So, today it´s movies, current and those of the past few months.
Atlas Shrugged II
Released during the US-presidental election last year, Atlas Shrugged Part 2 represents the newest attempt of people who wholeheartedly believe in the idea of capitalism as the only salvation of mankind as presented by Ayn Rand. Too bad, they base their story on such a bad movie. But we need to start from the beginning. AS2 began because someone wanted to film it, only they were unable to secure the actors from the previous part, meaning we get a completely new cast of actors to believe in this constellation. And boy did they miscast. From a mis-fitting Rearden, to an emotionally dead Dagny to a wholly uninteresting Galt. Even though they tried to include the who-is-who of neo-liberalism in the US, even giving cameos to people like Teller from Penn&Teller, Sean Hannity from Fox News. What nonsense. The CGI feels worse than during the first movie, the sets are feeling less interesting, no wonder, seeing as the actors utterly fail at bringing over the important notions the book placed upon. But then again, a bad book seldomly is translated into a good movie. Also, with the wait from the last part being so long, it feels like a very different movie from the first one. So much so, that it is boring and uninteresting to watch, which is a pity, really. But then again, what can you expect from the middle part of a trilogy, except to be better, of course. While I will wait for the last part to arrive, I can only conjecture that the third might be in the same vein, which would be a deadly curse for the whole series anyway. No message works when it´s messiah is not listened to.
QUENTIN TARANTINO. Really. At first, that was all I wanted to write about for this movie. But then I asked myself, would that suffice for me, were I to read such a paragraph online? The answer, as you can see, is obvious. Now, Django. Jamie Foxx is very good as the titular character, and I adored the cameo of Franco Nero as the foreign mandingo-owner. Christoph Waltz is very good too, though I believe that parts of his acting can only be captured in the original language version, listening him speak german in heartland US is very touching. And DiCaprio presents himself as yet another great role as the evil guy Candy, but the real gem for me was Samuel L.Jackson as the old black butler, the real mastermind, the inherently evil bastard working with his masters as a collaborateur against his own people. Now, the acting is great, the sets look good, Django surely is every bit the cowboy movie of sincerest nature that Tarantino set out to film. But is that all it is? In a way yes, and with a sudden twist, No. See, Django has several problems people like to gloss over because it is a Tarantino film, but the more of these you watch, the more you get to see it. Tarantino has made himself the formula for success. In a movie ca. 220 minutes long, we are reminded of everything Tarantino has used to great effect in other movies, and while it might be still amusing to watch, it somehow gets old fast. The movie has lengths, with several parts where a cut would have helped drive the events and give the movie in itself a greater focus on its plot points, while still being long enough for people to need a polstered seat. But ultimately, this is my biggest complaint, though I cannot yet say how much of what I have put at Tarantinos feet here really is to be put to him as blame and how much is more part of his homage to old westerns. Still, definitely a good movei, well worth a watch, but as a friend of mine recently said: "It´s a Tarantino movie. What did you expect?"
Ahhh, the ressurection of a symbol of police brutality in a world where hope has died and the worst outcomes are often more preferrable than the alternatives. Set in the brutal world of an afterwar society of the Megalopolis Megacity 1, the police force has given way for the Judges, Officers of the Law with the Powers of judicial and executive powers to perform judgement as necessary and dictated by the law. It´s a brutal world and this movie does the perfect thing, the previous hollywood movie missed, by focusing on the most important thing in such an age. It focuses on the small story. Two officers, Dredd and the rookie Anderson are called to investigate the deaths of two people in a high-rise living cluster of some 75.000 people, uncovering a drug-trade-ring with all that entails. It´s the epitomal cop movie, with gritty surroundings, betrayals at every turn, illegal firearms, narcotics, bought judges, the relationship dynamic between the grizzled veteran and the rookie that we have come to see millions of times before, only this time transported into the age of Dredd. And boy howdy, if it isn´t a ride to take. With good effects and performances all around this movie deserves to be this good, as it encompasses everything people hated from the first Dredd movie in ´95, with it´s shiny uniforms and absurd stories. Definitely worth the watch.
In the league of 3D-Animation movies this one joins in as a comedy about monsters, making most of the typical horror creatures we have come to know and love more fearful of their detection by humans than us of them and creating a great pastiche of comedy and the unfortunate teen romance we have come to expect from movies like this. Still laughed my ass of during it´s first half, but once the romance story takes over it´s a standard fare movie. Ok to watch.
Lincoln. Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln. You know, modern american mythos is epitomized in the story of this one man who became president and brought them through on of their hard times with the civil war. Now Spielberg sets out to create a political drama based around Lincolns fight to get through the 13th Amendment to their constitution which would abolish slavery, taking many historical inaccuracies within while trying to paint a picture of old men discussing in painful locations. At all the time we see the Lincoln-robot with its nice voice painting the image of a Dr.Who character who knows the importance of the task before him and spouts words the same way a sloganizer would. As you might see, I was not impressed by the movie. It will win its oscards, but I was severely disappointed by it, expecting more of Lincoln and less of the 13th Amendment, to tell the truth, which is a bit sad. And not even that, the amendment story was just as full of holes as one might fear. Now, seeing as I am not an american, I admit to being less than influenced by the heritage of this man and the way he is mystified and heralded as the great emancipator that many americans seem to believe him to be. And I do think, this somewhat lessens the effect the movie is supposed to have. Nothing I can do anything about. Lincoln. Too long. Boring. Not my kind of movie.
If it weren´t for Christopher Walken, I might have disliked this movie. The title states that the movie focuses on the named 7 psychopaths and their stories, with some of them intertwining. But what it boils down to is a dark comedy about them, and while I am all for black comedies, somehow, for me, this movie just did not click. You have one character making it business ´napping dogs for money from their owners while sleeping with a crimeboss dame and making a sidebusiness of killing mobsters while another lives and dies for his dog, yet another ....well, lookie that, I cannot come how to describe Walkens character. Basically, it´s an ok movie for a watch, but I would go for a rental if I were you, as It doesn´t lend itself towards being a movie you want to own or see more than once.
You know, I get the jokes, but I found this rather less fun than I think it was supposed to be, as the big twist is given away at the halfway mark and the story follows what is a rather standard formula for this kind of movies. Ultimately, missed it chance to be a really geeky movie too. Ok for a screening, but nothing to write home about.
Zero Dark Thirty
One thing I enjoyed about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was the fact, that next to the amorality of british intelligence it showed us a human and bureaucratic side of the business that most espionage dramas like to forget because it doesn´t seem interesting most of the time. This movie once again shwos, that you can be somewhat wrong. Bigelows new movie after The Hurt Locker is another movie about the forces moving in war times and concentrates on the CIA effort to find Osama Bin Laden, while giving us a great female protagonist and an engaging to story to follow, while never lessening its impact in the events shown. A must-see and worlds above anything we were given by Act of Valor.