Sunday, May 03, 2009

2 Twisty Tales

With the number of movies I see, I sometimes begin to think that it would be difficult for a movie to really surprise me any more. Considering the genre and the characters, I usually like to make some educated guesses about upcoming plot developments and surprise twists and in the recent past, I have hit the bull's eye with such guesses. Ofcourse, while its nice to see my guesses turn out to be correct, it does make the movie-watching experience rather disappointing. So it was a rather sobering and fun experience to watch not one, but two films that completely surprised me.

Of the two, the drama Nothing But The Truth was the better film as a whole. Inspired by true events, it is about an agonizing dilemma faced by a reporter and the consequences of her decision. Kate Beckinsdale plays the reporter who, based on a reliable source, has revealed that a soccer mom(who also happens to be the mother of her own son's classmate in school) is actually a CIA operative. Pressured by the government(led by a dogged prosecutor, played by Matt Dillon) to reveal her source under threats of being a national security issue, she steadfastly refuses, and is sent to jail.

Like Doubt, the film constantly keeps us thinking as we struggle to take sides on the issue of the reporter making her source known. The scoop destroys Beckinsdale's life as she goes to jail and is on the brink of losing her husband and her son. It has a negative effect on the CIA operative's life too as she is hassled by the press. And ofcourse, there is the national security issue too since the source could potentially be revealing other secrets to much more dangerous persons. All this makes us wonder if Beckinsdale's obstinacy about protecting her source is warranted. At the same time, it is easy to see her side of the story too. Revealing the source would compromise her integrity in her own eyes since she had given her word to the sourse. It would also threaten the very future of honest, daring journalism as the revelation may make other sources unwilling to open up to journalists. Matt Dillon and Alan Alda, as Beckinsdale's lawyer, represent these two sides and do so very convincingly.

While Beckinsdale's source is the heart of the movie, the movie at times makes us wonder if the identity of the source is simply a MacGuffin and whether the movie is essentially about Beckinsdale's conflict. The climax is a wonderful surprise. Like the Sixth Sense revelation, it makes us admire the director's cleverness since it was right in front of our eyes and there were enough clues pointing to it. The climax also provides closure and makes us completely understand one of the sides of the issue.

I read in Ebert's review that Nothing But The Truth was a victim of the economy as it failed to find a distributor and went straight to DVD. But that's the viewer's loss as it is a must-see.

The Uninvited also surprised me inspite of belonging to a genre where a surprise twist is almost a given. A horror thriller, it is about a teenager(Emily Browning) who was admitted to a mental hospital after her mom's death in an accident. On her return, she finds out that her dad is about to wed her mom's nurse(Elizabeth Banks). Some supernatural happenings convince her that the nurse killed her mom but her recent issues ensure that nobody, including her sister and her dad, believe her.

The film is also a remake of an Asian horror film but is more substantial than the other remakes. It has its share of creepy moments and 'Boo' moments but it also offers more in the form of Emily's loneliness and desperate attempts to convince others of the nurse's guilt. The revelations of the identities of the ghosts haunting Emily take the film along somewhat predictable lines and the movie turns into a thriller as Banks goes after Browning and her sister. But the film then pulls the rug out from under us with a terrific twist. The twist doesn't stand up to scrutiny but then again, this is not a genre under which movies are routinely cross-examined or seen for the airtight nature of their scripts. But it does turn everything on its head and totally surprise us.


At 6:05 AM, Blogger Dot said...

The Uninvited - Try to watch the Korean version, the twist in this is not as convincing as the original.

At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Karthik S said...

Glad to see someone else saw Nothing But The Truth too! As Ebert says, its a shame this was a Direct-To-DVD release - in a broader release this would have won some award!

And, as the first comment says. do watch 'Janghwa, Hongryeon' the original of The Uninvited. Like most originals, this one rocks too.

On a similar note, check out 'REC' before you see 'Quarantine', if you haven;t seen it already.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I been hearing that the uninvited isn't that good compared to the original. The original was trippy though... very good one. But curious enuff to check the remake heh heh

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

wow, 3 recommendations for 'the uninvited's original. am defly gonna add it to my netflix queue :)

karthik, have seen 'quarantine'. the dvd had the trailer for 'REC'. defly looked creepier :)

At 1:47 AM, Blogger Funtabulous said...

Thanks for this post.My hubby was asking me jus 2 days ago that he wants to watch a good movie.Will watch nothing but the truth.I am not sure abt Uninvited tho..Not a person for horror films.If u have more good movies up your sleeves pls pass on the titles.


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