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March 25, 2004

Some More DVD Watching

While prepping for AmberCon, I watched some DVDs. Brief reviews follow, mostly written during the flight out and pre-empted in importance by the ADRP/GoO announcement once I got here.

21 Grams - Wow. Just wow. Another time-jumbled movie like Memento or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but this time there's no plot reason pushed at us for this, it's just the way the story comes to us. Though filmed in chronological order (from articles I've read), it is shown in a shuffled fashion, sets of episodes that orbit around the critical events that bring three characters together in tragic ways. The acting is superb from all three leads (Sean Penn, who would have deserved an Oscar nomination for this had he not already had one for Mystic River), Benicio del Toro, and Naomi Watts), none of whom are given an easy character. The complex storytelling presents the viewer with a puzzle, but not one too hard to re-assemble. And since we often have seen aftermath before event, the worst moments are heightened by our knowledge of what is inevitable. Just fantastically done.

On the Waterfront - A classic, and well deserving of that label. Brando shows the power that made him a star with none of the quirks and wanderings that can overwhelm his skills in later films. Yes, the story is a self-justification for a director who gave in to the HUAC and named names, but it's still an excellent film, and even a persuasive argument if you accept the director's allegorical replacement of Hollywood's casual communists with Jersey waterfront union mobsters (which I don't, quite). The much-parodied "I could'a been a contender" scene is deserving of every bit of its immortality.

Dawn of the Dead - The original, and something of a classic in its own way. Certainly a convention-busting film for the US market, and a savage parody of the consumer culture. But, really, not the greatest film ever made in terms of acting or careful production. I'm hoping to get to the new "re-working" of this film sometime soon, just to see if they can maintain the good bits without adding too much clutter.

Posted by ghoul at March 25, 2004 11:09 PM

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No argument from me on 21 Grams -- truly a remarkable piece of filmmaking.

Posted by: Scott at March 31, 2004 08:11 AM

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