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Thumbnails July 11

by Tony Medley

Point Blank (10/10): This thriller about a male nurse whose pregnant wife is kidnapped is so good that I’d like to give it an 11. I was so mesmerized that when I left the theater I couldn’t even remember that I had been reading subtitles. If it’s not the perfect movie, it’s close enough. Writing any more about it would just spoil the fun of viewing it like I did, without knowing anything in advance. In French.

City of Life and Death (8/10): “The Rape of Nanjing” is, to most, just a phrase from history. The Japanese certainly didn’t keep much photography of their inhumanity to show to posterity. This film brings the horror of the cold-blooded murder of 300,000 Chinese to life. The Japanese were as unsympathetic to the people they conquered as were Genghis Khan’s Mongols. The main criticism I have of the film is the benign way writer-director Lu Chuan minimizes the agony of “comfort women” which was a Japanese euphemism for conquered women, mostly Chinese and Korean, who were turned into sex slaves for Japanese soldiers, sometimes performing sexual intercourse 30 times a day, seven days a week, with no end in sight. Even so, this is a first class film that tells a story that has begged to be told for ¾ of a century. That said, it is harsh and depressing.

X-Men First Class (8/10): One could say that this is James Bond meetsThe Dirty Dozen.” While prequels often are greatly disappointing (see “Star Wars”), this is one of the best ever filmed. Although X-Men fans will find this especially interesting because it not only delves into the hitherto unknown relationship between two people who became known as Prof. X and Magneto, but it explains lots of things that were just assumed in the prior films. However, one needn’t be familiar with the other film to enjoy this, because it’s a Bondian-type thriller that stands on its own. In fact, it might inspire those who haven’t seen the other films to go see them now. This one is clearly set up for sequels.

Names of Love (8/10): Can love survive between two people who are desperately different? Sara Forestier plays a very young, leftwing Arab liberal. Jacques Gamblin plays a quiet, middle-aged moderate Jew. Both seem to be running away from their roots. While Jacques is discrete to a fault, Sara is shamelessly sexual. The film contains lots of nudity, including an abundance of shots of full frontal female nudity, but is a thought-provoking love story about two people using their roots as a tapestry from which to build their lives instead of being a prisoner of them. In French.

Green Lantern (5/10): Little did I know when I was a lad reading the comic books that I was reading "literature" that would one day inspire billion-dollar movies. What I was reading in the mid-20th Century was aimed at the pre-teen intellect. Now here we are in the 21st century and one thing has remained unchanged from the ten cent comic books I used to read so many years ago; the movies made out of comic books are still written for pre-teen intellects. “Green Lantern” is no exception. Despite one of the world’s best directors in Martin Campbell and a star I have hitherto admired, Ryan Reynolds, this is little more than derivative drivel exacerbated by flat 3D that dims the colors. Campbell and Reynolds may have gotten big bucks for this, but they should heed Lonfellow’s advice that “art is long and time is fleeting,” and not waste their talents on junk like this.