Films seen in August 2010

During the summer vacation I’ve seen the following films in August:

Once a popular genre a few decades ago, the Western genre hasn’t seen much activity in the film industry lately. I’m talking about the ‘authentic’ western films taking place in the 19th century, not the comedy, horror or contemporary westerns which have been popular with the film industry recently. 3:10 to Yuma is one of those films which fits in the former category, and it’s refreshing to see a modern western which has quality. Russell Crow and Christian Bale shine as the stars in this film. I loved it, but I disliked seeing the silly, incredible ending. I’d still recommend it though. Considering the scarcity of ‘authentic’ westerns films with quality in this decade, I’m looking forward to see two more westerns which were produced in this decade: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and The Proposition (2005). Wikipedia has a list of all of them, but most do not fall in the ‘authentic’ category, even though they’re good films, such as Brokeback Mountain.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a brilliant crime drama. Two brothers decide to rob a jewelry store, but due to coincidence their plan goes wrong. The rest of the film then depicts the increasing desperation of the brothers as the net tightens around them. I noticed this is one of the movies where they try to suppress the noise of a firearm with a pillow, I expected this to be another invention of Hollywood, but apparently it does have some effect in reducing noise.

Che is a biographical film about Che Guevara. If you’d judge the film by it’s length, you’d have to say you certainly get great value for money because you get both part 1 and 2 which contain over four hours of film. Before I watched this movie I had a negative view on Che as an ‘evil’ revolutionary socialist who helped to instate the current dictatorial regime in Cuba, but after seeing it I can empathize with him more. The truth is that Fulgencio Batista was more loathsome than the socialists who had overthrown him and had more consideration for the interest of the Cuban people. However, according to the criticism mentioned in the Wikipedia article we should be careful not to sympathize with Che too much.

Happy-Go-Lucky is a comedy-drama film. I had no idea how they made up the film’s title, but after looking the word up in a dictionary, I learned that happy-go-lucky is a term for a person who is ‘blithely unconcerned, carefree’. In that case the term is very appropriate for the title of this film. The protagonist of the film, Poppy, is exactly that, carefree. Her driving instructor is her polar opposite. During the film Poppy comes in contact with the negativity and suffering of the harsh real world. She learns to understand and live with the real world in the end, fortunately without losing the healthy dose of optimism. Normally I’m not into comedies, but this film is a hybrid between drama and comedy, and a bit slower paced as well. It had me laughing, but some other persons who usually appreciate comedy could not appreciate this film.

Slumdog Millionaire is an archetypal Romeo and Juliet story set in India, a truly enchanting film. From my perspective this was a great film, but for others this film ruffled some feathers. The criticism is that the film contains a great deal of stereotypes about India, which I agree with. If a foreigner made a film about a boy growing up in the Netherlands which featured (negative) portrayals of prostitution, drugs, same-sex marriage, clogs, windmills, the Party for Freedom all blended together and filled with stereotypes I’d feel my nation is being ridiculed, too. What offends me most however is the idea that Jamal becoming a millionaire is supposed to be destiny. As noted elsewhere, are the rest of the inhabitants of the slums destined to live in poverty then? Destiny is disgusting, let’s just call it good luck.

On another note, I watched The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor on tv. This is the best example of a film which relies solely on spectacle and special effects for success, because the film is lacking in all other departments. Nevertheless, it was fun to see. Jet Li is totally cool. Throw in all kinds of exaggerated elements in the story like the Terracotta Army, Yeti’s and make up that the super evil emperor built the Great Wall of China over the corpses of defeated soldiers so you have an excuse for a huge battle at the end. Fortunately all the spectacle eclipses the other aspects of the film, so you will continue watching despite being annoyed by the stupid script.

TV-series wise, RTL was so nice to start broadcasting the final season of 24 recently. Again they show two episodes on sunday evening, but this time at a later timeslot, so the last episode ends past 12 o’ clock PM. Like most people I need to get up early in the morning, so now I have to resort to the VCR. Again they’re broadcasting this long after the season finished in the USA and they’re forcing me to use my VCR, thus downgrading the quality. They still didn’t learn and make it tempting to resort to downloading the whole season over the Internet once again.

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