Tuesday, July 7, 2015
498. Z (1969)
Running Time: 127 minutes
Directed By: Costa-Gavras
Written By: Jorge Semprun, from novel by Vassilis Vassilikos
Main Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand, Irene Papas, Jacques Perrin, Charles Denner
Click here to view the trailer
Note: NON-BOOK UPDATES:
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963 - Vittorio De Sica) 7.5/10 - Always love Marcello Mastroianni and how is there no Sophia Loren movies in THE BOOK? In the words of Johnny Cochran - "This an OUTRAGE!". This was great fun and I really enjoyed it. Thanks TCM!
The Fighter (2010 - David O. Russell) 4.5/10 - Ugh - Oh how I hate Mark Wahlberg with a passion! I honestly think if anyone else had been in the main role, I'd have liked this one a lot more. Then again, I seem to dislike David O. Russell and his style of storytelling too, so who knows...
Under the Skin (2013 - Jonathan Glazer) 4/10 - I was intrigued, that's about it. Great cinematography, but I didn't know what was going on. It does get a LITTLE better, so if you make it to the halfway mark, stick with it. I think you'll find your interest pique at around the 1:10, 1:20 mark. Still, mostly this was a big disappointment, especially considering I'd been wanting to see it for a while, after hearing good things.
Been catching TONS of stuff off of TCM and as long as my DVR holds up, I plan to catch a lot more. I currently have a handful of films - Forbidden Planet, Lady In the Lake, Band of Outsiders, They Live By Night, The Threat and The Band Wagon - two of which are BOOK movies, if you didn't notice or know. The other night, I also had Z, so I decided to make a movie night of it and "earn another tick". Shall we?
So here's the thing (he said, preparing yet again to sound like a broken record), I'm not a history guy, nor am I a politics guy, so this movie lost points right away when it started talking about "the left" and "the right" and all that jargon. So I'll do my best to fake my way through a review, but bear with me. The film revolves around a popular leftist, a doctor (Montand) who is never named in the film, but is meant to represent real life democrat Grigoris Lambrakis. We start out with the doctor's staff, who are also his friends, making last minute preparations for a rally that is to be held when the doctor's plane lands. The staff have trouble securing a location, no venue operator wanting to feel the wrath of the right wing government for hosting the popular leftist. Eventually a venue is secured, the doctor makes his way into town and despite death threats, plans to deliver his speech, as planned. Upon finishing his speech, the doctor exits the venue, only to see a truck speed past him and someone pop out of the back with a club, whacking the doctor. The "doc" receives serious brain injuries from the attack. Meanwhile, an investigation is assembled to find out who attacked the doctor, with culprits leading all the way up to high ranking, right wing military officials. Meanwhile, the examining magistrate looks into the whole mess, sniffing down leads and prepared to hand out indictments to anyone who may be involved.
Again, I ask you to bear with me, as it's nearly 1:00 am and I've been up since 6:30 am. I'm yawning, with heavy eyelids, so a short & sweet review filled with spelling and grammatical errors is certainly a possibility right now.
I really didn't expect to like this, but like so many BOOK movies before it, it surprised me. It wasn't a big surprise - a friends and family jumping out from behind your sofa and book shelf, on your birthday, kind of surprise - but it was a surprise nonetheless, because usually the words "political thriller" are a real turn off for me, when it comes to my movie viewing habits. I'm just not the political type, as I reiterated in the synopsis portion, so usually anything having to do with politics, especially foreign affairs, is something that I try to avoid. However, this goes far beyond political thriller and actually acts as both history lesson and murder mystery. Even if you know nothing of Grigoris Lambrakis or his assassination, the film does a dandy job of acquainting you with the man (or at least a fictional representation of the man) and detailing his situation in layman's terms, without using political mumbo jumbo to alienate the audience. Watching Z is like getting a history lesson from that cool, fun history teacher - you know, the one who used tater tots and chicken nuggets to reenact the Civil War. The whole thing eventually breaks down into a murder mystery, where we, the audience, already know the perpetrator and it's up to the characters to find out what we already know and, while the director still tries to keep it all interesting for us, who already, sort of, know the ending.
Such a great cast too, from Jean-Louis Trintignant (Three Colors: Red, Amour, My Night at Maud's) to Francois Perier (Le Samourai), plus Irene Papas, whom, although her character barely speaks, says so much with facial expressions and carries heavy, burdening eyes to show that her character is filled with a waterfall of emotion. Plus there's Yves Montand, whom I dug in The Wages of Fear and although his screen time here is very short, it's still fun to see people you liked in other things, show up in new things. The whole movie ends with probably the most interesting pieces of the whole film - by telling us what the Greek government banned, following the death of the leftist and the regaining of power by the right, which included the letter "Z", which means "he lives" in Greek. It also fills us in on what happened to the real people, most of those high ranking military officers getting off with a little more than a slap on the wrist and seemingly, the reporter who broke the case wide, getting the most severe of all the punishments. One of those things that makes you sit back and say "Wow".
RATING: 6/10 Again, "political thriller" isn't right up my alley, but this one did fine by me, with not enough to REALLY complain about, but not enough really good stuff to get it into a higher echelon of ratings.
MOVIES WATCHED: 932
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 69
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