12.4.06

At The Movies

Over the course of the last month, I've watched a number of films. For a change, almost all of them were excellent. They excelled technically, in terms of cinematography, production values, continuity, etc. A couple (and I'm biased here) excelled simply because they began life as amazingly powerful scripts. Three of them excelled in both areas, and found their way into my personal collection.

But what really got me thinking was that they all had a similar message, albeit expressed in very, very different ways. And the message that came out loud and clear was that people around the world are begining to question what is being done to us, and the planet we all live on, in the name of governance and business.

The Constant Gardener takes a long hard look at the economics of the pharmaceutical industry. Having watched the film, I'm no longer reassured by medicines that proudly say they aren't tested on animals. The film makes incredible use of editing and music. And, for the first time in my life, surpasses the book that inspired it.

If the first film deals with the awakening of the archetypal establishment man to the travesty that is his establishment, the second - Syriana - deals with a similar realisation, albeit to an archetypal establishment hatchet man. While the film explores fours brilliant stories, integrates them seamlessly, and brings them to an explosive end, it is this story that really got to me. For what hope can the fat cats of the establishment have, if there's no one left to do their dirty work?

Good Night, And Good Luck departs from the realm of fiction, but is eerily reminiscent of the times we live in. A time where absolute power is truly absolute and witch hunts abound. Sadly, the voice of Edward R. Murrow is no longer around to set things right. And the news channels have become corporate megaphones. As an aside, I watched Crash as well, and for the life of me, can't figure out why it beat GNAGL at the Oscars.

The last film in this category, though few may agree, is Lord Of War. There's no real awakening of the character here. Just a painstakingly detailled and scary look at the arms trade. But the reason I include it in this list is a tiny super that appears at the end of the film. Something that says the film was based on some events of this nature that actually took place. Which blew my mind.

All in all, these films, but especially The Constant Gardener and Good Night, And Good Luck did do one other thing for me. They made me question what I do for a living. It's all very well to spout off cynically on my blog about injustice and sell outs and the military-industrial complex. Shouldn't I be doing a bit more about this crap though.

These are both films where the protagonists are not muscle bound ubermensch. Nor do they go around setting things right with a smoking .45. But they, of all the films I've seen recently, really shook me. And seemed to say that the answer wasn't, isn't, and could never be vigilante-ism. Something I never believed before, but I think am just beginning to understand.