Friday, December 23, 2005

MUNICH: see it

This film will remind you to feel insane about living in our world as it has evolved in recent human history (if you've somehow managed to escape those feelings). As a film, it is less complex and in-your-face (and perhpas more enduring) than Syriana, though it shares some of the same "wake up and smell the global coffee" spirit... That said, Munich operates on carefully wrought, ambiguous, multilayered turf, which allows the film to play successfully on several levels. (What I like about historical drama is that the plot doesn't have to be ultra fantastic, we know the events and we allow them to proceed without having to endure one contrivance after another.) Spielberg's corn/soft ball directorial touch seeps through in places, but he also feels like the wrong director for the job which makes it all the more interesting to watch him navigate these waters. It feels almost as if he were a gun for hire who had to reinvent and rethink his bag of tricks (to a degree). On a side note, I thought it was really interesting to watch Spielberg deal with adult intimacy and nudity. There's an inadvertently funny scene where a (dead) woman's nudity is so self-consciously apparent, that even the characters in the film argue whether it stays in the picture or not.

Again and again, screenwriter Tony Kushner saves the day with unforgettable snippets of dialogue that ring true to life, resuscitate sagging scenes, and shatter expectations. (I love the scene where Avner's (Eric Bana) wife chides him for sounding corny.) Eric Bana gives a rock solid performance as a soulful man of action, blind to consequence. And Geoffrey Rush is excellent as the Bureaucrat Fool who presides over a nation's unconscious need for revenge with sublime irrationally (how else?).

Revenge is very much center stage here, seen from both the Arab and Israeli (and ultimately human) perspective. It reads as an unavoidable (possibly vestigial?) human impulse, a cancer on civilization, and a siren on the rocks. One of the many questions Spielberg seems to be posing here is: Would you really be able to live at peace in the home(land) you fought so barbarically to occupy? That seems like a valid point of conscience to raise, and the film does a great job of exposing the rift between national identities and individual human beings. I have some trouble with the implied fuzzy math in the last shot of the film, but it will certainly make you ponder the cyclical nature of tribal aggression and how it escalates. Anther aspect that is very well conveyed is the living and consuming nature of aggression itself -- a many headed Hydra that engages human agents and replaces them with increasingly ruthless souls as they are sacrificed and devoured.


Blogger pigatschmo said...

Paul, just watched this film, and I think your comments are as good if not better than the film itself.

12:33 AM  

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