Two posts in two days? I guess I'm on a roll. (more accurately, I'm on a short break).
Today I watched Christopher Nolan's Insomnia and now, I can proudly say that I have seen all of his movies. It's interesting seeing brief glimpses of his future filmmaking style, like the brief flashes of memories in Insomnia, which are later abundantly used in Inception and Batman Begins. Insomnia is a solid movie, a crime drama that takes place in a small, isolated town in Alaska. Al Pacino plays Detective Dormer who goes to Alaska during the summer, so it's light outside all the time, to solve the murder of a 17-year old girl. Supporting cast features Robin Williams and Hillary Swank. Insomnia is like a long episode of old school Law and Order with Detective Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), and starts getting interesting when you find out what the movie really is about. Insomnia asks interesting questions about morality; does the end really justify the means? And while it does twist the question around a bit, in a lot of ways, the ending took the easy way out. It's certainly a solid movie with some genuinely suspenseful moments such as Dormer's interrogation of the dead girl's best friend and it's fascinating to see common Nolan motifs lightly touched upon in this movie that are more heavily explored in his later films, but I wouldn't say it's particularly memorable.
There've been a lot of comparisons b/n Nolan and Kubrick, mainly b/c Nolan hasn't really made a bad film. I had trouble getting into Following, but liked its intensity and really loved the first 20 minutes of it. I love Inception and the Batman films. I found Memento really fascinating and the jury's still out for The Prestige, but I definitely do want to see it again. I think that Kubrick is really in a class of his own, but it's nice seeing a director out there who makes good action movies and makes fun, intelligent blockbusters.
On Kubrick, I have seen most of his films and am just *blown* away by how each of his films are in a different genre and how he nailed each and every one of them. Eyes Wide Shut loses steam towards the end, but it's still filled with so many absolutely fascinating, memorable, cinematic sequences. On that note, I also watched Lyndon Barry recently. While I didn't like it as much as I liked The Shinning, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or A Clockwork Orange, it's a decent film, howbeit quite slow. The DVD summary wasn't lying when is said that Lyndon Barry was like a slow-moving painting. Lyndon Barry does have one of my favorite dueling scenes ever. The incredibly tense scene is here, and it is imho, the best scene in the whole movie:
I am fascinated by how much work went into the filming of the movie. Some of the candlelight scenes in the movie were really *only* lighted by candles. I didn't care much for the omniscient narrator, though I did like the necessary humor he added to the earlier half of the movie. The movie picked up steam and started going somewhere after Barry meets Lady Lyndon, but ultimately, it was hard to really like or root for any of the characters. Barry, while an interesting antihero, is really not a good person nor a particularly bright one. Lady Lyndon is silent and placid and her son, who should by all means get loads of sympathy given his situation but is weak and whiney. Overall, Barry Lyndon is for the hard core Kubrick fans; it has a few really fantastic scenes but is generally a very very slow movie.