Haunted by Humans – The Book Thief

The Book Thief - Original Poster - from IMDB.com

The Book Thief – Original Poster – from IMDB.com

The Book Thief (2013)

Director: Brian Percival
Writers: Markus Zusak (novel), Michael Petroni (adaptation)
Stars:
 Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson

I have been waiting and waiting for this film. It took me three gos to get into the book but once I did I fell in love with everything about it. It is now in my top five of favourite books and I was both excited and anxious about whether the movie would be anywhere as compelling. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is adopted into a German family just before the start of World War 2. She is inquisitive and quiet and strong. Her life is not easy, she has lost her brother and her mother and now finds herself in a strange home. She is intelligent but illiterate and so her Papa, Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush), teaches her to read and write. Liesel finds her home, her security, and her family in Hans and Rosa Hubermann. And the the war begins. A girl whose mother was a communist, who doesn’t understand why anyone would burn a book, and who holds a secret that can never be told, the Hubermann’s have a Jew in the basement. Max comes to them in the middle of the night, ill and seeking help. Hans has a debt to pay to Max and they give him refuge in their home. But they live in Nazi Germany. A secret this big, a war this loud, there is no escape from the sorrow and pain of  war. Except those small moments, when music, art, and stories are all that remain to keep hope in the air.

Brian Percival and Michael Petroni have brought Markus Zusak’s book alive in beautiful hues of light and darkness. This film ebbs and flows through the war with intent to give the audience the roller coaster of emotions. The stillness of sorrow juxtaposed with playfulness and laughter. This film made jolt from crying to laughter with the switch of a scene. Beautifully scored and directed, this film is the almost perfect representation of the book on screen.

4/5

Advertisements

Why the director makes all the difference – Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Zero Dark Thirty – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Zero Dark Thirty (2013)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt

It took over ten years for Osama Bin Laden to be found, captured, and killed. Zero Dark Thirty is a film about how long the journey to finding him was, and how the things the military did to get him were “necessary”.

Some may say that this film is pro-torture and anti-Islam and in some ways it is but it is so much more than a propaganda film. Kathryn Bigelow has a flare for creating intensely gripping and realistic films and Zero Dark Thirty is one of her best. The intensity of this film doesn’t come from the subject matter, although it is a gripping story. It comes from the way Bigelow has directed the film. It is the moments of stillness that make this film so fantastic. You view the characters from the outside, disconnected and watchful but when it comes to the highly intense scenes you are thrown into the action with deliberate closeness. It creates for an interesting experience as a viewer as you feel both disconnected and deeply involved at the same time. It is a fascinating and wonderful sensation as a viewer.

The other point of greatness in this film is Jessica Chastain’s performance. It is perfect. Chastain portrays a real woman. It isn’t a feminine or masculine spy type but a perfect balance of intelligence and humanity. It is a mellow and grounded performance that reveals so much about the reality of the resilience of intelligence workers in war. The harshness of their work and the reality of war is portrayed so realistically through this film that it gives this story a believability unlike other war films that have come before it.

This film is a narrative of how the world leader of terrorism was killed and how a woman’s determination to find him was so strong that she devoted her life and career to the cause. It tells the tale of how loss and moral ambiguity can cloud a person’s judgment and about how having a single focus and single mission in life can leave you with a sense of empty relief when it is all said and done.

4/5

Murphy’s Law Embodied in Film – Argo

Argo - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Argo – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Argo (2012)

Director: Ben Affleck
Writers: Chris Terrio (screenplay), Joshuah Bearman (article)
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman

As I sit in my comfortable bedroom feeling safe and warm, I write with a heaviness of heart for the parts of the world that live in true terror, not knowing if their streets will be safe tomorrow. I have become desensitized to war, crime, death, riots. I do not know what it is like to fear for my life. And yet I surround myself with entertainment that reveals these terrors to me; that engage and entertain me; that help me escape from my mundane and uneventful life. Argo is a film that has shocked the reality and terror of war and military resistance back into my heart and mind.

Based on a declassified true story set in 1979 Iran. The U.S. Embassy has been stormed and hostages are held for 444 days. Six American embassy workers escape and find refuge in the Canadian embassy. The rest of the film unfolds as the adventure of how they get out of Iran without being found and executed for being spies for the U.S. Affleck has composed a film that builds slowly and steadily the tension and stress of these people as the CIA tries to get them out as a Canadian film crew. With parts verging on the ridiculous side of tense, the film plays out Murphy’s Law in every way possible. It is a movie that you have to buy popcorn, because you will stress eat the entire way through the final third of this film.

What really made this film brilliant for me was the reactions of my friends sitting either side of me. It made me realise how unfeeling and desensitized to violence and war that I’ve become. This film captures the way fear and anxiety can play in war and uprising, and how innocent people can get trapped in the middle of military and government games. It’s the horrible truth of war and our world that people who have not called war upon themselves are thrust into the horrific arena of government power plays. You take the side of the Americans naturally throughout the ordeal of the film without considering much of what the Iranians were uprising against, and without wanting the American government to do what the Iranians want. I want to sit and question this position because I don’t know where I stand on this. Is it right for a country to play in the affairs of another country if it demands the people of that country to rise up against their authority because of oppression? Should they be held accountable for their part in the mess? What part does diplomacy play? I don’t have answers for these questions but I’m glad Argo has made me think about it.

All in all this is a brilliant and dramatic film with moments of both terror and humour. Affleck has brought to life a fantastic epic and has created a film that will be nominated for awards and will (in my mind) hopefully win a few. It is gritty and deals with a point in history that we don’t look at much. If you like action, drama, humour, hollywood, history, documentary or war themed films, go and see this. It’ll be a great adventure for you and will make the journey back to reality a great relief.