Source Code (Duncan Jones, 2011). This has gotten some very good reviews, but reading them, I sense a feeling of relief that Source Code isn’t just another effects-laden sci-fi movie. It gets its praise for what it isn’t. The concept is intriguing, and even though it is nonsense, the film moves quickly enough that you don’t really think about the plot until it’s over. And it’s over in 93 minutes … it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The acting is good, and the characters are deeper than usual for these kinds of movies. But there I go, praising it for what it isn’t.
Keane (Lodge Kerrigan, 2004). It’s hard to fault a film for being so successful at accomplishing the apparent aims of the film makers, but Keane is such a masterful presentation of the title character’s schizophrenia that it is often difficult to watch. Which is how it should be, I know, and Lodge Kerrigan is to be praised for refusing to romanticize the perils of schizophrenia. But long sections of the film are arguably too accurate, and Keane is easier to admire than to love. #242 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 250 movies of the 21st century.
A Better Tomorrow (John Woo, 1986). #29 on my Facebook Faves list.
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, 2010). Charles Ferguson, who made an excellent documentary about the Iraq War, No End in Sight, is back with another lucid film that breaks down a crucial issue of our time, in this case, the global financial crisis of 2008. Ferguson walks the viewer through the story from its inception to its nadir and on to as close to the present day as he could get before the film wrapped. It’s a film version of a Matt Taibbi essay, without the snarling, which is replaced with a more measured outrage. Ferguson is an effective muckraker, although at times he too blatantly uses editing to push home a point. There’s nothing wrong with showing these financial crooks in an embarrassing light, but when Ferguson cuts away from a scoundrel before he has a chance to finish his thoughts, it feels like a cheap shot. A deserved cheap shot, it must be added. Saddest line of the movie, from Robert Gnaizda, on the subject of the Obama regime: “It’s a Wall Street government.” #197 on the TSPDT 21st century list.
Fires on the Plain (Kon Ichikawa, 1959). #28 on my Facebook list.