Monday, 23 July 2012

The week in brief (16 - 22 July)

I still haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises as yet (I'm planning to go on Wednesday, so am currently having to walk around with both hands over my ears and a blindfold on so that I can avoid spoilers), but I did watch the following movies this week:

The Silence (Das letzte Schweigen) (2010): 7/10
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957): 9/10
Scrooged (1988): 7/10

The clear choice for film of the week has to go to The Bridge on the River Kwai, which is a remarkable picture. Set in a prison camp in Western Thailand during the Second World War, the movie tells the story of the construction of a railway bridge to Burma by a number of British POWs, and an attempt by a small group of commandos to destroy that bridge. I was expecting something quite stuffy and old fashioned, a tale of stiff upper lips and derring-do, celebrating the never say die attitude of the British military - but the film was, in fact, quite the opposite of those things. The ostensible hero of the piece, Lieutenant Nicholson (played by Alec Guinness), initially seems courageous in his stubborn refusal to back down in the face of pressure from his bullying Japanese opposite number. However, when he wins this battle of wills and takes over construction of the bridge, he ends up in a position where he is aiding and abetting the Japanese war effort - only realising the error of his ways when it's far too late. Rather than being a film which revels in the triumphs of war, it's a potent anti-war movie - one which shows the confusion and madness of conflict. It's also beautifully shot in technicolour, and features an explosive and exciting climax that keeps you gripped until the final frame. It's just a shame that I didn't see the film sooner - it's been shown on BBC2 pretty much every Sunday afternoon for the past 15 years, so I can't say I didn't have the opportunity...

The other two films I saw this week were also pretty good. The Silence is a German crime picture which concerns the investigation into the abduction of a child in rural Bavaria, an abduction which has chilling echoes of a murder which took place in the same village some 23 years earlier. As we're presented with the identity of the killers from the very start of the picture, it isn't much of a whodunnit, but rather an interesting examination of the effects of guilt on the perpetrators of a horrendous crime. With an impressive sound track and a number of strong performances, it's worth a look for fans of continental crime series like Wallander and The Killing.

Finally, we have Scrooged, a comedy from the '80s which has Bill Murray as a modern day Ebeneezer Scrooge figure. Rather than acting as a money lender, Scrooge in this case is a sleazy TV executive, prepared to let old ladies die of fright if it leads to increased ratings. The film starts off with a hilarious send up of the commercialisation of Christmas, and Bill Murray is as great as ever, particularly in the early going where he gets to be as crass and obnoxious as he likes. Unfortunately, the second half of the film,is a bit of a mess, with plenty of gags, but few that actually land - so on the whole it's a bit of a mixed bag.

Kirk's Quote of the Week

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

"Colonel Saito: Do not speak to me of rules. This is war! This is not a game of cricket!"

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