Films of the 00s: Mission to Mars
"Call me craven, but I feel sure that Mission to Mars isn't nearly as bad or nearly as accomplished as its detractors or champions espoused amid their memorable slugfest. Say this for the movie: almost every memorable bit plays to the film's advantage, and certainly to De Palma's, even if the general fabric from which they emerge is more than a little frayed.
The opening sequence blends technical virtuosity with a kind of warm and personal storytelling modesty that's rare for De Palma: Stephen H. Burum's graceful, almost zero-gravity camera executes a miraculous sequence shot that evokes the breezy domesticity of a backyard barbeque, while staying just shy of being too smug or showy about its own formal accomplishment. No slam intended on Boogie Nights, but I'm more impressed when a sustained shot like this culminates in a textured evocation of an almost quotidian event than when filmmakers drop one in for obvious razzle-dazzle...." (keep reading...)
After this film and The Beach back-to-back, I'll follow up shortly with something more esoteric for all you high-art types, though Armond White, Charles Taylor, and Pauline Kael (as if the first and second didn't already imply the third) would stress to us that Mission to Mars is high art. Meanwhile, my partner in crime Tim Robey will join me for another conversation about a film that I suspect we both admire at about the same level, but it's such a bold, fractious, complicated case that no two opinions are likely to be quite the same.
Labels: Films of the 00s