07 June 2008

Movie: Grace is Gone, Mongol


I chose to watch this for John Cusack, only my mega-super-ultra favorite movie actor ever.

Expectedly, the film would have to be a sad story. I know I was gonna end up crying since it's about of a father who learns that his (solider) wife has been killed in Iraq and doesn't know how to begin to tell their daughters about it.

I love the film for many reasons.

1. Cusack's great performance, probably the best of his career. For once he tackled the role with caution, restraint and perfect control. As a big fan, I've seen most of his work, even questionable films like Must Love Dog and Ice Harvest, and I could always pinpoint what is typically his acting style. In this film, however, that's all gone. He's so believable as a husband whose heart is aching inside for his daughters. Perhaps my favorite scene of his was him curling up in fetal position and crying himself to sleep.

2. The actresses who played the daughters (Shelan O'Keefe and Gracie Bednarczyk). They were so natural, I didn't think this one felt like work to them. The eldest daughter, Heidi, is 12 years old, wise beyond her years. Early on, she senses that there's something wrong, but doesn't pressure her dad about it. Heidi suffered insomnia ever since their mom was stationed in the war. But she doesn't tell her dad about how she walks the neighborhood at night, pondering the purpose of her mom fighting for their country. Dawn, the eight year old, provides the comic relief. She's cute, but not in that annoying way.

3. The story. It's sincere, so true to life and so moving. Grace is Gone is not just a film about losing someone you love. It's not just about what happens to families because of the war. It's also about parenting, acceptance, growing up and moving forward. Told very simply, with only three central characters for the most part of the film, it sends out a really compelling message each viewer can pick and draw lessons from.

4. The film score....which is a Clint Eastwood masterpiece. I didn't know old Dirty Harry was a musician until this film. He actually earned a Golden Globe nomination for this.

Grace is Gone is a quiet, honest, subtle film. You don't have to be political to understand what the film is. You just have to be human, capable of feeling the impact of losing a loved-one.


I'm not so sure if this is a factual account on the life of Genghis Khan.

Critics called it the Mongolian Braveheart. The Oscars thought it deserved an Academy nomination (Best Foreign Language Film). But to me, it felt like a Lito Lapid movie, only with aesthetically superior visual effects (SUPERIOR!) and great costumes.

Mongol is a freakin' love story, with minor battle scenes. Genghis Khan... lovesick? Who would've thought? Who he was and why he became famous started with his devotion for a woman!

I love a good battle scene, I love hearing blades clashing. The trailer made my mouth water for this. The trailer gave the impression that it was gonna be that awesome (see for yourselves, I have it embed). But upon watching the whole of the film, it felt short of my expectations. The plot felt quite uneven, too. It wasn't as riveting as one would expect; it's Genghis Khan without the wrath.

It's not entirely the production's fault though. In fairness, they did a good job with what material they can gather. I think part of why I found the film to be flawed can be due to time constraints. For how can you tell everything about an important historical figure's life in less than 2 hours?