Sunday, May 11, 2014

THE TEN GREATEST MOVIES OF 2005! Halfway through this the trip through the Naughts and the Oscars, got it right?!

2005 is one of the more curious years in recent cinema. It was a great year, filled with lots of great movies. Lots, I'm going through my list now, and there were about forty or even fifty or so I can legitimately see on a Top Ten List of that year. In fact, I'm continually re-ranking them as I speak, not necessarily at the very top right now. That might surprise some of you who might've noticed than when I posted recently my much-requested Top 100 Films list recently, that while this century did have a decent amount of representation, 2005 was one of the year that curiously didn't have a film on the list. Maybe it would if I did the list today, but no matter how I analyze and/or list films it's gonna be absurd so.... Maybe the most strange thing about '05 was that, the Oscars were unusually accurate this year. I'll spoil this now and tell you all that all five of the years Best Picture nominees, made this list, and I don't think there was another years before or since, going back to when I started keeping track that that's occurred, even five today in wider field, is extremely rare. Coincidentally,  I remember that year also, because this was the first year where I really went out of my way to pay attention to film as much as possible. I was proud of the fact that I had seen all five Best Picture nominees before the awards, a feat I've yet to be able to duplicate (And with the more nominations now, it's almost impossible, especially when you're relatively broke.) I was in college for a couple years, and was exploring a possible major, but, at this point, I had finally started narrowing my major down to film. I had settled on it, after taking an online film course at CCSN, which is now called CSN, an a final paper of mine, a 22pg. Complete Film Analysis on"Adaptation." which was written using a voiceover narration that commenting on the paper as I was writing it, and then I kept yelling back at the voiceover periodically, would inspire the teacher to begin teaching that paper, did I realize film would be my inevitable career choice, 'cause any industry that not only let's me get away with that, but honors and praises it, I figured that I better be apart of that industry. And now, I'm an un-accomplished playwright/screenwriter and earning zero dollars for an entertainment blog I run and operate. (Hey wait a minute...-)

For those who haven't kept up until now, I decided a while back to begin going through each year of the naughts, and reveal the Ten Greatest Movies of each year of the decade, right now, we're at the halfway mark 2005, but before we get to that, let's take a look at the previous years, along with links to the original blogs, where I explain each choice:

2004
1. Sideways
2. The Incredibles
3. Before Sunset
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. The Aviator
6. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
7. The Five Obstructions
8. A Home at the End of the World
9. Million Dollar Baby
10. Hotel Rwanda
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-ten-greatest-movies-of-2004-man.html

2003
1. Lost in Translation
2. City of God
3. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
4. Love, Actually
5. Monster
6. The Fog of War
7. Dirty Pretty Things
8. The Twilight Samurai
9. The Barbarian Invasions
10. The Shape of Things
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-ten-greatest-movies-of-2003-year.html

2002  
1. Adaptation.
2. Minority Report
3. 25th Hour
4. Spirited Away
5. Y Tu Mama Tambien
6. Bowling for Columbine
7. Frida
8. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
9. Lovely & Amazing
10. Far From Heaven
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-ten-greatest-movies-of-year-2002.html

2001
1. Mulholland Dr.
2. Dinner Rush
3. Waking Life
4. The Royal Tenenbaums
5. Gosford Park
6. Monsters, Inc.
7. Amelie
8. Audition
9. Ghost World
10. Memento
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-ten-greatest-movies-of-year-2001.html

2000
1. Almost Famous
2. Amores Perros
3. Traffic
4. Requiem for a Dream
5. Chocolat
6. Best in Show
7. Wonder Boys
8. High Fidelity
9. 6ixtynin9
10. Cast Away
http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-5-obstructions-blogathon-objective.html

Alright, 5 down, 5 to go, let's take a look at the Ten Greatest Films of 2005!

TEN GREATEST FILMS OF 2005

10. CAPOTE



This was probably the toughest call I've made on any of these lists so far, the tenth slot for this list. I was mixing and rearranging this list, and I tried, maybe ten or twenty films in the tenth slot at one point, sometimes dropping or adding films, all over the Top Ten, but eventually, I found myself adding "Capote" to the list, , and it felt the most right. It was Director Bennett Miller's first theatrical feature (He had made a documentary years earlier), and ironically it happened to be one of two different movies, about Truman Capote's struggles to write the first non-fiction novel, "In Cold Blood", that happened to be getting made at the same time. "Capote" was released first, and Douglas McGrath's film, which would be titled "Infamous", came out the next year, "Capote" is the better of the two, and it earned Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar for his performance as one of the 20th Century's most iconic people. Hoffman's performance is key, but the directing is unusually top-notch. It's a calm, confident effort from a first-time filmmaker, willing to let a film, that could've been more energetic, and filled with more laughter to break up the tension, just exist within the limbo and fears of Capote. The film does chronicle six years, he spent in Kansas. During the time of the study, his lifelong friend Harper Lee (Oscar-nominee Catherine Keener) who was basically a note-checker for him on the trips, had her own novel "To Kill a Mockingbird", published and the movie adaptation produced, becoming a literary icon in her own right, while Capote destroys, and then tries to repair the line between journalist and story and author and characters, as he starts falling in love with one of the two killers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.), and begins funding their appeals. He's terrified that Perry's gonna die, but if he doesn't, not only would he have interfered with his story, but he wouldn't be able to finish his already long-delayed novel. "In Cold Blood" would become an American masterpiece, and the last book Capote wrote, taking everything out of him. I think the reason I now rank "Capote" on this list, is that while the sense of dread is forever present, the film itself is really multi-layered. There's the inner conflict of Capote, struggling with both, his life at home in New York, with his novel, as well as with his own emotions. It's a conflict between artist and work, the heart and the mind, the past and the present, and good and evil, and the struggles to depict all of these sides in the characters, and then coming to grips with how they're all inside of himself. An amazing debut feature.

9. SARABAND



Originally a miniseries in Sweden, what would become Ingmar Bergman's final film is actually a sequel to his great "Scenes from a Marriage", which starred Liv Ullman and Erland Josephsen as a couple who goes through twenty years of love, children, marriage, divorce, distraughtness, rebirths, remarriage, and inevitably affairs. That was a film that could've been conscribed as a film that was a pinnacle of Bergman's transcendent views on life, and he was a wise old man contemplating the end of his career and life back then, but thirty years later, him and both his stars were still alive, and had continued to learn so much more that he felt one more overview was possible. In "Saraband", Marianne's house is now empty after her new husband's passing and the kids have moved out, so she decides to go and reconnect with Johan for the first time in thirty years, surprising him, and his family of kids, and now grandkids, going through their own struggles with life and relationships, and now, are dealing with this long-mysterious and barely-known part of their father's old life. His son Henrik (Borje Ahlstead) stays on the same island as Johan, along with his daughter Karin (Julia Dufvenius) is a cellist who's frustrated at being caught in the middle of the father/son frustrations that they continue to put themselves through, and insist she remain there, instead of moving on with her own life. Marianne, bears witness to all, she looked back fondly at the old photos of her and Johan, and arrives back at them at the end, looking back on those nights where, she may have left that cabin in the middle of nowhere, Johan seems to have secluded himself within it. "Saraband" didn't immediately impress me originally, but it continues to grow on me as I think back on it. I hadn't seen "Scenes..." when I originally saw "Saraband", but looking at it years later, it seems to continue to grow on me. Bergman was 85 when he shot this film, long after his supposed "retirement" from directing films after "Fanny and Alexander", in '82 and while he still directed many TV and theater projects, (His technical final directing film credit was a TV production of an August Strindberg play he directed) and wrote scripts like "Faithless" which he let Ullman direct instead, and still directed other features, a film like "Saraband" really seemed unusual for him. Why exactly he decided to rediscover his old characters and give a new imagining of them we'll probably never know, but this final testament of Bergman is really almost an extra gift from him to us, and that makes it particularly special.


8. CRASH



I'm betting now that this will be the most controversial pick on any of my lists, but frankly, I don't understand most of the contempt that the film has gotten over the years. The supposed "message" of the film, the liberal-guilt-based that was more palatable for the Academy than a love story about homosexuals and the film representing the worst aspects of Hollywood liberalism? Really? I've heard those complaints, but did they actually watch the movie? 'Cause that was never what I got out of it. In the year that Robert Altman finally got a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, "Crash" was the first film with a hyperlink Altmanesque narrative to win the Best Picture Oscar, and the movie's lone objective is, not to teach or preach, but instead, reveal the ways in which race, and all it's presumptions, assumptions, stigmas, stereotypes,... seep into our world and everyday life. An exaggerated aberration, granted, but it's strangely a realistic look at all levels of people's reactions about and towards racism. Look at Matt Dillon's character, which earned him an Oscar nomination as a racist cop who's capable of moments of pure cruelty and abuse of his position, all born out of racism after affirmative action indirectly bankrupted his father's business. Yet, when he makes a second confrontation with an African-American woman, Christine (Thandie Newton) who's is serious trouble, he's both heroic and tender. Does this mean he's now cured? I never thought so, it's just that people can be complicated. Some can change, like Sandra Bullock's character of a racist wife of a local politician who's both mugged by two young African-Americans who are a lot more distinctive than the normal movie thugs, yet is just as angry at the Mexican who he hired to apply new locks to the doors. This hatred makes her tired, and filled with anger, but she begins to let go. Some are filled with racism, some turn to it in moments of frustration, sometimes it's built into a system that can't always be overcome, and other times, it's buried so deep inside some, that even they don't realize it until it's too late, or think it's not there. Apparently according to some, the only racism nowadays the only racism is reverse racism and that blatant ignorance gets highlighted in "Crash", as it shows, now that racism is good or bad, but just shows how it's still apart of the our world and how it's effected in modern time. The film is a collection of flawed people struggling with there flaws. No message, no intent, just a look at the fragility of modern society. The film was Paul Haggis' directorial debut, and the second consecutive script of his to win the Best Picture Oscar after Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby", and it's not perfect by any means, (We never do figure out, who continually raids the Persian family's business, but maybe a loose end here or two is needed in a film like this, one about how humanity is still strugging to evolve from it's past, a goal we may never complete ourselves.


7. THE NEW WORLD



After it's original release, Terrence Malick's "The New World", got twenty minutes cut from a national theatrical release famously, and that's the only version I've seen so far, but even this version is one of the best films, maybe ever about the earliest days of America, "The New World" retells the story of Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher, although she's never referredto  by that name) is a way that, more than any other piece of art has really told. It begins with the settlers in the 1600s, and the struggles of building a community in a vast forest that we now know as Virginia. We don't get introduced to exactly what story this is until we see young Pocahontas save John Smith (Colin Farrell) from his father, and we see, a more intriguingly tentative relationship build as the settlers and Indians, despite the stories we hear most, struggle to coinside and live their own lives side-by-side. There's eventually a conflict that leads to deaths, one the Pocahontas, partially caused, and this is where the story really thrives, as the title is actually two-fold as we see the settlers in the New World, but we also see Pocahontas, first living in the encampment, changing her name to Rebecca, and then falling in love and marrying John Rolfe (Christian Bale) and then, and experience the Settlers' New World, and then traveling to England with Rolfe, where she's marveled by the beauty and civilization and culture of 17th Century England, and through her eyes now, she's seeing and embracing a New World to her. As with all Malick films "The New World" is beautiful, and it's look reveals it's real goal of showing us the curiosity and intrigued that probably was the main focus, originally for both the Europeans and the Native Americans, called Naturals here, that they had about each other, and how Pocahontas, was the one lucky young girl, who bridged the divide, and can look at both worlds with the freshness of a wide-eyed young child, and sadly, had she not died so young, (She was only 22 when she passed) and what could've happened. Many of Malick's films are through the eyes of a child, but rarely have they been so inspirational as they are in this film; his work is usually reflective or sometimes at an angle or unknowing, or are based on active experiences, this is his film that's about laying back and letting the surrounding world pass over us, and it's characters, the way, the best movies can wash over and engulf us. This is a grand film, about a time in history, that's rarely shown, and never shown this well, this realistic, and never with this kind of wonder.


6. THE UPSIDE OF ANGER



Writer/Director Mike Binder has made a few films, but he's probably most recognized as an character actor in numerous comedy movies and series, perhaps some remember his short-lived TV series, "The Mind of the Married Man," but you'd be hard-pressed to recall much of his work that's particularly memorable but even by that standard, his overlooked masterpiece, "The Upside of Anger", seems to have come out of nowhere from him. It doesn't really fit into his typical milieu of comedic observations, especially from a male point-of-view, falling somewhere between Paul Reiser and the old HBO show "Dream On",  and instead, he creates a character piece about a middle-class family of women, after the husband left the family suddenly, that's one of the best family dramas in recent years, and that's saying something for a comedy. The Wolfmeyer family is led by Terry (Joan Allen, in one of the most overlooked great performances of the decade) who's angry at her husband, for suddenly leaving the family without a trace, and it consumes her. She drinks constantly, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little less, and she has a hard time raising her four daughters, all of whom pull several different directions. The oldest Hadley (Alicia Witt) is off to college, and is beginning to start her own family, while Andy (Erika Christensen) insists on work straight out of high school, and she soon gets a job at a radio station where their neighbor, a former baseball-turned-talk radio host Denny (Kevin Costner, partially playing off his image) works, and begins a secret affair with his producer Shef (Binder) a louse who rarely dates anyone older 20. Denny and Terry don't get along swimmingly but soon spend the day as drinking buddies, mostly sitting around Terry's couch watching TV, or some other innocuous activities while her daughters' lives go on, with or without her. (Usually without) Emily's (Keri Russell) the most emotional daughter, wanting to go to dance school instead, annoying her mother even more. The youngest, Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood) practically falls under the radar, and observes most of all. (And experiences as much). The key to the film, is the incredible acting. The characters themselves are rich on the page, and the directing is amazingly skilled but without good performances, this film could've come off as cliched, like any other romantic-comedy, the understated performances by Allen and Costner are trickier than most realize, and few actors could've pulled off these parts. The film was notable for splitting critics because of it's ending, which I'm not gonna reveal here, but some claimed it was a cheat, but if go back and watch it again, with that information, (And realize that, the ending could've easily and has happened to people occasionally) it actually adds more to the film, and reveals even more depths to the family, and all the other characters as well, it puts some of their behavior in another light, and more insight into their minds, and the family before the father left, so I think it adds to the film and is consistent with what happened before so I disagree with the cheat, and it's a shame that this film in particular was so overlooked at the time, very overlooked film.


5. SIN CITY 




Sharing directorial credit with the creator of the comic book, Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City", is pure sensational pulp exuberance. Slick and chic, licking the scenery with style over substance- actually there was no scenery to lick really. "Sin City" is essentially a place invented in CGI, and the film's creative look is also apart of it's shooting style, as Rodriguez, and for one scene, his friend Quentin Tarantino shot the entire movie on a green screen, using only necessary props, and the actors, and then the entire world was animated using CGI to look specifically like Frank Miller's comic book, which uses an ultra slick black and white, but then pairs it with occasional and specific flashes of color. A red dress of a murder victim, the golden hair of a hooker with a heart of gold, the blue eyes of a lying prostitute, and of course, most famously, the yellow bastard! The film is episodic, with three stories told, not told chronologically, and only indirectly related to each other through occasional common characters, each, like the other famous city of film noir, have their own story to tell, and each of them stylized, each of them traditional tales of film noir and pulp, bumped up with each characters attributes pumped up and exemplified with steroid hearts on everyone's sleeves. It's no surprise that nine years later, a long-awaited sequel; many times the combination of the episodic structure, partially invented by Tarantino, but using the stylized vision of Rodriguez has been attempted but never duplicated, few are even close. To put it simply, "Sin City" is everything we love about film noir and pulp and especially those that we've seen in the movies, but looking cooler and better than ever. Starring some of best actors, often having fun with their images and roles, "Sin City" is just purely enjoyable, and also Robert Rodriguez's best film, and it also introduced comic book creator Frank Miller into the cinema world, as other works of his like "300", and his solo directorial debut the absurdly camp "The Spirit", also used this innovative green screen technique that mixed live action and great CGI to replicate the look and film of the graphic novels, and whatever it is about the technique, it creates this amazing look that is both, naturally cinematic, and is yet, so artificial that it can't be replicated on screen. Few films from the decade have so many unmistakable and unique images as "Sin City".


4. MYSTERIOUS SKIN



2005 was a landmark year for gay cinema, including two of the five Best Picture nominees being centered around the emotional relationships involving homosexual characters, but one of the very best LBGT films in recent years was almost completely overlooked then, mostly because it's a small indy film that got only a limited theatrical release and it's the most disturbing of the three films to watch, and it's not about a romance, real or pseudo. It's called "Mysterious Skin", and if you've seen it, you remember it. The film is based around two characters, who as young boys were sexually abused by their Little League Baseball coach (Bill Sage); they were both on the same team. It's about a decade or so later, and both are in their late teens or early twenties. Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and if you're wondering how/why the little kid from "3rd Rock from the Sun" and "Angels in the Outfield" has become this big a megastar, his performance in this film is a good place to start understanding why) is a male prostitute who's gay, and has been hiding the secret from his caring but inept single mother (Elisabeth Shue) who went through numerous boyfriends throughout Neil's childhood. Only his longtime friend Wendy (Michelle Trachtenberg) knows all of his secrets. It's made clear that Neil wasn't made gay because of the abuse, in fact, he went along with it, and played hard for the team, because he was attracted to the coach, which he tells us in flashback. The other kid, Brian (Brady Corbet) doesn't remember the abuse, literally, there was a five hour block in his life that he doesn't remember, and because he once saw a UFO, he believes that he must've been abducted by aliens and probed during that time. (A probing through the nose, would explain the nosebleed) He's become obsessed with UFOs and although he's shy, he could be attractive but the traumas so ingrained in his mind that sex is practically an impossibility. When a fellow abduction victim he's befriended, Avalyn (Mary Lynn Rajskub) tries to make a move, he's unable to deal with it. While Neil, eventually moves to New York City to try to thrive in the gay scene, and has a couple uncomfortable sexual experiences, including a very graphic rape scene, Brian dives into his UFO obsession through artistic drawings of his dreams, but he can't explain why he occasionally draws the aliens, wearing tennis shoes. The film was based on a Scott Heim novel and few films dive into the aftereffects of child molestation, and even fewer do it as interestingly as they do here. The film's director was Gregg Araki, a notorious indy filmmaker known for his films to be confrontational and over-the-top about sexuality of all kinds, especially some of his earliest ones, but he can be very erratic as a filmmaker. His "The Doom Generation" was one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and thank God Rose McGowan was naked through most of it, or it'd be unwatchable. In recent years, he's also dived into stoner comedies like the Anna Faris vehicle "Smiley Face". (His last film "Kaboom" seemed to be a sci-fi stoner comedy homosexual drama thriller, mystery,- it seemed to combine every genre he's known for, or at least tried to.) "Mysterious Skin" is actually his most commercial work to date, and shows that he doesn't have to be making a point all the time, occasionally he can simply tell a really good story. The way the camera moves in the movie's final scenes where both Neil and Brian finally meet and share a moment in the house they were both abused at, is technically stunning but also stirring and emotionally poetic from a filmmaker who's normally anything but emotionally poetic. It's the first grown up film from a radically non-grownup director, and beyond that, it's just a great film in general, making a movie about a difficult subject, told in a way that's palatable to most everyone, and yet, doesn't shy away from the true dark side of the experiences.



3. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN



Something that doesn't really get noticed in Ang Lee's work, is how often his stories involve people in difficult situations, hiding their true feelings because they're in an emotional situation they can't reveal to others, or in some cases themselves. Whether it's simply hiding the fact that you're gay like in his earliest feature ""The Wedding Banquet", or of course, in this film, or hiding from the realities of your own horrific grief-filled experiences from yourself like in "Life of Pi", or forbidden love in like "Lust, Caution" or the numerous, numerous secrets that get revealed one-by-one at the dinner table in "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman," one more shocking than the next. The key to his best films, no matter the when or where they take place is their simplicity, and how he gets us to empathize with his characters, and never is that more clear than in "Brokeback Mountain". He won his 1st Directing Oscar for the film which is famously and simply about two cowboys, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, both Oscar nominees, Ledger for Lead, Gyllenhaal for Supporting) who, as Roger Ebert said it best, "who fall in love, and have no idea how to handle that fact." They work one year guarding and grazing sheep on a mountain, and they have start having a fling. Neither of them wants or thinks they're gay, and after the summer job, they go on different lives, even get married and have kids. Then, they meet up again years later, and their sparks fly again. It's hard to go over the details from their because they seem almost banal and uninteresting, but emotionally, the love, devotion, anger and resentment of Ennis and Jack as those fishing trips become more often, then less often, and there secret life becomes much harder to hide and much less satisfactory over the years, as some relationships can. And that's the point of the film. Arguably the most beautiful and tragic love story of the decade, "Brokeback Mountain", transcends it's genre and cliches and stereotypes and gives us two characters that we simply care about. Based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx the Oscar-winning script was written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, McMurtry's win in particular is interesting since he's a legendary western writer who's work includes original material that inspired "Lonesome Dove" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" among others, also works that are slice-of-life inspired, and find poetry in the simple lives of it's characters and where often secrets are kept. "Brokeback Mountain", in many ways relates to an older style of filmmaking, beautiful cinematography, classic epic romances, almost Shakespearean, and the story takes it's time, to let us dwell sometimes, like the ways Ennis's wife Alma (Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams) does on Jack and Ennis, and takes a very long time, to reveal her true thoughts. A gorgeous and beautiful love story, that succeeds at being that in the best possible sense of the phrase.


2. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. 


Intense and claustrophobic, and as bare as possible, George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck." is not only one of the great films about the best aspects of investigative journalism, it's also a combative film about the power of the press, and the advantages of this new media known as television. I already wrote on "Good Night...." as part of my Canon of Film Series, and that post is at the link below.

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2013/09/canon-of-film-good-night-and-good-luck.html

While the historical aspects of the movie, including the use of actual McCarthy footage and the wonderful set design that recreated the halls of CBS Studios circa the 1950s, but the real key to the film is in it's ability to continually manages to keep the movie intensity up throughout, even though, the big dramatic moments and conflict are essentially, one man talking to a camera. Clooney's directing is particularly impressive in "Good night....", as he manages to get the most drama as things as simple as the tapping of a pen on a pantleg, and use everything from a simple commercial and a trip to a bar to break a tension just long enough for us to pound into a final blow. The story of Edward R. Murrow (Oscar-nominee David Straitharn) going after and taking down McCarthy almost seems like a fantasy in the modern day of infortainment news and that was Clooney's point. He bookends the film with a critical speech about the power of television from Murrow, and the film becomes allegorical and fable-like as it ponders both the questions that would challenge both the issues involved in McCarthy, the freedom of privacy and the issues of persecution of people simply because of beliefs but also the wills and drawbacks and personal struggles involved in challenging such a powerful force, and when it's on, you get sucked into the world it was in the '50s, and the struggles to defy it, fought for the first time, in the households of America.


1. MUNICH




In the one year where there was probably more correlation between the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars than any other it seemed, it's both ironic and peculiar and against the grain that the best film of the year would come from the biggest name in Hollywood, but it did, and in some ways Steven Spielberg's "Munich" remains one of his best, and simultaneously, one of his most overlooked films, despite the controversy, and considering that this was Spielberg, this really was a controversial film and perhaps maybe his most personal to date. The movie begins with the infamous Black September kidnapping and murdering of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. Golda Meir (Lynn Cohen) secretly organizes an Israeli counter-terrorist team, to take out the members of Black September who planned the murder of the 11 men who organized the attack. Based on a real group, Spielberg's critical look at Israeli measures against Palestinian Nationalists is daunting. It's also an expertly made thriller that's filled with the combination of Spielberg's classic filmmaking techniques, mixed with the skills of the modern action technology. Bombs must blow up, but they also must blow up before they need to, and be only, so large, and it soon becomes apparent just how hastily the team was put together and how their mission is so fragile and how unprepared they really are at times for this goal of murder for vengeance and for peace, especially when it goes wrong. The main character, Avner played by Eric Bana in one of his first major Hollywood roles after his great world-recognized acting work in his native Australia in the Andrew Dominik film "Chopper", is a husband and new father who travels the world and is the man with the connection to Louis (Mathieu Almaric) who sells the team the connections and locations of it's members as Avner in particular, continues the missions steadfast as he remains haunted by the images of the attack and the deaths of the athletes, which were indeed at the time, shown on television, (In fact part of the problem with getting them in time was that the attackers saw how the Police we're coming in and approaching their hotel room on the news) but the images he sees aren't the ones on television, they're visceral ones, as though he was actually there even though he wasn't he's so effected, but as time progress and the body counts rise and become harder and harder to rise higher, he becomes more and more disenchanted as those images become less and less haunting and prevalent. The final shot of the movie, is a masterstroke, as Avner walks along away and the camera follows him panning the New York City, and this hidden and forgotten chapter of the Israel-Palestine conflict, becomes a parable for the state of America in modern time, and a true expression of art meeting activism in a way that only the highest and most talented of artists can pull off. A masterful film from the master, Steven Spielberg, but also one that only he, could've pulled off, technically and personally.

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