Archive for September, 2010

Chapter 1 Narrative Blog

Bonjour!

Je m’appelle Kenneth Rathburn et voici mon ami, Jesse Clouse.  Nous aimons les films.  Il aime les lunettes de soleil.  Mon chapeau est rouge et vert.

French Intro Blog

Bonjour!

Je m’appelle Kenneth Rathburn et je suis de Stuart, Floride.  Je suis un étudiant à UCF.  Je suis un jeune homme.  Je suis assez timide.  J’adore la musique et les films.

Au revoir.  A bientôt.

The American Review

The American is quite a striking film, partly thanks to the fact we don’t see releases of its nature often; and even fewer of them are even close to what one would call a “blockbuster.”  While many of the individual aspects to the film aren’t exactly unfamiliar (assassination agent, small cast carrying the burden-most of it on a single lead, etc.), the combination of them here is just the start of what makes it interesting to analyze.

George Clooney plays an agent who’s seen his life become embodied by a weapon and killing-type field with several unrevealed details.  Rather than introducing us up-front to the plot and characters, we literally follow Jack (Clooney) over a short stretch of time as if documenting part of his life without commentary or interjection.  This also leads to another peculiar trait of the film: it’s incredibly quiet.  Going in, one will likely expect an at least mildly strident action/thriller.  Instead, however, we get what could be described as a scarcely eventful thriller (with a couple other genres working their way in).

The benefit to this approach is that, during certain scenes, we truly get the feeling of being alongside Jack, with hardly more than silence and thoughts to ourselves.  It’s an admirable way to go about things, certainly, but the quiet nature is so prominent that it make some stretches of the runtime feel weary and sleep-inducing.  Granted, the film probably wouldn’t have fared any better with variations in the volume (which would likely make the tone inconsistent), but a “things could be worse” view doesn’t excuse shortcomings.

Speaking of under-toned, Clooney’s performance throughout the entire film is incredibly subdued.  We get a number of points where Jack rubs his face or mutely reveals tension to us.  Emotional delivery is not the name of the game here, which is well in-character, but the fact that we never get an even brief shift in Clooney’s tone makes Jack seem less realistic.  I understand the intent is to refrain from putting feelings on display, but, to quote Ellis Redding, “every man has his breaking point.”

Jack doesn’t go completely solo in the film, though his contacts are even sparser than his lines of dialogue.  His primary contacts come to be his boss, Larry, in a few phone calls, the friendly and honest Father Benedetto, Ingrid, an inspecting lady on his mission and Clara, a lovely seducer who Jack becomes quite involved with.  With the exception of Larry, we get to see a sufficient amount of these characters to at least feel some legitimate connection, with Clara being the brightest light.  All told, the cast do an adequate job with their roles, though only Clara and Father Benedetto feel truly honest in this developed but barren sea.

On a more positive note, we get some excellent camera work throughout the entire film.  While the shots aren’t on caliber with, say, Road to Perdition, what’s provided is very eye-catching.  Probably the best part about the cinematography is that it doesn’t try to give us perfect details.  Oftentimes the beauty of locations aren’t realized without imperfections, and it’s nice to see a film that understands and embraces this.  Some points aren’t incredibly detailed and we don’t get completely vivid colors or brightness, but this lends the locations a far more natural feel.  And even during the few “action” scenes there’s no worry about quick cuts or “shaky-cam;” everything is coherently captured.

It might seem that I found The American to be a very weak film, but this isn’t necessarily the case.  There’s definitely enough going for it that a viewing is warranted simply for the fact that it’s a different dish than what we’re normally served.  However, simply avoiding clichés doesn’t automatically mean it’s completely superior.  Faults have found their way into the movie and a couple of them are rather prominent.  Taken as a whole, The American provides a worthwhile experience with some bumps along the way but, in spite of them, is still bound to leave at least some impression on its viewers.