February 25, 2010

In the Company of Men (1997)

I feel as though Holywood has not completely exhausted the whole 'harsh businessman's world' motif in cinema, but so far it has had some pretty good examples of the genre. In the Company Of Men is a fine example of this, perhaps a precursor to things like Boiler Room and Rodger Dodger, but also to American Psycho to a certain extent. Thankfully shows like Mad Men pick up the slack, but nevertheless In the Company of Men serves as an early precursor to a genre that still has a lot left in it to be explored. Aaron Eckhart is of course excellent in a role that he since has honed to perfection leading up to its peak in Thank You for Smoking, providing a more raw version of the Nick Taylor character in that movie but ultimately just as deranged as Bale's Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, albeit in a less bloody manner. Watching it in 2010 shows signs of its age, prompting snickers when they talk about physical files and folders and carrying their oversized cell-phones, but ultimately it was not too distracting to be able to relate to in a contemporary context. Overall enjoyable and well made considering the budget. Ending didn't disappoint, although not completely unpredictable.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Having only experienced the book after seeing the film, I find it to be a close and appropriate adaptation, and I'm glad that Spike Jonze was the man at the helm. Having said this, I can't help but feel like I was prying into a world that was better experienced through the nostalgic eyes of an adult who flipped through the book in their youth. The film has all of Jonze's signature moves, including the dark, awkward feeling of Being John Malkovich and the plot ambiguity of Adaptation. The original material is inevitably expanded upon, with the Things getting much bigger roles than in the book, but keeping with the original concept, the Things function as caricatures of old jewish couples, as the original book's author (with which Jonze kept contact throughout the making of the film) intended when he designed them based on his aunts and uncles of his Brooklyn youth. The one exception was Gandolfini in Carol's role, whose voice is by now so linked with the iconic Tony Soprano that it was hard to separate the two, but I found it worked nicely since Carol is the most violent and temperamental of the Things. I think it's more than appropriate for kids, although the slow pace will most likely have them bored instead of scared by the dark portions. Overall, a fun ride for fans of the book or Jonze, albeit less so for audiences that don't care for either unless under the influence of some good hallucinogens.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

Like the many Vietnam war films, which seem to only get better with time, so are the Iraq war films finally beginning to take their place within the library of American war films that have become classics. Of course, it is unfair to compare the two, as they are very different wars and these are very different times, but while most notable Vietnam films (like Deer Hunter, Apocalypse now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket) were made a few years after the conflict was over, Iraq war movies have been emerging throughout the 7 years (and running) that passed since its inception. That being said, one can only guess how these new movies will withstand the test of time. One thing is for sure, the only film that managed to be nominated for as many (nine to be exact) Oscars as the titanic Avatar this year was The Hurt Locker. With the closest second being Inglorious bastards, itself being a war movie albeit with a slightly more idealistic ending to WW2. Perhaps it says something about the American psyche, congratulating at once both wild fantasy and hyper realism. Of course, the fact that Avatar will most likely snatch most of those Oscars is a simple matter of economics (especially considering the crisis) but nevertheless one can see what is on the minds of the nation (of course, with the academy being a very loose, yet at times more accurate, extension of 'the nation' than, let's say, congress). I suppose the only thing that's left to ask now is how Bigelow's past relationship with Cameron plays into Hollywood politics and creative output.