Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXV

Tomb Raider
Honestly, this was hella better than I expected the video game-inspired movie to be. Not overly linear -- and with a richer back story than I could have imagined -- this is a straight-up adventure movie in a fine Indiana Jones-inspired style. The mystery surrounding the key Croft finds -- and the role it might play in the once-every-5,000-years planetary alignment -- adds a degree of desperation and necessity to the plot's development, and the screenplay writers rolled in several other popcult aspects that work quite well. While I don't agree that the Illumimati made the best evil foils for Croft, the mythical undercurrents pulled me in. Jon Voight shines as Croft's father, but Croft -- as played by Angelina Jolie -- showed no chemistry with the Alex West character, although it seemed some romantic connection was implied. It is the end that impressed me the most, with its Contact-meets-From Hell singularity in time and space. For what it is, a fine movie. Not great, but not awful.

Requiem for a Dream
This, however, is a great film. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the man who brought us Pi, Requiem for a Dream is a frantic expansion on exploration of the American dream. To paraphrase Jared Leto's lead character, "I really only want her to be happy, I guess." The pursuit of happiness looms large throughout, with Leto's Harry Goldfarb seeking ecstasy --- and escape -- with his friends and the drugs that they take together. His addiction -- to drugs, to Marion -- is picked up by his mother, portrayed by the frenetic Ellen Burstyn, who obtains an uppers habit in order to lose weight for a TV appearance that never solidifies. The cinematography is amazing, trading surreal TV sequences featuring Christopher McDonald's infomercial king Tappy Tibbons ("No red meat! No refined sugar! Juiced by you!") for quick-cut, multilayered sequence that aptly capture the rush of drugs. The movie itself is a rush as it accelerates to its demeaning end, in which happiness eludes all of the main characters and the shared dreams that connected them dissipate like so much sand. The Kronos Quartet-provided soundtrack portions add a nice touch, as does the DVD's interface. When I first popped it in, I thought something was wrong with the DVD or my TV. But the DVD designers incorporated infomercial elements from the Tappy Tibbons sections to create one of the best DVD UI's I've ever seen. Play around with it for awhile. It's an impressive part of the movie experience.

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