Saturday, May 14, 2005

mona lisa | face/off [may 13, 2005]

The Criterion Collection DVD of Mona Lisa is rather skimpy: just some sleeve notes, and a rather listless commentary from Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins. But the film itself seems to defy too much commentary. There are several themes here: the theme of watching and being watched, the tale of an inarticulate romantic, and the "total and absolute gap of understanding between a man and a woman". I remember catching bits and pieces of this film when Doordarshan telecast this as a late night feature. I can't see myself appreciating the film then, and I'm glad that the only memories I had were encouraging enough for me to take another patient look. The film's tone is an interesting mix of the stark and the gentle. This is a Neil Jordan film, and if you remember The Crying Game and the twist therein, you won't be disappointed here (although the twist here is presented in a more sober light, and doesn't attempt to steal the film's thunder).

Face/Off [may 12, 2005] turned out to be as ridiculous and entertaining as I had expected it to be. I wouldn't want to remember it as a John Woo film though (I still prefer the stuff he made before he got a whiff of the Hollywood air). His typical flourishes abound in the action sequences, the guns, the use of slow motion, the shootout at the church, the doves, the Mexican standoff involving mirrors and the two protagonists with faces switched. And then there's the use of Somewhere over the rainbow as diegetic background (playing on the kid's headphones) during the operatic shootout at Dietrich's den. If you want neat references and hints check out (a) the names of the characters in the film: Castor and Pollux Troy, Sean Archer, Eve Archer [there's more on the IMDB trivia page, if you are lost] (b) the meaning of Erewhon, (c) the reference to The Searchers ("That'll be the day"). If you thought Sanjay Dutt's knife in Musafir was cool, check out the origins here. And to think that Sanjay Gupta already fliched material from here for Jung. This film is already almost a Bollywood masala movie (what with the scene where a dying Sasha asks Sean Archer take care of her son), so there's no need for anyone to attempt a remake.

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