Friday, October 28, 2005

Mad Reviewing Skillz 3: Code46 and Night Watch

...Or Harry Get's Carried Away: Part 73!

Code46 is a new release on DVD. It is simply a gorgeous film, and I very much regret not seeing it in the cinema. It is a near-future Sci-fi and like all good, proper sci-fi I acn't discuss the plot at all for fear of lessening the impact of the minutest detail.

This movie is a movie-lover's movie. If you love the very *idea* of film then, like me, you will be entranced by every aspect of Code42. (It is certainly a thinking-person's film.) It is superbly executed and realised: the camera work is sublime; the soundtrack is perfect and the settings are unique and spot on. All these componenets make the atmosphere truely complete. What makes it's triumph greater is how small it's budget was - so small that everything was pared down such that most of it was done with a crew of fifteen carrying out guerilla style film making: no external sets or extras - just filming on the street. The acting is awesome and must have been extremely challenging at times (you'll know, when you see it.)

The story is beautiful. It's my kind of story and my kind of film. It is profoundly sad on several levels. It is the ultimate antidote to all those films that have happy endings so the audience will forgive the writers. This film is sad so the audience will believe.
Make sure you see the trailer after watching it. Even the trailer is perfection. Don't even read the blurb. Just find a quiet night that you can settle into and let this film seep into you like smoke from a gutted candle infusing a room.

The whole movie is delicate: it's the tide coming in, rather than surf breaking. I couldn't help thinking that these guys should have made 'Lost in Translation'.
I think I may have found the one movie I would like to have made.

Night Watch.
I don't recall there being any spilt blood in the trailer, but there is buttloads of blood. I can't recall a more visceral movie. Your typical Holywood film will show that characters have been in a fight by making them dusty/dirty and, often, smeared with charcoal because of the stuff that's been blown up. In Night Watch you know characters have been in a fight because they are covered with blood and have broken scissor blades in them. This is probably because Russians are better at coping with reality than Hollywood-Americans. More than cope, they accept or resign themselves to it. Not that I actually know anything about Russian film or the Russian national character past stereotypes, but the reason why this film is different is because it is Russian.

There are no interminably dense discussions about the neccessity or rightness/wrongness of what the characters are doing as there are in similar US films (Matrix would be the archetype here) - the characters fight because that's just what they do. Probably because they're Russian.
It's impactful without unneccessarily twee and trite. Sure, they show off in the CG department a bit, but bear in mind that it is part one of a trilogy and they are setting up stuff so that parts2 and 3 don't jar. Anyway, that's how I reason it.

I love how the movie references so much stuff. The whole situation between good and evil is a complete metaphor for US and Societ relations: in conflict because they are the default sides; realising that mutually assured destruction was the path not to travel; establishing Detente and an occasionally fractous peace; neither side trusting the other; manouvering to pick a skirmish, yet not triggering war etc etc. Again the atmosphere is palpable: Glasnost and the collapse of the USSR didn't bring the freedoms and liberty of the West to Russia - almost it's as if those dreams simply don't work over in the East. Or maybe that Russian scepticism simply asserted itself. Wonderful colours; the mood-lighting guys go to town; the pared down characterisation; the sheer ambiguity of the whole thing - ahh, there's too much to explore.

Most of all I like how it's a middle finger directed at Hollywood. In a way, it's the meta-sneer emerging from within the film that says 'Bring it on!'
It's the next step in a culture war between those who define it in a way they can comprehend it; and between those who actually know what culture is.
I am glad the bear has been roused.
And I'm glad he's a bit pissed off.

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