Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
It's a wrap for the 2010 Muriel Awards, but although the winners have been announced, there's still plenty of great stuff to read about the many winners and runners-up. ('Cause, as we all know, there's so much more to life than "winning.") I was pleased to be asked to write the mini-essay about "The Social Network" because, no, I'm not done with it. (Coming soon: a piece about the Winkelvii at the Henley Gregatta section -- which came in 11th among Muriel voters for the year's Best Cinematic Moment.)
You might recall that last summer I compared the editorial, directorial and storytelling challenges of a modest character-based comedy ("The Kids Are All Right") to a large-scale science-fiction spectacular based on the concept of shifting between various levels of reality/unreality -- whether in actual time and space or in consciousness and imagination. (The latter came in at No. 13 in the Muriels balloting; the former in a tie for No. 22.) My point was that, as far as narrative filmmaking is concerned, there isn't much difference. To illustrate a similar comparison this time, I've used a one-minute segment out of "The Social Network" (Multiple levels of storytelling in The Social Network). You might like one picture better than the other for any number of reasons, but I find their similarities more illuminating than their differences:
Q. At the end of "Sullivan's Travels," Joel McCrea is flying to Hollywood. On a table is a book: Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou. He says he's not going to make it as a movie because he wants to make more uplifting movies. Is there a relationship to the George Clooney movie by the same name?
In theory, if I correctly predicted every single Oscar race, nobody could outguess me, and by default, I would win the prize. Alas, that has never, ever happened, and it's unlikely again this year, because as usual I will allow my heart to outsmart my brain in one or two races, which is my annual downfall. In any event, for what they're worth, here are my Academy Award predictions in a year rich with wonderful films.
View image Javier Bardem in an eloquent moment at the SAG Awards. (SAG photo)
Javier Bardem said it beautifully when acknowledging his "No Country for Old Men" directors Joel and Ethan Coen in his Screen Actors Guild Award acceptance speech Sunday night: "I want to share this with my very good friend, Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee, and Kelly Macdonald, and with a great cast of “No Country For Old Men.” And to dedicate it to the Coen Brothers who ultimately are responsible for all of this. Thank you guys for hiring me, and thank you for taking the hard work of choosing the good takes, instead of the ones that I was really – I mean, where I really sucked."Bravo to Bardem for publicly acknowledging what every cinematic actor knows but few talk about publicly. If you've ever asked yourself, "How can Actor X be so good in one picture and so bad in another?" -- Bardem's got your answer in a nutshell: Any performance is created from many random bits and pieces of film, carefully chosen (we hope!) and assembled from among hundreds of choices and many thousands of possible combinations. Actors may give several very different readings of the same scene, adjusting nuances and emotions or improvising something spontaneous that the director and the editor (n the Coens' case, the pseudonymous Roderick Jaynes -- can't wait to hear his Oscar speech) must put together from what would otherwise be incoherent scraps.