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Showing posts from November, 2010


Dame Helen, in the parking garage, with a machine gun.  Is this perhaps some perverse game of Clue, updated for the Grand Theft Auto generation?   No, it's just one of the slightly guilty pleasures of the poorly-named but frequently entertaining Red, full of a surprisingly ballistic group of un-expendables.       

Bruce Willis plays Frank Moses, one of the story's RED's.   Not commies, mind you.  No, quite the contrary.  He's a former black-ops CIA agent, classified by his former employers as "Retired: Extremely Dangerous."   Frank is trying to lead the placid life of a retiree in Cleveland.   At one point, when he steps out of his house and regards the suburban sameness about him, one expects the sort of contempt we see from Ray Liotta's Henry Hill in Goodfellas, mired in the witness protection program.   But no, Frank looks around him at the bland subdivision bedecked in Christmas decorations.   Cut to a shot of the front of Frank's house, complete …

White Material

Among more obvious cinematic parallels to be found in Claire Denis' White Material, I find myself coming back to, of all things, A Serious Man.
Some might say that all Cohen brothers movies are strange in their way, but A Serious Man was strange in a very atypical way for Joel and Ethan Cohen.   Having never addressed Judaism or general issues of Jewish culture in America, it was as if everything they felt, whatever baggage might have been lurking about their Jewishness came tumbling out of their screenplay for the film, all of which concluded with that final shot of the approaching funnel cloud, one both unsettling and seemingly out of place in their body of work.  

White Material takes place in an unnamed African country.  The film was shot in Cameroon, the setting for  Denis' first film, Chocolat, as well one of the countries in which she lived as a child while her father's job  as a French civil servant took their family to several countries on the continent.   In int…