January 18th, 2004

Old Friend

Last Samurai

Woke up reasonably early this morning (for a Sunday anyway...) and decided that I wanted to get out for a bit. I guess I was feeling a bit 'closed in' after not really doing anything in the evenings this weekend and I'm still feeling very 'out of the loop' whilst I'm giving a good friend some requested space to sort out her problems by herself.

So, it was either stay at home worrying and checking the clock and my phone every two minutes, wander the streets aimlessly, or go and see a film. I could have done some work but my mind was just 'so' not on that wavelength today.

It was really a toss up between three films. Cold Mountain, Paycheck or Last Samurai out of the offerings at the local Multiplex (Warner Village soon to become VUE as the nice dancing cameleon kept informing me trhough the adverts...). I'd missed Paycheck by about 10 minutes and Cold Mountain would have meant about a 30 minute wait so I went with Tom Cruise's latest offering not really knowing what to expect. I like some of his films (most notably Minority Report) but am not keen on some others (Vanilla Sky leading that pack - the Spanish version was just so much better).

Last Samurai starts in 1876 and involves a troubled US-war hero (Cruise) who is recruited along with an old friend (Billy Connolly of all people) to go to Japan and train the Imperial Army how to use guns, cannons, and generally westernise their way of combat so the Emperor can defeat a Samurai uprising. Not to spoil things for you but Cruise feels his men are not ready for combat but gets order to deploy anyway. Unsurprisingly his men are pretty much annilhilated, Cruise is captured after fighting admirebly and falls into the hands of the Samurai. The story progresses from there (I would say more but hopefully a number of you will actually go and see it).

I thught the film was incredibly good, which I'll confess surprised me. It was touching, thought-provoking, and portrayed the Westernisation/Capitalism in a very negative light. A trend I've seen in a few films recently which surprises more so as many of these are American-produced and with the politcal climate at present its good to see films challenging the promoted 'ideaology' of the moment.

Overall I'd give it 8.5/10.

Also (which started me off happy) I saw the trailers for Chronicles of Riddick (the first in a trilogy following on from the marvelous Pitch Black) and the Day After Tomorrow (an end-of-the-world catastrophy film - I like bleak futures...) both of which I'll have to catch when they're finally released over here or hopefully sooner if I'm in the States at the right time.