Monday, April 10, 2017

The Revenant

Year 9, Day 100 - 4/10/17 - Movie #2,594

BEFORE: I just added two films to the watchlist - usually no big deal, because I'm always adding films to the list, about as quickly as I remove them - but this time it was the film "Snow White and the Huntsman" and its sequel, "The Huntsman: Winter War", both of which star Charlize Theron (who I just watched in "Mad Max: Fury Road") and Chris Hemsworth (who I just watched in "Doctor Strange", "Blackhat" and "In the Heart of the Sea").  In addition to being enormously frustrating that I just freakin' cleared both of these actors, it makes me feel like I might have missed something somehow, as if had I only added these two films a week earlier (not even possible, considering when the first one aired) then my linking would have been "better" or more elegant, somehow.  But I can't change the chain now, not when it's arranged to get me to Easter and Mother's Day in the right number of steps.  My sole consolation is that I'll want to watch the new "Thor: Ragnarok" film when it gets released in November, and maybe I'll need these films to link to it, or away from it?  Arrgh, I hate not knowing, because maintaining the chain is really a frustrating, inexact science.

Tom Hardy carries over for his third film in a row (and last in my current chain).  I'm finally getting to some of the biggest films from 2015 that probably came on to my list during 2016 - it's just taken me this long to find the best way to link to them.  I pretty much put all the films I didn't get to last year together, review all the cast lists, and then link them as best as I can.  I could theoretically get to all of them in calendar 2017, if only I could stop adding more.

THE PLOT: A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820's fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

AFTER: Man, it was something of a stressful weekend, what with films about British gangsters and Australian gang lords, and everybody beating each other up or blowing up their own vehicles - and to cap it all off, here comes "The Revenant", with another very stressful film. Leo DiCaprio plays a man who has a really bad day, and this is followed by an incredibly terrible week (month?) of both recovery and revenge.  I said after watching the movie "Wild" that I'm glad that I don't go camping any more, I'm doubly glad that

At least this time there was plenty of exposition, I didn't have to guess much at what was taking place, like I did with "Mad Max: Fury Road".  See, screenwriter of "Fury Road", there are these things called characters, and they can talk to each other about what's taking place, and this also tells the audience watching the film what's going on.  It's a generally accepted movie technique, maybe give it a try?  I mean, don't be blatant about it, but slip a few things in there every once in a while, like "Hey, did you hear about Immortan Joe?"  "Yeah, someone stole his breeding wives and drove off in a truck!"  You get the idea.

But yes, this is the film where DiCaprio's character gets attacked by a bear.  I forget whether it was a CGI bear, or a trained bear, or if DiCaprio was so method that he insisted on getting injured by a real, untrained bear.  Hey, if you want the Oscar, you have to be prepared to work for it.  OK, I'm guessing that last method just can't be used, I'll do some research later about whether the bear was real or CGI.

With DiCaprio spending so much time either healing, sleeping or in a coma-like state, it's hard for me to grasp the "acting" part of this performance.  He also doesn't say very much, partially due to his injuries, and then when he recovers, it's difficult for his character to speak - so again, where's the "acting" part?  It seems like the Oscar voters rewarded him for being on a difficult shoot, rather than doing the things that are normally associated with great acting, like saying lines well, interacting with other characters, displaying emotions, etc.  So I'm at a bit of a loss to understand the awards process here, like I was scratching my head when they gave it to Eddie Redmayne for basically sitting in a wheelchair and not moving when he played Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything".

I also wonder about the veracity of the original story, the story of the real Hugh Glass - because they did enhance his story here, by giving him a dead wife and a living son.  How else did they change his story?  For that matter, how true is his original account, of surviving the bear attack and the other things that befell him in the woods, if he was by himself most of the time?  Did his tale grow taller over time, as he told it again and again?  How can we know if any of it is true?  And the ending here was so ambiguous that I had to read the plot on Wikipedia just to find out if Glass lived past his ordeal or not.

But I can see how masterful the directing and cinematography is here - particularly the long tracking shot through the battlefield, which keeps focusing on different participants.  It's very reminiscent of those long tracking shots through the backstage of the theater in "Birdman", from the same director.  It's wild, the director Alejandor Inarritu wanted to make "The Revenant" first, but DiCaprio was busy filming "The Wolf of Wall Street", so he waited for him to be available, and while waiting, he directed the film "Birdman", a little placeholder film on his schedule that ended up winning "Best Picture".

Also starring Leonardo DiCaprio (last seen in "The Wolf of Wall Street"), Domhnall Gleeson (last seen in "Brooklyn"), Will Poulter (last seen in "We're the Millers"), Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson (last seen in "Legend"), Kristoffer Joner, Joshua Burge, Duane Howard (last seen in "The Scarlet Letter"), Melaw Nakehk'o, Fabrice Adde, Arthur RedCloud, Christopher Rosamond, Robert Moloney (last seen in "The Age of Adaline"), Lukas Haas (last seen in "Jobs"), Brendan Fletcher, McCaleb Burnett, Tyson Wood, Grace Dove, Chris Ippolito.

RATING: 7 out of 10 bison livers

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