Movies at Home — May, 2008 Part I

Well, I have had a lot of free time on my hands lately. And you know what that means. It’s time to waste some time in the best way possible — watching movies!
 
 
The buzz about this movie was due to its two leading men, Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, and it’s justified. Crowe played detective Richie Roberts who was determined to stay clean in the filthy world of bribery and corruption. He was fortunate to find a group of upright cops who were willing to work with him to bring down the drug-smuggling ring. Mind you, he was no boy scout. He might be a good cop, but his personal life was screwed up. His infidelity led to a divorce battle with his estranged wife. Everyone looked at him as the loser, which made us want him to succeed that much more.
 
Washington dominated the film as the mob boss who took organized crime as an honourable entrepreneurship. He learned the values and beliefs from his old boss. He looked down on those who only cared about money and not pride. He was so successful that his family looked up to him and wanted to be like him, even after witnessing his killing at breakfast. He was ruthless while taking care of business, but respectful while he was with his family. As a result, Washington portrayed of Frank Lucas with humanity instead of just another cookie cutter mobster.
 
Because these characters were sensational, towards the end of the movie, we really grew attached to them. As Lucas’s drug supply was drying up, and the corrupted police began to harass his family, the boundary of good and evil started to blur. This made the ending effectively satisfying when Roberts and Lucas finally confronted each other.
 
The movie also discussed the political atmosphere at the time, the drug issue, which is still relevant today, and the hierarchy in organized crime. Interestingly, Italians taking orders from African-American was apparently very surprising. Based on a true story, American Gangster is a solid dramatic film for anyone who likes crime and mobster movies.
 
題外話: 值得一提的是網友王同學介紹的《門徒》, 其中販毒組織的系統、不同上癮者闡述毒品的害處、還有劉德華不同於以往的演出和立體的角色設計都很不錯, 也是值得一看的電影。
 
 
I’ve always been fond of British humour. They’re different than American slapstick humour. I may be biased by the stereotype, but the British have an elegant way to tell even the most outrageous jokes. They are more effective when they speak with a straight face, and that’s why this movie is so funny.
 
Most people came to know about the trio Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Foster from Shaun of the Dead, but I was just interested in seeing this movie when I saw the trailer, which showed off its funny moments without giving away too much. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) was an exceptional officer who was proud to wear the uniform. Stopping crime was in every aspect of his life, but his girlfriend and colleagues had had enough of his uptight mind set. He was promoted but transferred to a rural town, where the biggest case was searching for an escaped goose. He was partnered with a simple man, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who thought being a cop in a big city meant shooting guns in crazy car chases like he’d seen in Bad Boy II and Point Break. As Angel got more and more frustrated with his new job, strange incidents started happening. The peaceful town Sanford may not be so perfect as it seems after all…
 
Unlike parody movies like Scary Movie or Not Another Teen Movie, Hot Fuzz paid homage to cop movies without inserting sexually charged jokes just to get some laughs. More importantly, it had a story that was actually quite engaging. Big-city cop in a small town may not be an original idea, but the secret near the end could surprise you even though there were hints along the way. Just when you thought you knew the answer, a plot unravelled to make you wonder what was really going on.
 
I loved Pegg’s dead serious Angel. As the situation got more ridiculous, his poker face was more hilarious. And thanks to the good writing, done by the director Wright and Pegg himself, we felt his frustration when he was alone in pursuing the investigation of the serial deaths. Nick Foster was very lovable as the ingenuous Danny Butterman. His good nature was pure and childlike in contrast to the other Sanford folks, who appeared to be friendly but also alienating. A bumbling character like Danny could have become annoying as the film went on, but that did not happen in this movie. Foster was so enjoyable that the audience would be very pleased to see what was in store of his character at the end.
 
Although Hot Fuzz is a comedy, many categorize it as a dark comedy, because there are horrible death scenes and gore that could make some viewers feel uncomfortable. The idea of Sanford’s secret might be absurd, but it adds to the comedic element without sacrificing the legitimacy of the storyline. Overall, it’s a very entertaining movie that takes comedy to another level. I became a fan and will patiently await the team’s next collaboration.
 
 
香港在商業電影市場的確是比其他華語地區成熟許多, 除了無厘頭喜劇之外, 警匪片更是香港電影的拿手好戲, 只要編劇夠用心和細心, 不難找到出色之作, 這部《跟蹤》就是一個例子。
 
本片與歹徒尾隨辦公室女郎夜歸無關, 而是描述警方一個專任情報收集、跟蹤案件相關人的單位, 如何對抗一個搶劫集團的故事。片中藉由菜鳥何家寶(徐子珊 飾, 不知道為什麼香港人都會給女生取這種名字)從受訓開始, 跟著隊長黃文展(任達華 飾)學習情報科的團體合作還有跟蹤時所有要注意的小細節, 然後劇情隨著跟蹤隊受命調查珠寶劫案嫌疑人陳重生(梁家輝 飾)進入緊張的高潮…
 
劇本值得稱讚的地方是讓觀眾認識情報科跟蹤隊的工作內容卻不感到沉悶, 反而覺得很有意思。每一個人物都有特色, 即使戲分不多的長官邵美琪和刑警張兆輝依然讓人印象深刻。片頭與結局相呼應, 之前看似無關緊要的小事成為埋下的伏筆, 到後來能發揮作用, 這是好劇本的特徵。
 
主角徐子珊因為是故事主軸, 我們看到她隨著事件發展成長, 人物的建立也最完全, 徐子珊還因為這部電影奪得了香港電影金像獎的最佳新人獎。任達華算是有突破性的演出, 從《黑社會》的大哥變成帶著啤酒肚的不起眼慈祥老翁。梁家輝在這裡有股蘊藏在內的狠勁, 可惜因為本片基於邪不勝正、滿足大眾思維的口味, 反派的發展受到限制。
 
是的, 這就是《跟蹤》的弱點, 為了成就好人一定要擊敗壞人的定律, 人物刻畫便流於平面簡單, 部分劇情也太過皆大歡喜。不過光就娛樂性來說, 它還是令人滿足的商業電影。不用好萊塢的飛車追逐加爆炸特效, 只要是有趣的故事, 拍一部讓觀眾願意進電影院的電影, 還是有可為的。

About Alice

I am a Taiwanese-Canadian who lived in Toronto for 18 years and then decided to explore the west coast and moved to British Columbia. My interests include science, technology, movies, music, theatre and literature. I am always curious about how things work. I hope I can turn this curiosity into my passion about life and the world around us!
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