riveting.

I think the reason I like this movie is that the performances, even the small ones like above, are so great.

I really loved it. And it WAS surprisingly violent. I wasn't expecting that. All around it was just well acted and well structured.

Golda Meir = Lynn Cohen. Great little performance, it was!

I did like the scene at the villa (or whatever it was) but it sort of felt useless except to introduce that man and, i dunno, for a movie that was already pushing 3 hours, a 15minute scene of no real use doesn't help.

The last great scene (i can't remember if it was after or before) was the scene where they got some guys to dress as woman so they could charge that building that had three men inside.

It was just so disappointing because the first half was brilliant - definite top 10 of the year worthy, but then it just died. Maybe it was because, much like the characters, the "thrill" had gone out of out. They were becoming men they didn't want to be and subsequently the "thrill" went out of the movie. Their kills became excuses for violence and Spielberg felt that he had to get rid of all the aspects that made the start so enjoyable - the throwbacks to '70s thrillers and politico movies. Even things like the cinematography started lacking.

I did, however, enjoy John Williams' score. MUCH better than his boring and cliched Memoirs of a Geisha score. What the fuck was up with that?

I think it's really fucked up that you liked the first half more than the second half! Like... the very thing that makes Munich interesting for me is its exploration of the complicated nature of revenge. The first half mostly seemed like set-up. Anyway, I thought it was an A+ movie.

I suppose that means I wasn't as interested in it as I supposedly thought?

I dunno, I thought the first half was working perfectly swell as a throwback to '70s thrillers and was in general, just a really great thriller.

I suppose maybe the second half, when it did try to work into the characters themselves I started to feel underwhelmed. But I think that's actually kinda silly, because it seems that Spielberg was still trying to make a thriller/action movie but his conventions let him down. I like that he tried (i really do - better than lazy work on stuff like The Terminal or War of the Worlds) but I think his handle on the characters was much less interesting than his interpretation of a classic 1970s action thriller.

It seemed like Spielberg was out to make a really great action thriller, unfortunately he chose a subject that holds such dramatic weight that the second half was inevitable, really.

I can understand a person thinking the second half as great. I, however, think the film worked much better as a throwback to the movies of the '70s and as an exploration of that time period, than as a movie exploring issues of guilt and morality. If he was so intent on making a movie about those issues then he should have done that flat out, instead of disguising it as an stylish gory action movie.

Just my opinion however. You can feel free to disagree, but it's what I think.

Although, everyone should go out and watch "One Day In September" - definitely one of my top 3 documentaries of all time. Thrilling, gripping stuff.

I... completely disagree.

"I think his handle on the characters was much less interesting than his interpretation of a classic 1970s action thriller."

I am 100% confident that Steven Spielberg is capable of making a great action-thriller. However, given the abundance of great, straight-forward action-thrillers, I think Spielberg would find that as dull as a filmmaker as you apparently found the second half of Munich to be as a viewer. The story of Munich lends itself to the genre Spielberg uses for it, but it really wouldn't make any sense at all to choose such a controversial subject matter if that was what all he was setting out to do. This movie is much more ambitious and much more human. And, theoretically, it even performs a social function by getting a lot of people to think more about one of the largest political problems of our time. Munich takes the archetypical elements of a revenge thriller and uses them to make a much more interesting movie than any of the ones that inspired it. Like... if Spielberg had just filmed himself talking about his views on the incidents in Munich, I doubt that would be particularly interesting and it really wouldn't be art at all. If a movie does not attempt to engage a viewer, it does not work at all; you'd be better suited to write an academic paper. As a filmmaker, Spielberg uses his sharpest directorial tools--his ability for making action-thrillers--to engage the viewer, but he also wants to challenge these viewers... and I feel like anybody who goes to see a movie about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be inviting to that challenge. And I felt like Spielberg did a really good job and raised a lot of interesting questions. As I feel all art should. I understand the criticism that the action-thriller stuff in Munich didn't work as well in the second half, but I don't think Spielberg intended for it to, and I think it's unfair to judge the movie strictly in those terms.

(But, then again, I also loved A.I.)

A.I. was pretty cool up until the utterly bizzare ending.

I'll read/reply to Mark later cause i have to get ready for work, but AI was really good for the first half but then the second half kicked in and it was all wtf? Sounds strangely familiar considering the topic of this thread...

And that ending was just strange and inappropriate and what's with the anorexic aliens?

Okay, i've read Mark's thing now:

See, there lies my ultimate problem with the movie. I don't feel that Spielberg really had anything particularly interesting to say on the issues he was raising (good on him for bringing the subject to the foreground, but really) and so when he started to actually start discussing these things in the film I felt it fell flat. As if he felt he had roped me in and now he could start the heavy lifting, but the problem is the first half was such an expertly made piece of '70s throwback cinema that when it did come time for the big stuff it felt sort of secondary and inconsequential.

Spielberg has demonstrated before that he is perfectly capable of making a movie that brings up issues and deals with them, but I don't think here he particularly had much to say himself and instead wanted others to pick up the slack "he also wants to challenge these viewers..." what are we being challenged with? The idea of guilt? If that is indeed what he is raising, how does he deal with it? He shows a man rough-fucking his wife, and another going suicidal on our ass.

I may have liked the movie more if i did actually feel like the subject matter was urging me to consider sides and such (which was what a movie like "Paradise Now" apparently does, but i can't be certain) but I felt he was simply telling a standardly (is that a word?) plotted story and then at the end had his characters ask themselves "am i wrong?" That doesn't really equal challenging to me

I'm interested to know what questions you feel it raises. Other than stuff like "does one act of violence justify another" because many others movies have dealt with that exact theme (including the Sally Field masterpiece "Eye For An Eye" - heheh, have you seen that movie?).

I'd be interested in a film dealing directly with the Israel/Palestine debate, I just feel that Munich is not it. I wish Spielberg had just gone right out there and made the "call for piece" that he wanted, instead of framing it around a conventional action thriller.

However, if Spielberg ever decides to just make an all-out '70s thriller then by all means, i will be there and I will expect greatness.

So, yeah, I have since decided to rate it C+.

I also saw Transamerica yesterday. Not as bad as I was expecting, but not exactly great. It seems to be forming well in my memory though, so that's cool. Felicity was actually pretty good - however, it's just annoying having to believe Felicity as a man wanting to be a woman. Because we KNOW Felicity is a woman. The penis scene was annoying because it was so unnecessary. Like, again, we know Felicity is a woman so why try and pretend she's not. She's not Jaye from The Crying Game. I give the movie a C+.

1 comment:

adam k. said...

Hello, Glenn.

Sounds like maybe Spielberg still doesn't know how to end his movies. Except now he has different problems. Anyway, Munich is the last best pic nominee I still have yet to see... I should get on that somehow.

As for Transamerica, I haven't seen it yet, but I really feel like it would've been better to have a real MtF trans woman playing the part. Then it wouldn't have been a "stunt," but rather, a true and brave portrait of a life. Nothing against Felicity, but really, why settle for real real woman when you can have a real trans woman instead? It could've been so interesting that way... but alas, probably not oscar-nominated.