2008 Movie Round-Up #3

For this movie-round-up, two are Hollywood movies, and the other a Chinese production. I watched all three at home this week. Don’t ask how.

The Kingdom Lust, Caution I Am Legend

The Kingdom (2007, USA, dir. Peter Berg). I don’t know if it’s just me, but this movie reeks of American arrogance. The American protagonists were quite a bunch of intolerant bullies. In “the kingdom,” (which was Saudi Arabia) they demanded that people adjust to them, not the other way around. They go around, trying to avenge their compatriots’ deaths disobeying protocols and do with little diplomacy. And they are portrayed as heroes with justified causes! It quite ticks me off, really. Production value, however, is excellent, from the gore, to the car chases, to the encounters, to the explosions. It also tries to redeem itself by portraying an Arab as a hero too–well yeah, after saving the lives of the Americans.

Lust, Caution (2007, Taiwan, dir. Ang lee). There was just too much hype about this film’s sex scenes. And true enough, you’d probably come to a point of wondering if they were really doing it. The lovemaking scenes can prove to be a distraction to some (to me, at first). It felt quite real but it didn’t feel pornographic at all. Such scenes proved to be a potent way of portraying the relationship between the protagonists, in an unspoken and in a beautifully choreographed way. In other words, one gets to know the characters better with their very intimate sex scenes. Before we forget though, the film was also rich, but not saturated, in historical and political tones. The film was set during wartime Shanghai and Hong Kong.

I Am Legend (2007, USA, dir. Francis Lawrence). This might seem to some as another one of those virus-destroys-mankind science fiction films. What’s remarkable in this film is that for the most part, Will Smith and his dog were the only characters on screen, and it was a strong, convincing performance (yes, even the dog’s). There was more visual investment in the setting rather than the gore some of us are used to seeing in this sub-genre. The depiction of a totally deserted New York City desolate and overgrown with foliage was highly credible. Still, however, it can prove to be quite your usual virus apocalyptic sci-fi movie in the end.

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