Monday, January 12, 2009

"Jews Don't Fight..." "These Jews Do!"

It's a good feeling to start the year's cinematic experience with a good movie. That's why I didn't go to see Frank Miller's The Spirit which has already been touted as the worst movie of 2009 - I'm sure you would have enjoyed reading that review but I would rather nor have spent €9.50 for the privilege of writing it. No, instead I went to see a movie about a group of Jews in Belarus who resisted the Nazi occupation.

Edward The Last Samurai Zwick's Defiance is a beautifully shot adaptation of Nechama Tec's book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. Based on the true story of four Jewish brothers who escape their German-occupied homeland and join the Soviet partisans to combat the Nazis, the brothers eventually rescue roughly 1,200 Jews and the movie tracks their struggle to evade invading German forces while still maintaining their mission to save Jewish lives.

The movie centres more on the two elder brothers, Tuvia played by Daniel Craig and Zus played by the grossly underrated Liev Schreiber and how they escape the occupation, exact revenge, help hundreds of fellow escaping jews, survive the wild and unforviving Winter - oh and and kill lots of Nazi's! The main source of drama is the brother's own conflict, while Tuvia is seen as touchy-feely Moses who wishes the people to survive above all - Zus prefers to express his grief through anger and an understandable desire to fight back.

Craig exhibits more charisma here than he did as Bond in Quantum of Solace, dispelling rumours that he lost the ability altogether. He's thorughly convincing as a leader of men but probably could've done with out the Braveheart-esque speech on his while horse. Zwick coaxes a passable local accent out of Craig who wobbles it a bit throughout the course of the movie - nowhere near the perfect South African accent Zwick got from DiCaprio in Blood Diamond. Schreiber while not much better than Craig in the accent department - outshines him as an actor here delivering a most powerful performance and I'm hoping that Hollywood will take more notice of him because of it.

There is a danger, especially to those who have no knowledge of history, to accept the events here a pure historical fact. However if you did, you would be in error. As with Zwick's 1989 Oscar winning movie Glory, there are many historical inaccuracies and omittions from accounts of the time including most notably in the press: The Bielski Partisans' involvement with the Naliboki Massacre. However Zwick is neither the first nor will he be the last to slightly bend the facts to make things look better when projected 50 feet high on the cinema screen and it's good that he does. The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza has claimed the Bielskis tended not to engage in combat with Germans as depicted in the film, but rather spent its energy stealing civilian supplies in order survive. Had the film remained true to this account however I don't imagine there'd be half the amount of stars at the bottom of this review.

I'll put Defiance on a shelf with Zwick's Blood Diamond, The Siege and Courage Under Fire but it's beneath a shelf containing Glory and The Last Samurai.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****


Anonymous said...

That's gone up a bit, hasn't it! To think I was less than impressed with £6.30 (€6.99) the other day.

Word verification: blesse

Anonymous said...

So do you guys have second run theaters? Where you get tickets for a dollar? I quote:


BYOB TUESDAYS: Bring your own lap-size bucket or tub and get it filled with popcorn for only 50 cents."

Any of you guys got some lap-size buckets or tubs at home? Because I don't think that I know anyone who does...

Anonymous said...

ha....ha.... Oh Constance you and your crazy ideas of fair in ireland the average film ticket price in Cork is €8.50 (about $11)to €9.50($12.30) and afternoon prices of €6.50 to €7. In Dublin the afternoon price is €8.50 and $10 at night (although one or two cinemas started just before the crash to charge for priority seating starting at €15 and going up to €25).....oh and one or two cinemas will search your bag to make sure you don't bring goodies into the cinema while charging a minimum of another €10 for a coke and a medium popcorn

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord for Bitorrent and aXXo :)

Anonymous said...

Well sure, those are typical prices for first run movie theaters! Here, we pay about $9 for an evening showing, unless you go to the Costco and buy two passes for $15 (which I sometimes do) so, you're paying $7.50 instead of $9. This is the movie theater that seems to be adding in an IMAX theater, according to posters around the outside of the building. These people also have the VIP seating, but I think that I read that when you pay for a VIP seat you also get vouchers for "food" from the "restaurant."

And we have another first run theater that tries to boost its Monday attendance by doing $5 all day tickets plus a free small bucket of popcorn!

But this second run movie theater is the place to see slightly sub-par movies. (I love the MST3K). I saw "Daddy Day Care" at this one and I nearly threw up I laughed so hard! Imagine: The theater is packed with people, everyone is crammed together, one person finds something funny, and the people laughing are funny, so you start laughing at them, and then there's the talking to the screen, and the little kids running around, people on the cell phones... It's great. Just utter chaos and hilarity. If you ever see the comedian Ralphie May perform, he does a dead on description of this type of movie going experience :)

The other memorable showing for me was "The Professional" where it was just my three friends and I with the theater all to ourselves, and that was pretty awesome too. We were the only ones willing to brave the snow (it's sort of a drive) and they've got 12 screens there.

Oh, and what's cheaper than free? In the summertime we have free movie showings in the City's parks. So, not only can you bring your own snacks, you can bring your dogs, too! (Some people also bring smokables, but that's up at the top of the hill kinda past the treeline and when the wind changes, everybody knows it!)

Anonymous said...

ha ... Constance doesn't seem to grasp the ever-so-slightly insane mentality of UK/Ireland cinema (among others) owners.
Despite having already accumulated a set of costs associated with showing a film upon sale of the 1st ticket (air con/heating, projectionist, etc), they'd sooner see the rest of the seats empty than drop prices to entice others in. These costs don't increase per number of people in the audience.
I know there are films I'd pay, say, £2/£3 to see but would just skip entirely at £6.30.

Word verification: corathea

Anonymous said...

Indeed but please remember Constance is in a better place than us , Two years ago I went to see the League of Gentlemen Film in Ballincollig(The entire audience consisted of myself and my wife!)this was in an 100 seat Cinema and we were told by a member of staff a total of 32 people had gone in to see this movie for the entire week but the cinema still charged €8.50 each to see it!

Anonymous said...

Please, Senor Vaughan, when you say it like that it sounds like I bought it!

For you sithy: admole!