Thursday, 26 February 2009

Going Down In History

For a while now the Guardian has had a regualar feature called Reel History that assesses the historical accuracy and the entertainment value of films inspired by true events. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford gets an A- for accuracy, for instance, while only garnering a D for entertainment, which is a little harsh and it manages to be one of those reviews where the reviewer wanted to watch a different movie:
Too often, the monotonous voiceover recounts events which sound a lot more interesting than anything happening onscreen, while the audience is left watching endless shots of snowy fields and rickety furniture. Jesse James remains a distant figure[.]

All of which seemed to have some point to me rather than being reasons to mark it down.

Anyway, it's quite amazing that they hadn't got around to U-571 before now as at seems exactly the sort of movie the format was built for: A movie about a moment of British Heroism that has been handed over to Americans to make it more Box Office friendly. As if that wasn't enough:
Obviously, at some point during pre-production, someone asked the question: "But how can we make this film even more ridiculous?" Fortunately, the answer was readily to hand: cast 90s poodle rocker Jon Bon Jovi as the chief engineer.

So, plenty of reasons to hate this movie. But the reason I'm posting about it here is for this line:
The director actually has the audacity to end on a title card dedicating his film to the memory of the real sailors who captured Enigma machines. Yes, that same memory he has just desecrated. This is exactly the most tasteless gesture the film-makers could have made.

Ouch!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The family of Jesse James have posted their own 5 page review of this movie on their family web site, together with stories about the James family’s former experiences with Hollywood and Jesse James movies.

http://www.ericjames.org/Reviews/AssassinationofJesseJames/index.html

Paul said...

Not wishing to upset the James family I will say that I thought it was a good movie. Unlike the Guardian reviewer I was entertained and informed. I felt the pace suited what the movie was trying to do. The offscreen action, to me, was making a point about how James legend was through word of mouth...

That said, almost by the nature of this blog, I did have Frank & Jesse James by Warren Zevon going through my head for large chunks of the movie...