(gb) wrote: Empty headed but very entertaining second film in The Transporter series. Jason Statham's driver character, Frank Martin, finds himself in not one of his usual intense driving jobs, instead leisurely driving the young son of rich man Matthew Modine to and from school. However, when bad guys try to kidnap the boy, Frank's unique talents come into play and the action doesn't let up from that point forward. The story is pretty inconsequential and the main reason you'd want to watch this movie is that Jason Statham super cool and the fight scenes choreographed by the great Corey Yuen are amazing. The film was produced and co-written by Luc Besson who can usually be counted on to make slick, well proceeded action, though the quality of his output wide ranging, going from brilliant ("The Professional") to bland ("Colombiana"). The Transporter films fall somewhere in between, but closer to the upper end because the action is so good, which I will credit to Yuen for bringing his inventive Hong Kong style of fight choreography to a fairly standard western action film. My main complaint about the film is that the action pushed the bounds of reality and physics a bit too often, more so in the car chases than fight sequences, but I suppose that's a minor quibble for a film like this where you already have to suspend your disbelief in order to enjoy it. Oh, and I also thought it was kind of cool that the female villain in the film, Kate Nauta, is a native Oregonian.
(br) wrote: What We Have Lost This is another film with a longstanding set of memories behind it for me. I was not in "the Ireland program"--doubtless it had a formal name, but I didn't ever know it--and did not, subsequently, go to Ireland, a decision I made for good reasons which turned out not to matter. However, I had taken Irish Gaelic Language and Song for four credits the preceding summer, and Sean, our teacher for it, invited me to come and watch movies with them on Thursday afternoons, an invitation I took her up on for as long as they were in the country. I didn't have the same context for the movies as the rest of them, obviously, and to this day, I have never actually read any James Joyce. I know Mele, who was in a different program which read the book, hated the larger work this story is from, but I cannot say how much it is like the Joyce we all know and either love or fear, depending. No one feels neutral toward Joyce. However, I do remember, very clearly, sitting in one of the lecture halls, watching this movie, and getting caught up in these people, which is surely the point. James Joyce has not, when you look at it seriously, bothered giving us a plot. A group of upper class, well, Dubliners have gathered together for dinner on Epiphany--the Twelfth Day of Christmas and the end of the Christmas season. They sing and recite for one another, they have dinner, they go home. The closest we get to real plot comes only after the party, when we have followed Gretta (Anjelica Huston) and Gabriel (Donal McCann) home, and she tells him a story from her past which he never knew before and which sheds new and possibly unpleasant light on their relationship and the reasons for their marriage. Even with what we have, there are only hints at something more. I'm afraid I couldn't keep track of most of the names, so you'll have to bear with me on this, but one woman is angry because women have been kicked out of the church choir. I think it is Freddy Malins (Donal Donnelly) who is young and flighty and brings great worry to his family over it. And I got the distinct impression that one of the older women, one known for her voice, is going deaf. It wouldn't surprise me, really, given that Joyce himself was going blind--he wore a milkman's uniform to write in because he felt the white fabric reflected more light and therefore let him see better. A singer losing her hearing would be an interesting parallel to it. This was the great John Huston's last film. He worked with two of his children on it, the only time he worked with his son, Tony--who was nominated for an Oscar for writing this, the only film he's ever written. Other than Anjelica, the cast was Irish, and she's spent time living in the country herself. The Hustons are, from what I can tell, very proud of their Irish heritage and history; a documentary I got from the library under "I" was narrated by her. He was notorious as being difficult to work with. I don't know how much of that he changed for his daughter--or, if you go back in their history, his father. We are, though, talking about a man who was knocked out by John Wayne for his behaviour. At that, I doubt it changed! I'll admit that Huston isn't one of the directors whose work I can reliably spot on sight, but for all his abrasiveness, he did get excellent performances out of people. I don't know what the record is; the Academy doesn't think it's important. But Huston directed fifteen people to acting nominations, and four of them, including both his father and his daughter, won. There are an awful lot of iconic films of his, too. Not much happens in this film, but it is intriguing to watch. There is an impression of a life going on behind people's faces, a sign of good acting or good directing or both. It's set before there technically was an Ireland to be set in--in 1904, all of Ireland was still part of Great Britain. One character is clearly off to a meeting about establishing a separate country, and she refers to another as a "West Briton," someone who considers it natural and right that Ireland look to London for answers. Certainly everyone in the film is well-off, or at least seems to be, unless they're a servant, in which case they don't count. They're all clearly intelligent. The only added character, Mr. Grace (Sean McClory), has been created so that he may add to the mood of the evening by reciting a very old Irish poem. It's implied that his recitations are a regular part of evenings in this circle. Certainly the music is. And it is only the last song of the evening which is unusual, and that's not planned anyway. Filming in Ireland may well have seemed extravagant, given that very little of the action takes place outside, and rooms of the kind in the movie can be found just about anywhere. It is entirely possible, though, that the indefinable quality of this movie is its very sense of place. Joyce did name the collection of stories for the city where its people lived, and maybe that's more important than it seems at first. The lives of these people could be lived in any city in the world, and really at any time. They are people who have known each other many years but may still not exactly be friends. They have secrets and histories and fears. They're putting on faces that are the same as everyone else's, simply because that's what they've been brought up to do. Some people are more free than this group, but it seems likely that Gretta gave up her chance at freedom long, long ago.