Thursday, July 4, 2013

film thoughts: Flight and Zero Dark Thirty

There's a lot to like in Flight: Denzel as a alocholic, drug-taking all-star pilot, a delightfully cooky John Goodman has his drug dealer/fixer/enabler, and a compelling idea for a film. After a night of drinking and sex with a flight attendant, Denzel wakes up to chug a warm beer and do several lines of cocaine to wake himself up enough to fly. It appears to be his standard operating procedure. When things go wrong during the flight, he manages to land the plane and save almost all of the passengers, but when the TSA and airline start looking into what happened, his hero status is in serious jeopardy. What made flight turn from fascinating to unsatisfying for me was that it tried to hard: there were already plenty of areas of moral ambiguity and complicated situations playing out--but instead of allowing those to, the film takes an overly dramatic and simplistic turn that had me wondering if I was watching a made-for-tv movie. Denzel's performance is worth watching, but this film's premise deserved a less melodramatic script.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: library

I was somewhat ambivalent about Kathryn Bigelow's last film, Best Picture-winning The Hurt Locker. After thinking Jessica Chastain was one of the few bright spots in The Help, and I was thrilled to see her have more to do in a leading role. Zero Dark Thirty traces the real story of tracking down Osama bin Laden. It's a story we all know the ending too (although it did not yet have an ending when Bigelow began working on the film.) It's a challenge when you know the ending of a film to be invested--the journey becomes more important than the destination (I had similar issues with The Social Network.) While Chastain is unsurprisingly dynamite in the film, its pacing kept this film from being amazing. The climax assumes an ignorance in the audience, and the emphasis on the raid itself, which has been so well documented, felt slow and overly drawn out. It's tough to judge a film in this way, as I can imagine this film resonating more with future audiences less familiar with the details of its outcome. In that sense, it's a success: a poignant, electrifying glimpse into modern history. But to those familiar with the story's end, the first two-thirds of the film will likely be the most intense and suspenseful, as we ponder not the destination but the journey.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Netflix

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  1. LOVED....FLIGHT and well most anything Denzel Washington has ever been in:)

    1. Glad you loved it, Diane! I really enjoy Denzel too!

  2. Flight was definitely not as good as I had expected it, but I did enjoy Zero Dark Thirty.


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