Those cinematic moments in brief

For Your Consideration.

This is a film about three members of the cast of Home for Purim (later renamed Home for Thanksgiving at the insistence of the studio president (played by Ricky Gervais) because the original film is a bit too Jewish) who believe that they’re going to be nominated for an Oscar. The stars of the film are two veteran actors who have probably never even been as high as Hollywood’s C-list, but they’ve been around long enough to believe that they’re bigger fish than they really are. The younger cast members will probably follow in the footsteps of their older colleagues. In the end, none of them gets a nomination, and the one cast member who does sleeps through the phone call.

As for the failed thesps, it’s back to bad infomercials; to giving bad acting lessons; and to a bad one-woman show.

This is probably one of those films that was funnier to make than it was to watch, and probably has more resonance for minor thesps in Hollywood than anyone else. The star turn came from Fred Willard who played the host of some magazine programme about Hollywood, and who managed to say the most dimwitted and inappropriate things ever time he opened his mouth.

I’d certainly never heard of the film until I saw it in the DVD shop. Until now, you’ve probably never heard of it either. One you’re not reaklly going to miss if you never see it.

Ghost Rider.

Another comic book character from Marvel gets the big screen treatment, and with Nicolas Cage in the starring role, it also gets the big wooden treatment. Dorothy Parker said of Katherine Hepburn that she ran “the gamut of emotions from A to B”. Cage doesn’t even get past A. Roger Moore had the eyebrow thing which was kind of amusing; Cage merely looks constipated.

I hope the comic book’s better. Don’t buy the film – not even if it’s in the bargain bin; don’t steal it because all the other shoplifters will laugh at you; and if some well-intentioned relative gives it to you for your birthday, show how much better you can act than Nicolas Cage when you appear grateful.

Blood Diamond.

Leonardo di Caprio plays Danny Archer, a South African mercenary and diamond smuggler trying to acquire a pink diamond found by Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) who has been abducted from his village and forced by rebels in Sierra Leone to pan for diamonds. Jennifer Connelly plays the love interest. Most of the film is about Vandy leading Archer to where he hid the diamond, but at the same time, Archer owes a mercenary colonel (Arnold Vosloo) money and negotiates a deal with him. But Vandy is less interested in the diamond than he is in reuniting his family. His wife and daughter are in a refugee camp and his son has become a child soldier with the rebels.

In the end, Vandy gets the diamond, the money for it, and his family, while Connelly gets to expose the role of a London diamond cartel in driving the civil war in Sierra Leone.

It’s a Hollywood action film, but has a little more depth to it than an outright guns ‘n’ ammo flick. When Archer keeps talking about leaving Africa, you know he’s going to buy it, and does, but doing the decent thing after, it seemed, he was going to welch on the deal. Jennifer Connelly’s role as the love interest was kind of out of place. She shared moments with Danny, but the phone call just before he died was very studio when you think about it. Also, Vandy’s happy reunion with his family was another studio touch.

It’s not a bad film. It’s lengthy, but I never got bored or restless with it.

Letters from Iwo Jima.

Letters from Iwo Jima is the story of the Japanese defence of the island against American forces in World War II. It’s less about the fighting itself and more about the people who range from the general commanding the troops to the sometimes fanatical officers under his command to Saigo, the ordinary soldier who manages to survive the carnage. The story is based on the discovery on Iwo Jima of letters written by the soldiers, but which never made it back to Japan.

Saigo, for example, was conscripted and left behind his young, pregnant wife. General Kuribayashi and Baron Nishi have both been to the States. The general recognises that his task is, in reality, hopeless. He also saves Saigo on a couple of occasions. Shimizu is a former policeman who, in spite of being a droid, is no keener to die than Saigo, but is eventually murdered by an American soldier. Lieutenant Ito is a fanatic, but when he straps a couple of mines to himself and plays dead in the hope he’ll take a tank with him, he falls asleep instead. It’s not actually clear whether he stepped on one of the mines deliberately or not.

This is one of the better films I’ve seen recently and certainly worth seeing, I think.


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