heck with eko, what's with adebisi's hat?
good list

oscar run iv: the constant gardener

I'm pretty sure The Constant Gardener will grab some Oscar noms or I wouldn't include it in the Oscar Run, although it seems like one of those movies that gets six nominations and no wins ... Ralph Fiennes is fine (you knew I had to say that), but Best Actor will be Heath Ledger, screenplay, direction, Rachel Weisz, all nomination-worthy, maybe even Oscar-worthy, but I betcha it loses in every case.

Meanwhile, how did I like it? Robin likes to tease me because I always lose track of the plot in spy thriller type movies. She, of course, prefers the complicated plots, the more the merrier far as she is concerned (and she reads a lot of books in the genre as well). So there's always a point in the middle of one of these movies where I put it on pause and ask her "do you understand what the hell is going on?" and she looks at me like I'm a moron and says "duh." She didn't watch The Constant Gardener with me, though, so when I got to the part where I finally had to admit to myself that I didn't know what was going on, I had no one to talk about it with.

But, looking back, I think I did understand what was going on ... I just kept expecting some cheesy Hollywood crap and when it didn't come, I was confused. All of the characters are shaded in gray ... some are closer to "good" than others, but their motivations and actions are not always obvious the way they would be in a crappier movie. Same thing with the plot ... while much of the mystery, such as it is, is easy to understand and pretty clear from the beginning (at least the international intrigue parts), I kept waiting for silly plot twists, even when they never came.

What I'm trying to say is that The Constant Gardener is a very good movie that works in subtle ways, that I think I picked up on those subtleties, but I lack confidence in my ability to "read" thrillers so I convinced myself I wasn't getting it when I was.

Meanwhile, Bill Nighy is in it, so all is well. Nighy is someone I'd never even heard of a couple of years ago, even though he's been acting for like 30 years. Now it seems like he's in everything, and I've loved him each time I've seen him. And he loves Performance ... I want to meet this man.

Comments

Charlie Bertsch

As you know, I've been revisiting Le Carré world via Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and now Smiley's People. Each time I see the former, I catch something new. Each time I read it, I catch something new. And the latter, well, it's better than I remembered and also harder to follow. But I love that. What I really want to say, though, is that I love John Le Carré's work and the television and film derived from it precisely for the reason you spell out: that they inhabit the gray area between black and white. If our "serious" literary novelists were half as good as capturing the in-betweenness of life, literature would be worth more of our time. Instead, we have the detective, spy thriller, and science fiction genres -- sometimes horror too, I suppose -- to present us the moral ambivalence of everyday life in a non-idealized reality. You made that point, for me anyway, in your dissertation, which I think of a lot. Although Le Carré is in a different subgenre, I think of his work and its offspring along similar lines. Anyway, thanks for writing this. I love when you're in Oscar mode!

Steven Rubio

I was thinking of you as I watched the movie, and hoped you'd pop by with a comment. I haven't read enough LeCarre to speak authoritatively, but I know he's famous for the "greyness," and it's certainly a part of this movie (although Big Pharma is pretty much 100% bad).

Kim Dot Dammit

I really liked Constant Gardener and I went to it expecting to be disappointed because I had read the book and I didn't think it could be translated well to a movie and figured that it would be Hollywoodized. Instead what I found was a movie that stands completely on its own as a really good piece of filmmaking, thanks to the direction of Fernando Meirelles. Really in my opinion it is Meirelles's direction that makes the movie really great regardless of the plot line and the book on which it is based. Besides the incredible pallette and editing, the movie does really good job in setting pacing the film and keeping the intrigue just under the surface, yet exposed enough to make you uneasy and hook you in. And it looked freaking beautiful. I liked it. Almost made my Top Ten, but I decided to favor the independent foreign films Secuestro Express and Paradise Now instead.

Chris

I realize this is a rather old post, but I'm hoping Kim will add to this and answer a question for me. We just watched the film last night... I didn't really care for it, and one question I kept asking Karen throughout the movie was "Why do you they called it The Constant Gardener? The guy barely spends any time in the garden. ("What did the guy do for a living?" was another question I kept asking.) Karen mentioned maybe his gardening was more prevalent in the book. Can you speak to that, Kim?

Steven Rubio

It's 14 years later, but you never know who might turn up, and at least I can use this to remind myself. "The constant gardener" refers to the character played by Ralph Fiennes.

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