05 July 2008

Black Book (Zwartboek)

Carice von Houton plays Elise de Vries (Rachel Stein) during the last year of World War II. Living in Holland, and hiding from the Nazi occupation, Rachel changes her identity and infiltrates the offices of the local Obergruppenf├╝hrer -- the commander who deals with local unrest and "terroritsts."

Hailed as the most expensive Dutch film ever made -- 22 million -- Black Book is nicely gray and even-handed in its depiction of all sides of the inhumanity of war. At one time, De Vries utters -- "Will this ever end?" -- refering to just how much suffering she endures in a small year of her life, some of it after the war has ended.

The film clocks in at almost 2.5 hours and it seems to be an extended cavalcade of misery and impossibility. However, it is based on real events, and the convoluted nature of the film seems to be honest, rather than hallucinogenic. But, I don't buy all of it. It is definitely worth adding to the enormous library of WWII espionage/Jewish survival stories and a nice addition to Verhoeven's otherwise ludicrous film resume.

Pianist is still the best in this genre... so go see that first. Then rent the Black Book.

I did notice that Carice van Houten spoke four different languages in the movie -- Hebrew, German, Dutch, and English -- which I just found amazing. If you see it for any other reason, see it for Carice's performace... unreal how good she is.


No review of this film needs to be longer than this:

Wally is cute. Film is predictable. Wallace and Gromitt will always be better than Pixar. Overly saturated with social commentary (which was surprising). Loses the audience when it gets to the fat people. In the 21st through 25th centuries: Woman can do anything. Men are comic relief.

Road to Guantanamo

Another documentary in the Think Films arsenal designed to make you hate Bush.

And hey.

It worked.

Good. But tiring at times. It's a little dated, now -- knowing what we know -- but worth a view if you want three films a week.

Otherwise, keep pushing it down your netflix queue.

01 July 2008


Loosely based on the comic book of the same name, this movie is even better than the comic. Smart, fast, furious, and in a class of action films that includes:

Shoot 'em Up
Smokin' Aces

James McAvoy was unreal. Finally someone got a simpering, sad, underclass MALE right in a movie without making him some underfoot sissyboy. Here's a guy that just oozes with all the right elements — charisma, despair, calamity — without sacrificing anything to get there. People will look down at this movie because it's based on a comic and filled with violent action, but I was impressed on every level with the storytelling and directing.

Morgan Freeman needs to stop making these kinds of films, though.

Easily, in the top 10 for the year.


Five Days: Disk Two

The fourth and fifth episodes of this mini-series were not as strong as the first three, but it did end with a very heavy and depressing THUD. The final argument between the old couple in the garden stands as a truly deep and powerful scene.

The grand-daughter and grand-father scene in the "sanitarium" was pretty good, too.

Worth a watch, but not more than once.