What is fascinating is that, thanks to the rehearsals we see and hear, rehearsals in which the young woman musician’s improvisations add something good to the music, the film is a musical, one that emerges naturally.
I did not find Boesman and Lena too wordy, or distractingly allegorical—but then I expect intelligence and meaning, and even imagination, in conversation and in art. I thought Boesman and Lena was a film for which Angela Bassett should have received the highest commendations; and I admired Danny Glover’s performance.
I wouldn’t say that Jamie Foxx is bad in Jarhead, nor that he was bad in Stealth: only that these characters do not allow him the careful performance he gave in the biographical film Ray; and in Jarhead he’s a dedicated military man—committed, forceful, and loud, but decent.
It seems an indulgence to read such a film for political insight or to critique it for lack of relevance: but because of the ongoing issues involving black identity and social participation, almost anything can become fodder for such concerns. The fact is that Martin Lawrence’s Jamal is a very recognizable character: his sense of fun and his irresponsibility can be seen on American streets on any given day.
David Wark Griffith’s Broken Blossoms, or the Yellow Man and the Girl (1919) is about a girl abused by her father, a girl who knows little joy until she meets a Chinese shopkeeper who befriends her; and the film’s themes, which encompass the differences between east and west, spirituality and materialism, and compassion and brutality, remain interesting; and the film’s narrative movement gains in complexity; and the film’s compositions—dynamic frames featuring expressive actors in settings full of detail—make compelling viewing.
Babel has good photography, suitable pacing—as quick and as slow as it needs to be, and believable situations and settings, with movement from one narrative to another being very effective: and, consequently, the influence of one set of factors on another has a logic that does not strike me as far-fetched or unlikely.
What is understanding? Is it the identification of an idea, a feeling, an image, a texture, a structure—a form? Is it the articulation of a logic, or even a story, about an act, an idea, an image, an event, a place, or a person? One watches Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Despair, and one’s sense of which characters are in control and wise changes as the film moves.
However absurd the premise is, Stranger than Fiction is completely believable. However ridiculous the characters are, every one is absolutely realistic and multi-dimensional. Stranger than Fiction is a wonderful film, as easy on the eye and brain as any Hollywood blockbuster, but like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind manages to leave the viewer with more than they arrived with.
The cost of beginning the film with so many curious perplexing events is that some sense has to be given to them at the end. This emphasis on explanation may derive from Coben’s source novel, but perhaps it is simply a characteristic, or failing, of mystery as a genre. Anyway, there is no tolerance for implausibility here, as one might find, say, in the films of David Lynch or the fictions of Harry Mathews and Ben Marcus.
The Idi Amin that Forest Whitaker presents in The Last King of Scotland is charming, earnest, friendly, instinctive, intense, mercurial, paranoid, punishing, relentless, shrewd, and very powerful: a dazzling personality, a frightening man. Although I had remembered, possibly too vaguely, Idi Amin’s brutality, I had been looking forward to Whitaker’s performance and the film months before seeing The Last King of Scotland, thinking that it sounded like a great opportunity for a unique actor.