A Couple of Outstanding (as in previously ‘uncompleted’ as opposed to ‘excellent’) Reviews

X3 won’t be done again. It was way too short – perfect for those who enjoy action flicks, but we’ve been spoilt with so many ‘intelligent’ superhero flicks in recent years that I wanted to cry about everything that was ignored because they combined two storylines that could have been taken separately.

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It has now been about 5 months since I saw Russian Dolls, aka Les Poupées Russes  (IIRC anyway). This film picks up some time after the end of its predecessor, (L’Auberge Espagnole) – Xavier is now a struggling writer composing the trite scipts for television soaps, occasionally watching over his ex-girlfriend Marlene’s son; Wendy is rather well known (?) as a writer on the other side of the channel; Isabelle succeeding in the financial world; the others scattered about living their own lives largely away from our observation. The catalyst for a reunion is William, who first brings Xavier and Wendy together for work in the lead-up to his own marriage to a Russian dancer.

Russian Dolls is different from The Spanish Apartment…it’s still about life and love, but it has matured, just like its characters. We learn a lot more about Wendy, but what the film really concerns itself with is Xavier and what he learns through his changing relationship with her. Initially, I thought the ‘Russian’ in the title was associated with William’s fianceé, but the analogy is even more interesting, if a little disappointing from a woman’s perspective. When Xavier likens his series of girlfriends to the dolls of the title, it feels like they’re being used, in a way…he still treats women so badly that it’s a wonder he has female friends at all. However, the women in the story are far from perfect – insecure and highly capable of making some very poor decisions. If anything, the sheer amount of stupidity we see from some of these characters is mind-boggling. Nevertheless, what Wendy says is so very important – loving another’s perfections is so easy, but it is their imperfections that one must appreciate.

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I saw Inside Man as part of an assignment about two months ago. Sitting nicely within one of Hollywood’s favourite genres – the heist film – this is a Spike Lee Joint that almost doesn’t fit that moniker. Lee is well known for addressing issues which African-Americans face that are close to his heart. In the past, he has made films about gender, politics, social issues (drugs, families) depending on what has been in the news at one time or another. And under his direction, these are addressed throughout the film through the interactions of many of the characters. Amongst other things, post-September 11 racism, the unequal treatment of minorities across America and the dangers of gangster games within his own community spring up in the progression of the ‘how’. Some viewers criticise such authorial commentary to be too intrusive into what should be simply a piece of entertainment; others rue the fact that it is not a traditional, confrontational joint. But they were simply suggestions – Lee never intended to provide any answers, he simply intended for these issues to be discussed, to be brought to the attention of the person on the street. And in that, I would say he probably succeeded.

As part of my research, I had to read a large number of reviews, and came across a whole range of complaints, including irritation with how the plot hang on one major implausible action – or lack thereof (wouldn’t Arthur Case simply have destroyed the incriminating evidence, rather than simply storing it in a safety deposit box in one of his banks?) and irritation at the lack of closure. I have nothing to say about the former…but didn’t Clive Owen’s Dalton Russell say (not once, despite his first monologue’s “Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself,” but twice) that the film was not about the ‘why, what, where, when or who’, but rather about the ‘how‘…and that was enough.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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