Thursday, January 8, 2015
Thursday Movie Picks: Movies That Feature An Irreparable Mistake
I found this blogathon at Wandering Through the Shelves this weekend and thought it would be a good place to begin my 2015 blogging resolution (basically: Write More, Dammit!). It's easy and fun: Each week, pick three movies that relate to the stated theme. Last week was films featuring a bank robbery (for what it's worth, I would have chosen the French classic Rififi, the recent nutso Now You See Me, and The Italian Job, both versions of which have their strengths). This week, the theme is the more difficult-to-define Movies that feature an Irreparable Mistake. My first pick was easy, my second pick I had to think about a bit, and the third is kind of out there but stands out for a number of different reasons.
1. Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007) It's right there in the title, isn't it? The whole film is about atoning for an irreparable mistake. This is probably a film that should never have been made, considering that Ian McEwan's lovely, lyrical source novel exists solely because of its very literary coup de grace of an ending - something which, while translated fairly well by director Wright and screenwriter Christopher Hampton, doesn't have quite the impact onscreen that it does in the novel's pages. In fact, what strength it does have is almost solely contained in Vanessa Redgrave's master class of a performance, which packs an entire history into maybe five minutes of screentime. But this is still a gorgeous film to behold - especially its first third (Saoirse Ronan's eyes! That green dress!) - and it contains one of cinema's great tracking shots (the stunning, devastating Dunkirk sequence). If it feels a bit at a remove, then that's almost by necessity, given the conceit of the film's ending. But this is a film that has only grown in my estimation in memory and on rewatch, one defined by passion - whether for another person or for righting one's own wrong.
2. I Know What You Did Last Summer (Jim Gillespie, 1997) I have a theory that pretty much any good horror film features an Irreparable Mistake, whether offscreen before the film begins (think Freddy Kruger's backstory in A Nightmare on Elm Street), or as the inciting incident, as it is here. Usually, the Irreparable Mistake is not leaving the damn haunted house, or not calling for help, or leaving your door unlocked, or something similarly stupid. But here, it's a decision of some actual weight: Four idiot teenagers accidentally hit a guy with their car and then dispose of the body (quite poorly, as it turns out). It's not quite as good as screenwriter Kevin Williamson's prior hit Scream, possibly because it doesn't have slasher master Wes Craven in the director's chair, but it has a killer premise and is still fun, and quite the nostalgia trip for anyone who was a teen in the '90s (like me).
3. Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999) I have been trying to think of a way to describe Audition without giving it away ever since I first saw it, mostly because it has such a genius structure and build-up. I think that this is the PERFECT way to do so. The plot is thus: Shigeharu Aoyama is a lonely widower living in Japan. His television producer friend suggests he hold a fake audition for a movie in order to find a new wife, since he has trouble approaching women. I'm not sure that the audition itself is the Irreparable Mistake. I would say that comes a bit later, after Aoyama becomes attracted to the beautiful former ballerina Asami. Like the other two films listed here (this was not intentional), Audition is based on a novel, and is an intriguing exploration of gender roles in modern-day Japan, and any lover of movies should see it (and I say that as someone who usually does not like this kind of movie). Don't read anything about it, don't look it up on IMDB, avoid looking at any posters or DVD covers if you can. Just type the title into Netflix and click play. That's all I'm going to say.