Saturday, January 21, 2006

The New Syriana Geisha

"The New World" is Terrance Malik's latest piece of cinematic poetry. The film is so lyrically filmed, it is almost hallucinogenic. It is art. One could find fault in some of the continuity and contradictions in the script, but that would be like faulting a few brushstrokes on a master's canvas. I was swept away by almost all of it. The denouement during the last 30 minutes (after the first two hours) was a bit dull, but that was the point of it. But at least that was when Christian Bale entered the film, so it was still pretty. :)
Maxxxxx gives it a soft clucking and a small, peaceful "whoooo!"

"Syriana" on the other hand, is not so pretty to look at, and is far from poetic. I had a really difficult time following this. It is written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who wrote "Traffic" a couple of years ago. "Syriana" carries the same plot structure as "Traffic" and focuses on oil cartels, including ALL THE POSSIBLE PEOPLE who are involved in such business. I simply am not familiar enough with the language of the oil business, and the government involvement in such, to actually keep track of everything that was going on. I was able to appreciate George Clooney's film-stealing performance though! Jeffrey Wright is just as great, but in a much less flashier role than Clooney's tortured CIA agent. On the other hand, I don't know what Matt Damon was doing in this.
Maxxxxx says, "What! What!"

And finally, a particularly delicious find. The 60's had "The Valley of the Dolls." The 70's had too much camp to mention ("Mame" anyone?). The 80's had "Mommie Dearest." The 90's had "Showgirls." Well, I think that the 2000's has "Memoirs of a Geisha"! I saw this immediately after "The New World" so perhaps it isn't fair. However, the director, Rob Marshall ("Chicago"), has asked these actresses to pull out all the stops in portraying what may be a lost art: being ultra-competitive geishas! I might also be a bit harsh, in that the vast majority of the cast is performing in a second language, if not phonetically at times. The kimonos are STUNNING (by Colleen Atwood) and some of the music is lovely (John Williams). But a cat fight in silk is still a cat fight!
Maxxxxx gives it his piercing rape-whistle-like scream!

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