2005 Project Batch 2: Munich, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and Grizzly Man

munichbig

Like I said in the previous post, I’ve been watching movies from 2005 and writing about some of them on my Letterboxd page. I’ve also been copying those thoughts and posting them in the blog. Just to clarify, these are not full-fledged reviews, but rather some quick thoughts (I’ll be watching so many movies that I couldn’t possibly write full-length reviews for all them).

Here’s the second batch.

munich posterMunich (Directed by Steven Spielberg)

“There is no peace at the end of this”

Easily Spielberg’s best since ‘Schindler’s List’, and comfortably among his best period. I’m not a huge fan of the famous sex scene towards the end, but otherwise a sober and rather daring take on an incredibly delicate topic. You wouldn’t expect Spielberg to be as neutral as he is here, but he proves to be a deeply humanist filmmaker.

He is also a master of his craft, and it shows in the way he constructs the tensest scenes. I know comparing movies is not always the best policy, but this is the kind of nuanced perspective that I would’ve loved to see from something like ‘American Sniper’. Tortured heroes are tortured for a reason, and compromising means you have to lose something in the process. And not just anything, but something that really hurts.

I don’t like to get too political, but I’m firmly against the idea of “nations”. This feels like a movie for me.

40yearoldvirgin posterThe 40 Year-Old Virgin (Directed by Judd Apatow)

The least indulgent, and thus best, of Apatow’s filmography. Probably the most immediately influential comedy of the new millennium. It started the trend of overrelying on improv that not even Apatow seems to be able to control anymore, but works rather wonderfully here. When Jane Lynch tells Steve Carell about the Guatemalan man who took her virginity and proceeds to sing in Spanish, that’s the kind of improv that I welcome in my movies.

Ten years after the fact, there is a lot of bro-ish and LGBT-phobic humor that hasn’t aged well. The laughs of the first half of the movie seem particularly lazy, but once the Catherine Keener enters the picture and the movie becomes more of a romantic comedy, we get moments of true emotion that elevate the film.

The most valuable player of this movie is its star. Almost everything Carell does here is fantastic. It’s one of the funniest, and also the most touching performances of his career. Proof os this is the closing dance sequence, where Carell commits to letting the ridiculous nature of the moment and not his actions drive the comedy, while Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd fail to produce any laughs with their mugging.

grizzlymanGrizzly Man (Directed by Wener Herzog)

This is it. This is where our current notion of who is (and how we parody) Werner Herzog comes from.

First of all, Herzog is a masterful documentarian. Outright embracing the notion that no film can ever be objective, he comes out with a very strong point of view, but doesn’t let his thinking overwhelm the film.

It’s because this movie is a dialogue between Treadwell’s footage (acquired over many summers living with the bears), and Herzog’s manipulation of the recordings. And so, we have a fascinating story about a fascinatingly disturbed character, who ends up being the perfect protagonist for a Herzog movie.

Fitzcarraldo defied nature by pulling a ship up a mountain, and Treadwell does the same, by daring to live among the bears. But Treadwell’s obsession is driven by a certain kind of madness, and the sense of being an outcast in what he perceives as the “human world”. At the end, Treadwell can’t fight nature. In real life, no one can.

There really isn’t that much for me to say. It’s all there in the film. I can just point out the genius of putting together such different minds to tell this story about the ultimate dramatic irony.

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