Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Holiday films: What to see, what to skip

“Hell Yes!” Film

“The White Ribbon” –– Dir. Michael Haneke

Perhaps one of the most visually beautiful: filmed in black and white: and psychologically powerful films to come out this year, Michael Haneke’s (see “Caché”) new film took Cannes by storm, almost effortlessly winning the Palm D’Or. Set somewhere in northern Germany during the years leading up to World War I, “The White Ribbon” focuses its cinematic gaze on a children’s choir, revealing a situation exemplary of what Haneke calls “the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature.” It looks to be one of those impeccable and depressing, yet astounding and presently retrospective looks at humanity.

“Sure, why not?” Films

“Invictus” –– Dir. Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood has done it again: released a race-driven, end-of-the-year flick that’s bound to stir up the Academy. Though last year’s film (“Gran Torino”) didn’t even get him a nod for Best Original Song, this year’s film has Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela: a role bound to conjure sentiment for the heroic Other (like, for example, Barack Obama) who manages to bring white and black people together. Oh, did I mention that Matt Damon plays a white, South African rugby player?

“Nine” –– Dir. Rob Marshall

One of the only films that looks to fit the Academy’s cookie-cutter mold for an Oscar winner, Rob Marshall’s “Nine” (perhaps naively) takes on the theme of Federico Fellini’s beautiful and everlasting autobiographical film “8 ½.” Nonetheless, its ensemble cast may be worth watching since it’s a musical and this may be the only time you’ll ever be able to watch them sing; it includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard  and the lovely Penélope Cruz. It can’t be that ridiculous, right?

“Meh” Films

“The Lovely Bones” –– Dir. Peter Jackson

Apparently Peter Jackson wants to take a turn back to drama from his fantasy/big gorilla staple. Or maybe not. His latest film, “The Lovely Bones,” takes on purgatory (I think). A girl who is killed by a serial killer/rapist deals with watching her family mourn over her death and her serial killer plan another murder. I vote that Jackson is still stuck in the fantastical realm. I’m not so sure about this film, though, because it will likely take out all the objectionable material that made the book somewhat compelling.

“Sherlock Holmes” –– Dir. Guy Ritchie

Seriously? Robert Downey Jr. is not nearly dexterous enough to play Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s multi-layered, multi-talented, multi-everything character. And, Guy Ritchie isn’t imaginative enough to add anything to this character that we haven’t yet read. Oh, wait, he didn’t even write the script. My apologies, Mr. Ritchie. Not even Jude Law as Watson will keep this ridiculous wannabe Hollywood blockbuster afloat.

“Don’t Even Think About It” Films

“Avatar” –– Dir. James Cameron

I officially loathe James Cameron. First he gives us the abominable, in-your-face wasteful epic “Titanic”: the worst film, by far, to have ever received any attention in my book: and now he gives us this: “Avatar,” another stupidly wasteful (about $500 million to make) film with a horrendously insipid plot that finds humans and two poorly-invented alien races called the Na’vi and Pandora engaging in a war over the planet’s resources and existence. Does he really have to go rogue (i.e. to another planet and another universe in terms of film budgets) to bash us over the head with environmental conservation? Get a life, Cameron, and look at your wastefulness before you criticize us about ours. If you really wanted to make a movie about environmental conservation, you should have gone out to lunch with, say, Louie Psihoyos (director of the wonderful film “The Cove”). Unfortunately, I don’t think even he could have permeated your thickheadedness.

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  • D

    David DenbyDec 10, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Pretty unfair to Avatar, don’t write it off just because you don’t like James Cameron. All perceived wastefulness aside, I would think that people would be interested in seeing it, even if only for the considerable advances in technology that it will showcase

    • B

      Becquer Medak-SeguinDec 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

      I understand that I’m beeing quite unfair to ‘Avatar.’ My intent is to steer people clear of James Cameron-esque films that do little – in the storytelling sense – to advance cinema and toward Michael Haneke-esque films that so beautifully capture and represent our immediate reality. Thanks for the comment.