FILM FORUM: Oscars Edition #4
I’ve always been a bit averse to the term “thinking man’s action hero.” It implies a disconnect between the world of action and a film that is intellectually engaging. Indiana Jones, V, The Man Without a Name, any Steve McQueen character — there are numerous action heroes who appear in films that one doesn’t have to check their brain at the door. I’ve never heard the term “non pseudo drama protagonist,” and lord knows there have been enough films that demand the distinction to be made.
Never got around to watching United 93 (wanted to avoid the odd stares when a brown boy picks it up at the blockbuster. I’m being facetious…mostly). I do concur though on Greengrass’ deftness with the hand held camera. I’ll always be partial to how it was utilized during the French New Wave, but I think Pauly boy has put it to the best use since Inarritu used it in Amores Perros. The sense of authenticity you spoke of is an interesting concept cinema and I think depends entirely on the adeptness of the director. And the lack of authenticity isn’t restricted to camera technique. I have often mentioned to you how obviously contrived all of Sophia Coppola’s work seems to me.
I thought Daniel Craig’s best film was Munich. I adore that movie. I should admit I’m a massive Spielberg fan. Munich is one of his most masterful works, a brilliant action movie, with enough dimensions to give MC Escher a migraine. And the manner in which Spielberg employs breathing to build tension and motif in Munich reminds me of another technique (alluding to your earlier comment on handheld camera work) that is often overused and trite, but in the hands of the proper director is brilliant. He used it in the opening sequence of Amistad as well, interesting how both represent a hunter and hunter scenario. Incidentally what film beat out Munich for the Oscar?
I don’t want to slag Judd Apatow off too much. He is clearly talented. I do find his movies a bit formulaic though. Especially in tone a trait that Wes Anderson has fallen into as well. It seems Forty Year Old Virgin, Superbad, and Knocked Up all exist in the same universe. I think the same can be said of The Life Aquatic, The Djarjeeling Limited, and Royal Tenebaums (although I think Bottle Rocket is a comic feat of epic proportions). I think an good filmmaker crafts one world and exists forever inside it, a great auteur creates numerous filmic universes.
Sehban Zaidi is a Chicago-based filmmaker