21 February 2007
  it's a small (violent) world after all

i don't really know what to make of it, but it seems that every year one major theme emerges that is central to the majority of awards-nominated films. two years ago there was a whole crop of films dealing with gender and health (e.g. the aviator, million dollar baby, finding neverland, hotel rwanda, vera drake and kinsey). last year, i wrote this post about all of the films that came out focusing on the national and worldwide problems caused by the u.s. (e.g. syriana, good night and good luck, munich, memoirs of a geisha, etc).

this year, the prominence of hispanic (and especially mexican) filmmakers and actors is one thing that has united quite a few films. alfonso cuarón is nominated for his second screenplay oscar for children of men. he will be competing against fellow mexican guillermo del toro who wrote pan's labyrinth. alejandro gonzález iñárritu made the best pic-nominated babel. also, spain's almodovar released this year his latest volver. the film's lead actress penelope cruz is nominated for best actress. *yea spanish speakers!*

still, it seems to me that there is another theme that has been especially popular among the filmmakers of '06. there have been an abundance of films focusing on violence across the globe. in general, awards-nominated films this year have been, i think, more violent than usual. this year has definitely been one to remember for those (like me) who love dark, depressing movies about death, war and depraved sexuality. *hurrah* here are some movies you might want to check out if you're into world travel and also really bloody violent scenes.

blood diamond. . . this was like the first movie i saw this oscar season back in november, which is totally appropriate since it is maybe the most violent of the pack. it deals with a 1990s revolution in sierra leone and the enslavement of children for use as soldiers by the guerrilla leaders. i will never shop for engagement rings the same way again!

the departed. . . this movie had the most per capita deaths of any i saw this year. i am still trying to figure out how they are going to make a sequel out of a film in which every single character is killed but one. there are beatings, stabbings, shootings, arm breakings and a whole panoply of violent outbreaks. and, in between deaths, you get to have a nice filmic tour of the ghettos of boston. (i'm thinking road trip!)

children of men. . . the apocalypse isn't looking very pretty. in 2027, the only place on earth that isn't in total chaos is britain, and that isn't looking too stable either. this movie involves two of the coolest shoot-em-up scenes ever. cuáron uses a single camera, single shot method (never done before, mind you) to film various battles between a group of terrorists and the film's protagonist. the violence in this movie is totally horrific, but you can't take your eyes away.

notes on a scandal. . . also in britain, cate blanchett and dame judi dench tearing at eachother's faces and slamming eachother into walls. so cool.

pan's labyrinth. . . i read an article recently that a lot of parents have been taking their young children to see this movie thinking it was a fantasy flick like the lion, the witch and the wardrobe. in the first few minutes of this film about the spanish civil war, captain vidal shoots one man and then bludgeons another to death with the butt of his revolver. the rest of the film doesn't get a lot more fun. if your kids like movies about the torturing and killing of women and children then this is definitely for them. otherwise, stick with the santa clause 8 or whatever.

letters from iwo jima and flags of our fathers. . . dueling historical epics about the wwii battle at iwo jima.

hard candy and little children. . . (both starring patrick wilson, mind you). each of these movies, both taking place in suburbs, deals with sexual depravity and, believe it or not, each culminates in a castration. patrick wilson, this year it might be time for a romantic comedy opposite renee zellweger. just thinking.

babel. . . this film deals with violence on three continents. in the desert between california and mexico, adriana barraza and gael try to save two small children as the evade/search for la migra. in morocco, brad pitt strives to save cate blanchett who lies in a pool of blood for two and a half hours. in japan, rinko kikuchi tries to deal with the suicide of her mother while, perhaps, contemplating her own death. and the whole movie centers around a gun.

then there is the da vinci code, the queen, the last king of scotland, and the 9/11 movies. all violent. all international.

if little miss sunshine happens to win the best pic award on sunday, i honestly think it will have little to do with the film itself, but will rather reflect academy voters being tired of all the violence and throwing their support at the only funny, lighthearted flick in the bunch. (but wouldn't it be sad for a year that has birthed so many awesome, disturbing, blood-soaked movies to be remembered for one silly flick in which the most memorable scene is a girl dancing in a leotard. no. no. no.)
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