Saturday, December 17, 2005

Preparing for 'Munich'

It's no surprise that I'm not much excited for Steven Spielberg's Munich. It strikes me as a stunningly good topic for a movie, maybe putting in some of the teeth that were missing from this year's earlier Mossad drama, Eytan Fox's Walk on Water. I wasn't much taken by Munich's trailer, though, I have no idea why they felt the need to rush through production and editing so swiftly, and I've been pretty disgusted throughout by the steaming, pistons-firing publicity campaign behind this movie that constantly insists that there is no publicity campaign. Whatever. I'll wait for the movie to prove me wrong, as I truly hope it does.

Where I got sucker-punched was with One Day in September, Kevin Macdonald's Oscar-winning documentary about the 1972 Olympics in Munich and the tragic hostage crisis whose aftermath Spielberg's film will explore. I've never heard a bad thing about One Day in September, though perhaps the fact that I was so frustrated by Macdonald's last film, Touching the Void, should have turned on the warning lights. One Day in September is an important film, rich in material, but it's also, finally, a deeply craven one and at moments even disgusting in its refusal to probe the yawning chasms of widespread complicity that keep suggesting themselves, and in its reverse decision to style itself as, of all things, a thriller. I have no idea whether to recommend the film for what it at least powerfully suggests or to damn it for chickening out in such a palpably commercialist way—Macdonald all but cops to that—and leaving its real work up to other people. My full review of Macdonald's film is here.

In a strange way, this raises my hopes for Munich, since One Day in September so desperately lacks any follow-through, though I'm not sure if I could stand seeing this story mismanaged twice in short succession. Let's keep our fingers crossed. (The report filed by a student who attended a Munich preview screening did not inspire confidence.)

Labels: ,


Blogger tim r said...

Fascinating. How much would you blame Costa-Gavras (who someone coincidentally brought up in a thread below) for the thrillerisation of political cinema? Or does it go back further? The Battle of Algiers? Eisenstein? Do passionately-held partisan ideologies allow these filmmakers to get away with their exciting montage where Macdonald doesn't? And isn't Fernando Meirelles guilty of much the same exploitative jitteriness in The Constant Gardener?

4:10 AM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger tim r said...

On which subject, is this not just the most discouraging rave you've ever read?

4:37 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

As far as discouraging raves, Owen Gleiberman will have a hard time living down the "A" he gave to Twister.... but yes, this write-up is deflating, about Gleiberman much more than about the movie. There were two quotations that particularly turned my stomach, one of which was "what counts, before anything, is the deftness of the action, the ruthless pleasure of pulse-pounding risk and reward."

The other was "played with a jaunty misanthropic jolt by Geoffrey Rush." Alas, but are we never to be spared??

7:56 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Oops - as for your first post: I don't think I would blame anybody, or at least I wouldn't blame any particular filmmaker. I did say in my review of Missing that Costa-Gavras introduces much too much naïveté into his film by styling it as a thriller with US complicity as the—what?!!—dirty secret. But I don't think that Z is at all marred by Costa-Gavras' approach, and more than that, no single filmmaker, however bad or inconsistent, should be enough to bring down a genre.

It's actually critical responses like Gleiberman's and Hunter's that equate sheer pace and momentum and breathlessness with a thriller's "success" that I blame.

8:21 PM, December 19, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home