Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Fall (2006): Netflixin 2/18/09

  • Why I rented it: It just slowly marched to the top of my queue. Sometimes I forget why or when I added certain movies. I was probably on one of my fortnightly avant-garde kicks.

  • Verdict: 7.5/10. I enjoy visual flourishes in movies as much as anybody. They are, after all, a visual medium. But like everything else in life that produces money, there is a tendency by those in production roles to think that if a little bit is good, a lot is better. I think that too many movies in the past 10 years have relied too much on too many cartoonish-looking CGI. An example: I haven't seen all of The Golden Compass, but the parts I have seen in passing remind me more of Shrek than I'm sure the filmmakers intended. You know there's a problem when you're more convinced by ancient stop-motion and rubber-latex effects than by state-of-the-art CGI razzmatazz. At least latex and corn syrup are real.

    The Fall is a movie that should serve as an example of balance. First and foremost, it's a visual treat of set design and cinematography. Eye candy reminiscent of the garish colors of The Fifth Element and the impish darkness of The City of Lost Children. But the style is implemented with restraint. It's reported (and I guess we should believe) that it was made with absolutely zero computer imagery, which is a surprise considering what I've just said. Also it's directed by the guy who made REM's infamous "Losing My Religion" video -- a fact that turned itself into such an insidious visual earworm that I couldn't stop noticing similarities in look and feel between the two. Sorry if I spread it to you just now.

    There's a story, too, and it's ok. Occasionally brilliant (except for the non-ending), but in general just ok. And it's allowed to be if the rest of the movie makes up for it.

    One day in the future, technology will advance far enough that movies will be made completely on computers. There will no longer be any need for physical components like actors or sets. That time is far away. And even when it does come, imagination, as it always has been, will be one thing that can't be replaced.

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