Judging from the commercials, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is the story of Denzel Washington heroically saving a plane full of passengers from certain death, but the film’s barn-burning crash sequence is over by the 25-minute mark. What follows is an intense portrait of a self-destructive man in what seems like a death spiral.
2007 appears to have been the year of thirds, meaning the third entry in some highly visible film franchises. We had a third Shrek movie, a third Jason Bourne movie, a third Pirates of the Caribbean movie and a third Ocean’s Eleven movie. What does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing. It’s just a coincidence but I needed a way to open this review.
The real pleasure we get from watching movies like Ocean’s Thirteen has very little to do with storytelling, but derives from watching a lot of rich, good-looking people having a lot of fun doing things most of us just dream about. It’s fortunate that this is actually entertaining because there’s not a lot going on here in terms of story. Continue reading
The team behind Paul Haggis‘ Crash said they were out to polarize people and, well, mission accomplished. This film made its share of both “ten best” and “ten worst” list for last year. You don’t divide critical opinion to that degree without swinging for the fences and, if Crash is not quite a home run, it definitely has warning track power.
Crash takes an Altman-esque look at the often bumpy interrelations between persons of different ethic backgrounds living in Los Angeles. Using a large, diverse cast, the film examines how they are all, in turn, victims of other people’s preconceived notions about their particular ethnicity and then turn around and, without thinking, inflict the same treatment on others.
Hotel Rwanda has been compared to Schindler’s List, and there certainly strong parallels between the two films. Both concern the efforts of ordinary men to shelter defenseless people in the face of genocidal insanity. In both cases, the men in question used their skills as businessmen to bribe, stall or otherwise keep death outside their door. Hotel Rwanda does not, however, deal with a man as deeply flawed as Oskar Schindler. There is no mystery about Paul Rusesabagina’s motives, no question that he was a fundamentally decent man. This is not a flaw in the storytelling, just the reality of the story they are trying to convey.