Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Munich and Match Point

Warning: if you haven't seen these films and are planning to, you might want to skip this discussion.

Munich. Verdict: disappointing. I'd read the reviews calling this Spielberg's greatest, most courageous film and so on. What I saw was a well-acted, well-filmed action movie with a bit of confused moralistic mumbo-jumbo thrown in and a whole lot of loose threads left hanging. The film basically amounts to little more than a series of assassination scenes. Where's the profundity? What's so courageous about saying that terrorism and retribution (interchangeable terms in most cases) are morally treacherous?

Specific problems:
- Papa. Whoever he is, we are led to believe that he is very deep in the shadows. He's got information and sells it at a very high price. Avner has to wear a blindfold when he's taken to see Papa, so there's no way he could discover Papa's true identity, location, etc. But we're supposed to believe that this ultra-cautious underworld figure would bring Avner to his country home and introduce him to his extended family, including about a dozen grandchildren? Huh? "My identity must be kept ultra-secret, but let me introduce you to my clan and show you around the house." Right.
Papa's organization arranges a safe-house for Avner and his boys in Athens, after being paid well over a million dollars by Avner thus far (i.e., Avner is a good client). We are to believe that this organization confuses the dates somehow and puts the Israelis in the same room with the PLO terrorists? Come on, now. Either this was done intentionally to get them all shooting each other, or it's utterly unbelievable. Add this to Papa's having given Avner the wrong explosives, almost resulting in Avner's death (not to mention innocents), and we're left with three choices:
- Papa's organization is very, very sloppy (unbelievable, given the nature of their business -- if you're sloppy, you don't last long in the espionage underworld)
- Papa's organization is trying to fuck up Avner's mission (seems the obvious choice to me, but since Avner doesn't seem to take offense at the fuck-ups, or even question them, this was apparently not intended to be the story line)
- It's just a case of sloppy thnking/writing (the only conclusion that makes sense, though I find this one hard to believe as well). Do you see other viable possibilities?

Another thought: at the end of the film, when Avner is thinking his family may be in danger, he calls Papa from a phone booth in New York. He's shocked that Papa knows his name. I'm shocked that Avner had Papa's home phone number! So much for secret identity, secret location!

Match Point. Verdict, same as Munich, overrated and sloppy. Plot points that just don't work:
- He's been a tennis pro for years, close to the top of the rankings. He's now teaching at a top-flight club and is invited to dinner at the home of a very wealthy client (who can help him immensely). He sees a sexy woman at the house and starts coming on to her like an alley-cat? No way! He would be very cautious to find out who she was before risking everything that way. Furthermore, the whole plot turns on him becoming obsessively attracted to this woman -- who is sexy, but not very smart or interesting or useful to him in any way other than sexual. Not believable. He's been a tennis pro for years; are we to believe that he's easily infatuated by sexy women? Please.
- Here's a plan: Go to an apartment building and shoot someone with a shotgun in the street-level apartment, then hang around for an hour or so. Great plan! You've got neighbors right, left, above and possibly below you, as well as people walking by on the street. You think nobody's going to hear the shotgun blast? Nobody? Right. Sloppy bullshit. I'm done with Woody Allen.

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