Monday, 1 October 2007

Why oh why?

I went to see two films yesterday.

The Bourne Ultimatum - slickly made, fast paced, action thriller that doesn't need a brain. The hero is some sort of superhero who magics money, passports and obscure transport knowledge out of thin air.

At one point, after a whistlestop tour of Europe including Waterloo Station in London, our polyglot hero and a girl are in Spain. She tells him the man he is looking for is in Tangiers. He knows straight away

a) how to get there


b) when the next ferry is due out

The rest of us would be trying to locate Tangiers on a map and Googling transport and air fares.

But this is the sort of fantasy tosh where this sort of thing goes by the wayside. It's all explained in the first of the films The Bourne Identity. He's part of a secret 'black ops' outfit where he was taught all this.

Michael Clayton - Okay, I'm a George Clooney fan. I loved the film. But for one baffling plot thing.

Michael Clayton is a legal fixer. Originally a proper lawyer, he is now a legal 'janitor' for a huge New York law firm, cleaning up clients' mess, greasing palms and 'doing favours' for people.

His law firm have been contracted by a gigantic agrichemicals company on whose behalf they have been fighting a class action law suit regarding a pesticide.

An old friend and lead in agrichemicals case suddenly goes nuts - stripping naked and declaring his love for a girl giving evidence.

Michael is called to rein his old friend in, get him back on his medication, limit the damage and get the case back on track.

He tries to do his best on all fronts - his brother has fallen off the wagon and left him in debt after a restaurant business they set up together fails, his family is broken, he ferries his kid to school in the morning, he's fighting a gambling addiction - all character study stuff.

The "Lock Stock" style editing is good, the grey tired feel of the movie reflects the character's mood, the sense of hotel room anonymity is summoned up very well - this is all good stuff.


As he fires his car away from yet another client and another legal mess (hit and run, no less) he deviates from the main road, stops in the middle of nowhere and climbs to the top of a hill to look at the horseys in the field.

That's how he survives a car bomb.


It's Hollywood. I know. It's probably supposed to be a bit mystical and a bit mysterious like the stag sequence in "The Queen".

However, it makes no sense at all. There is nothing that suggests Michael is a country boy who wants to get back to the life he once knew, no references to horses in the rest of the film that would put the scene in any sort of context, just three horses on the horizon which Michael gets out of his car to get a close up view of.


Go see them, if you like, but don't expect it to make sense.

One thing which is unnerving me though are not just the films but the trailers.

We seem to be in a dark conspiracy fuelled period of film making.

"The Kingdom" with Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner is about Middle Eastern bomb makers operating in Saudi (the Kingdom in the title) and is a dark affair about who you can trust as well as explosions.

"Rendition" with Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon is an extremely dark tale of a Middle Eastern man married to a Western woman (Witherspoon) who is secretly transported to an unknown destination to be tortured for information.

and "Lions for Lambs" starring Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep is also about military solutions to the War on Terror and incompetence and ruthlessness.

A British film is coming called Eastern Promises. This stars Viggo Mortensen as a Russian gangster. There's a dead girl, her diary and her baby and a midwife and guns and blood and a bunch of red roses in a crib and and and hmmmmmn.

Strong stuff.