Sunday, 22 November 2015

Mockingjay and Macbeth review

Watched two heavy movies in a row, both with My Maja and Macbeth with Drej also. Though both were  flawed, I have to say I really loved them equally. They were monumental in the unusualness of their approach.
First Mockingjay, the last part of a trilogy or whatever that’s called when really you have four movies for some reason. That one surprised me. Perhaps because my expectations were really low; or perhaps because a lot of people whose opinion is always wrong said it was bad. Slow, long, no action, weird… Yes, please, give me slow, long, no action weird YoungAdults novel featuring a hot girl in a Dystopian future, where bow and arrow and a good propaganda team are a way to go and it makes you want to kill yourself.
Thing is, the emotional parts were really emotional. The scary parts were really scary. The tragic/angry parts were really tragic. I even like some of the adjustments they made from book to movie that are better in the movie. I imagine there would have been a lot more of Philip Seymour Hoffman if he hadn’t died, but I’ve been dreaming about him a lot, so that’s okay. I’ll say I prefer the movie to the book. Odd, I know. But I never really liked the books. They were written for a young audience, describing truly awful, horrible things. The very last line in the books is a horrible reference. How does anyone really recover from such an ordeal (except they do not), forced to survive? We are such strange species. Plutarch says it very well.
The movie, as it has been said, celebrates using your own mind to make decisions. Even though most of the time Katniss does things out of despair and like a true defeatist, everyone around her does not. Everyone else is really passionate (except perhaps for Haymitch, the surrogate father figure, who just sort of hovers nearby.) Jena Malone is awesome as the crazed, vindictive banshee, Julianne Moore as the Evil Queen, Peeta, clawing his way through his insanity; poor Gale and his manly idiocy.. J-Law is flawlessly beautiful thorough the entirety of her journey, her hair always perfectly washed and not a scar on her face – in the book she’s almost completely deformed by now – the only emotional conveyance done by her chin. She’s like a spectral zombie, going mindlessly from one scene to the next, long reduced to a symbol, no blood left, no will to live tomorrow. Even the world around her has turned to shades of metallic. I thought that was really well done.
I also loved seeing the Tokyo anti-flood drainage cavern. That shit’s amazing!
And the most terrible thing of it all – one that will haunt me for a very long time and am glad I’ve never thought of that on my own – that tar thing, those victims in the net or plastered to the yard …  That was genuinely beyond awful. I could never imagine anyone I cared about dying such a death, though luckily those were just extras and the heroes moved quickly on.

There was a line in a book that wasn’t in the movie that I appreciated: during the round table in the end, where Coin proposes the last Hunger Games, Katniss wonders if this was exactly how it was like 76 years ago – some tired, broken, angry people voting on a rotten way to make someone pay for rivalry.

Macbeth was almost identical in the way that it was done: the minimalistic framing in a barren wasteland, ghost sliding though a terrible story that couldn’t possibly end well for anybody, least of all the victors. Once the three of us, which I call the ‘hot strict teacher’, the ‘stillwater runs deep’ and ‘the village idiot’ and my cocoa sat down, I said: I hope there’s a happy ending! … and the two of them gave me the most startled of looks. :D Hihi.
I’ll have to brush on my Shakespeare and sieve through the source material, because my biggest boggle with this one was a missing midriff, a chapter missing between the good guy Macbeth and the loon. Also, I know that we should all be thoroughly familiar with everything the Bard man has ever written, but some of the character portrayal was done very poorly. The witches, for example. I always assumed there had to be three: the mother, the maiden and the Hag. In the end there were five already. Why? And what motivation did they have to stir shit up? All they did was mess with people, but their motivation is never explored. Was it for sport? Was it they hated doing it but had to? Was it a test and they hoped it would end differently? It’s never even touched upon and I have no idea. I always assumed that those stories were based on actual historic events, alas. It’s all great fiction. Or bad fiction with an excellent character study, if you are a really cynical student of humankind.
Macbeth is the role of a good soldier with ambition of greatness and a slight mental illness. He does good soldiering for a good king and is well rewarded and well respected. He is like all smart men, though: he cannot see a rest in this design: he cannot stop thinking he would either be a better king or he deserves it more for reasons he cannot think of just now, but surely some idea will present itself at some point. He has a fiery, ambitious wife, who also seems to really hate the fact they are majestic people, but stuck in a barren wasteland and surely there is more to life. After fucking in a makeshift local flavor church, they slaughter the guest king and nobody really questions anything much. As if nobody could put two and two together at a time. Or maybe it’s just illustrated, not so much narrated.
Then there’s a piece missing. Other than riding proudly to the castle and the coronation, there is nothing to show that being a king might be fun, although the sash IS pretty. (In fact all of the costumes in this movie are amazing. Except the high white collars of the noblewomen. I wasn’t sure about those.) Even the sound of the costumes is astonishing. The sound of the Queen’s jewelry in one scene was as elemental as the sparks in another scene - a long coastal shot in the dark of people standing very still – and you just know, from the very first spark you see and hope it was just a firefly, that the pyres have been lit. Though at least we’re spared the screams.
Right off the coronation, Macbeth is going nuts already, sitting on the floor, thinking how he’s actually done all he’s done for someone else’s kids. Kids or lack thereof is really strong here, but I don’t know why. Like someone thought it should be, but not why. He already makes enemies of his most loyal friends and has them reduced to ghosts. He’s already making most sense, conversationally and emotionally, when he’s communing with ghosts and apparitions. It’s mostly downhill from there – the wife dies for no apparent reason other than a broken heart and everyone else wants to see Macbeth killed, including himself. So Macduff comes and does that. I wonder if in the end they actually left his body to rot in the field. It’s what I would do.
There’s a line I missed and will look up, because it sounded really lovely – the first part of the prophecies about Birnam wood coming to the, whatitsname Hill. Which happens when Macduff burns it and soot flies.
All in all, even with all the carnage, it’s an incredibly well shot movie, every scene a wonder to behold. Especially the scenes which are so poorly lit that you can’t make but faintest shapes out of. I’ve mentioned some retarded critic stating that it was filmed so awfully low-budget that some scenes happen in a friggin’ tent and most other in a desert that is highlands. Clearly that critic’s never seen a movie before. Scottish weather itself played a role. I believe the best part of this film, other than the way they talked, was how like a dream, like a stage you watch from the very last row it was. Terrible characters doing terrible things and coming to terrible fates… You don’t get movies like that often enough. Or you do and they make a mess. Pompous minimalism is a very difficult thing to achieve tastefully.

Watching Marvel's Jessica Jones. Other than the fact she sleeps in perfect makeup and uses the wrong camera for night spying, I'm 20 minutes in, nothing's happened yet and it's awesome. Just the sort of noir I'm feeling lately. Kind of makes me miss New York, but you cunnat missa place you've nevah been.

P.S. Good poster design