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Zettel Film Reviews » Political

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Rendition – Coup-de-cinema: the grammar of film

Tweet Rendition – Gavin Hood Coup-de-Cinema is the only term I can think of to describe the quite extraordinary twist that ends this otherwise workmanlike, enjoyable but unremarkable political thriller. The practice of political ‘rendition’ is new enough not to appear in the dictionary as a separate meaning from one of its literal senses of […]

Lions For Lambs – wanted – an angry Liberal and an passionate Moderate

Tweet Lions For Lambs – Robert Redford Lion For Lambs fails its own ethic. Its central message is that a better future than the appalling post-9/11 mess of US foreign and domestic politics, requires its brightest and best young people to become engaged in social and political affairs and not to evade the deep challenges […]

Syriana – straw men burn too easily, lets the bad guys go free

Tweet Syriana – Stephen Gaghan Pascal’s wager: we can’t know whether God exists so we should weigh the benefits of belief. If we assume He does exist and act virtuously, then even if He doesn’t we have lost nothing. However if we assume He doesn’t and act badly then eternal punishment is the penalty. For […]

The Passenger – austere, implacable, fate, masterpiece

Tweet The Passenger – Michelangelo Antonioni Uncompromising and austere, Antonioni, like a painter, demands everything of his audience. He once described his actors as ‘living pigment’ – mere elements in his ‘picture’, not its raison d’être. His is not a hostile universe: worse – it is an absolutely indifferent one. Hostility might induce rebellion. Our […]

Lord Of War – meretricious, shallow, cynical, culpable

TweetLord Of War (LOW) – Director Andrew Niccol Philosophy distinguishes between the mention and use of a word. “‘Love’ is a four-letter word” is mention; “I love you deeply” is use. Roughly: mentioning a word is to make a trivial observation about language; using a word is to connect, engage with reality. This meretricious, cynical, […]

The Happening – In the beginning, movie without end, amen

TweetThe Happening – M Night Shyamalan Bad Night at the movies. M Night Shyamalan has produced a first: the only movie ever where the trailer is actually better than the movie. We are familiar with ‘comedies’ where the only funny bits are all the in the trail, but MNS has gone one better – not […]

Cock and Bull Story (Tristram Shandy) – anarchic, lusty, rambunctious

Tweet A Cock And Bull Story (Tristram Shandy) – Michael Winterbottom Eric Morecombe, Andre Previn’s lapels in hand, responding to the maestro’s accusation that he has just played all the wrong notes, famously replies with mock menace – “No, I played all the right notes….but not necessarily in the right order”. An apt metaphor for […]

The Hero – oriental in tone, stunning visual style

Tweet The Hero – Zhang Yimou It is rare that one can recommend a film simply because of its stunning visual style. The cinematography (Christopher Doyle), editing and especially vibrant colour throughout create a movie that, irrespective of anything else, is always fascinating to watch. I have not seen a film before where a different […]

Far From Heaven – Douglas Sirk’s form but not his substance

Tweet Far From Heaven – Todd Haynes Spoofs of James Bond movies never seem to work because they play off a genre which itself lives on the very edges of credibility. The problem for me with FFH is similar in that its director, Todd Haynes, tries faithfully and lovingly to recreate the already emotionally florid […]

Signs – paranoid film, 9/11, dumb, war of the worlds, Manchester’s safe

Tweet Signs This is a new genre of movie – the paranoid film. It’s progenitor is Orson Welles’ controversial mock-realistic radio broadcast of War of the Worlds which notoriously provoked panic and had thousands of frightened, bewildered Americans running for cover. Signs has given its star Mel Gibson his best ever opening weekend at the […]