Friday, October 1, 2010


 The American is Anton Corbijn's Limits Of Control and Ghost Dog. Simply, Corbijn is trying to be Jarmusch. The similarity in visual style is too strong. Still, Corbijn is did something amazing with The American. He made a subtle action film that asked more than it told. Corbijn, whose superior Control or his Stranger Than Paradise, did the same. This begs to question, did what The American asked have any answers? Or was the film just a tight and controlled action film. That worked on it's simplicity, rather than some esotericism of a film like Inception.

To clarify, there is a scene in The American were the main character Jack (played by George Clooney) is sitting in a cafe. He is being followed. A man is in a car out on the street in the foreground, while Jack is in the foreground. Jack turns around and sees the man sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Then, when the camera comes back, we see Jack in the foreground in focus and when he turns around again, the background is now racked out of focus. This scene, possessing the best rack focus of all time, is one of the moments that makes the film. Its one of the several scenes in the film that treats the audience with such respect.

So, these little scenes, that amount to no more than being "well done," do not warrant The American to being great. Rather, they make you hunger for better action/thrillers and/or films that posses those genre elements. Of which only recently The Limits of Control, The International and Che come to mind. Still, we can "push" for better films in the genre.

On top of this, Corbijn is working towards some thematic schema that might turn out to be rewarding. I feel he is interested in individuals that want to exist. They have elements that come into their world, epilepsy in Control and the assassin's code in The American, that impede on their existence. They work to gain some understanding, but ultimately these characters know of their coming demise. I feel though that this isn't strong enough and this director needs to build on what he is trying to say.

So, if Corbijn can move away from his understandable love of a great director like Jarmusch, and move towards some thematic coherence, then I feel he has the potentiality to be a master director. Also, have to note, Clooney, stripped of his Cary Grant-esque charm, was refreshing.

With Never Let Me Go, the film is a totally a "Performance Film." Still, it contained moments of possible auteur quality. Yet, it never reached the height of something of value. The director, Mark Romanek, whose One Hour Photo had it's moments, makes a better film here. Being that, the awkward scenes in One Hour Photo, a dream sequence that Robin William's character Seymour comes to mind, are gone from this film. So, what is superior about this production is interesting visual moments. Especially with the lighting of given to Kathy, played by Carie Mulligan, who gave the best performance in the film by far. They tend to express her through variants of light and dark. Where her understanding, emotion or spirituality is expressed via her exposure and that of those around her. These purely cinematic gestures enhance the literary quality of the film.

But, I have to admit, the questions it raised in the arena of Bio-Ethics were insightful. So, what I would suggest, is to read Kazuo Ishiguro's book of the same name. Being that, the film had a literary style, that I'm sure works better in a literary setting.

So, if you have to go out and see a film in theaters, I suggest people go see The American and Enter The Void. Skip Catfish and Let Me In. The former is Realist garbage and the later is an excuse for Hollywood to spend millions of dollars because “Americans won't read subtitles.” Check out Let The Right One In, the original, but make sure you get proper subtitles. The main version out right now has improper ones, but supposedly they released a new batch of DVD's that fixed the problem.


1 comment:

  1. hi karl,
    Herzog loved Catfish..."realist garbage"??