September 22, 2013

The Act of Killing (2013)

If your idea of a great documentary is having the real-life mass murdering protagonist singing about peace in front of a waterfall with stand-ins for his victims taking the metal wires used to kill them off their necks, presenting him with a medal and thanking him for sending them to heaven, all shot in Barbara Walters-style soft-focus, then this is the movie for you. This is something so surreal and horrific that, ethical qualms aside, absolutely must have been made a documentary of. Despite the obvious issue of the subjects' perhaps deceit as to the true nature of the film, I think it was something that the director (and the big name exec-producers behind this, namely Werner Herzog and Errol Morris) couldn't in good conscience give up the opportunity to make. It is at once a historical document, psychological drama and participatory documentary (to use Nichols' convention). This is some dark stuff, and I've recently watched an interview where the filmmaker compared making his film to going into a Germany where the Nazis have won and interviewing Hitler. Well, that, except with more chubby asians in drag. Yes, there is humour in there too, at times maybe misplaced, but still. Overall an amazing film to watch, including the cathartic conclusion that brings a sort of much-needed but too-little-too-late kind of closure to the story, if not to the many victims and victims' families affected by the actions of the criminals presented before us.

September 15, 2013

Jobs (2013)

I sooo wish that this would have gotten the 'The Social Network' treatment. I wholeheartedly believe that even with someone like Kutchner, Fincher would have made a masterpiece out of it. Casting-wise, I wasn't too upset about Kutchner's selection. Having grown with him in that 70s show, he felt like he belonged among all the bearded, long-haired misfit computer geeks from Apple's beginnings. Without Fincher's edge, however, this seems more like a 2 hour, lawyer and marketing-team-approved commercial for Steve Jobs (not necessarily for apple). It claims not to shy away from his negative aspects (showing how he withheld shares from some of the people who were there from the beginning and cutting ties with his daughter), but overall it glosses over that with a story that it wants to portray as one of a visionary taking back what was his to begin with. It is as if it tries to hit all the keypoints in the apple/Jobs history, while not devoting enough to the 'soul' of it all, but rather trying to create a well-balanced, accessible, digestible story that is superficial under the guise of being genuine. I suppose, much like Jobs' philosophy, it projects an image of an ideal, hitting all the key cues for making us believe that ideal, but is, in the end, a simple product - average, but overhyped.