Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Flowers of War (2011)


As beautifully stylized as would be expected from a Zhang Yimou film, but also terribly graphic. Sadly, it was probably not an exaggerated account of Japan's Rape of Nanking.

Christian Bale plays a shameless American mortician who, in order to survive, impersonates a priest. Amid the atrocities of war, he finds his courage and his moral compass.

In times of war, there are heroes, big and small. Not all are well-known or publicly lauded, but that doesn't make their deeds any less honorable or brave.

A few details compel me to give this movie a less-than-5-star rating. Towards the end, Christian Bale's character started to open up about his past, but his back story wasn't fleshed out; it was just enough to make you curious and then leave you hanging. Rather than adding to his character development, it seemed superfluous. Also, at one point, two people managed to leave the cathedral, which seemed incredulous given the armed guards outside. Even the characters in the movie repeatedly asked, "How did they get out?!" but no answer was ever given.

New Year's Eve (2011)


This movie is just what you'd expect it to be. A couple mildly interesting characters and story lines, at least one disappointing ending, nothing surprising or particularly entertaining, but diverting enough for a girls night out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Lord of the Rings Part Two: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien


Well, it turns out that in The Two Towers, even more so than in The Fellowship of the Ring, liberties were taken when the movie was made. I can't believe I had forgotten so much of the book!

In the book, both the Ents and Theoden King are decisive, unafraid, and eager to take on the challenge of confronting Saruman and Sauron, respectively. For some reason, the movie made them out to need convincing in order to defend themselves. Maybe to build up the characters of Aragorn, Merry, and Pippin, who did most of the convincing. Faramir, also, was portrayed a bit differently. In the book, he is much more thoughtful and wise.

I can't remember the details of how the series ends, but I hope it answers a question that was posed in this book. At one point Galadriel sends Legolas a message and warns him to stay away from the sea. But why?!

Overall I was pleased with how much I enjoyed this book. In the movie, the Frodo and Sam parts were the least interesting - dare I say boring? - and I sort of expected the same for the book. But actually, I think I ended up enjoying Frodo and Sam's story - especially when Gollum or Faramir were involved - just as much as the Merry / Pippin and Aragorn / Legolas / Gimli story lines.