Many of the Oscar winning films only hit the screens in Hong Kong after the award ceremony was held in the US. I finally managed to see these films in late February and early March.
The Lives Of Others – In East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the secret police apparently keep loads of files on just about everyone. This German film follows a dedicated officer who is assigned to spy on a playwright. As the operation progresses, the police officer begins to sympathize with the writer and even ends up meddling with evidence. I found the movie abit too long, but very watchable. (Winner: Foreign Language Film)
Letters From Iwo Jima – Superior to Flags Of Our Fathers as a war film but much more traditional in treatment. Reflecting on the battle at Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective, Letters From Iwo Jima offers more action and makes the Japanese as human as viewers have seen in WWII films made by non-Japanese directors. Ken Watanabe gives a thoughtful turn that I thought was stronger than many Oscar nominated performances. (Winner: Sound Editing)
The Queen – As a piece of contemporary history-comedy, The Queen is quite fascinating. The success of this film stems from director Stephen Frears avoidance of making the film too uptight and arthouse. Watching it in the cinema, I found the film lightweight, but entertaining. I think Helen Mirren gives a stronger performance as Detective Inspector Jane Tennison in the Prime Suspect series, but her role in The Queen probably has more worldwide appeal. (Winner: Actress in a Leading Role)
Pan’s Labyrinth – I had high expectations for Guillermo del Toro’s latest film, especially since it received rave reviews from all quarters. The basic story follows a little girl who arrives in a farm during the Spanish Civil War and runs into a creature who tell her she is actually their lost princess. To reclaim her rights, she must perform three tasks. Del Toro mixes the harsh realities of war-torn Spain with the girl’s fairy tale fantasies. I found the script extremely well-written and the fantasy elements engrossing – particularly the monster with eyeballs in the palm of his hands. Highly recommended. (Winner: Art Direction, Cinematography, Make-up)