MUNICH Takes Time For Greatness

In cinema, as with a great many things, timing is everything. As the Oscar race continues heating up, momentum shifts with each new hopeful that presents itself. Months back, I would have picked CRASH, NORTH COUNTRY and WALK THE LINE as sure-fire contenders in the big categories. Shamefully, nobody remembers NORTH COUNTRY. CRASH is still a lock for a screenplay nod, but even support for Matt Dillon’s performance has dried up. WALK THE LINE will still get its acting nominations, but everything else is in doubt.

Remember when Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the unbeatable favorite for Best Actor? Well, I finally saw CAPOTE, and Hoffman was sensational. But I had already seen Heath Ledger in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, and in my strong opinion Hoffman’s merit doesn't keep pace with Ledger.

I’ve seen CRASH three times. In May, when I saw it in the theatre, it felt like I was watching one of the best films of the year. My 2nd viewing was in September when the film came out on DVD. With the parade of Oscar contenders on the horizon, I was more aware of the film’s flaws and more reserved in my praise. Still very good, but maybe not quite great.
Now, as I near the completion of my Oscar hit list, I gave CRASH a third viewing. This time the emotions felt strong again, the characters regained their prickly dispositions, and I was drawn into the world, my mind once again chewing on what it was being fed. Oscar hopefuls became reality, and CRASH regained its status as one of the year’s very best pictures.
Another example. I recently caught CINDERELLA MAN for the first time. The film, so highly praised back when it stupidly opened in June to mediocre box office, is a great underdog story. I like the film a lot, much like how I enjoyed ROCKY or SEABISCUIT. But I think much of its greatness at the time had to do with the general lack of quality cinema. It’s certainly good and deserved a better fate at the box office, but it’s not quite worthy of Best Picture consideration. (Notice how it hasn’t made that many Top 10 lists.)

All of which brings me to MUNICH.
I had heard about this strange phenomenon with MUNICH where it becomes better as time goes on. Maybe the studio knew that when they screened the film for the critics 2-3 weeks before the movie was set to open, allowing for last minute article revisions as the film’s excellence took hold.

I saw MUNICH a week ago, and sure enough I like it a lot more today. I can’t say why. It’s almost like the bad scenes have melted away in my mind or have found a way to integrate themselves into the film’s many unforgettable sequences.
I fondly remember the immediacy of Spielberg’s recreation of the Munich tragedy, Eric Bana’s gripping paranoia as events spin out of control, the finely detailed side-characters especially the father and son informants, Daniel Craig channeling the 70’s via Steve McQueen, and a wonderful human moment where somebody hugs their cat.
At the time, the film felt sluggish. I now remember the film as being meticulously plotted and expertly crafted. The performances, the direction, everything serves the story which is both a crackerjack espionage tale and a condemnation of the morality of vengeance.

I remember numerous set pieces, which I am admittedly anxious to see again. And that’s another thing about MUNICH. I’ve heard it plays even better on a repeat viewing. There’s still a terrible, terrible editing choice at the very end of the film. A major blunder, that’s been pointed out by several supporters. Kind of like the crucial car crash centerpiece in CRASH, you have to not dwell on it.

So I definitely recommend you check out MUNICH as soon as possible. You might find yourself bored and restless in places. You may be wondering, “Where the hell is Spielberg?” Watch it and then just let it sit and see how you feel in a week or two.


Anonymous Dave Poland said...

Like the best of Kubick, for the first time really, Spielberg has given us a movie that is built to grow inside of our hearts and thoughts like a compelling weed. He has authored many delights that will last forever. But there is a muscle to Munich that is new… that is mature… that challenges us the way Fight Club did… the way that The Graduate did… that Full Metal Jacket does.

And the more I chew on it, the more flavor I can taste. There is no greater gift for a true movie lover.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous watch free movies said...

Its a must watch movie having a refreshing story that everyone will love to watch it again and again. Please do watch it once as when you will watch you will be thrilled by the performances and plot.

7:29 AM  

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