Five Easy Pieces

July 24, 2007

Back from the real world…

Filed under: Movies — danletscher @ 9:59 pm

Man, life just takes over and you forget about the important things like wasting hours writing about movies. Speaking of, I have to rant about “Blood Diamond”. What a crock this flick is. I was looking forward to it after reading some decent reviews and being surprised by the Oscar attention. Did I miss something? This is one of those “I want those two hours and twenty minutes of my life back” movie. All that talent and a story, centered around the struggle in Africa over the diamond trade and all its greed and death, worth telling. I bitched about the movie to my brothers in an email and Tim said it best – they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to make a “message” movie or an action spectacle.

Leo DiCaprio does a good job in the movie, giving his character Danny Archer just enough of a soul that we can forgive him for being a greedy, self-centered diamond smuggler turning a blind eye to the massacre of villages. I don’t think he deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, but I don’t think he deserved some criticism I read about his South African accent.

Djimon Hounsou is the best thing about the movie. Alan Arkin won Best Supporting Actor over Hounsou?  A joke.  He plays Solomon, a father and husband ripped from his family – he helps them escape from their village as it is being raided and slaughtered by rebels – to serve as a slave panning for diamonds. The rebels use the diamonds to purchase arms and ammo from guys like Danny Archer. Danny Archer sells the rebels the arms (supplied by his former mercenary comrades) so they can overthrow the established government (after they slaughter the innocents). Then the established government hires the mercenaries (who sold the rebels the arms) to slaughter the rebels. It is a sick and twisted circle of violence and mayhem.

So Solomon finds the pink diamond worth millions, stashes it and ends up in jail. Archer hears the tale of the pink diamond, springs Solomon from jail and becomes his best friend – I’ll find your family if you get me the diamond. Cue the craptastic Hollywood machinery.

Jennifer Connelly shows up as a reporter itching to write “real” news, not the typical updates of violence and blah,blah,blah. Enter love interest and conscience-poking foil for Leo.

The three “buddy up” to fulfill their own destiny – family reunion, $$$$$, Pulitzer material – and learn to work with each other, realizing at certain points in the movie that they need each other for different reasons. This leads to numerous action sequences which drag on and don’t excite one bit. I can believe it when Arnold and Stallone ran through 1,472 angles of machine gun fire, grenades and explosions without getting hit. I mean I can suspend my disbelief long enough to grin and enjoy it. That’s what cheesy action is supposed to do. But to throw this crap in this movie just demeaned the plot and characters.

Don’t get me started on the heavy-handedness of Leo and Jennifer’s farewell over satellite phone. Don’t read this ending if you don’t want to spoil it for your viewing (but really, are you going to watch it?? Call me, I’ll talk you down) . Leo is dying, he has handed the diamond over to Solomon so he can free his family, and he is stranded on a mountaintop holding back the mercenaries with some erratic machine gun fire to enable Solomon’s escape. He babbles on to Jennifer and she delivers horrible lines like “Don’t you die on me” or some such shit. This was the Oscar scene. Leo smiles and gives up trying to shoot the gun anymore. He’s shot and near death, he is staring out in the distance and softly says to Jennifer that he wishes she could see what an amazing view he was looking at. Waiting….waiting…yeah, they never show the view. Instead of that we never leave Leo. It struck me then that the movie was summed up in that shot. It wanted to focus on the atrocity of the diamond crisis in Africa. But the focus couldn’t stray from the fatc that it was a big studio Hollywood production and they had a huge budget for the ancillary diversions.

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