Thursday, October 01, 2009

Film Recommendations Part 2

Just rented 2 outstanding DVDs!

Clive Owen has made my list of Favourite Actors with his poignant turn in The International, a stylish and adrenaline-pumping spy thriller reminiscent of the equally excellent The Bourne Identity, only a lot more mobile where the globe-trotting element is concerned.

The exotic locales are showcased perfectly by the breath-taking cinematography, whether it's a modern architectural wonder in Germany, or the rooftops of Istanbul.

Kudos to director Tom Tykwer, whose only other film I've seen is Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, which was insanely unnerving. Am now very tempted to get my hands on Paris, je t'aime.

Tykwer also helped compose the score for The International. If you're as obsessed with movie soundtracks as I am, you'll love the moody melodies. I sat through the entire closing credits sequence with the volume set to blasting mode. Think John Powell ( Bourne series composer ), only better.

Owen is, as always, dependably suave and tortured in his role as a determined Interpol agent tracking down terrorists who murdered his partner.

Pay attention to a nail-biting and destructive shooutout in what's supposed to be Manhattan's Guggenheim Museum ( not the real thing, of course ), which lasts what feels like an eternity and is full of creative twists. Pure genius!

This next film may cater to more specific personal tastes, but for me at least, it sits right up there in my Top 5 Favourite Movies list, together with Dead Poets Society, Swimming With Sharks,The English Patient and Into The Wild.

The Painted Veil is based on a Somerset Maugham novel ( an author whose works I've never sampled ), so while I can't be sure if the book is anywhere as good as the big-screen adaptation, I can tell you that Edward Norton is sensational in it.

Tragically overlooked in all the major international award categories, I consider this a masterpiece rivalling Anthony Minghella's thought-provoking and immensely romantic The English Patient.

Norton and fragile beauty Naomi Watts sizzle as an English couple who marry for the wrong reasons and find their marriage torn apart by adultery and mutual hatred. Chained together by an ultimatum which cannot be fulfilled, they travel to a remote village in China that is ravaged by a cholera epidemic, where their relationship is eventually repaired through extraordinary circumstances.

Watts, who last stole my heart with her beautiful performance in Peter Jackson's King Kong, is flawless in her role as the unfaithful and rebellious wife. It is worthy of a Best Actress Oscar, but alas, she wasn't even nominated.

Liev Schreiber, who most recently appeared as Wolverine's "brother" in X-Men Origins, has little screen time but makes the most of it as the third party. Watts and Schreiber met on the set and subsequently became a couple. They now have a son and another baby on the way. Awww. :)

Norton, however, scales new heights with his portrayal of Walter Fane, a doctor who initially comes across as bland and lovelorn, but later reveals a complex combination of cruelty and generosity as the story progresses. A tense scene where he first confronts his wife about her affair has him staring her down with so much contempt that Watts' reaction may very well have been real.

Norton fans will no doubt remember his star-making performance in Primal Fear, in which he also displayed dual personalities. This man can chill you to the bone.

As for the romantic bit, there's a scene where the couple finally reconcile. Nothing racy at all, but it's to the actors' and director's credit that I found the sequence so affecting. I actually shed a few tears. :)

Sountrack-wise, the piano score, played exquisitely by Lang Lang, fits the film wonderfully. The cinematogaphy is also quite beyond description. I have never seen rural China shot so prettily before.

And by the way, I just read on that Norton's on Twitter, yow!

Can't write much today 'cos I'm recovering from a hellish 4-day stretch of resus room shifts. Honestly, if the ER continues to be flooded like this every single day, I am going to die young - but hopefully after my parents have passed, then it won't really matter.

Dear HOD - or better still, dear hospital CEO - please look into better welfare for your overworked ER physicians.

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