Saturday, September 09, 2006

Two recent releases

Banlieue 13 is a wonderful little action movie. The title apparently translates as something similar to "District 13". Unfortunately, the "B" becomes important to the story, so they changed it to "District B-13" for the US. Oddly, the subtitles translate the word as "barrio", which seems perfectly workable to me.

I'm curious to know if those were translations of the French language track or English captions for the dubbed version, however. I can't put my finger on why I thought they might be the latter, but I definitely felt that way a couple of times.

Technicalities of its title and the DVD aside, I enjoyed this movie a lot. I've been quite vocal about my distaste for action shot and edited in the style of The Matrix. I didn't even care for it in The Matrix and that's only increased with the load of imitators that have followed. I'm also generally sick of techno scores.

However, in this, I enjoyed both the way the action played out and the score for this. I couldn't for the life of me tell you why it stood out as an improvement.

I thought it was a lot of fun. The story is tight. The moral is kept in the background and dealt with overtly only a couple of times and then quite dramatically. David Belle, who plays Leïto, and is the actual story lead, despite credits to the contrary, is sex times 10. I say this as a straight male, but one who sometimes can't help but notice the reek of charisma the just wafts off some guys.

I don't want to suggest it's brilliant, but it's a fun and spirited little action flick.

Dead Man's Shoes is good. I haven't decided how good exactly. I don't have a good excuse for this. Partly, I suppose, it's the mumbly performances that aren't brought up high enough in the sound mix. I'm sure the accents play a part, too, but I had no problem picking up the dialogue whenever people actually spoke clearly.

Other than that, it's an interesting revenge movie that makes up for its lack of surprises with a number of good ideas, not all of which are as well developed as others. The directorial style, with plenty of grainy black & white and 8mm home movie flashbacks, is trite and even cloying, to say the least. The acting is hit-or-miss. Paddy Considine is quite compelling in the lead. Toby Kebbell is charming as his retarded younger brother. Stuart Wolfenden is interesting as kind of young tough. The rest are generally weak, especially Gary Stretch as Sonny, the head tough.

This doesn't sound like a recommendation, I suppose, and perhaps it's not exactly, but I was compelled and have spent time thinking about it after, so you may want to check it out some time, if you're in the slow, thoughtful revenge movie mood.

Or not.

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