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Zettel Film Reviews » War

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Zero Dark Thirty – Kathryn Bigelow. The assassination of a terrorist

Tweet    Zero Dark Thirty – Kathryn Bigelow Lincoln could be described as portraying the unprincipled pursuit of a principled objective, in conflict with the principled pursuit of an unprincipled end. It is a tragic lesson of history that when old men possessed of power talk with passion about principles – young people die. No […]

Lincoln – Steven Spielberg. The past is another place….

Tweet    Lincoln – Steven Spielberg “The past is another country. They do things differently there.” L P Hartley’s now almost proverbial opening lines of The Go-Between constantly resonated in the back of my mind throughout this powerful, accomplished, superbly acted film. With typical authority and characteristically meticulous attention to detail, Spielberg assembles to great […]

Tarantino – enfant – terrible: but no longer both.

Tweet Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino The penny finally dropped: Quentin Tarantino simply has no imagination. He can’t create characters so he borrows bits from characters in films he’s seen. He can’t create a believable setting or narrative, so he echoes, parodies, de-constructs those of others. He is either passive or unaffected by reality or […]

The Reader – compassion not forgiveness: a moral dilemma

Tweet The Reader – Stephen Daldry This is a morally complex film: which probably explains why it has polarised critical opinion. The Reader demonstrates better than any recent film I can remember, the vital importance of what the viewer brings to the artistic experience – both to the quality of that experience and the value […]

CHE – Part 1 and Part 2 – Soderbergh’s Che: iconic, charismatic, idealistic, but opaque

Tweet Che – Steven Soderbergh The essence of art is selection: and the logic of selection defines what is left out. The collaborative nature of the art of film-making increases the need for such eliminating decisions exponentially – casting, screenplay, lighting, angle, editing, music, sound and thousands of other decisions. The result is not the […]

The Pianist- Essay: aesthetics, ethics and the Holocaust

Tweet The Pianist – Roman Polanski Films with a Holocaust setting pose acute and unique problems for critical and aesthetic analysis. In no other context of human behaviour are important distinctions between moral and aesthetic judgement so disturbingly blurred. The Holocaust stands apart as the most appalling of all examples of man’s inhumanity to man […]

The Hunted – Essay: aesthetics and morality in film

Tweet The Hunted – William Friedkin The Hunted is a nasty little film. Brutal and brutalising. Because it displays considerable mastery of many aesthetic techniques of film-making, the way in which is it bad raises interesting philosophical and aesthetic questions. It is what one might call an aesthetically immoral movie. The attribution of moral concepts […]

Vantage Point – the subjectivity of perception

Tweet Vantage Point – Pete Travis Is he raw about the rugby, chagrined about the cricket; morose about Manchester United, mourning Middlesbrough or even cheesed-off about Chelsea? These are heavy blows in the masculine game of life so perk up your partner and treat him to a good night out. This one even runs a […]

Sophie Scholl – courage to celebrate and cherish

Tweet Sophie Scholl – Marc Rothemund True heroism, like martyrdom, must be imposed by fate, not sought. This is a profound moral principle that exercised Joseph Conrad in Lord Jim. Again, Robert Bolt’s Sir Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons does everything he can to avoid his looming martyrdom – except sacrifice his […]

Munich – truth, fact, fiction and art

Tweet Munich – Director Steven Spielberg “Inspired by real events” opens this movie. And it troubles me. Do we owe the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at Munich anything less than the truth? Not the absolute truth, that may not be known to anyone. But if we are to put their story at the heart of […]