GREEN ZONE ****
One of the great aspects of being an avid filmgoer is to watch the growing relationships of directors and actors. There are some particularly interesting ones around these days: you’ve got the Martin Scorcese / Leonardo DiCaprio partnership, in full bloom for a decade now, and currently on show with Shutter Island; Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman have a longstanding thing going on, most recently with Invictus; Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are practically tied at the hip, and are currently out and about with Alice In Wonderland; and then you’ve got Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon, who have brought the second and third Bourne movies to the screen. Their latest, Green Zone, is excellent, and better than those two Bournes. Greengrass is possibly the best action movie director working on big Hollywood movies today, but he likes his politics as much as his guns, and Green Zone is an angry, passionate film. Damon stars as the Chief Warrant Officer of the main unit assigned to investigate “Intel” reports of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, just weeks after the US commenced its initial bombing (the “Shock and Awe” campaign) of that country. We now know that these “WMDs” did not exist, but the film’s speculation of the high-level cover-ups involved in the justification of that war makes for riveting viewing. The action is tightly told, Damon is very good, and the pure logistics of the whole movie – the incredible attention to detail, the locations (Morocco was used as a stand in for Iraq), and the scope of the whole enterprise, leave you awed – and the way America wages war, including the way the war is run by media interests, will leave you shocked, even if you were already very happy in your knowledge of The Big Lie. A very fine film.
REMEMBER ME *1/2
Robert Pattinson is the New Black – at least according to the gazillions of young females across the world who have happily accepted his casting as their favourite teen vampire, Edward Cullen, in the Twilight series. He’s one of the Executive Producers of the new film Remember Me, and I think it would be obvious to anyone with a knowledge of film history that he’s trying to place himself securely in the position of “a new James Dean” – it’s all there, in the hair, the sulkiness, and the choice of material. The new film is, in many ways, an update of Rebel Without a Cause – it’s about a young man with major Dad issues. Add a romance (with interesting Aussie actress Emilie de Ravin) and a brooding need to occasionally express himself violently, and the Dean / Rebel link is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, this attempt is a terribly third-rate Rebel. The writing is laborious and clichéd and the pacing is slow, slow, slow. Pattinson’s character Tyler is unlikeable to say the least and, since de Ravin’s Ally shows a little spunk, their relationship is unbelievable – except for the fact that Pattinson is a bit of a spunk. Chris Cooper brings his usual dependable gravitas to the best role in the film, but unfortunately the normally great Pierce Brosnan flounders completely, not only with his terrible American accent but with a terribly clichéd role as the father who likes work more than his kids. Doubtless this film will reap big box office, but if you’re not seeing it for Pattinson’s pure movie-starness-of-the-moment, be warned: this is dire stuff.