Day: January 9, 2012

The Devil’s Double (2011)

Based in the book of the same name, The Devil’s Double tells the supposedly true story of Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), an Iraqi soldier, who was forced into becoming the body double (aka human shield) of Saddam Hussein’s playboy son, Uday (Cooper also).

With critics and ‘work colleagues’ of the Hussein family suggesting the book is somewhat liberal with the truth, there are two ways to tell Yahia’s story. The first is to acknowledge the discrepancies in his story and treat the whole affair like Chopper or The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, adding a pinch of hindsight salt to each scene, but acknowledging that bad things did happen. The other is to treat it all very seriously, with a sense of worthiness which can only lead to awards. Director Lee Tamahori went for super-secret option number three; give the middle finger to subtlety and facts and treat the whole thing as if it was directed by McG and then shat out of MTV.

Let it be never said that Dominic Cooper is not a brilliant in the dual role of ‘Prince and Pauper’. Aside from the odd slip of accent, Cooper dominates the movie playing Yahia as a brokenhearted soldier, and Uday as a towering over-confident child-molester modelled heavily on Tony Montana. That, and that alone, is the one good thing we can gleam from this waste of celluloid. The rest is is an unmitigated disaster.

The Devil’s Double is a vulgar, violent affair where men are tortured every ten minutes and women are raped every five. The final confrontation between Uday and Yahia is about as tense as a wet teabag with all the emotional power of one as well.

Overall, it’s dangerously close to propaganda and, as such, should be treated as such. Watch with serious reservations.

Life in a Day (2011)

Directed by everyone and edited as a kind of propaganda film for the Decent Humanity Society, Life in a Day is the kind of film we should get on board and explore strange new worlds in. As one. 80,000 hours of submitted, requested footage of July 24th, 2010 from every corner of our rich pageant has been whittled down by a dedicated team (in a sweatshop?) controlled by overlords Ridley and Tony Scott and directed (how?) by Kevin Macdonald.

Piecing a narrative into such a diverse collection of disparate stories, moments and staccato shots proves easier than you would think with the structure defined by the single day everything takes place on. So we start with shots of mornings, breakfasts and ablutions and move onto work then play and so on through the day (siesta included). There is a secondary, looser and more sobering story interweaved within Life in a Day, that of birth and creation leading through to death and destruction.

The obvious forerunners, cinematically speaking are Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi (EBFS has watched these so often that we didn’t even have to check the spelling on IMDB. Seriously), Godfrey Reggio’s diptych of semi-hellish, hauntingly beautiful montages of modern life set to Phillip Glass scores and not nearly as pretentious as that sounds. Life in a Day is a more shambolic, shaggy beast, all untucked and lovable. It makes no comments on politics or religion, passes no judgements and basically refuses to get involved. Born again christians rub shoulders with guys coming out to their grandmothers. Afghans are followed by American soldiers body popping and moron’s with Lambourghinis sit slightly uncomfortably with third world destitution. The one constant is smiles (ahhhh!). About ninety percent of clips feature people being extraordinarily happy, leaving you with a satisfying (possibly patronising) sense that joy is not linked exclusively with money, but sits within everyone to some degree.

Representing something of a coup to how films are made and even what defines a film in the first place Life in a Day couldn’t have been made even ten years ago. Therefore, like The Social Network, it feels like a film very much of our time. One of the few films that just couldn’t exist without the developments in technology. Avatar can still be a shiity story without it’s eye popping 3D. The sharing of video, the ease of communication and the general knowledge that everyone seems to have about filming something could only really happen right now. LIAD is a time capsule of 2010. Preserved on line until the day that we’re fighting each other for the last pool of water at least.

Despite a very slight tingling suggestion that some marketing, free thinking, go getter in an open plan office with a ping pong table at YouTube came up with this whole enterprise, Life in a Day remains a triumph. Showcasing humanity largely at it’s best and making one feel simultaneously very small and larger than life AT THE SAME TIME. No mean feat.

p.s. The rejected Cubbies fan is EBFS’s personal favourite thing that occured on 24/7/2010