Sunday, January 28, 2007

Immortality Is The Theme This Weekend.

On a different day, in a different mood, The Fountain would have absolutely irritated and bored me. It's the kind of film that normally does my head in. As it was, seeing it today, I was mesmerised by it. You'll rarely, if ever, see a film like it. I don't feel like I can talk about it as I would most other films as it is simply unlike most other films. The biggest complaint being levelled against it is that it's self indulgent. Well that and that it makes no sense whatsoever. Is it self indulgent? I can see that argument. But for me what it's doing is taking big themes of love and death, treating them in an admittedly grandiose manner and asking to be taken completely seriously in the process. Really, more films could do with taking a lesson out of that page book. Big themes, dealt with intelligently and seriously. Even if it fails, The Fountain is trying to be about something. That alone makes it stand out. It's trying to do it in a unique way, in a unique story. Is it nonsensical? Well, I understood maybe 40% of it and am hoping subsequent viewings will bring me up to 60/70%. But it's a film for some reason I really felt, even if I didn't always understand why I was feeling what I did. I suppose in the end for me the film comes down to a story about the power of love. Done well, there's no better theme for a film. Also it's simply one of the most beautiful films I've seen in a very long time. Visually arresting, some amazing images that often last for long stretches when there is no dialogue. The Fountain is absolutely not to everyone's tastes and frankly I'm amazed it fits into my own which is why I would qualify my recomendation. But I was enthralled by it. And it confirms Darren Aronofsky's place as one of the most exciting and interesting directors working today.

The only downside to The Fountain is that it definately isn't the greatest underdog story ever told. Thankfully I saw another film this weekend that does fit that bill. Rocky Balboa. The 6th installment tells us that it's not about how hard you hit but how hard you can get hit. Well I was hit pretty hard watching the train wreck unfold on screen before me. From the opening where he sits on a deck chair by Adriane's grave, wandering around Philadelphia, Pauly in tow, going around the old places he and Adriane used to go (culminating in a truly hilarious shot of her from the first film superimposed like a ghost into a shot in the present) to the wonderfully pointless scene of him in a dog pound choosing a dog with an equally pointless character for no real reason, to the speech where he tries to convince the boxing commission to give him a licence to box and he seems to use the word "do" about 275 times. "When you gotta do what you gotta do and you wanna stop me doing what I gotta do, how can I do what I gotta do?" But it's so bad it's absolutely genius in its own way. At points it had me crying with laughter. It's just too bad Stallone isn't in on the joke as he delivers awful speeches, shuffles around amiably and clambers into the ring to prove there's life in the old dog yet. Yet maybe the joke's on me. As that music comes on, as the training montage kicks in and Rocky runs up those steps one last time, as he takes and delivers the blows against a stronger opponent, you can't help but want to punch the air and hope your arm holds there in an everlasting freezeframe. There is a reason these films have endured and there's a reason this film has been a decent success. But this is sentimental claptrap. And anyway it takes a long time to get to the fight. A VERY long time. Scene follows scene follows scene with no apparent consequence. Really if any of us tried to hand in that script on the course we'd be thrown off. And quite possibly deported. Still at least this seems to be the last one. All I want now is Rambo 4...

I also saw Blood Diamond. It's decent, probably the best film Edward Zwick has done in a long time, but it's way too long and falls between the two stools of trying to be both a serious issue film and an action thriller. Leo's lovely though. I mean he's good. He's very good. Performance wise.


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