Human beings can really suck sometimes. In the case of Burma (also known as Myanmar), there are a lot of human beings that suck really badly. Unfortunately, they’re the ones in charge. Since the military took control in a coup in 1962, Burma has been under the military’s full lock and key. It also has one of the highest and worst counts of human rights violations in the world. Since 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi has been one of the loudest and most important figures in the opposition to Burma’s military rule. In director Luc Besson’s latest film, she is the center of the subject matter. The movie is a biopic that follows her life from a young age, when her father was assassinated for opposing the military rule, to her return to Burma in 1988, when she was approached to lead a new political movement against the military, through her time in house arrest for 15 years.
There is much you can tell about a movie from its start, the music, the images, and the tone. In Steven Spielberg’s new film War Horse, everything you need to know is spelled out in the first three minutes of dialogue and scenes. We have an over the top image of the countryside with overly cheerful but semi-epic music, giving the sense of a journey but with no real danger. (To bring this point home, the music is repeated several times over the course of the film, doing nothing to make the movie more intense, and gets very repetitive.) This sequence goes on for a while and we get to see a boy, Albert (Jeremy Irving), watching a horse grow up, and him obviously dreaming of owning him. So when his foolish father buys the horse instead of a work horse, for reasons of vanity, Albert and his new horse Joey instantly bond, as Albert tries to train him to be a work horse.
Just released from prison, Mitchell (Colin Farrell) is a criminal who just wants to go straight. Most importantly, he never wants to do time again. As is the case with most criminals in stories like this, Mitchell’s life is surrounded with people who are steeped in crime, leaving Mitchell embroiled in the life he wants to escape, but with little means to do so. In a vain attempt, he takes the tip of a woman he flirts with on the night of his release, who tells him of a job working for a reclusive actress as a handyman and bodyguard. The job turns out to be for a woman named Charlotte (Keira Knightley), presented to us as one of the world’s most famous actresses. She hasn’t acted in some time and has been hiding away in seclusion since, which has only served to make her a fixation for the paparazzi. Mitchell and Charlotte fall for each other, but as Mitchell falls further into Charlotte’s private world, he also becomes further entangled with the world of crime that he lives in.
When the tagline of your film is “Was Shakespeare a fraud?,” you’re immediately courting controversy. Then, when your film proposes the idea that someone besides Shakespeare really wrote all his plays, and the man himself was simply an opportunistic actor who took advantage of a situation, you immediately put the reviewers of your film in a precarious position. One that teeters between critiquing the film in its challenging, historical context, and simply as the film itself, set apart from its accusations and presuppositions—which is exactly what writer John Orloff and director Roland Emmerich have done with Anonymous. By the time the film hits theaters and this review is published, there will already be a bevy of articles debating this very “what if?,” most of them doing their best to discredit any legitimacy the film may hold on its claim.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas takes place during World War II in Germany. A young boy comes home from school to find his family is planning for a dinner party and discussing moving to the countryside since their dad got a promotion. The young boy, Bruno, isn’t pleased about the move since he loves the house they’re in and all his friends. The family’s new home is a bid drab and gloomy and not at all warm and inviting like their last home – more of a walled compound than a home. It’s also in the middle of freakin nowhere in the countryside.