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Arbitrary Brutality

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The end is a flashback to 1940, to the murders in Katyn. The sequence is almost unbearably graphic, though not punishing or exploitive. It is filmed with simplicity, a purity of intent, and I wanted to watch the faces of these men in their last seconds of lifeónot for the sake of history, but because of Wajda’s imperative to put his father’s death onscreen. He needed to do this. And somehow, sanity is restored.

The Guggenheim’s white interiors and open, circular ramps make a great setting for the long, bloody shoot-out at the center of the paranoid conspiracy thriller The International. As he proved in Run Lola Run, German director Tom Tykwer has a knack for whizzing in sync with his characters, and there are one or two shots where the Interpol hero (Clive Owen and his stubble) hurtles along the curving, descending ramp while firing across the museum at assassins, who in turn are moving on the same trajectory firing at him. It’s good enough that you forget how much better Brian De Palma could do it. The rest is a slow road to nowhere, less clunky than The Interpreter but bogged down by its own cynicism. This is another movie that says you can’t defeat a nefarious multitentacled multinational colossus if you stay within the system: The only hope is vigilante justice. At one point, the hero is thisclose to getting the goods on the big bad banker without having to shoot him when a swarm of bats suddenly gives him away. An intentional metaphor? As in The Dark Knight, the message seems to be saying you’d have to be bats to think you can make a difference.

I don’t know why I lined up with the other dweebs to see the new Friday the 13th remake. Maybe because the original was a nail in the coffin of the horror genre, and after decades of copycat hack-’em-ups, ironic-postmodern hack-’em-ups (Scream), parody ironic-postmodern hack-’em-ups (Scary Movie), and even a hip mumblecore postmodern hack-’em-up manqué (Baghead), I was curious to know how it would feel to watch a movie in which a procession of attractive semi-clad young dudes and dudettes get royally wasted and that’s all. Well, the killings are loud but artless (the Final Destination series set the bar very high on Rube Goldberg splatter), and even the most sadistic scenes lack conviction. You really have to screw it up to dishonor the memory of a movie as shitty as the original Friday the 13th. Heads should roll.

Katyn
Directed by Andrzej Wajda.
Koch Lorber Films. NR.

The International
Directed by Tom Tykwer.
Columbia Pictures. R.

Friday the 13th
Directed by Marcus Nispel.
Warner Brothers Pictures. R.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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