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Clint M

Munich

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So now they're saying that Spielberg is an anti-semite? Didn't he himself complain that Mel Gibson was an anti-semite? Geez, it seems like one cannot treat Judaism cinematically anymore in ANY fashion without being accused of this. It's becoming a very tired, trite argument, in my opinion.

Who is saying so? Are they noting any difference between anti-Semitism and being critical of Israel? There is a difference, but when the Disciples voted on a resolution in General Assembly about the security fence, we were accused of anti-Semitism.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Interestingly, Jonas's book claims that Sharon was there at the initial meeting that Avner had with Golda Meir, but -- unless my ears blinked -- I think the film leaves him out of that scene ...

- - -

Sharon aide markets Spielberg's 'Munich' in Israel

Steven Spielberg has hired one of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top strategists to market his controversial new film about Israel's retaliation for the Palestinian attack on its team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Eyal Arad, who helped mastermind the recent Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, said on Sunday he was promoting the film "Munich" in the Jewish state, where it has already stirred fierce debate.

Reuters, December 18


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I just discovered that George Jonas's book Vengeance has been filmed once before, as a 1986 TV-movie called Sword of Gideon starring Steven Bauer and Michael York in the roles taken by Eric Bana and Ciaran Hinds, respectively. (And Colleen Dewhurst played Golda Meir!) Anybody here seen that version?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Ouch.

Peter's given Munich three stars at CT, right next to Russ Breimeier's three-star review of The Producers, and just ahead of the two-star review for Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

Sometimes I hate ratings.

I think Munich deserves better than three stars. Sure, it fudges facts for the sake of good drama, but it's a ripping thriller, and it's Spielberg's least sentimental film in ages. Furthermore, it's the first film he's made in... how long?... where he doesn't almost ruin the film in the final scenes.

I think it's a big step in a good direction for him. In fact, I think this is his most mature, restrained, and interesting film since Empire of the Sun. Yes, I'm tempted to say it's his best film since 1987.

I'd give it three-and-a-half... maybe even four... stars. But I need to see it again. There is one scene near the end that really didn't work for me.

By the way, here's a rather thorough response to Munich's critics.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Spielberg never called

Author George Jonas figures he just wasn't wanted on the film voyage

National Post, December 23

- - -

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Peter's given Munich three stars at CT . . .

That would be here.

: . . . right next to Russ Breimeier's three-star review of The Producers, and just ahead of the two-star

: review for Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

: Sometimes I hate ratings.

I also.

: I think Munich deserves better than three stars. Sure, it fudges facts for the sake of good drama, but it's a

: ripping thriller, and it's Spielberg's least sentimental film in ages. Furthermore, it's the first film he's made

: in... how long?... where he doesn't almost ruin the film in the final scenes.

I have no beef with the fact-fudging, per se. The thriller aspects are okay. And I think I might disagree on that last point. The cross-cutting between the sex scene and the execution of the athletes was pretty darn weird, and I'm still not sure what I make of it. Plus, as one local critic pointed out to me, the film never really gives us much in the way of character motivation for Avner. So, I appreciate the film's political relevance -- even if I disagree with some of the political points it seems to be making -- but I am not quite sure what to make of it as DRAMA.

FWIW, I know David Poland considers this the best movie of the year, but I note also that, today, the Globe and Mail gives it only TWO stars, and begins its review thusly:

Bouncing about from one flawed movie to another, Steven Spielberg has lost his way of late, and
Munich
finds him more disoriented than ever. Always a gifted technician but never the deepest thinker, Spielberg is typically most at ease travelling the thematic high road that pits pretty good against really evil. Here, to his credit, he's trying to move off that bright track into the dense thickets where morality comes only in troubling shades of grey. But his efforts are as laboured as the result -- he's playing to his weaknesses here, and it shows. What's worse, even his strengths, especially his kinetic flair with the camera, seem to have partly abandoned him, and what wants to be a film about the murky world of terrorism ends up simply as a murky film. . . .

The contemporary parallels are obvious and should have us deeply engaged. But they don't, because the script -- a disappointing ramble from
Angels in America
playwright Tony Kushner in tandem with Eric Roth -- never gets beneath the transparent surface of the moral dilemma. Instead, like a schoolboy in the first flush of ethical discovery, it just keeps repeating variations on the same old question of whether the end can justify the means. . . .

Clumsier still is the device that sees Avner suffering from recurring flashbacks to an event he never witnessed -- the Munich tragedy itself -- thereby offering us a constant reminder of the original sin that initiated, and maybe mitigates, all the sins that follow. Whether that reminder is necessary is debatable. What's not is the bizarre inclusion of a sultry femme fatale who continues the ongoing violence while adding a dollop of completely gratuitous nudity. Coming from a studio hack, this scene would just be risible. Coming from Spielberg, it's inexcusable and, given his usual modesty in sexual matters, strangely uncharacteristic.

Surprising too is the lack of visual punch he brings to the vengeful action -- these sequences are competent but, like the obscurities of the plot, hardly memorable. Bana is similarly pale in the lead role. Avner is designed as a classically Spielbergian character, the good soul who, cast off from his family into an alien world, seeks to make his way home, in this case both literally and morally. Yet Bana (with no help from the script) lacks the gravity to make us feel his predicament.

This leaves the movie, already plagued by confusion at the edges, with an emotional hole at the centre. So the very guy who's meant to carry the ethical burden of the picture, to embody terrorism's shades of grey, disappears on us. In that sense,
Munich
gets the colour right yet the tone all wrong -- Spielberg ditches the black hats, along with the white, but the grey that remains is just plain bland.

For whatever that's worth.

: By the way, here's a rather thorough response to Munich's critics.

Hmmm. "I can't imagine how Wieseltier thinks Israelis ideally should be portrayed, because many of those in Munich are, if anything, slightly unbelievable in their constant self-interrogation and closely guarded humanism." True. The real "Avner" said recently that he would do the mission all over again, and neither he nor any of his teammates seem to have had terribly big qualms about the MORAL rightness of their mission, contrary to what Spielberg shows. It is only the TACTICAL rightness of it -- whether the mission actually did any good -- that he seems to have qualms with.

"The squad is scrupulous about protecting innocents -- more scrupulous than their real-life counterparts who, in a notorious 1973 case of mistaken identity, killed an innocent Moroccan immigrant in Norway, an incident left out of 'Munich.'" Correction: Avner and his team did not kill that Moroccan immigrant, at least according to the book on which this film is based. The immigrant was killed by an entirely separate team (and, if memory serves, it was not until that immigrant was killed that Avner and his team fully realized that they were not the only team out there).

"The characters' deep ambivalence about the revenge killings they commit is actually profoundly flattering to Israel. It is impossible to imagine such doubt, and such an ardent desire to adhere to a higher standard than that of one's enemies, among the film's terrorists. Indeed, I would guess that many Palestinians would find the movie unbearably self-congratulatory -- its central concern, after all, is the effect of retaliatory Jewish violence on the Jewish soul, not on the Palestinian flesh." Yup, that's the same point I made, more or less -- though perhaps better worded.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I couldn't help myself, I looked Movieguide where the oneliner is "Re-Thinking the War on Terror, or Can't We All Just Get Along?" Yeah, that pretty much is the movie. Idiot. (Matt. 5:22 not withstanding.)


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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FWIW, Ken Eisner, my favorite local critic, begins his review thusly: "Steven Spielberg's Munich is a virtual cavalcade of missed opportunities and clashing agendas. And the resulting 164-minute traffic jam makes for queasy viewing. The veteran filmmaker takes as his starting point the event that ended the 1972 Olympics, during which Palestinian militants invaded the athletes' compound, kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes, and murdered them, mostly getting gunned down themselves afterwards. The film launches with a deft re-creation of the act, blended with real TV coverage -- a harrowing approach that deflates the moment that actors begin delivering dialogue. . . . "


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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::ermm::

[tap, tap]

Is this thing on?

Hello?

Anybody out there going to see this? I mean, yes, it was Christmas weekend, but, I mean... this is a Steven Spielberg film. This thread should be BUZZING by now. :huh:


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Anybody out there going to see this? I mean, yes, it was Christmas weekend, but, I mean... this is a Steven Spielberg film. This thread should be BUZZING by now. :huh:

Well, it doesn't actually open in wide release until January 6, so I'm sure that there are quite a few folks on the board who haven't seen it simply because they can't yet (I know that's true for me).

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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WARNING MULTI-MAXI-SPOILERS AT LINK.

http://www.libertyfilmfestival.com/libertas/index.php?p=1226

I'm not including this link to bait anybody; but behind the rather...overheated Libertas prose (and that's speaking as someone more sympathetic to their politics than I daresay most here are) are I think some valid points about the question of how Munich portrays the Israelis and how complicated the film's sympathies are and are not (it makes some points similarly to the Salon piece, and defends some of the things that put off the Globe).

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Ah. Wow... I thought it had opened wide.

I withdraw my complaint.

By the way, for those that HAVE seen it, the Slate Movie Club 2005 has a fair amount of lively debate over Munich. Interesting to see people going toe-to-toe with Jonathan Rosenbaum on this and other issues. (Don't give me an "ahem" please... I know there's a thread on this already. But this is relevant to the Munich thread too.)


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I was really looking forward to this one but overall I was disappointed. Lots of elements of great filmmaking but it lacked one essential thing which draws me into a film: a character to root for.

None of the supporting characters were developed at all and the Eric Bana character was not someone I cared about.

Even the story itself wasn't as interesting as what happened before or afterwards. The documentary "One Day in September" shows what I think a more interesting story and I thought where the Avner character ended would have made an interesting film. The stuff in between didn't interest me much.

I'm rating it 2 stars out of 5.


"I am quietly judging you" - Magnolia

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I hope to check out that Slate debate soon. But alas, work beckons. In the meantime...

Robert Fulford rips into the film for its deviation from the facts, and I fact-check Fulford.

BTW, does anyone have any thoughts on the film's approach to Israel, which seemed fairly ambivalent to me even though Spielberg insists that he's one of the most pro-Israel guys out there?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Here's my review. I cared about Bana's character... and his wife... and his colleagues, especially the toymaker.

I give it an A... my first A for Spielberg in a good long while.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Saw Munich today and am pretty sure it'll dethrone Broken Flowers as my favorite film of the year. And I'll certainly be chanting its name on Oscar night.

Now I guess I'd better try to write a review explaining WHY I like it so much.


Partner in Cahoots

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[ blink ]

Broken Flowers.

Good grief. I wrote a top ten list earlier today and completely forgot about that film.

. . . Ah, and now I see why. I saw the film on July 27, but when I saw that my blog post on possible top-ten contenders had last been updated on July 28, I ignored everything in my film journal before that date and skimmed the titles that I'd seen afterwards.

I'm not saying, BTW, that Broken Flowers would have been guaranteed a spot. But I'm shocked to realize I didn't even CONSIDER it.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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::ermm::

[tap, tap]

Is this thing on?

Hello?

Anybody out there going to see this? I mean, yes, it was Christmas weekend, but, I mean... this is a Steven Spielberg film. This thread should be BUZZING by now. :huh:

I was looking forward to seeing this opening night (wrote it on my calendar and everything) but somehow opening day came and went and I totally forgot about it. I'm going to try my best to see it tonight.


I have a blog? here at A&F that I sometimes post in.

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Because of the limited number of prints in distrobution, I had to drive over an hour away to see this movie, and it was more than worth it. I can't remember the last time I was this moved, this on-the-edge-of-my-seat, this drawn into the story. I'd say this is probably in my number one spot for the year. What an amazing story! This movie has renewed my faith in Spielberg. I'll try to post more later.


I have a blog? here at A&F that I sometimes post in.

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I as well saw it.

It will probably make my top 10 of the year, and I must agree with Jeffrey that this is Spielberg's best film in quite a while. Or, at least, it's the first film of his that's drawn me in for quite a while.

I probably would have run it one more time through the old edit-o-matic. After the very well-done opening sequence (the Munich incident and Avner's recruitment), I felt the movie floundered a bit. Each of the individual "missions" was a great little bit of drama in its own right, but I felt the movie lost a bit of the overall dramatic/narrative arc it was trying to create.

In part, this is why I felt the flashbacks to Munich were a strength of the movie (though a review posted below felt they were a weakness). I think we did need to be reminded of how we got to this point. Nearly everytime they flashed back, it grabbed me. And at least for me, this is what kept the movie from becoming a "violence doesn't solve anything/can't we all just get along" polemic. Granted, the movie focuses quite a bit on the perpetual nature of violence and the dehumanizing nature of violence. However, I think the movie "earns" the right to speak about those themes.

The movie keeps coming back to Munich because that is the center of these events. Regardless of how far Avner's mission ultimately fell from its original goals (both tactical and ideological), the movie won't let us forget that everything is not equal. The unjustified murder of 11 innocent people is where the movie begins and ends.

I do think that, after picking up quite a bit towards the end, the last 15 minutes or so were a bit of a letdown. The whole sex/terrorism intercutting...um, yeah. Not sure how we're supposed to react to that. But the last shot was just haunting.

Casting Eric Bana was really a stroke of genius, and Geoffrey Rush was excellent as well.

I give it 3.5 out of 4 stars.

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Casting Eric Bana was really a stroke of genius, and Geoffrey Rush was excellent as well.
++ I really admired the acting in this movie.

I just saw it tonight and really liked it. It might bump someone off my top 10.

I was also a bit puzzled by the sex/terrorism montage, but I think it serves as an essential piece of Avner's character. One of the reviews point out that he has flashbacks to an event where he was not present, which is a pretty odd condition, but the attack was not just an attack on the Israeli athletes, but against every Jew; my dad pointed out that that was the first terrorist attack against Jews outside of Israel. I think that Spielberg is trying to show us that by virtue of its collective target, Avner *feels* like he was there, and this permeates his whole existence. This adds to the murky morality of Avner's actions. He's not just following orders, being a good soldier - when he's killing the planners of the Munich attack, he's achieving a vengeful catharsis.


Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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I thought it was an excellent and quite gripping film. Eric Bana is excellent. The conflict was etched on his face, a man conflicted between his love for his family and a sense of duty to his country. I thought the film showed quite well how the cycle of violence started by a terrorist violent act leads to a violent reply, and that violence leads to messy consequences. Questions about the appropriateness and degree of revenge are not easy questions, and the film doesn

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The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens lists several of the reasons why Munich is not as pro-Israel as Spielberg claims it is (or, perhaps rather, as Spielberg claims HE is). Among them:

Maybe it has something to do with the false dichotomy the film establishes between Jewish ideals and Israeli actions. "Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values," pronounces the fictional Mrs. Meir. Yet the Torah and Talmud are replete with descriptions of the justified smiting of one enemy or another. (Hanukkah, for instance, commemorates the Maccabean victory over the Seleucid empire.) It is Christianity, not Judaism, that counsels turning the other cheek.

Interesting to see how some people don't notice the WTC towers, others do notice them and find them heavy-handed, and so on. I noticed them but thought Spielberg's use of them was just subtle enough, certainly unlike Scorsese's use of them in Gangs of New York.

And speaking of the variety of interpretations, some people -- including Spielberg, I believe -- have said that the film is full of flashbacks to the Munich massacre because they emphasize the fact that Israel's actions in response WERE at least somewhat justified ... but Stephens reads the flashbacks differently:

Maybe it has something to do with Mr. Spielberg's decision to depict the actual slaughter of the Israeli athletes (bizarrely interwoven with an especially vulgar sex scene) at the end of the film rather than at the beginning. The effect is to jumble cause and consequence; to make the massacre seem like a response to
Israeli
atrocities; to turn Munich into just another stage in the proverbial cycle of violence, or what Mr. Spielberg calls a "response to a response." Mr. Spielberg has said he made this film as a "tribute" to the fallen athletes. What he has mainly accomplished is to trivialize their murder.

Very interesting.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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(bizarrely interwoven with an especially vulgar sex scene)

This occurred to me last night as I was puzzling over that "vulgar" scene, which I find strangely haunting.

:spoilers: :spoilers:

Both

Munich and Empire of the Sun culminate in scenes in which the hero is bent over another human being in a desperate attempt to "bring new life." The climactic moment of Empire, young Jamie's only friend, who happens to be Japanese, has just been shot by Americans, and he lies dying. Jamie spews rage at the Americans, bends over his friend, and proceeds to administer what he knows of CPR. The harder he pumps the dead boy's lungs, the more he sinks, at last, into a delusion brought on by trauma. He starts chanting to himself as he works,

"I can bring everyone back. Everyone.

I can bring everyone back. Everyone.

I can bring everyone back. Everyone."

Meanwhile, blood spills from the mouth of the body of the dead boy. Then the Americans come and pull him away from the body and tell him that the boy is dead. And... "He was a Jap!" To which Jamie replies, "He was my friend!"

I wonder if Spielberg isn't making a reference (deliberately or perhaps inadvertently) to one of his own previous scenes, the way he so often does in his other more sentimental films.

Here we have Avner, reaching his wit's end, tormented that act of terror and violence, and responding at last in a sort of feverish attempt to produce life. The camera, looking up into his face, notes that he is not even really looking at his wife... he's staring into visions of the death he has seen, just as Jamie did. And he's responding desperately, choosing life, as Jamie did.

But where Jamie was seeing past borders, bonding with the enemy, Avner is still driven by rage against the enemy.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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