Two movies, one good, one not so much.

Things rising to the top of my ever-expanding Netflix queue are not all “wonderful.” The purpose of those movies is mostly to provide a distraction from tedium during evening, bad weather, and cold weather basement indoor bike riding. Last week, I rode/watched the not-so-recent Zemeckis Grendel’s Mom, err, Beowulf. My eldest daughter, in watching various films of movies which are derived from books which she has read, is highly critical where movies, for good reasons or not, diverge from the original text. I am not always so critical, but in this case I find myself in agreement with that assessment. This movie might have been improved, I think, if had hewed more closely to the original tale. Cinema and prose read text are different media, and narrative elements which lend well to one media do not necessarily transport to another. However, there are other diversions from an original narrative which are not driven by the media, but that the auteur has decided that the emphasis of the original no longer “works.” Zemeckis decided that Beowulf is such a tale. In the original Beowulf the titular hero is not flawed in ways that so many modern heroes are. It is may very well be that the major themes of the original tale do not work so well for a modern audience. There is a modern conceit that heroes need to have (visible) feet of clay, to humanize them. However, I wonder if this is so. Would an unabashed unflawed hero fail in modern narrative? Our culture is divided in many ways, I wonder if yet another litmus test of that divide might necessity for their heroes to be flawed is only a particular requirement of one side. Compare for example, this flawed Beowulf, or any number of flawed heroes coming from Hollywood. 300 comes to mind as a recent film in which the hero was less flawed than the others. It was also one which, it seemed to me, appealed more to the right than the left. For myself, I found myself annoyed and not able to separate myself from the expected tale, that is this was too much like Beowulf the poem and too little like it at the same time for me to enjoy it.

The second film, I saw recently was seen at the nearby “arts” cinema. Tell No One is a French crime drama. It is a superlative tense mystery film. A film made with no CGI and little in the way even of any stuntwork, this is a cerebral thriller which doesn’t disappoint. Story wise, our hero, a pediatrician whose wife was killed in a mysterious encounter 8 years earlier, receives an email contact from hinting that perhaps his beloved wife (he still is grieving) did not die. The police also reopen the case because of a recent discovery of buried corpses near the site of the original attack. Murder, escape, blind alleys and confusion lead us through a taut maze to the final scenes. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It was excellent throughout.

Filed under: Mark O.Media

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