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YT at the moovies

Went to see Apocalypto last night. It wasn’t at the top of my list of films to see, but as the decision wasn’t really mine to make and I was sort of neutral about seeing it, I decided to tag along with EPI and R [EPI’s youngest daughter].

Now, YT is no wuss, and I’d heard it was gory, but believe me – fifteen minutes into the film I was ready to stand up and walk out. It was that bad. During the initial splatter scenes I basically just sat there with my eyes shielded and my ears primed to listen for an end to the slimy, slippery, suckly sounds of people being sliced open and handfuls of their internal organs pulled out. The extreme violence and brutality continued throughout the film – it was relentless and exceedingly barbaric, and in fact it wasn’t until I’d been watching a while and got used to the blood and guts that I started to realize what a good film it actually was.

For one thing, it was completely filmed in Mayan [language] and used many Mayans in speaking roles who had never acted before, some of whom were quite remarkable. The cinematography was highly impressive – one of my favourite scenes involved a birth, which I will not elaborate on further, so as not to spoil it for anyone. And although the violence was sickening in parts, it was never gratuitous – and the end of the film [which I shall also remain mum about] sort of put into perspective what the brutality was all about, and what the director meant to say with it. As a film it was clearly a major feat to put together so hats off to Mel Gibson. I know he’s not the most popular guy around these days [particularly in the US] but his movie-making skills are indisputable. At least to me.

Whose film Flags of Our Fathers [known chez YT as Flags of Our Extras] we went to see last weekend. Now this was a film that I definitely would not have seen had it not been filmed right here in our very own Niceland. Alas, my curiosity to see how well the Reykjanes peninsula managed to deliver its role as the island of Iwo Jima in Japan, not to mention the way all those Icelandic extras would deliver their roles [mostly] as corpses lying on the black sand beach, got the best of me.

I hated it. It was a war movie. I hate war movies. It was also sentimental and sappy and I hate sentimental and sappy, especially when it comes from Hollywood. I think I’d been clinging to the hope that old Clint would bring some substance to it – as he has to most of his other films – but alas I failed to account for the fact that it was produced by Steven Spielberg, who almost never fails to turn even the most promising material into something sickly and saccharine. [Even Schindler’s List succumbed to sniveling violin music at the end, f’rcryingoutloud!]

To be fair, the movie wasn’t entirely about war – it was also about these soldiers who were sent back to the US because they were believed to have been in a certain famous photograph and they were needed to recruit money for the war effort. However, this was one of the film’s main weaknesses – it wasn’t focused enough, the viewer was never really clear on whether it was about the war, or about these three guys, or whether it was social commentary, or a documentary, or whatever.

Flags of Our Fathers got a shitload of bad publicity here in Iceland almost right from the start, and while I don’t think my impression of it was directed by that fact, I think it all came together in sort of a negative and disappointing moviegoing experience.

Yet while Clint didn’t exactly wow me this time around, I must say that he gets two thumbs up for making this movie and Letters From Iwo Jima, which is basically the same event – the battle for Iwo Jima – from the Japanese perspective. After all, war movies are not usually known for depicting the other guy’s side, particularly not the American ones. So yay for Clint, whose cool remains intact.

Mild, 4°C, with moderate westerly winds. Storm warning in effect for later, in the east. Colder weather in the cards. Sunrise was at 10.27 and sunset at 16.55.



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