Friday, July 04, 2008

The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, The Negotiator, The Pursuit of Happyness

Going through my old DVDs. I actually liked all three of these. Two of them are based on true stories.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly:
Stylistic movie about a French man who suffers a massive stroke and wakes up to find he's paralyzed except for his eyes. One eye, however, is troublesome and is sewn shut. He learns how to communicate by blinking the one eye, working with the remarkable women in the hospital.

The movie is actually a wonder to watch. We don't worry too much about chronology because it's all very clear: when you see him young and fresh and moving around, we're obviously watching scenes from his life as he relives it in his brain. It's certainly an incredible acting job by Matheieu Amalric; imagine sitting there with one eye open wide, taking in everything but not being able to really "react." Plus an incredibly impactful acting job by Max Von Sydow in a small role as the man's father. The movie acts mostly as a kaleidoscope of his life, seen by an internal eye, and what he does with his remaining time. I did not, however, have a really good sense as to who this man was before the stroke, and thus I didn't really feel the impact of who the man became after the stroke.

The Negotiator: I thoroughly enjoyed this action film starring Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson, even though I was startled to find out it had been made 10 years ago. Lots of twists and turns in this story of a policeman who acts as a negotiator in hostage situations when he takes hostages himself. Spacey is brought in as the negotiator for this negotiator. Another startling thing in watching this movie: many of the fine character actors in this film are now deceased, which is sad, including J.T. Walsh and John Spencer, who both died in their 50's.

The Pursuit of Happyness: The most sensitive portrayal by Will Smith yet, as he breaks from his summer-movie bravado to portray the true-life picture of a man who is down in life but who, in spite of all the odds, goes for the opportunity to make his and his son's life better. The last scene is really effective, as we read the news of the new job on Will Smith's face. This is academy award material.

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