It was quite the sausage fest on my TV screen this week with five more movies crossed off my Top 250 IMDb list: Rocky, There Will Be Blood, The Wrestler, The Third Man, and The Bourne Ultimatum.
The Bourne Ultimatum
Interesting timing to watch this movie! I think I read about the Edward Snowden NSA leak the following day and the third installment of the Jason Bourne series certainly plays on the same idea: does a government have the right to make fundamental decisions about people’s lives without the consent or knowledge of those people? Is it ever justifiable to give someone the ‘no questions asked’ go-ahead to destroy the life of anyone they choose in the name of greater safety for all?
I liked this movie and think it raised these questions quite articulately but like the other Bourne movies, the action sequences lose me a little. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the series, but I have learned that I may as well get up and make a coffee when Bourne starts kicking ass because my eyes obviously can’t keep up with the rapidity of shots that are so short they may well qualify as subliminal messaging. All I need to know is what happened in the end. Did Bourne win again? Of course he did. Then it’s just a matter of finding out if anyone has switched sides. Oops, spoiler alert!
All of that and Matt Damon makes for the most attractive action hero ever. Can more action heroes not be jerks? I like that there is a cap on how many cheesy one-liners in the vein of ‘I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum’ are included in these movies.
“Adrian!” Oh Sly, what a charming leading man you make. You know, if a woman is either deaf or stupid. Given your leading lady doesn’t really say anything until halfway through the movie, I could make sense of why she agrees to date you – she’s got to be impaired in some way, right? Wrong.
Yes, Rocky is the sweet underdog. Yes, he has a heart of gold. But he also talks wall-to-wall crap for the entire duration of the movie.
I don’t like this movie, but I don’t hate it either. It’s about as subtle as a very slow, intentional punch to the face, but I’m super glad that there are people out there who love it. It has a lovely message that I haven’t seen communicated so well since Walt Disney’s Dumbo. I would explain the message but I don’t want to be condescending.
This is what a more sophisticated movie about a fighter looks like. This movie repeatedly broke my heart and then mended it from start to finish.
The plot makes you want to jump off a bridge, it is so tragic, but it is an incredible character piece for Mickey Rourke.
I thought some steroid-injecting, old guy with long bleached hair who fake wrestles other men for fun and hangs out at his local strip club would be hard for me to relate to. This, the second film I have watched of Darren Aronofsky (see my review of Black Swan from last week), perfectly captures the one, universal thing about humans no matter where they are in the world: we crave connection.
As much as Mickey’s character Randy loves wrestling, he would throw it all away if it meant he never had to feel lonely again. Realising that he lost the person he cared most about, his daughter, because he instead chose the fast times of being a professional wrestler is the biggest lesson of his life. Even though he is solely responsible for his loneliness, you want so badly for him to have his daughter back in his life. It is unbearable to see someone alone with no one who cares about him and I think this audience reaction is a defining thing about humanity.
Also, I didn’t really buy that no one wanted a private dance from Marisa Tomei’s stripper character because she was older. She is insanely hot in the movie; I don’t care how old you are.
There Will Be Blood
With Daniel Day Lewis, a filmmaker can’t go wrong. I don’t think the plot of this movie really worked but it still held my attention while I dug my fingernails into my knees because Daniel Day Lewis is so intense in every scene I was always convinced he was going to murder someone, anyone.
Paul Dano as his nemesis gives a great performance, but he just can’t compete with the Day Lewis factor. They need to give him a more formidable opponent.
The film makes a pretty clear statement about the trappings of success and greed and how it can leave a person cold to even their own family. It’s nicely paralleled in the final scene when Paul Dano’s character Eli Sunday renounces the one thing that is supposed to mean the most to him.
Daniel’s son H.W. is the one person you care about, but he’s not really well developed enough to carry your interest. Everyone else just seems evil, stupid, or like a potential murder victim.
Because there is no strong character to empathise with, I didn’t feel invested beyond feeling terrified that I was about to see murders all the time.
The movie’s title may also have had a hand in this anxiety.
The Third Man
That Orson Welles, what a kidder. His character, Harry Lime, certainly leads his poor buddy Holly Martins up the garden path, alright. (Reread those last two sentences in a 1950s sassy American reporter voice. It will help you transition to thinking about old movies.)
Not just his buddy, but the army police, his girlfriend, everybody really.
It’s a nice little mystery to watch unfold, but it is very hard for me to see why his friend, Holly, and his girlfriend, Anna, ever thought so highly of him. His character is a real scumbag and when we finally meet him and hear what he has to say for himself, he is completely unapologetic and finds the whole situation and the damage he has caused to be a joke. He doesn’t seem capable of putting on a charade to fool anyone into thinking he is a great guy.
I enjoyed this movie, but only in the same way I enjoyed those ‘Choose your own Adventure’ books when I was a kid. It’s a short-lived novelty to figure out the answer to the mystery with the main character.
On the upside, there’s a lovely shot of Orson Welles’ face caught in the moonlight halfway through the movie. He really had a cool-looking face and his voice was neat-o. That’s all I have to say about that.