2005 Project Batch 4: Good Night and Good Luck, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Caché

cachebannerThe 2005 Project continues…

goodnightandgoodluckposterGood Night and Good Luck (Directed by George Clooney)

Consider the fact that this was made right in the middle of the Bush presidency, and that, at its core, it was clearly intended to be a straight-on critique of the President’s policies, his decisions regarding the war in Iraq, and especially the disappointing coverage of the news on the part of the American press by looking at the great journalists of the past.

Also consider the fact that, years later, when Aaron Sorkin tried to do essentially the same thing in “The Newsroom”, he came up with one of the most tone-deaf and out-of-touch television series of the past decade.

With those things in mind, I can’t help but be incredibly impressed by how elegant a movie ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ is. The secret of its success: referring to the original material, by showing actual footage of Senator McCarthy, and turning the movie into something as close to a documentary as possible. The fact that the black-and-white photography, the production design, and the costumes all so perfectly evoke the time certainly help. And I’m a sucker for depictions of interesting work environments, so I got a kick out of watching these people be great at what they do.

This elegance makes this clearly Clooney’s best movie (that I’ve seen), and hinted at a bright career that has so far, sadly, not lived up to the expectations. Think of the puzzling messiness and lack of structure of ‘The Monuments Men’, or the immature and simplistic script of ‘The Ides of March’. I can hardly believe it’s the same man that was confident enough to rest a movie’s success on David Strathairn’s face.

wallaceandgromitposterWallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Directed by Nick Park, Steve Box)

On the one hand, it’s easy to see that Wallace and Gromit are better suited to a shorter format. On the other, this is a mighty fine movie.

Most raves of the movies at the time it came out pointed out how refreshing it was, amongst a sea of computer animated Shrek knock-off, to see proof of human involvement in the animation (a frequent example was how you can see traces of the animators’ fingertips in the clay figurines).

The sad part is that those feelings remain true to this day. We still have Laika, but with Ghibli calling it quits (at least for now) and Aardman seemingly inactive, I’m wondering if anything but CG will ever come back to the mainstream.

As for ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, it might overstay its welcome a little bit, but it still features the clever wit of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, and it gets points for Helena Bonham Carter’s wonderful Lady Tottington, and introducing us to Ralph Fiennes’ comedic talents.

As one of the most popular reviews on Letterboxd points out, it’s kind of amazing that Dreamworks gave Nick Park a bunch of money so he could make what is essentially a movie about “marrow-growing contests in Lancashire”. Nick Park is a cool dude. I wish he worked more often.

CacheposterCaché (Hidden) (Directed by Michael Haneke)

First things first. That ending. I know. It’s frustrating. I don’t know what it means. Is it perhaps the ultimate example of Haneke’s contempt for the audience? Probably. However, Haneke is also a very talented dude. Watching ‘Caché’ as a mystery might be a pointless exercise. Watching it as metaphor might not.

I’ve found that beyond his fetishism, Haneke is quite a master when it comes to symbolism. What does ‘Caché’ have to say about the War on Terror, which was at full swing back when it premiered at Cannes? And what does it have to say about France’s (and Europe’s) history with other nations, particularly Islamic ones? In other words, why is the cock decapitated?

Perhaps more interestingly, how does ‘Caché’ read after the tragic events of earlier this year and the whole ‘Je suis Charlie’ campaign? Who or what is hidden here? Is it the camera that shoots these people’s lives? Or is it our main character’s (and thus France’s) history? How do we assign blame? How do we sleep at night? And why does Haneke insist on making movies about cruel children?

What does it all mean? Haneke may or may not have the answers, but his movies sure as hell inspire good conversation.

4 Replies to “2005 Project Batch 4: Good Night and Good Luck, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Caché”

    1. I must admit I had to google Jeeves and Wooster to know who they are. Now that I know they’re Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, I will definitely check their stuff out!

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