Saturday, 26 February 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: The Good Tenenbaums...

The Good German:
If it wasn't for the post-war-cinema period aesthetic of Soderbergh's intriguing drama, it might not have been quite such an interesting film. That's not to say the plot was boring - far from it - post-war Berlin, divided into a series of zones, is a powerful thematic element, and one which was perfectly employed in the wonderful The Third Man. However, Soderbergh's flick can at times feel a bit like the style is taking over from the sometimes-tricky plot. Is it an exercise in cinematic style more than anything else?

However, when it comes to style - staying really quite true to the aesthetic of 1940s black and white post-war cinema - The Good German handles it deftly. Clearly taking major inspiration from the aforementioned The Third Man, it's a joy to see the original Academy Ratio (4:3), the limitations (a relative term, really) on sound recording, lighting, and camera moves, but all done in a way that shows the same creativity and arresting vision that the likes of The Third Man demonstrated. The one big difference however, is Soderbergh and Co. weren't working under the strictures of the Hays Code ... so the language is salty and the sex isn't metaphorical.

The Royal Tenenbaums:
It's an odd thing, I've gone so long without seeing any Wes Anderson movies, and then all of a sudden three come along in quick succession - Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore, and now The Royal Tennenbaums - in which an oddball, well-to-do family, replete with a host of early-blooming children, is broken up and brought back together by Gene Hackman's obtuse and selfish patriarch.

Like the other two, Anderson's approach to filmmaking is ever-present, as is his quirky humour and presentation. From the cinematography, to the choices in the editing room, it feels every bit a Wes Anderson-guided product. I don't particularly laugh out loud at the comedy present in these films, rather I sit pleasantly amused by proceedings and, come the end credits, I'm thoroughly glad I took the time to watch.

A decade ago I don't think I would have liked these flicks, but a decade is a long time, and that degree in film certainly expanded my cinematic horizons and appreciation to no end.

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