Demolition Man

demolition_man

★★1/2

In the year 1996, Los Angeles is a ruined city with scattered fires. A cop called John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) apprehends a maniac kidnapper called Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). Although he catches Phoenix, he disobeys protocol and there are casualties. Spartan’s penalty is Cryostasis, to be placed in a frozen slumber until the year 2046.

Fast forward to 2032 and the city of Los Angeles has changed. It is clean and polished. Life is peaceful and there hasn’t been a crime in 16 years. That is until Simon Phoenix escapes from prison. His violent abilities have been inexplicably enhanced. Modern policemen are unable to stop him.

This compels the police chief to make a tough decision. To release John Spartan for the sole purpose of catching Phoenix. It comes after much deliberation and the conclusion that an old fashion cop is needed to stop an old fashion criminal.

The film has a satiric vision of the future. Apart from a modern looking city, Electronics are voice activated. Vehicles speak and drive themselves. Meat and spicy foods are outlawed. People speak without cursing. Any form of violence would garner shocking reactions. Then to offset this totalitarian city, there is an underground society of scavengers who fight for freedom of choice, drink beer, and eat rat burgers.

It’s a big movie of large sets, pyrotechnics, and special effects. The Cryostasis chamber is an impressive creation. At its center is a large robotic arm that carries prisoners locked in ice cubes. Attached to the cubes are monitors to read neurological activity. However, there is no mention of recovery from Cryostasis. Don’t human muscles require acupuncture?

It’s jarring at times when comedy shifts to violence. In one scene, a goofy character sings a jolly song. In another, Snipes and Stallone are striking each other mercilessly. They are at the top of their physicality and deliver some exciting sequences. Directed by Marco Brambilla, it’s a movie that combines hard action and satire.

Born Yesterday

born_yesterday_ver2★★1/2

It doesn’t take long to know Harry’s way. Walking towards a limousine, he restrains his personal assistant from speaking. Then from inside the limo, he screams angrily at Billie to get down their private jet.

Billie is his kind, beautiful girlfriend. But it later appears that she isn’t educated in politics, which is Harry’s field.  He considers her a liability. Should Billie be interviewed about Harry’s shady businesses, she may tell the truth.

This brings in Paul, a reputable news reporter who has gained the favorable eye of Harry. He asks Paul to train Billie. To teach her formal language and manners. To educate her enough so she can handle social events. So Paul teaches her and Billie learns well. And then it happens. Paul falls in love with her.

There is an appeal about Billie’s character. She speaks with an open heart. It gives her charm and also a sense of humor. But by being with Harry, she is sad. Her spirits are oppressed.

Through Billie’s experiences, satirical points are being made. Though not in a mean spirit, Politicians are referred to as pretenders who don’t know about the rules they implement. Billie manages them well like in one scene, she orchestrates a musical number at the dining table. To the melody of ‘12 days of Christmas’, they sing about the Ammendments to the constitution.

Don Johnson and John Goodman are good as Paul and Harry. But it is Melanie Griffith as Billie who draws attention. She gives a controlled performance. The film, however, does not have enough laughs to recommend as a comedy. Goodman is not funny while he is mean. And Don Johnson is given a limited role. Their story plays out as more of a romance. Directed by Luis Mandoki and written Garson Kanin and Douglas McGrath, Born Yesterday is entertaining if expectations are tempered.

Three Colors: Blue

three_colors_blue★★★

Julie grows inward and unclear of her intention. She throws away her highly regarded musical compositions. Suicide has already been attempted. Meaningless passion with a man was engaged. Her feelings decide that she should start over in a new environment. This is the result of a tragedy when she loses her husband and daughter in a car accident.

 Her countenance is mesmerizing. She tends to observe events outside her window or in the corridors. It’s an earnest performance by Juliette Binoche investing the character of Julie with pensiveness and subtlety.

Extreme close-ups filmed by cinematographer Sławomir Idziak offer interpretation. The eye is said to be the window into the soul. Sadness is there but Julie could also be lost and in search for truth. Some scenes fade to black before appearing again. This typically follows questions by other characters that could be relevant to her.

Krzysztof Kieślowski directs the film (one of a trilogy) at a slow pace which allows observations to be felt and understood. Music is still alluring to Julie when she observes a man playing a flute in the street. But she has decidedly grown detached from emotional and physical attachments. Her late husband’s friend (Benoît Régent) is concerned but also deeply harmed by her feelings.  Apprehension begins to fill Julie’s situation.

Other characters support her. A young boy who recovers her necklace. A friendly exotic dancer named Lucille (Charlotte Véry). And Sandrine (Florence Pernel) who was involved with her family. Through the characters, Julie begins to realize more meaning in her life’s purpose.