Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Knight and Day

Knight & Day / Knight and Day (Knight and Day). USA (c) 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation / Regency Enterprises / [Dune?]. EX: Arnon Milchan. P: Todd Garner, Cathy Konrad, Steve Pink, Joe Roth. D: James Mangold. DP: Phedon Papamichael - shot on 35 mm (Fuji, Super 35) - master format: digital intermediate - released on 35 mm at 2,35:1. PD: Andrew Menzies. COST: Arianne Phillips. Costumer (Cameron Diaz): Yulia Gershenzon. Special effects: many experts. Visual effects: many companies. Stunts: several talents. M: John Powell. S: Donald Sylvester. ED: Quincy Z. Gunderson, Michael McCusker. LOC: Boston (Massachusetts), Cádiz and Sevilla (Andalucía), Port Antonio (Jamaica), Salzburg (Austria), Sycamore Cove State Beach (Point Mugu, California). With: Tom Cruise (Roy Miller), Cameron Diaz (June Havens), Peter Sarsgaard (Fitzgerald), Jordi Mollà (Antonio), Viola Davis (CIA chief George), Paul Dano (Simon Feck). 109 min. (US release 23 June 2010). A FS Film release (16 July 2010) with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Suvi Jyrkilä / Sylva Lönnberg viewed at Bio Olavi, Savonlinna, 21 July 2010.

After two and a half weeks of swimming and fishing by the lake it was time to visit civilization. Savonlinna right now is full of excitement with the Opera Festival, which we skip this year; it's fully booked anyway. But at the Savonlinna market place at Muikkuravintola Kalastajankoju the fried fresh vendace is delicious (vendace, the signature local fish, tastes best right here, as it is sensitive to transportation). And afterwards one of the legendary lörtsy pies (filled with apple or cloudberry etc.) of Sirkka Makkonen's café at the market square.

The two cinemas of Savonlinna, Bio Olavi and Kino Killa, are screening big summer hits: Shrek 4, Twilight 3, and Knight and Day. To see Knight and Day I visit Bio Olavi for the first time, and we enjoy the cinema experience, the friendly service of the intelligent staff and the comfort of the chairs. Before the feature there are five previews (in Finland called trailers), the final Harry Potter sequels, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the Karate Kid remake, Toy Story 3D, and Wall Street 2. Although the shot of Gordon Gekko being released from prison and retrieving his large 20-year old mobile phone is already familiar it still gets the biggest laugh of the screening.

In Knight and Day, Tom Cruise (48) is in great shape, ageing well. I respect Tom Cruise who divides his career in two: as a superstar who can carry big hits and as an actor who takes chances with directors such as Levinson, Scorsese, Altman, Kubrick, and Anderson. This project belongs to the first category.

Cameron Diaz is the life of the party. She is a favourite mainstream comedienne of mine (I'd hope to see her more in roles like There's Something About Mary). In this film she is the scream queen rather than the action heroine although she gets to save Tom Cruise twice in the end. Her character, called June Havens, is an expert car mechanic, and her project is to reconstruct her father's Pontiac GTO (1967 I believe it was), the legendary muscle car.

This is not a director's film, and it was impossible for me to recognize a personal touch by James Mangold whose work I have admired in films like Cop Land and I Walk the Line. Mangold is a great director of actors, and maybe his mission here was to make the most of Cruise's and Diaz's work in their cardboard roles. Cruise's character remains wooden but Diaz has bright moments.

As for the concept amazingly little has changed in a hundred years. The action film genre started at the Eclair company in 1908 in the Nick Carter, Zigomar, and Protéa films directed by Victorin Jasset. Those films are full of adventures and surprises in cars, trains, and airplanes, and their stunts remain thrilling today. But already a hundred years ago there were valiant action and adventure heroines and immortal villainesses, and compared to them, Cameron Diaz's role is pretty passive.

As we drove back through the breathtakingly beautiful Punkaharju ridge flanked by Lake Puruvesi it was a stimulating effort to try to find something to think about Knight and Day.

This crazy action romp has a subtext about the intelligence services in the U.S.A. After the 11 of September, 2001, the budget of the U.S. intelligence services has grown over 20 times. There are over 2000 intelligence services in the U.S.A. They capture more than a 1,5 billion messages daily. But they are not well organized and they have serious problems of communication. Private security business is booming. - Interestingly, before the 11 of September the existing intelligence services had information that could have given sufficient grounds to prevent what happened, but the problem already then was bad communication.

Knight and Day can be seen as a parody of this condition. Although Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer is a much better film, I think Knight and Day gives a more accurate account of the subject!

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