|07-11-2012, 11:47 AM||#1|
Oh My Glob!
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Land of Ooo
Carlos - Review Thread
The line between movies and miniseries isn’t always clear. There are some that have crossed over to become big successes, such as Band of Brothers, yet in the last decade, if you asked a casual television viewer to name a miniseries, chances are that’d be the only one they could name. Oliver Assayas’ astonishing feature Carlos isn’t going to be consumed by the masses, but for those who have the pleasure of seeing it in all its unedited glory, they will be rewarded with one of the most well put together, perfectly sound features in years. The film takes place over decades, following the actions of Illich Ramírez Sánchez as he forms a terrorist organization under the name Carlos.
The film was released in its original 5 1/2 hour cut as well as having a 3 hour cut. I can’t speak for the 3 hour cut but I’d imagine it’s vastly inferior. Even in the long version it seems like there could have been more added, so to cut it down two and a half hours is laughable. Édgar Ramírez is simply incredible in the title role. The way he transformers himself is often only seen by movie stars who have a lot on the line. It’s refreshing to see an actor who’s not widely known take on a role like this and really tackle it head on. His weight fluctuation, as well as his ability to speak multiple languages is both impressive and deserving of admiration. Though he doesn’t occupy every scene in the behemoth picture, his presence is always there, which makes Carlos that much scarier. Right from the start we see him go through with these horrific plots and yet he often comes off as this likable person before and after. The way he’s able to do this without even having a family member around him for the majority of the film, acting as an anchor to his early life, makes Ramirez’s work as Carlos even more incredible.
The pacing, much like everything else in the picture, is near perfect. The first half of the movie is about as good as you can get. If you’re watching the movie in three parts (the way it’s presented on Blu-ray), the way Assayas sets up the ending of the first part is incredible. For me, it’s the greatest kind of cliffhanger. It’s so much more impressive and satisfying than having a major character being shot or a big reveal. There’s no way something like this would take place in a major motion picture (namely for a film expecting a sequel), and the chances of seeing it an American television series is so minuscule that you’d have to comb through hundreds of season finales to try and find anything like it. It’s the film representation of a page turner. If you’re not enthralled by what happens after that cliffhanger, the OPEC raid, this might not be the film for you. The way Assayas shoots it is wonderful, and if the lead up to the actual event doesn’t enthrall you, the beginning of it sure will. Assayas essentially expands on another similar scene that takes place in the first quarter of the movie, except this time Carlos is directly involved.
The first half of the movie makes for one of the most tense and thrilling pieces of film in recent memory. The scene where Carlos and his group of friends are visited by two French counter-intelligent agents and a French informant is about as good as you can get when creating a suspenseful piece of entertainment. Assayas does a brilliant job of crafting and showcasing a cast of characters that occupy Carlos’ life. There are self destructive characters who conflict with Carlos’ actions, and this is presented brilliantly in the OPEC aftermath. The way things start to fall apart during the tail end of that operation is put together excellently, and the way his colleagues start to doubt him makes the situation even more tense. Some characters make their way in and out of Carlos’ life while others only show up in one or two scenes, but each one is played wonderfully by truly great actors.
There’s one thing in this film that makes me so happy, and that’s the fact that Assayas elected to shoot the film in several languages. By doing this he didn’t make it easy for mass consumption but honestly, who cares? Having the movie in German, French, Arabic, Russian, English, Spanish, Hungarian and Japanese allows for a sense of credibility that isn’t always present in historical films, and to me, it’s so welcome and appreciated. In the same way that Assayas has presented the audience with a thoughtful and factual representation of the languages, the way he takes viewers all over the world is a lot of fun. We get to see dozens of locals and it’s extremely interesting to see how Carlos and his group make there way through each of these countries and cities.
The music is a bit odd, but it does end up working. Much like the entire movie, it spans multiple languages and genres and it’s all welcome. 70s and 80s rock takes up most of the film and while it seems like an odd choice, it’s refreshing to hear this type of playful music in a genre that’s often occupied by gloom and doom orchestral pieces. The only real problem that I have with the movie resides in its final quarter. Much of Carlos’ work in the field has died down by this point and almost all of the action ceases to exist. There are operations going on led by other people but even then the audience isn’t able to watch what happens, as we are only shown the lead up and the aftermath. I don’t mind that the action slows down, as it does in every life, but the way it happens is so abrupt that it doesn’t allow for the audience to get a hold of themselves. However, it could be related to what actually happened to Carlos as a person.
Though the entire picture is centered around Carlos, the final quarter is centered directly around himself and his family. One thing that I wish was included were some scenes showing how Carlos led his life while Magdalena (Nora von Waldstätten) was in prison. The amount of information Assayas has included in this film is staggering. If you take out much of the character development (which I imagine is what the 3 hour cut is), you’re losing so much information about what made these people who they were and why they did what they they did. I understand that a lot of the film is embellished, but it’s still interesting to see. Having someone want more out of a 5 1/2 hour picture is saying something, and something that’s not often said, but as far Carlos goes, more is definitely welcome.
Trying to go through everything that Assayas has presented in Carlos would end up being pages long. There is so much more going on in this picture and having a 5 1/2 hour film feel not even close to that, it shows how good of a job he did. This brilliant piece of filmmaking could be talked about and dissected for hours and hopefully it will be talked about for years. Its incredible story, cast and direction makes for one of the most enthralling pieces of cinema in the last decade.
**** / ****
VIDEO-CLick to Watch!:
Marina: "How had hate come to take the place of love?"
- Olga Kurylenko in To the Wonder
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Last edited by iv3rdawG; 07-11-2012 at 12:04 PM.