Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Movie Review: "Munich" (2005)

man, when's he gonna get done using the toilet?
Steven Spielberg is a hit and miss director. There are times when, usually in more of his more lucrative, comercially fuelled, souless endeavors, he falls flat on his gray-bearded face, and there are times his work is astonishingly brilliant.

Munich is one of those movies where Spielberg cuts his affiliations, disregards popular opinion and goes apolitical, something I thought for the longest time, he is no longer incapable of. In Schindler's List, he ruffled some conservative feathers but gained the love and respect of the general public and the Jewish people. After seeing this movie, I wonder if he still has the same number of friends.

Munich is about the events that happened after the gruesome kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Israel, infuriated by the terrorist act initiated by a rogue groupe of Palestinian terrorists called Black Saturday, assemles a special team of counter-terrorists, not to ascertain the whereabouts of the terrorists (they weren't exactly hiding) and put them to justice, but to retaliate and and avenge the death of their fallen countrymen.
Avner (Eric Bana) is chosen to lead this 'unofficial' detail. Although reluctant at first as that his wife is expecting, he skillfully leads his team (which includes future James Bond Daniel Craig) to murder the leaders and proponents of Black September. Their targets are solely based on a primary list provided to them by their sponsoring government contact. Which composed of many unlikely characters scattered all accross Europe. Avner's main pickle is where to find these people. he comes across a contact that is non partisan and apolitical... very risky considering that they are equal-opportunity informants and can be as much trouble as they are help.
ok, who left the toilet seat open?
Avner and his team run into numerous operational screw ups and blunders and continue to question the validity and nobility of their operation despite acting their duty out. Which is very difficult considering that they as Jews cannot afford collateral damage as that the blood of the innocent will be in their hands.

The deepening 'moral quicksand' that they were thrust into takes its toll on most of the team members and turns the movie from a prime suspense thriller into a study on a moral conundrum experienced by Israeli soldiers.

Spielberg effectively uses most of the tricks up his sleeve in delivering the most suspenseful scenes he's made since Saving Private Ryan. There is a scene with a bomb set in a KGB operative (a target)'s telephone meant to go off as the target answers. Although, to their chagrin, the dutiful daughter forgets her purse and walks past the phone as it rings...

The shots in this movie are what impressed me the most. Not since Michael Gondry's Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind have I seen such an authentic rendition of '70's flavor in a movie. All though it's not really scratched up or all lens-filtered. the long shots and manual zoom ins create the feel of watching classics like Midnight Cowboy and The old Italian Job.

However, the best part of Munich is the writing. Kudos to Tony Kushner and Eric Roth for their deserving Oscar nomination for this category. Although much of the film focuses on the Israeli revenge squad, it does not portray the Palestinians as one-dimensional bad guys. Their plight to be acknowledged as victims of an oppressive Israel and their crusade to reclaim their 'homeland' is one of the movie's most riveting sublets. The deepening futility of the squad's search coupled with the frustration of their cause is very accurately documented and portrayed and is only intensified by the volatility of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the universality of their ancient feud to the bombings in the streets of Tel Aviv as we see it in CNN in our homes.

A daring project by a director with EVERYTHING to lose. It took a lot of balls for ol' Stevie to pull this off.
Anything less of this masterpice would have been career suicide. A american jew revealing the darker side of the Israel we know and acknowledging the plight of an angry Palestine. One of the best films of the year.

I feel all warm...wait. Oh, Crap!

Rockeboy's Rating:*****(5 out of 5)


Blogger drei said...

i think the film is perfect in a non-mainstream way. :) the musical score was good, but i just didn't get the usual john williams feel. asteeg pa rin! reminds me so much of hans zimmer's musical score in black hawk down. :)

9:56 AM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

Yes John Williams does have the penchant to make the score stick to your head. But I guess the story had to take the forefront on this one.

10:56 AM

Blogger Sedricke said...

munich galing. became an instant fave of mine.

10:44 AM

Blogger the rocketboy said...

Galeng ni Speilberg, talagang one of the best in our time...kapag inspired.

4:56 AM


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