When I started out logging the films I’d seen there was little concern over who, if any, read my words. As the years progressed, I did seek out an audience for my work. But I don’t know how to stand out in a very crowded field. So I try to make peace and just log everything entirely for myself again.
One of the saddest verses in all of the Bible can be found in Genesis chapter 6. It reads that “the LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth”. A few verses later humanity is wiped out by the waters.
Watchmen is a distillation of the painful reality given voice by Genesis, a reality that’s echoed throughout the rest of Scriptures. We are our own worst enemy.
It’s a small miracle that this picture even exists. It cost over $130 million dollars, and it includes the teleological argument illustrated by the watchmaker analogy. There’s a few fight scenes here and there, and maybe an explosion or two. Most of the action consists of dialogue wondering whether the human species is worth saving in the first place. The shocking acts of violence serve to sway the argument in favor of Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode). Mr. Veidt is a proponent of the policies enacted by Alexander the Great millenia ago. The foundation for a better world demands sacrifice.
Yet philosophical discourse is never enough to elevate any material to great cinematic heights. So Watchmen also rewards the viewer with stunning, awe inducing images. The blue and yellow color palette so prevalent in blockbusters finally serves substantial purpose here. Even the slow-mo moments look phenomenal.
I want to bring attention to the most sublime moment in the entire film. The sequence takes place in Mars, with Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) recalling his origins. It is hair raisingly good. The operatic score amplifies the sorrow and beauty of the entire thing, delivering a scene that’s amongst the finest I have ever seen. I wish I could experience it all again for the first time.
Daniel Craig is superb as James Bond. Since I began this series, at least the rebooted one, from Skyfall, I never had much attachment to Bond as a fully fleshed human character. But boy oh boy had I been doing this wrong. I should’ve began from Casino Royale and make my way to the end. It really elevates the series in my estimation, makes me engage with James Bond as a hurt and lonely protagonist, and makes me want to rewatch Skyfall again.
Simultaneously a universal yet deeply personal picture, The Tree of Life stuns. Its majestic images stun; it’s non-linear narrative stuns; its score does the same. Stunning above all else is the reality that this film gives voice to: there is reason behind all this madness. We might not comprehend it during our lifetimes, but what is time and space to an infinite God?
If we could trace back the trajectory of our lives, would we be able to discern the one defining moment that caused them to go astray? Or would it be more a collection of tiny, seemingly insignificant episodes? The moments could happen to us, as in our father being a bad man, or we could make them happen, as in we decide to rob a store.
Whatever the case, a life that sputters and fails is a tragedy. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is an uncomfortable picture, forcing us to watch the implosion of a family in all it’s sad and sorry details. It is not a movie I will be watching again, and it is not because of its quality. This is a tremendous film, with powerhouse performances, a score that gets under your skin, and a non-linear narrative that serves to amplify the urgency of the story.
But it is so sad to look at. Every character here is drowning, but the movie provides no lifeboats whatsoever. We drop into the story right when the last die has been cast, and everybody’s fates have been sealed with doom.
It’s an odd thing to be invested in James Bond after being familiar with him from competent but emotionally aloof action pictures. The thing I remember the most about Skyfall is its breathtaking cinematography; Spectre was boring as hell. Yet here I am, cheering for James Bond (Daniel Craig) to save the girl on time.