Movie Reviews, Commentary & More

The Interpreter - Movie Analysis

There's a scene in the movie where Sean Penn reads a letter to Nicole Kidman which would inform her of her brother's death. The writer of the letter, who was a witness to the murder, would apologize for not telling about the murder on her face and would conclude the letter with an 'I am sorry'. Penn would finish reading it thus: "I am sorry. I am sorry" and would add that the second sorry was his. When he utters the second apology, there is a distinct energy in his words. They are in some sort of a park and Nicole Kidman controls her emotions very well though we can relate to her loss. Sean Penn has a lot of wrinkles on his face, and they all are suggestive of his maturity as an actor. It is these subtle voice modulations that separate good and better actors. Nicole Kidman has aged graciously. I've always been a fan of her beauty and talent and she does nothing in this movie to change the way I look at her. In a manner of talking, the director won the scene, but on second thought I think that both these actors stole the scene.

But the irony is, the actors only provide glimpses of their talent. It hasn't been a consistent performance for both of the seasoned performers. The same could be said about Sydney Pollack, the director (who also plays a cameo). There are a few places that seem out of sync with the pacing and tone of the movie and there are long stretches where Pollack is in absolute control. The first segment which takes place somewhere in Africa (we're told) is an example of execution. There is nothing great about those few minutes shot in Africa. But the beauty is, there is nothing wrong at all and that's why those few minutes set the tone for the rest of the movie. But there are instances where when romance is hinted between the leads, Pollacks goes off course.

If there is anyone consistently delivering, it is the editor, William Steinkamp. Parallel editing put to good use, he keeps the audience active throughout the second half. He is supported by Howard's music that alternates between tribal Africa and fast paced rhythm. Khondji's camera is simple, and as you know me, simple is superb for me. He doesn't care to do any 'wow' angles and that is really a great piece of work. I wonder he didn't even care to adjust the lighting arrangements for a few scenes shot inside the Kidman character's home. I've seen him before in 'Stealing Beauty' and he was glamorous in it, but that story demanded some glamour. These two, the editor and the music man have greatly aided the director.

This is the first movie to be shot inside the U.N headquarters in New York and it was shot on weekends in order to not disrupt regular office hours. The story deals with an U.N interpreter, Kidman, overhearing two representatives planning to kill an African leader. She reports it to the secret service and Penn is the agent responsible for the safe return of that leader who is about to make a speech at the U.N gathering. I will not say anymore, other than that the last fifteen minutes were intelligently handled (again, no flaws) and makes for a very satisfactory closure. This is the kind of movie, I think, that will do commercially well because of word-of-mouth. There I said it!!

The Island - Movie Comments

Michael Bay is the 'shoot-em-all, bang-em-up' guy in Hollywood. He rarely makes you think about the story. In fact, he left me wondering if he thought about the story before he directed 'The Island'. With human cloning and organ donation, there's a lot of scope for character development and touching moments. Bay escapes from all the myriad possibilities and finds ways to crash cars and collapse buildings (I thought a couple of non-accident special effects were brilliantly inventive). The movie has entertainment value if you can subtract the banging noise that's persistent through out the second half, but nothing for the thinker.

The cast is an irony: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johanson, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi.. all are groomed by art directors. I wonder what they were doing in a Bay film. Irony 2: Ewan, probably the only A-list star who is sexually frank, active and comfortable is being asked "Are you a virgin?" by someone I won't reveal. That was funny. Irony 3: Acting is above average, especially for a Bay film. Irony 4: I didn't feel bad walking out of the thatre. In fact, I would recommend it for a weekend show with your teenage sibling.