Thursday, December 07, 2006


An Inconvenient Truth

As would probably be expected, there are shots of Al Gore's campaign for the presidency and loss to George Bush in the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth, but the approach does not across as being tasteless (except to die-hard Republicans, perhaps). Said scenes juxtapose well with the main theme of the film, which of course is global warming, and they make the viewer wonder how different the state of the environment would be had the U.S. elected the other candidate. Gore presents his case and call for change strongly, with data that would satisfy most in the scientific field and that many that are not would be able to understand. This is definitely the type of documentary that everyone, without exception, should see. Grade: A

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Before Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Chinese director Zhang Yimou turned in subdued and meek yet still spectacular dramas (usually with Gong Li), like Raise the Red Lantern. Qian li zou dan qi (Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles) is not really a return to form in that sense (it can definitely be argued that Zhang never left it anyway), but the film has the quiet, subtle touches of art-house favorites. It's not as heart-stirring or powerful as many of Zhang's other films, but it is probably there wherein the film's strength lies; it deftly handles the characters' drama without being overly dramatic. Grade: B+


Babel is often compared with last year's Oscar champ Crash, but they are ultimately two different beings. The latter is more cohesive, with a near-seamless and unforced connection between the lives of its characters (it helps that they're all in the U.S.). Those connections are much more artificial in Babel. There are also some characters and issues carelessly tossed aside throughout the length of the film. Still, like Crash, it is a strong ensemble with pitch-perfect performances from everyone, standouts being Brad Pitt and Rinko Kikuchi. The score and cinematography are similarly top-notch. Grade: B+

The Nativity Story

Early reviews of The Nativity Story as nothing more than a glorified High School nativity drama are justified. This vapid and flat film has the look and feel of a cheap nativity pageant, complete with white-robed angel and word-per-word copying of key Bible dialogue. Scenes that should have been powerful, such as the annunciation, are inconsequential, and additions (such as the river scene where pregnant Mary and Joseph almost drown) are forced and hold no significant meaning. Keisha Castle-Hughes is even more lifeless than the film itself, giving a performance unworthy of a former Oscar nominee and of the potential richness of the role as the mother of Christ. Some good things about the film: Oscar Isaac's and Ciaran Hinds's performances as Joseph and King Herod, respectively; and the dwelling on the issue of Mary's purity in the eyes of her village. Grade: C

Images from IMDb

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