So, in the past 10 days I've been to the cinema three times with my dad (yes, I know it's a lot... but it's Oscar season!), and we've ended up watching some pretty violent films (two are Oscar nominated)... Although to be fair I really wanted to watch the third tonight instead of Lincoln (which will be next week) just so I could round out the three and write this post! :p
All three were violent in different ways, some parts more disturbing than others and for different reasons... And they've helped me realise that violence in the movies doesn't disturb me as much as it used to! Perhaps it's because more films have become more violent... or I've just been able to avoid the truly gory ones... or I'm able to distinguish "real" violence from the Hollywood special effects variety. In any case, each of these films did have moments that made me feel truly uncomfortable with the violence, and I'd say it was only truly "justifiable" in the first one.
Zero Dark Thirty (dir. Kathryn Bigelow -shockingly not Oscar nominated!-, Oscar noms for Best Movie, Best Actress Jessica Chastain, Best Original Screenplay)
It's violent pretty much the whole way through, which is to be expected as it's mostly set in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan during the past decade and involves interrogating terrorists and attacking/killing others in order to track down Osama Bin Laden (Chastain plays the lead investigator, a very stubborn woman who doesn't give up on a lead her "gut" tells her is the right one and manages to convince others to follow it to the end), plus a few terrorist attacks. But the moments that really get to you are mostly in the beginning, the torture scenes (that and the attack at the end). In fact the movie introduces us to Chastain's character Maya as she witnesses her first "interrogation". You can tell she feels as disturbed about it as we the viewers do... but she eventually "gets over it" and ends up leading her own "interrogations". Fortunately for us there aren't too many of these scenes... 'cause they felt waaaaaay too realistic for my comfort!
I'm not going to start a discussion on the efficacy or not of torture (which I wholeheartedly oppose), or enter into the debate I hear is going on across the pond as to whether or not this film is trying to present an "end justifies the means" apologia to torture... In any case I think Bigelow is simply telling it as it was. Leaving this part out would have been historically inaccurate, even if it is a dramatisation. One thing that impressed me is the fact that this movie got made so quickly -the attack on Bin Laden was less than 2 years ago! What kind of sources did Bigelow have? She dropped another film (about the hunt for Bin Laden in Tora Bora), the script of which she had just finished, when the news came through of Bin Laden's death... So she probably had a lot of material from before that period... but how did she get so many details about the end of the story? And how accurate are they anyway? Apparently colleagues of the still undercover main CIA investigator say Chastain's Maya is "very true to character". Damn what a character! That woman was intense!
Anyhow, violence aside, I definitely recommend this film! It's very intense, extremely well put together and well paced (I didn't notice the time go by at all!) and very well acted, not just by Jessica Chastain!
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise's latest outing)
This one was more a case of repressed violence which bursts out from time to time... most notably in the main character who seems to be very - what's the word I'm looking for? - in control? Let's just say he's cool as a cucumber, and then suddenly he explodes into action and leaves the guy in front of him in a bloody pulp! I guess you might say his violence is just simmering beneath the surface, ready to boil over at any moment.
Oh, and the whole start of the film was also bloody: a sniper takes out five seemingly random people walking by the water in Pittsburgh... We thought it was going to be another "Tom Cruise action flic", but it's more of an investigative cop film. Jack Reacher (who shows up unexpectedly to "take out" the suspected sniper, an old "acquaintance" of his) is an ex-military cop (and apparently the protagonist of a whole series of books) who now deals justice in his own way. Indeed, the tagline of the film is "The law has limits. He does not." Tom Cruise did a good job as Reacher, but the film itself was just... blah! Perhaps if seen at another time of the year when there aren't so many excellent films to choose from. Or a Saturday evening on the dvd player... But not at the movies, not right now.
Django Unchained (Tarantino's latest, his very own "spaghetti western"!, Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz and Best Original Screenplay).
Violence: it's a Tarantino film, need I say more? Expect lots of very vivid bloodspatter. Oh, and some serious mistreatment of slaves! Plus the whole matter of slavery is violent in and of itself! Then there's the fact the two leads are bounty hunters and always choose the "dead" over "alive" option for getting their rewards...
But again, it's Tarantino violence. The bloodspatter (which you can see coming a mile away so have time to cover your eyes if needed) is just a bit too theatrical to feel real.
Other than that: woah! Fantastic movie!!! My dad and I walked out very impressed with it! A bit too long in my opinion, but dad really liked the whole "spaghetti western" feel of it. The characters are fun and really well brought to life (this is a film I definitely should have seen in English! Missed out on the full wonderfulness of Christoph Waltz and DiCaprio!). And the soundtrack is amazing!
What's it about? Oh yeah! A German dentist turned bounty hunter buys a slave and frees him so he can help him identify and catch three brothers he's after. The two get along so well the guy teaches him the ropes of being a bounty hunter then helps him locate his wife (who was sold to a different plantation owner) and try and get her back.
Lots of fun, great action, very tense at times... and yes violent. But definitely a must see! ;o)
Have you seen any of these? What did you think?