Assassin’s Creed & the Others (a.k.a. when you just can’t sleep on the plane)

I’ve been to Singapore, recently, and that amounts to several and several hours on the airplane. Now, my travel mate kind of sleeps in 3… 2… 1… and I totally envy him ’cause no matter how tired I am, no matter how long the journey can be, for some reason I don’t seem to be […]

I’ve been to Singapore, recently, and that amounts to several and several hours on the airplane. Now, my travel mate kind of sleeps in 3… 2… 1… and I totally envy him ’cause no matter how tired I am, no matter how long the journey can be, for some reason I don’t seem to be able to sleep on the plane. I close my eyes and rest, sure, and maybe I dooze off for a couple of minutes or so, but no proper sleeping.
This means that I’m able to watch what I would call a shitload of movies, if you’ll pardon my French. Now the Emirates selection was particularly good, this time, and I was able to see few things I’ve been wanting to see for quite some time. With… well… controversial results.

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1. Assassin’s Creed

This one I’ve been wanting to see for a long time, I missed in the movie theatres and I was waiting for it to become available so great, I said to myself. I am a huge Jeremy Irons fan, I am kind of fond of both Marionne Cotillard and Fassbender. And even though I haven’t played all of the videogames I rather enjoyed the piratesque one, so I knew what the main concept was about: Templars trying to oppress mankind with their thirst for power and this group of assassin’s trying to fight them throughout the eras. Now if you think I spoilered you something, think again: this gets explained in the first five minutes of movie and I think this is their first big mistake: the videogames slowly build on this, giving you time to get adjusted to ghe whole genetic memory thing, both getting along with old players and easying the new players in, the movie slams the concepts right to your face and leaves the tension to… well, nothing, actually. Fassbender is good as Fassbender can be, Cotillard is beautiful as Cotillard can be, Irons is tired as Irons can be when he’s in no mood to be charming. Fights are both boring and uninteresting even in their allusion to the videogames combat style (something both Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia got right so much more). Special effects are nothing special. If you want one reason to watch this, just focus on photography and on how Granada was reconstructed. But if you’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed you are used to a much higher quality and a breathtaking level of historical accuracy. Well, let’s forget this. And I would recommend to let videogames be videogames and movies be movies if I wasn’t convinced that videogames auhors could have done such a better job at this movie than these tired and unmotivated crew.

Degree of disappointment (from 1 to 10): 9 1/2

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2. Girl on a Train

Let’s go with something a tad more intellectual, I was myself. So I hit this rather unusual movie, unusual at least for my tastes as there are no explosions. Not even a single one. I knew that, no worries. I knew the novel and I liked it a lot for his wasy of constructing the story. Besides I always like stories when different apparently unconnected people are presented through stories that at the end are revealed to be intertwined (I am thinking The Hours). Now this is a damn fine movie. Beautiful in many aspects, from acting to storytelling, with some beautiful performances from all three of the main female characters. Directing is refined and delicate, well accompanied by Danny Elfman in this unusual un-Burtonesque soundtrack. The main topics of psychological abuse, alcohol, unfulfilled or unfulfillable motherhood, and domestic violence are treated with a fair amount of cynism and the temptation of having a villain gets almost avoided. Almost. Towards the end, with the shifting of consciusness, in-depth psychology leaves pace to pure drama and doses of action but I didn’t find it to be wrong or disturbing.

Appreciacion (from 1 to 10): 8

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3. Hacksaw Ridge

Let’s go back to some explosions, I said myself. Now, I am one of those people who thought Mel Gibson was a funny and nice guy as an actor, before he made a smoothie of his own brain and drank it away. I am profoundly disturbed by rethorics in movies, expecially when they are religious in nature, so I kind of had to know what I was getting myself into. However, a collegue I rather trust(ed) told me that it was a fine movie, with rethorics about brave Americans fighting for freedom and ideals but that’s ok, that’s a rethoric I can handle. Oh my oh my was I wrong.

The movie, as you might have heard, is about this voluntarly enrolled conscience objector who doesn’t want to touch a weapon (even touch it) and fights to be accepted as a paremedic, eventually saving an impressive amount of fellow soldiers practically by himself during the battle of Okinawa.

The way Gibson tell the story, can be divided into four parts, as far as I can see it.

In the first, we make the acquaintance with the main character, his troubled family (with a huge performance by Hugo Weaving as the post-traumatic disordered violent alcoholic father), his meeting with the wife-to-be. This part is only slightly weird. Our hero comes across as a shy fellow, almost authistic. His fiancée comes across as religious. Ut only at a certain point, abruptly, when he leaves for the war and she gives him a Bible. Well, girls would be girls. Everything fine so far.

The second part is where the weird shit starts coming down fast. Our hero doesn’t want to train with weapons, doesn’t even want to touch one. And instead of pushing the lever of pride, which would be completely appropriated even from a religious point of view, Gibson backs him up. He givs us a whole set of monologues and sermons about staying true to what you believe, no matter how fucked up you seem to be to everybody else, and I kind of thing this is the authobiographical part.

The third part is the battle and this is amazing in every sense. The setting of the ridge is fantastic, directing is very good and might as well come down as one of the best battle scenes ever shooted. No merci is spared on realism and yet it’s not morbid nor focused on blood. As a war movie should do, this part is focused on people, on braveness and compassion, on brotherhood and desperation, on the futility of it all. As I expect it to be. And the rescuing sequence succeeds in being epic mainly because lots of things coming from the previous two parts get dropped. Still…

…the fourth lart comes along, in which we learn that the battle of Okinawa was won on the second attack because on the second attack Americans had private Whatsoever to pray for their success. And this is where I ran out of patience. Everything has a limit. Expecially because Gibson had all the tools to tell a story about how heroism can inspire to more heroism, about self-confidence (and about fucking knowing the terrain the second time, but let’s skip that).

Level of irritation (from 1 to 10): 9

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4. Morgan

Well, this one surprised me. First of all I was unsureto watch it, ’cause I thought it to be an horror, but it turns out that it’s not. It’s more of a slow-paced thriller where the tension is built upon contrasts: contrasts between the peaceful sylvan settings and the crude lab indoors, contrasts between the familiar atmospheres and the corporate tensions amongst the characters, contrasts between the angelic blonde hair of Morgan, the synthethic being of the title, and its/her dark eys. Contrasts between her and her anthagonist.

The movie builds well its narrative, up to the point that when it seems to start screwing it up in favour of action you kind of wondering if there isn’t something mor subtle going on. And there is. Really good.

Level of surprise (1 to 10): 8

I also tried to watch:
– La La Land (dropped it at the first song: although I’m fond of musicals that was really bad);
– the BFG (dropped it at the supersonic green fart);
– Genius (dropped it but will resume it);
– The Arrival (dropped it but will resume it).

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