Wednesday, May 16, 2007

May 16th Log

2006, Karen Moncrieff, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

From beginning to end, The Dead Girl is a bleak film. It is structured in five segments: The Stranger, The Sister, The Wife, The Mother, and The Dead Girl. Each segment is inter-connected in relation to the dead girl, whose brutally beaten dead body is discovered in a field. This is the second feature film directed by actress Karen Moncrieff. Moncrieff details each characters psychological and emotional relationship to the dead girl and how each of them are connected through tragedy and depression. These connections come through the emotional state of the characters, which keeps the film from becoming contrived. Moncrieff also connects the segments visually notably in the camerawork and framing from cinematographer Michael Grady (there are many shots with an empty space or dividing wall between characters, heightening the emotional and psychical expression). Moncrieff gets outstanding performances from the ensemble cast and each segment features a particularly strong female performance (be it Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Mary Beth Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Kerry Washington, or Brittany Murphy as the dead girl). Especially good is Kerry Washington as the dead girls roommate and best friend. The Dead Girl is a depressing film but one that it sensitive and insightful of its subject and its characters. The film avoids plot devices and shock value.

2003, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, United States
Repeat Viewing, Encore

"The earth turned to bring us closer, it spun on itself and within us, and finally joined us together in this dream." Talented Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu follows up his brilliant debut, Amores Perros, with another (and in fact better) masterful, authentic, and emotionally thought provoking examination of guilt, redemption, death, and the darkness of human nature. In many ways 21 Grams is very similar to Amores Perros (which was also written by Guillermo Arriaga), particularly in structure and style. Both follow an intertwining, non-linear narrative which centers around an automobile accident. 21 Grams is structured like a puzzle. It's nothing new or inventive, nor does the film rely on its existence, but it certainly strengthens a greater connection with the lead characters. And when you cast Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, you get exactly what's expected: incredible performances!! All four are flawless (especially Del Toro) and the audience can sympathize with each, despite their flaws or mistakes as human beings. 21 Grams greatest strength may lie in its final theme. For all it's sad, dark, disturbing, tragic, and heart-breaking moments, ultimately is a sympathetic message of hope that will remain in your mind and can leave a positive impact on your perspective of living. Inarritu is a gifted young filmmaker, and (as in his debut film) his optimistic view of life emerges through the dreariness of the film's mood. We all will die, but will the 21 grams we lose be passed on to those who outlive us? An undeniably powerful film you definitely will not forget upon experiencing! "How much did 21 Grams weigh?"


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