Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Colombiana and Trouble the Water

Colombiana: 3 of 5 Horns

I am extremely tired and was very devoid of flicks this weekend. I worked late on Friday, worked on Saturday, lady then went straight to my boy Jackson's 2nd birthday party at "Fun Run." Come Sunday, I had time for one flickaroo, and I went with Colombiana.

I think Zoe Saldana is a real up-and-comer in the action-adventure genre...see also: Avatar, Star Trek, and most relevant here, The Losers.

If you didn't see The Losers, it is actually worth watching, and was something of the poor man's A-Team, also a 2010 release. Saldana was the female lead in The Losers. Without getting into spoilers for either, their characters were fueled by the same motivation in each and kick ass, in just about the exact same manner.

Now while this may seem insignificant, given that these are two different movies, but Columbiana, for a few interesting scenes, just couldn't really hold my attention.

Yes, this was a budget thriller, evidenced by the presence of Max Martini and Lennie James, both excellent actors, both in my favorites category, neither of which with any star power (see also: David Mamet's Redbelt) Oh yeah...another of my favorites who shows up here and there....Cliff Curtis is here too. Add a few bits of Alias's Michael Vartan, and you have the extent of your recognizable cast.

Perhaps you may see some of these folks and think they were bit players in one of the season of 24. You're probably right. This movie is completely carried by Saldana and for bits and pieces of the film that were descent, there were too many distractions and subplots and zig-zags to make this interesting. The film is competent, but just not entirely.

The coolest name award goes to Olivier Megatron, director, who most notably previously gave us, The Transporter 3.  I mean come on...let this man direct Transformers 4 (if there is one), on principal alone.

The screenplay was by Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson. With Besson penning this, I hoped for more, but I just can't say what. This guy has given us La Femme Nakita, Leon/The Professional, Point of No Return, The Fifth Element, and all three Transporter flicks. Pretty decent track record, and that is just a sampling.

I guess with the last feature he wrote being From Paris With Love (a marginally watchable flick), perhaps he is getting rough around the edges in his old age...well, he is only 52.

3 of 5 Horns for this film...not really bad, just nothing that drew me in. Sorry Zoe.

In honor of Hurricane Irene, I also caught the 2008 documentary, Trouble the Water, from filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. I had a chance to see this when it first came out with a Q&A with the filmmakers following the show. This was, of course, three years ago and this most recent viewing was in the comfy confines of my super sized Lazy-Boy...thank you very much Netflix!

Trouble the Water: 5 of 5 Horns
This is a movie that shows some of the tragedy, some of the efforts to survive, but mostly, the emotional moments that come after the trouble has passed. So often, stories end when everybody is safe and the disaster has passed. This movie takes it to the next step, showing exactly how the events of Katrina not only affected, but changed this group of people.

The basics are these, the filmmakers had gone to New Orleans to film some of the National Guard returning to their hometown after a tour in Iraq, in the early part of their filming, they meet Kimberley Rivers Roberts, aspiring rap star (aka Black Kold Madina) and her husband Scott. Shortly before Katrina, Kim got her hands on a camcorder and filmed the events leading up to the storm, the storm and violently rising water, and their escape from their attic to safety.

The climactic moments occur in the front end of the film, but the most emotional moments play out as the film presses forward.

While there is a undertone of failure on behalf of "the system," which seemingly is undeniable. Any film on Katrina that doesn't cover that to some extent would be an incomplete picture. But that only adds to the challenge that the folks faced and overcame. This documentary surrounds the events of Hurricane Katrina, but it truly is a showcase of the human spirit, the power of love, and the amazing capabilities of any person, when put in a situation that demands action.

Katrina was a nasty, nasty lady...On August 29, Katrina's storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches in greater New Orleans, submerging eighty percent of the city. The greatest displacement in the United States, over 800,000 people, since the Dust Bowl of the 1930's.

The cast featured in this film are in the lower socio-economic status of those in the New Orleans area. I think that they are representative of those impacted most heavily by the failure of the levee system. Race and socio-economic status played out through the film, but never in a heavy-handed manner. Some of the quotes that struck me as especially poignant were these...

Larry, saving dozens of people with a punching bag and a rowboat: "I never thought the Lord could use a man like me."

When talking with Larry, one of the other survivors says: "We had always spoke, but that day there, brought us to a brotherhood."

"During Katrina, my enemies helped me out. The storm brought us together, and now we're like brothers."

"If you don't have money and you don't have status, then you don't have the government." This woman's son wanted to join the army, but she said that she'd be damned and would wash floors to put him through college. "I don't want him fighting for a country that doesn't give a damn about him."

One of the survivors..."In other parts of the world, they're preparing for college. In New Orleans, there preparing us for prison."

New Orleans was and still is a haven for crime and troubled lives. There is a real redemptive power at hand in the transformation that is seen in many of those featured through the film, most notably Kim and Scott.

Make some time and catch this flick...it is truly worth it.

How about The Help! Another week at the top of the pile and well worth it, I might say. If you haven't seen it yet, do so soon. What else are you going to see this weekend? Shark Night 3-D? Yeah, I'll probably see it too, but I can save you the trouble and let you know if it's worth it.

Until later, take care...
Reel Rhino

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