Saturday, July 07, 2007
The Greencine Five, Part III: 12 Monkeys, Signs of Life, Twin Peaks, The Place Promised In Our Early Days, Idiocracy
In the brief period after Catholic terrorists went away but before Islamists terrorist showed up, ecoterrorists were all the rage. 12 Monkeys joins Rainbox Six in the ecoterror subgenre, but adds timetravel that cannot change the past but can only observe it. What is most striking about the film is the chaos of visual style, from exploitive shots of women (as above) to Brazil-style futures, naturalistic cityscapes to Moorish insane asylums. PS: DVD cover art aside, Bruce Willis is not a robot, and never claims to be one.
Signs of Life is two stories at once: the tale of a post-traumatic-stress suffering soldier and an apology for Germany. An injured German soldier in Greece is given a posh assignment on a collaborationist island, where even the local gypsies like the Germans. He's liked by his friends, loved by his wife, is smart, careful, and industrious. But tragically, suffering from his psychic war wounds, he becomes a threat to himself and others. Signs of Life recalls nothing so much as Underground, that apologia for Yugoslavia previously featured on tdaxp.
It's not brilliant, it's not terrible: Twin Peaks Season 2 Disk 3 marks the transition of a one-of-a-kind quasi-soap-opera into a pretty good soap opera. Laura's Palmer's death is solved and the loose ends are tied up. Now minor subplots come to the front, and while some are exciting, nothing can ever replace the memory of Laura.
The Place Promised In Our Early Days is the best animated Japanese movie I have ever seen. Beginning as a coming-of-age-love-story and ending as a sci-fi-geopolitical-thriller, Place centers on the northern tip of Honshu, separated from Hokkaido by the Tsugaru Strait. At some point in the past, the north island of Hokkaido had become Ezo, surrounded by forces of the [Soviet] Union. Beyond this I don't want to say anything, out of fear of spoiling a truly excellent movie. Only one criticism, though: the movie is purposefully slow. The dreamy quality is intention, but you have never checked the clock so many times on such an enjoyable movie.
An uneven movie that is hilarious at best and merely dull at worst, Idiocracy tells the story of Luke Wilson (Bottle Rocket, Royal Tennenbaums) as a man transported to a world five centuries in the future, where the stupid have inherited the earth. Like Gattaca (see my earlier review), Idiocracy is based on a well known fact: the domestication of animals decreases their individual intelligences and can atrophy an otherwise normal development (see wolves v. dogs, wildcats v. housecats, early homo sapiens v. modern humans, etc).
Speaking of 12 Monkeys, you may want to take a look at La Jetee, which is what 12 Monkeys is "loosely" based on.
You can find it on YouTube and Google Video, but it features an English voice over that ruins the mood. There is a recently released DVD version that is part of the Criterion Collection which will feature a choice between English and French voice overs.
Posted by: Jeffrey James | Monday, July 09, 2007