Friday, January 27, 2006

MUNICH - Stick to Dinosaurs, Spielberg

This review is posted by guest reviewer, Nik ...

Steven Spielberg has proven once and for all that being Jewish is insufficient qualification for making a movie about middle-eastern politics. Apparently, MUNICH - based on the events following the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics - is supposed to be controversial. On the one hand it supposedly humanises terrorists and undermines security measures by the Israeli state, and on the other it allegedly panders to the International Zionist Conspiracy(TM). In reality - it does neither - but bores the viewer with pseudo-intellectual pap occasionally punctuated by loud explosions and gun-play. The only significant contraversies are that the cinema took £6.50 from me to watch it, and that the pick-and-mix cost 99p per 100 grams. Damn that Cineworld.

Okay, so some particularly naive Americans might be shocked that Israeli foreign policy isn't all fun, games and torture - the same people for whom the revelation in THREE KINGS that US foreign policy was based on oil prices and increased hegemony in the middle east came out of left-field. The Christian and Jewish right won't much like the idea that there is some sort of ideology and genuine feeling of grievance behind the activities of Palestinian terrorists. Similarly, the leadership of Hamas may feel unhappy that the film portrays heinous acts of terrorism against innocent Israeli civilians in a negative light. But for the rest of us - the ones who've had the intellectual capacity and time to think through the balance of national security and morality in the work of our intelligence services - and who know basic facts about international affairs - this film will be dour and patronising.

The content isn't challenging, the facts it reveals arn't shocking - unless you're easily shocked or deeply ignorant. The film neither captures the poignancy of the internal moral struggle within the lead protagonist - nor the thrill and excitement of spying. It both manages to fall between these two stools AND fail horribly at executing either. And to top it off, the score and camerawork is condescending - trying to impose a paint-by-numbers depth for the hollywood popcorn-munching audiences - who may be unable to cope without such strong editorialisation. In many ways, SCHINDLER'S LIST did the same - but frankly it was a film that had to be made - and whose content had to be respected because of its intrinsic gravity. Munich didn't, doesn't, and won't be.

By the end of the film, I had no sympathy for any of the characters in front of me - no interest in their lives or their teen-angst emotional struggles - and hoped with every passing scene for the film to end, to stop wasting more of my precious time. The gun-play, graphic violence and sex that had kept me carnally interested in the film, at least in passing, had left the building - and with it any semblance of hope for future enjoyment. The final scene of the film was suitably awful, and I walked out wishing I'd been watching gay cowboys making out. Or anything else, really.

I can only imagine the most facile and ignorant of people enjoying this flick - so if you fit that description, save up your pennies. Otherwise, even if you have an interest in the middle east, save your money and buy a good book on the subject, after a few hours of reading you'll have learnt more, thought more, and enjoyed more than your unfortunate counterparts who opted for the big screen instead. And Steven, stick with dinosaurs, extra-terrestrials, and ruggedly handsome all-action archeologists - it's what you do well - very well - it's what we enjoy. And there was me thinking you'd learned your lesson with AI...

MUNICH is on general release in the US and the UK, not that you ought to care. I don't know when or if it'll be released in France or Germany or anywhere else - I can only hope for them that they can read English and visit this blog often enough to be warned.

Bina007 notes that instead of watching MUNICH, which she also found politically obvious and cinematically hackneyed, you could go rent Kevin MacDonald's ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER instead. It is a b
rilliant and Oscar-winning documentary which covers much the same ground as MUNICH. ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER is released on Region 2 DVD today.

1 comment:

  1. Worst film I've ever seen (with the possible exception of AI), best review I've ever read. Wish I'd read it before spending 4 euros to hire the bloody DVD. In future, I shall visit your site before putting my hand in my pocket.