Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2007 Films in Review (part 3 of 5)

Part 1 (w/ intro) here.
Part 2 here.

NOTE: Spoilers Abound

The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters
While people had raved about this film, I came in skeptical. There’s a bit of a freakshow aspect to it where some of the lesser characters are likely being exploited for their inherent nerdiness, but there’s actually something quite compelling about what was captured. It’s always fascinating to witness adults acting like children. Mind you, in this case they actually play games designed for children, so perhaps it's less surprising. It’s a classic “new kid comes to town” scenario, where there is already one established cool kid, but the new arrival happens to be a bit cooler. How people are initially skeptical and resentful of that new arrival, choosing to revere the established hierarchy instead is fascinating. That the established cool kid is the one who chickens out of the challenge says a lot about how people deal with threats. From that standpoint, it’s an interesting piece of work. As an entertainment piece, it leaves something to be desired, but the compelling psychological aspects give this film a foothold for years to come.

Michael Moore is getting tired. He doesn’t have the same oomph he used to. Sure, he picks on the capitalists who have burdened us with the current health care system, but it’s a kinder, gentler Moore. His sarcastic one-liners are toned down, and even when employed don’t have the same punch or humor. And it makes this movie all the better. One can’t help but question his facts along the way. There is little data and much anecdotal storytelling. But the way the movie is paced, with its climactic finish in Cuba, it all pays off. Nowhere near as entertaining as some of his previous efforts, his heart has perhaps never been more in the right place. Maybe one day, this piece will be something one can look at as ancient US history. Fingers crossed.

No End in Sight
A very important piece of historical footage. I’m just glad this movie exists. There will be those who will try their darndest to re-write history once we move on to new presidents and new wars. The more enlightened of us can point to this film as a document of what really happened. Every American should watch it. After seeing it, my overarching thoughts split into two main factions. 1) What a bunch of arrogant, know-nothing jerks we have in charge, and 2) Whoever gets this president gig next really has their work cut out for them. It’s not one of the great documentaries in terms of art, but the information contained, and the access the filmmakers managed to acquire make it perhaps the most important movie of 2007.

Black Snake Moan

I struggled to figure out why this film did not fare better. My only conclusion is that it scared the hell out of people. The subversive elements involved are countless. The film is clearly not meant to be set in reality. But the problems and issues it addresses are very real in America today. The style and substance are both exaggerated, but at the same time, they are what make you pay attention to this film. It is a movie that at first seems to be very simply beating you over the head, but in the end, it has a unique take and a lot of somewhat scary stuff to say. People may look back and say, “That must’ve been a really messed up time,” or “How prescient.” Time will tell on this one.

Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.

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