Liked this. Its difficult material but awfully well executed.
I haven’t read many reviews funnily enough. I think in part because I didn’t want to read a spoiler of any kind but also, I wouldn’t consider myself part of the target audience for a film about young black homosexuality. But it’s good, in fact it is magnetic and worth two-hours of anyone’s time.
THE EAGLE HUNTRESS
Saw this last weekend; very mixed audience, couples with kids and a scattering of oldies. They programmed it for 11.30am on a Sunday morning. Taking pot-luck I suppose.
I liked it, loved the scenery and the close-up shots of the eagle. It’s a drama-doc I think: there are no actors in it but it isn’t a pure ethnographic documentary such as you might see on BBC 4. If you don’t know, it’s set in Outer Mongolia, about 300-miles from China’s southern border; the remotest region of the remotest country in the world, according to the director and producer. I could be wrong ‘cos its years since I read it but I have a feeling that is where Murakami sets Wind-up Bird: at the bottom of a well in the remotest region of the remotest &tc. . . . or perhaps that’s Manchuria? Sorry. However, this is about the nomadic people who live there, in winter temperatures of - 40c and is a concocted tale about a 13-year old tribal girl who is mentored by her father, himself a renowned eagle-hunter, to train a Golden Eagle of her own. She wins the Eagle Hunter competition at her first attempt against an all-male field.
As I say, I liked it. The scene where the sixty or-so competitor eagle-hunters arrive in the bowl of the mountains where the contest will take place, one by one, on horseback, on camels and on motorcycles is terrific and authentic. Some of them have travelled hundreds of miles to get there. Reviewers have placed a big but here because there is no way on earth a thirteen-year old novice . . . male or female . . . could beat these gunslingers and of course the audience’s realisation that this isn’t what they thought it was, a documentary with real people with real commitment in the wilds of nowhere are confounding and disappointing. But they are being disingenuous: who did they think was filming that dangerous ascent of the rocky crag? Or that wonderful deep long shot of them riding across the desert Steppe? Of course there are professionals involved! The Guardian however, handing it 2* calls it manipulative filming.
Disagree. Disagree pretty strongly in fact. There is an interview on YouTube with the Director, Otto somebody in which he says that he got the idea for the film from images he had seen in a BBC Documentary about something else entirely and wondered to himself about making a film concerning a Mongolian girl struggling to get to grips with the fortitude required to be an eagle huntress in a patriarchal society. He pitched his idea then tried to find out whether the naturally conservative and closed society of indigenous nomads would work with him and to his surprise, found exactly what he was looking for: a father who had been a five-times champion eagle-hunter himself, with a thirteen-year old daughter who secretly wanted to try it. His elder son had joined the army and would never therefore want to stay on the Steppe never mind train as an eagle hunter in – 40c temperatures. These two are the father-daughter couple we see in the film. And probably the rest of the family and the animals and the Yurts and the solar panels are the same stuff that they own. So no, I didn’t feel particularly manipulated.
I finally caught up with Sicario which was on at a strange time, half-five on a Friday evening, just a completely one-off showing. Me plus a couple of couples. It’s about the Mexican Cartels, maybe I should be interested in this but honestly, I’m not. I read a good book about them once, fiction, can’t remember the title; was it Power of the Dog? Doesn’t matter, I spent the whole time reading it the same way I spent my time watching this: WTF don’t they just legalise the stuff? Guns, men, guns, noise, guns, American hard-wired brutal thugs and poverty-stricken Mexicans carrying out even worse atrocities than the devils, Isis.
It won an Oscar. For Cinematography [the great man, Roger Deakins] and reviewers think it should have won another one for the score which is tremendous. There is definitely a lot of craft and care; superb performances from leads, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro and really all the way down to even the smallest most insignificant actor. Some lovely set-pieces . . . the director has a particular affection for framing devices; in a mirror; in a doorway; through a gunsight; at the exit from a mules tunnel but I didn’t in the end feel I had been watching anything informative: just a very well made and sorry to say this, a rather too slow-burning cop procedural in which you are never sure who the real bad guys are.