Jul. 8th, 2012

innocent_man: (noir)
Dirty Pretty Things is a noir-ish drama starring a bunch of people with names that aren't easy to spell or pronounce. The star of the movie is Chiwetel Ejiofor, aka the dude who played the Operative in Serenity.

So he plays Okwe, a man working as a cab driver as well as the night desk work at a swank London hotel. He doesn't sleep if he can help it, and chews some kind of plant to keep him awake. We learn early on that he's trained as a doctor, and as the movie goes on and we meet his friends (the Russian night doorman, Chinese morgue worker, English prostitute Juliette (played by Oscar nominee Sophie Okenedo) and his roommate, a Turkish hotel maid named Senay (Audrey Tatou)), all of whom are illegal immigrants, refugees or otherwise working the underside of life.

In the beginning of the movie, Okwe pulls a human heart out of a toilet. It turns out that his hotel manager, Juan (Sergio Lopez) is running a racket where he pulls out people's kidneys, sells them for a lot of money, and gives the "donor" an English passport. When he learns that Okwe is a doctor, he tries to blackmail him into doing the surgery. Meanwhile, the immigration police are busting down Senay's door, and she is forced to work in a sweatshop where her boss rapes her.

There's actually a lot of rape in the movie, all of it directed at Senay. Okwe has his own issues; he's attracted to Senay, but he's trying to keep his head down because he's in England illegally. The movie is dark and dirty, and really about Okwe's attempts to remain any kind of ethical in the face of the shit going on around him.

As difficult as bits of the movie are, I really enjoy it. It's very World of Darkness, and specifically I think that, thematically, it's very Promethean. At the end, the man buying the kidneys remarks to Okwe (and Senay and Juliette), "I've never seen you people before." Okwe replies, "Because we are the people you do not see." That theme of disenfranchisement and forcing people to live criminal lives because they can't afford to live any other way is pretty pervasive, and I think makes the movie compelling.

My grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-low

Next up: Disclosure
innocent_man: (slimshady)
Disclosure was one of a series of psycho-sexual thrillers in the 90s. The posters make it pretty clear that they were attempting to ride the coattails of Basic Instinct, even though they're very different kinds of movies.

Michael Douglas plays Tom Sanders, a computer exec in Seattle working for not-Microsoft who is passed over for promotion in favor of Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore), a competent, ruthless manager who also happens to be an ex-girlfriend of Sanders. Sanders takes a meeting with her, trying to get his manufacturing arm of the project back in shape, and she jumps him, trying to force him into sex. He fights her off and bolts, but doesn't tell his wife, and the next day he is accused of sexually harassing her.

Douglas turns around and sues her (and the company) for sexual harassment, and eventually wins when it turns out the whole thing was recorded. But in the meanwhile, he gets subjected to the same kind of shit that women in the same situation - you probably really wanted it, you didn't tell anyone immediately, why can't you just forget it, we all need to work together, this will cause problems for everyone, this happens all the time, it's not big deal, etc.

And then the movie takes this weird twist where it's not all about the harassment. It's about the company trying to get Tom fired because...reasons? The boss (Donald Sutherland) doesn't like him, but the way they're trying to get him out seems really Byzantine and unnecessary, and he winds up sneaking into a hotel room to use a virtual reality thing to look at files that will prove him not incompetent...anyway, then he humiliates Meredith in front of everyone by making her look stupid, she gets axed, he still doesn't get the promotion but someone who likes does, all is well.

The movie is based on a Michael Crichton novel, and really, it's basically the movie version of WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ. The fact that Sanders is objectively in the right helps, and right up until the harassment issue is settled it isn't so bad. Douglas even manages to get some drama going when he points out to his wife (who, by the way, is of the "this happens all the time, suck it up" school of thought) that he feels really out of control and violated. What I think is that casting a black actor in the role might have conveyed a little more of that, because I don't know that Douglas has a lot of experience in being this kind of victim, and that might be why he had trouble conveying it. But I dunno.

It's not a horrible movie, but it's not great and it was marketed badly because it's not sexy. The only sex in it is sexual assault, and that's not really sexy.

My grade: C+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: District 9


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