Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cinema day: Munich and Hidden

Went to town yesterday and saw Munich at the Cornerhouse followed by Hidden at the Broadway (the latter will hopefully not be forced to close due to it stupidity at being repeatedly stung for selling alcohol to under-age drinkers: trust me, it will NOT survive losing its licence).

Anyway, the movies. Despite the complaints, we actually found Munich far more satisfying than we expected and at least worth seeing, even if the weeks documentaries told the narrative more effectively and 'truthfully'. What no-one can surely dispute is that Munich is Eric Bana's film through and through. Bana, whom I have otherwise only seen in the magnificently dark and bleakly hysterical Chopper, dominates the film. As Ben Marshall remarks in this week's Guardian Guide article:

You leave the cinema convinced that without this actor as his lead, Spielberg might just have ended up with the world's most expensive remake of Death Wish.
Bana is brooding and tormented in a truly strong and moderately silent style: a definite cinematic throwback. Does the film work? I think so: whatever its faults as a documentary history, there is a compelling narrative here, albeit one effectively strung on one character. Some of the dialogue is clunky, but at least in one scene, knowingly so:

Daphna: We should stay at home.
Avner: You are the only home I ever had.
Daphna: ...
Daphna: This is so corny.
Avner: What? That took a lot for me to say!
Daphna: Why did I have to marry a sentimentalist? You're ruining my life.
Avner: [to their newborn baby] Your mother's teasing me.
Overall, I would say that - as in so many cases of dramas 'inspired by real events' - that if you're looking for an accurate portrayal of events, go to a documentary [the Coen's played with this well in Fargo of course!]; if you want a human narrative that may draw you into the real life events, this fiction may be a start. It is problematic, but that is as much to do with the difficult subject matter and the nature of fictionalisation than with Spielberg. Blaming him is not the solution.

One great thing about seeing a film like Munich is you can pretty much predict the trailers: unlike works less identifiably 'art-house lite', where you can sometimes sit in wonderment at the bizarrely inappropriate selection of trailers on show, here it was obvious what we would get. The cinema had clearly pegged us as liberal/left social thinkers: Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck it is then, with Flight 93 thrown in for good measure. I think at least the Clooney ventures will be getting our bums on seats, and I have no objections to repeated screenings of those trailers.

So to Hidden, which has garnered plaudits from many corners. It certainly is worthwhile, with the central performances being especially wonderful. I'm rather fond of Daniel Auteuil, being a huge fan of La fille sur la pont. This is another great performance from this woundedly laconic actor, but that is not to underestimate his co-stars. the cinematography of Christian Berger is stunning, and the movement from 'video' to film is seamless in an appropriately creepy way. As you would expect from writer / director Michael Haneke, there are at least two truly uncomfortable scenes of unexpected violence which are central to the film. Shocking and disturbing, they highlight the various ideas and incarnations of what is 'hidden.'

Most beautifully, in an age which demands 'closure', the film ends on a bleakly unresolved note which, even for a pretty substantial art-house cinema audience drew a collective mental gasp of "huh?!" when the credits started to roll: it was as if the entire audience was unwittingly dragged into admitting they had expected resolution and instead found themselves resisting the urge to yell "that's it? that's how you're ending it?!" A good thing.

On a more superficial level can I say I loved the apartment that Auteil and Binoche shared: books on show and lots of them! That's what I ultimately want for my sitting room!


JoeinVegas said...

Alcoholic beverages in the cinema? Not even here in Vegas!

Reidski said...

Great reviews. Munich was on my maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won't list, but I think I shall take a visit to the cinema to see it now. Hidden, on the other hand, was on my definite-visit-to-cinema list and you have given me a further push to see it. I saw Auteuil many many years ago in Autobus and have been a fan ever since!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Sadly, I have to admit that the Broadway does not allow the drinks into the actual cinema viewing space (though that may just be because that's not very typical in Britain rather than being an active decision barring it). It's just that the bar located just off the lobby is the roaring trade bit that subsidises the actual cinema. The food is okay too, with a good range of freshly prepared meals for under £6 [whatever that is in dollars...Around about $10?]

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

PS Reidski: I hope you don't blame me if Munich isn't your cuppa. I'm not into running a "guarantee system" on my reviews! [like this or your blogger back!

augurwell said...

You know sometimes I think Hollywood is being blackmailed or something, they don't seem to make relevant peace movies anymore... you know as we say in Canada "For Queen and Country"."Win the thing and get it over with."

[ ... ]

"One of the most perverse aspects of anti-Americanism in the global media and among the international intelligentsia is that it's presented as a progressive, liberal movement, when it's bitterly reactionary, a spiteful, elitist revolt against the empowerment of the common man and woman (the core ethos of the United States). Despite their outward differences, intellectuals are the logical allies of Islamist extremists--who are equally opposed to social progress and mass freedom. Of course, the terrorists have the comfort of religious faith, while the global intelligentsia, faced with the death of Marxism and the triumph of capitalism, has only its rage."

Martin said...

I saw Hidden last night and can only agree with everything you said. You'd think the audiences would suss the final shot from what had gone before but I reckon there's a few of them still sat there this morning.

One of those films you want to see again to see if you missed anything (especially throat make-up!)

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Augurwell: I'm not sure I get what your point is.

"You know sometimes I think Hollywood is being blackmailed or something, they don't seem to make relevant peace movies anymore..."

So what would you consider to be a 'relevant peace movie'? If such a thing exists already, I'd be interested to know your examples; if not, what would you take it to be like?

Gordon said...

Excellent, my swithering about Munich may be put to one side, and Hidden is a must see for me already. Cheers.

I agree that Bana is largely under-rated, but then not many people will judge him on Chopper but on Hulk..

SimonHolyHoses said...

Don't know much about filerms.

However it's an ill post that blows no opportunity for comment: the only cinema I've been to that allowed unbridled alcohol consumption in situ was the The Scala in Kings Cross.

Spent several happy hours in there. I especially remember a back-to-back of John Waters films in an all-nighter.

You have to be careful though as you can end up spending more time at the bogs than watching films. Wise therefore to secure an aisle seat at the offset.

Rob said...

There are two cinemas in Edinburgh that I know of where you can take alcohol (in plastic vessel only) into the screen area: the Cameo and the Dominion. The former has three screens and generally shows art-house type films, though with the occasional popular title to bring in the punters. The Dominion has four screens, and is a general cinema, still run as an independent family business. We used to have a family season ticket there until they altered the pricing structure to make it much less worthwhile. It's still our cinema of choice for blockbusters (Harry Potter, Star Wars etc) just because if you book in time to get the swankiest seats they are awesome electric reclining affairs. And if you book one of those you get one alcoholic (or not) drink and a small tube of Pringles included in the price. Very civilised.

Alan said...

Rob - you can also take alcohol in at the big Vue cinema next to the Playhouse, but only if you go to the Gold Club screenings.

These are two movies I've been planning to go and see, Munich probably on Wednesday. Hidden has had such great reviews it has to be one of the "must-see" movies of the year.