You have the power to kill but not negotiate. In Somalia, killing is negotiation.
Ridley Scott’s fact-based epic is probably the most patriotic anti-war movie ever made. It successfully honors the men and their mission, while simultaneously acknowledging the politics that ultimately made their sacrifices rather futile in the end. It may be the first modern war movie about a truly modern war and watching it now, I realize that the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have either not seen this movie or have at least never internalized the lessons from the events depicted. The prior tenant may have learned the wrong lesson from the Battle of Mogadishu, but at least he was paying some attention.
The bloom of whimsy is off the Hogwarts rose as things get all dark and serious. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has several problems to contend with. Dementors are chasing him. The Ministry of Wizards wants him expelled. Hogwarts has been taken over by Delores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), a perky Torquemada in lavender. Hermione (Emma Watson) is now taller than him and Lord Valdemort is raising an army again.
Probably by design, this Potter movie lacks some of the charm of the previous films, as its themes and situation are considerably darker and more threatening. Harry seems to spend most of the story out of step with the rest of the cast and Radcliffe is up to the task of making us feel his vulnerability and isolation.
This chapter hasn’t been as well reviewed by others as the previous ones, although it is definitely superior to the first two. I think the lukewarm reception comes from those unfamiliar with the Potter mythos and not expecting the darker turns in the story, as well as those who have memorized the books and take umbrage with the filmmakers daring to condense the story down to a manageable cinematic length. Given the number of balls that author J. K. Rowling has given director David Yates to keep in the air, he’s done about as good a job as anyone could have in bringing the story to the screen.
Nine Lives is the movie equivalent of an anthology of short stories, incorporating the tales of nine women whose lives have trapped them inside personally untenable situations. It’s also a stylistic experiment, because each story is filmed in a single, unbroken eleven to fifteen minute take. This unique approach turns each episode into a one act play. It also gives the stories an immediate, fly-on-the-wall quality that heightens the sense of reality onscreen.
The stories themselves lack any grand, life-changing arc that you expect from more conventional movies. These are moments out of nine lives (natch) captured voyeuristically. The script by writer/director Rodrigo García captures the natural rhythms of the way people talk (rather than the way movie characters talk). The characters are sharply etched portraits of largely unremarkable, but compelling people we might know, but in shoes we’re glad we’re not walking.