Notes On A Scandal (2006)– Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett have garnered many accolades for their performance in this movie, and I must say well deserved. But I’d just like to give a fair share of credits to Phillip Glass, the minimalist composer. His torrents of symphonic upheavals and tidal waves of nerve wrecking themes effectively create the momentum, sweeping our emotions along the way. Without the music, we would be just watching the flesh without the soul, motion without feelings. Loneliness can be the most powerful potion. It can wreak devastation, bringing destruction to self and others, yet strangely, it can also drive one to seek redemption, as Dench and Blanchett have shown us so powerfully these two scenarios. Kudos also to Bill Nighy, who may well be the ultimate victim of this tragic betrayal. The road to redemption is paved with forgiveness. The construction of which begins with his opening the door and letting his wife back in. After all the tension, I feel relieved to see such a resolution. In contrast, the note of perpetual malice in the final scene resonates in me a most disturbing chord.
Clean (2004)– Who am I to disagree with the Cannes Jurors, who gave Maggie Cheung (the ex of Olivier Assayas, director of this movie) the Best Actress Award for her role in this movie, but I just find her portrayal of a drug addict a bit forced. To be truthful, I don’t personally know any heroin addicts, what they should look like is just a constructed image in my mind, although I’m trying my utmost to avoid stereotyping. But, the look of untainted facial features, the smooth and delicate skin, the bright round eyes, the funky hairdo, yes, understandably so with her profession as a recording artist, but still, she is a bit too fresh in looks and demeanor. They say that some actors study and research their role before the actual filming. I just wonder whether she has done any homework. Compared to Charlize Theoron in Monster (2003), it’s easy to find something’s missing here. Yes, it could well be the makeup artist’s fault, but the inner turmoil is lacking. Somehow, none of the characters succeeded to elicit any empathy from me….not even the child….except maybe Nick Nolte…now he has played his role sensitively as a grandfather who’s left with a burden greater than he could bear. As for the plot, I was looking for some sort of a twist but none came. So, if the story is the straight forward (I’m not saying it’s easy) transformation of a life, towards some sort of self-redemptive ending, then good casting and in-depth character development are essential. Short of that, the effect would be too clean to be convincing.
A Perfect World (1993) — The title itself is hint enough that Eastwood is not bringing out another Dirty Harry sequel, even though it has all the ingredients: an escaped convict, a kidnapped child, an eager sheriff, a host of law enforcement officers whose ammunition is hubris and self-importance. In A Perfect World, the convict is a conscientious man torn between good and evil, a typical human being in any typical town. A kidnapped child is a friendly ghost, just wanting to have some fun, and willingly went along for the ride. And the Law, the law is the ever uncompromising, unbending authority seeking justice without mercy, revenge without compassion. At the end, Eastwood has us thinking, who actually is the good, the bad, and the hybrid? Costner has presented a very convincing character, tormented by his own demons, yet striving to right any wrongs driven by almost quixotic passion, an imperfect man righting the wrongs in an imperfect world. What do we know? As Eastwood’s character concludes at the end…nothing….well worth the time in finding out.
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