King of the Jungle
Most Disappointing Film
|Any chance there's a script up there?"|
The Joseph Fletcher Award for Services to Situation Ethics
Governments have a lot of difficult decisions to make. For example, do we accept the $13 billion that is legally owed to us, or do we refuse it? Or, in the case of Eye in the Sky, do we murder an innocent child or do we not? Eye in the Sky is as close to a piece of propaganda for liberal democracy that you're likely to get. It shows all sorts of fine people wrestling with what we're supposed to believe is the central moral dilemma. There's an old joke that says Catholics can do what they want as long as they go to confession, and Protestants can do what they want as long as they feel bad about it. If there's any truth to this, then Eye in the Sky is a deeply Protestant film. There's lots of politicians and soldiers who feel bad about doing what seems to be a necessary evil, but the final message of the film is: don't judge us from your comfortable armchair; we sacrificed our lives so that you could have the freedom to sit in this cinema munching on popcorn and Minstrels and watching important movies like Zoolander 2. In other words, only those who have had to decide whether or not to murder a child are in a position to criticise governmental action. London Has Fallen made no secret of its sadism, no attempt to rationalise or justify its brutality. Eye in the Sky is an evil film precisely because of these attempts. And the worst of it is, it's not even telling us the really brutal truth. Now, imagine a country deciding that London Has Fallen and Eye in the Sky are the only two nominees for the Best Picture Oscar.
The country you have imagined is Fuckheadica.
If you want to learn the truth about someone's life, it's probably best to avoid their biopic. The best you can usually hope for in these films are half-truths. And you can be fairly certain that these half-truths will add up to a story of redemption. This was the formula for last year's Steve Jobs and it was the formula for this year's Miles Ahead. I didn't much about Miles Davis before I saw this film, save for the fact that he was a famous jazz musician. Having seen the film I now know that he was a famous jazz musician with a drug problem. This is a strange movie. It follows Davis around in the wilderness years of his career, when he apparently spent his time getting into hilarious jams while chasing his next fix. In the flashbacks we witness a younger Davis in his pomp, playing his trumpet in smokey jazz venues and occasionally beating his wife. It's not an exaggeration to say that these two timelines don't mix very well. Davis is presented to us as a flawed genius who loses his way, though the flaws are severely underplayed (what's a little violence towards women when you can play a mean trumpet?). Don Cheadle is very good in the lead role, but there is something soulless about the whole project.
Best Film Featuring a Member of the Skarsgård Family
If the son of Stellan Skarsgård cannot save a film then can Stellan Skarsgård himself? This is the pressing question of our age, and the answer is...sort of. Our Kind of Traitor taps into the popularity of British author John le Carré. I've never read a le Carré novel, but if this film is anything to go by then the book on which it is based was probably churned out by le Carré one rainy afternoon while he was waiting for the roast chicken to finish. That is not to say that this is a bad film (or that it must be a bad book). It's just not a very thrilling espionage thriller, and I like my espionage thrillers thrilling.
* Not strictly true