Friday, March 19, 2010


Alice in Wonderland 3-D on Saturday.

Green Zone on Sunday.

Broken Embraces (big Almodovar fan) from Netflix.

Despite getting trashed by critics, I have serious interest in Repo Men, the new Jude Law sci-fi actioner. I think it looks over the top in an early 90's Paul Verhoeven kind-of-way. I don't know if I'll get a chance to see it in the theaters, but I'd really like too.

I'd rather poke my eye out than watch The Bounty Hunter (my guess is that it'll be the #1 movie of the weekend...well...maybe the #1 new movie of the weekend...Alice will probably remain in the top spot).


Joel said...

So what'd you think of "Alice" and "Green Zone"?

I didn't make it to the theaters this weekend, other than to see "Remember Me" again. I'm hoping to see "Repo Men" tomorrow and maybe double-up with "The Bounty Hunter" as well (which I think looks really bad). I've seen nearly 20 releases from 2010 so far. I am on what they call a roll. And I hope to see "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "The Ghost Writer" later this week.

Actionman said...

Remember Me again, eh?

I saw Alice -- thought it was fun for what it was. Didn't blow me away by any stretch but I'm glad I saw it.

I fucking LOVED Green Zone. I'll be posting some comments soon but overall I thought it was just an astonishing production on many levels, and I am fascinated with Paul Greengrass's process as a filmmaker. The action sequences were amazing.

I really, really want to see Repo Men.

I definitely want to see The Ghost Writer.

Joel said...

I pretty much figured you would "fucking love Green Zone," lol. Personally, I thought it was like trying to cram an entire season of "24" into two hours, and it didn't succeed. The finale was one of the most enraging in a good long while. Seemed to be much ado about absolutely nothing. Ruined whatever integrity the film held beforehand. The first 4/5 of the film were flawed but entertaining, and then the finale came and ruined it all. That's just me, though...

And yeah, I saw "Remember Me" again. It's that final few minutes. That's what it's all about. It makes an effective romantic drama into something much, much more and deeper. It's a film that everyone needs to see.

Actionman said...

What was it about the ending of Green Zone that you objected too so much?

If only 24 was as good as something that has the Greengrass stamp of approval... :)

I am very curious about Remember Me considering all of the wildy-mixed reviews of the film. A lot of people have taken issue with the 9/11 twist at the end but you seem to think that the twist is earned/honest...I will have to check it out on Blu in the coming weeks...

Joel said...

It seemed to be an excuse for Paul Greengrass to shoot really neato action sequences that all lead up to an ending that was basically destined since the beginning: no W.M.D. Now, we can all discuss why there was no W.M.D. when they looked, but the fictionalization in "Green Zone" was dead-in-the-water from minute one, just an excuse for Greengrass and Damon to do their thing. Nothing wrong with their thing, but I think that the "Bourne" series was more suited to them. Trying cross his style with political fiction was not a smart move.

And for the record, you're right. "24" is not as good as Paul Greengrass' oeuvre. It's better. ;)

And yes, I think people are misunderstanding the reason for the finale of "Remember Me." One of the themes of the film is extremely complemented for how the finale plays out, and I think people took it for an excuse to "twist" the proceedings or to cheat audiences out of two hours. I disagree. I don't think it's a twist or a cheat, but it's there to act as a representation of the shock of how 9/11 played out to the families and friends of those victims. In that way, it's honest and doesn't pull any punches.

Actionman said...

I am curious about Remember Me. I'll rent it for sure.

As much as I like 24, the show is completely preposterous, and as the seasons have progressed, it's gotten more and more moronic. Don't get me wrong -- it's still enjoyable idiocy for a Monday night, but in terms of showing something of any sort of substance, I don't think it comes close to anything that Paul Greengrass has ever committed to film.


Green Zone was a brilliant evocation of Iraq circa 2003; it felt as real and as lived-in as any other middle east-set war film has ever felt. I think the movie, much like Zodiac, is one that thrives on the idea of not having a definitive ending. It's all about the details, and the details that Greengrass and Helgeland presented were extremely compelling (at least to me). And like Zodiac, it's a film with a dense narrative, so beyond all the chases and shoot-outs and helicopter crashes (all executed perfectly), you've got a plot that demands your attention. And the ending that was used (in that you see Damon's character tipping off the media that Magellan was fake) was certainly one that brought closure to the story. It's just that the film sort of defied the normal narrative trajectory of a movie of this type. The bad-guy is killed by a secondary character and our main character, while doing some good, is forced to realize that much of what he's done has been a waste of his time.

The simple fact of the matter is that the United States government, in the wake of 9/11, needed an enemy, and Saddam/Iraq was the obvious target. Did we ever find WMD's over there? Nope. Never did. The frustration felt by Damon's character represents the frustration that every American should feel about being lied too by their government. And don't get me started on the scenes involving the disbanding of the Iraqi military, and the chaos that ensued from that.

And to be honest, that right there is what Green Zone is all about, and what it conveys so effectively -- chaos. It's seen in many forms throughout the movie.

I think it's a fantastic companion piece to United 93, and while it might not be as perfectly realized as that film, it's a film that certainly doesn't deserve the quick death sentence it's received at the box office. Chalk another one up to people continuing to bury their head in the sand and ignore topical entertainment that can teach you a thing or two while also providing entertainment.

Joel said...


Well, I agree with you that a film could be made on this topic. I too am outraged that we found none of the W.M.D.'s that Bush promised were there, but the other fact of the matter is, they could've been there and been moved. Yeah, okay, it's a cliche to think that, and it's convenient to blame Bush for them NOT being there, but that doesn't make Bush out to be at fault for it all.

Greengrass and Helgeland were charged with one thing by picking this side of the story: make a compelling argument for why a conspiracy to hide the W.M.D.'s MIGHT be true. I don't think they did this AT ALL. What they did with that ending (with Freddy shooting the bad guy, leaving Miller in nowhereland) was a cop out, plain and simple. Consider what Tarantino did in "Inglourious Basterds" for example. He rewrote history in a completely valid way that avoids a cheap shot at the Holocaust and made the ending all about killing Hitler. The argument could be made that it spits on the Holocaust, but by never mentioning it or referencing it once, he brilliantly weaved an ending that, like "Green Zone," was destined to happen.

I think Greengrass could have avoided all the hassle that the ending creates (I'll get to that in a second) by completely rewriting the ending and making the conspiracy go on. And yes, I say that, even if I believe that the idea is complete bullshit (but admittedly loopy, fun bullshit for an hour and forty minutes of the running time).

The ending that's presented as is made everything that came before it quite literally null and void, and with obviously no chance for a sequel to be made, it left about a hundred loose ends in its wake. I understand that that's what happened, and I understand that Greengrass was trying to make a "Zodiac"-like effect with the finale, but if Greengrass and Helgeland were trying to make the point it definitely appeared that they were trying to make, then there was absolutely no reason to watch "Green Zone," other than to catch a few thrills.

Now, I haven't even seen "Zodiac," but I've read extensive reviews of it. The point of that film was the chase and ultimate escape of the Zodiac Killer. The finale (whatever it was, and I'm assuming it doesn't end with his capture) was a bygone fact. But that's a crime story worth telling: a killer is somewhere out there still, or dead, or something. With "Green Zone," W.M.D.'s may or may not be out there and...what? Why does it really matter anymore? "Green Zone" answers whether or not we had W.M.D.'s by 2010, but if we do find them, that makes the film null and void. It's a case of a film that didn't need to be made, let alone as an ultimately meaningless action thrill ride nearly seven years after the fact.

Joel said...

Though I will agree with you on the style. Greengrass was in complete control of his craft, even if the film has many, MANY leaps in logic. Other than the insanely awful last chase scene (in which I could literally not tell what was going on, and I was perfectly aware of everything in "Cloverfield," so I'm obviously pretty good at keeping up with chaotic camerawork), the action was indeed insane. I just wish it all meant something, as it clearly wanted to.

Actionman said...

Joel -- Freddy shooting Al Rawi was the exact point of the film. This isn't OUR war -- it's THEIR war.

Loose ends are what this film -- and Zodiac -- are all about. It can be frustrating for some, but positively thought provoking for others. You really must see Zodiac ASAP, btw.

And I didn't have any problems following the action. Lots of complaints have been lobbed against Greengrass (and Bay for that matter) but I have never had a problem with "shaky-cam" techniques. If anything, I find that it draws me further into the story.