You know it really is possible to get a wide range of movie viewing in Sydney. How many people take the trouble and what they are still missing are an open question of course.
The new film is meant to be a standalone rather than a follow up to the Hal AshbyThe Last Detailmovie though it constantly echoes it. Bearded widower Steve Carell seeks out his Vietnam war mates, bar operator Bryan Cranston and the Reverend Lawrence Fishburne, to help him bury his Marine son whose body has been brought back from Iraq. This one moves out of Gardens of Stoneterritory into a wider comment on foreign wars and the performances are stand out. It only loses traction when the group become separated from the Amtrak train carrying the coffin - not that those scenes are slapdash. Despite the poor overseas notices it is exceptional by any standard.
A couple of drunken rowdies are taken back to the scene of their crime and asked to repeat their actions for an anti-liquor movie under the supervision of white suit prosecutor George Constantin. Chaos ensues. Uneven crisp B&W and all location filming. Much allegory and sympathy for all the lost souls on screen.
Pintile went on to do the 1994 Kristin Scott ThomasUn été inoubliable/An Unforgettable Summer and 2003‘s Niki and Flowhich is a much sharper comment on the Romanian society of its day. He’s someone who stays on the edge of our field of vision.
It’s one I’d never seen so it rates on nostalgia.
François is a freaked-out accountant hired to transcribe secret tapes, which injects him into the murkier reaches of Presidential politics. The mystery build-up is quite tense but things descend into the routine, as frequently happens with these when the layers of cliché are revealed under the movie’s Kafka surface.
Hanyu Zhang is a Chinese Civil War Captain told to hold a position till the bugle call to retreat sounds and, deafened by a blast, has to rely on the other members of his unit all of whom perish. Not only that but all records of their sacrifice vanish in the confusion. Years later he finds that the now guilt-ridden officer used their resistance to get the bulk of the forces to safety. A monument is erected.
The aesthetic and the battle staging aren’t all that too far away from Saving Private Ryanbut Feng Xiaogang, already at the peak of his abilities, is telling us something about Chinese society which we can only absorb a bit at a time and which the authorities are apparently uneasy with. That makes this one more of an attention getter than its war movie and sentimental fable elements.
Not every one of that lot was great but the cross section does stop me from settling into a tame acceptance of what I'm offered - and they are all better than Red Sparrow.