Monday, October 29, 2007

Two movies in one weekend

Joy of joys! I got to stay home two weekend nights in a row. Of course, instead of tackling any of a hundred and one chores I really ought to attend to, I decided to curl up in bed and watch movies instead. I did some chores during the day anyway, so I figured I deserved a little treat.

Blood Diamond
I've always thought that Leonardo DiCaprio is a terrific actor. For so many years though, the acting was eclipsed by his cutesy boy good looks and his social life (Titanic and The Beach didn't help either). I'm glad he's a little scruffier looking now and I like what he's done the past few years, beginning with Gangs of New York.

I also like him in Blood Diamond where he plays a gun-runner and diamond smuggler in civil war-torn Sierra Leone. Djimon Hounsou plays the fisherman whose village is raided and destroyed by rebels, he becomes a slave in a diamond mine and finds a huge pink diamond. The story revolves around this pink diamond—everyone wants it. This main part of the story was okay. As usual, I found the romance part ick. It has its purposes, I guess. One is definitely to show the humanity of DiCaprio's character. But, really, this can be shown using some other device! I suspect they really just wanted to stick in a pretty girl (Jennifer Connelly) in there somewhere.

Beyond the story though, the movie is mighty depressing because of the issues it raises. Boy soldiers, conflict diamonds, civil wars, refugees, gun-running, poverty, greed… the list is very, very long. The question of conflict diamonds (diamonds used to finance arms and civil wars) itself can be extended to so many other products. Wood and timber, cacao, coffee, cheap toys and clothes. Illegal logging, slave labor, child labor, hazardous working environments, human rights violations. The movie's right in that last explanatory line it displays, which I'm altering to encompass more than conflict diamonds: It is up to the consumer to insist that the product she is buying was produced without harm to humans, animals and the environment. But that leaves me at a loss: how does one find out for sure?

Casino Royale
To be honest, I was disappointed and skeptical when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond. I'd gotten used to Pierce Brosnan and didn't think that Craig was at all good-looking enough. Now that I've finally seen him in the movie, though, I take back all that I was thinking then.

Meet a young (being Asian though, I really can't tell age with Caucasians—they always look so much older!), newly 00-d, and much more realistic Bond. This Bond is buff, sweats, shows how difficult it is to kill someone with your bare hands, and gets all dirty, bloody, cut up and roughed up after a fight. Seeing how the producers want the franchise redirected, the choice of Craig makes perfect sense. They've definitely geared up for a new run: in this movie, Bond's just gotten his 00 status but M refers to the aftermath of 9/11. I'm already looking forward to the new movies.

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