A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)

Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge
Desmond Doss: Andrew Garfield
Sgt. Howell: Vince Vaughn
Capt. Jack Glover: Sam Worthington
Smitty Ryker: Luke Bracey
Tom Doss: Hugo Weaving
Dorothy Schutte: Teresa Palmer
Bertha Doss: Rachel Griffiths
Lt. Manville: Ryan Corr
Col. Stelzer: Richard Roxburgh
Milt "Hollywood" Zane: Luke Pegler

Director: Mel Gibson
Screenplay: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight
Cinematography: Simon Duggan
Production design: Barry Robison
Film editing: John Gilbert
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams

Hacksaw Ridge doesn't shy away from biopic or war-movie clichés, it embraces them: There's on the one hand the familiar bullying sergeant, and on the other the typical shy romance. But it succeeds in being a well-made action movie, after spending a little too much time on the shy romance and other bits of Appalachian backgrounding for the character of Desmond Doss, a real person who was both a conscientious objector and a Medal of Honor winner for his heroism as a medic during the Battle of Okinawa. To play Doss, the movie needed the equivalent of a young James Stewart or Gary Cooper, and found him in Garfield, who received a best actor Oscar nomination. The movie also provided a measure of redemption for its director, Mel Gibson, who had been persona non grata in Hollywood after a 2006 drunk-driving arrest in which he made antisemitic remarks to the arresting officer, a capper on a string of homophobic and extreme right-wing statements he had reportedly made over the years. He was nominated for best director for Hacksaw Ridge, and the film was also up for best picture and for film editing and two sound awards. It won for film editing and sound mixing. Gibson remains something of a problematic figure in the industry, and has yet to find a followup in his would-be comeback. Hacksaw Ridge demonstrates some of his known flaws, such as his violent delight in mayhem and bloodshed, and it's a bit heavy-handed in its endorsement of Doss's simple (not to say simple-minded) faith, but it provides some very old-fashioned movie gratifications.

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