Among my posting backlog at the minute are a couple of films.
Hum. 21 Grams isn't very nice, or uplifting, or cheerful. It is, however, very good. Extremely high quality writing, direction, especially acting. It got me thinking about a bunch of stuff, particularly hope in the face of tragedy, which I guess is about as close as I could get to summing up what it's about. If I tried to outline the plot I'd probably get stuck trying not to stick spoilers in - the funny chronology of it means that much of the plot doesn't come out until quite late in the film. Actually, the screwy chronology (a la Memento) does much to magnify how powerful this show is.
Don't watch it expecting an easy, entertaining ride. But do watch it expecting the best film of 2004 so far, which includes my next one:
Kill Bill vol. 2
I enjoyed the first film, but after watching the concluding installment vol. 1 feels more like an intro. Whereas it majored on cartoon violence with limbs and blood everywhere, this one shows some semblance of a plot, and drama. Nice. And just a little hint of that Tarantino dialogue (although maybe he has lost his snap ever so slightly). Nicer.
It also has Pai Mei (although his beard will seriously annoy), Budd (Michael Madsen looking not so cool but just as groovy - if you get me, which you probably don't), and most of all, Bill. David Carradine smooths along as the bad guy you know is a total git no matter what he says, but you love him anyway purely for his cool factor and the fact that he gets all the best lines.
And the bit with the coffin, the 'Texas funeral', made me squirm more than most stuff in movies can.
Tarantino's cool is all present and correct, treading the fine line between homage and urine-extraction - crash zooms and cheesy facial expressions abound in the kung fu training scenes, accompanied by the perfect soundtrack - along with that of all his stars and cameos (look out for Sam L.). All in all, it's no Pulp Fiction, but Kill Bill 1 & 2 add up to a whole lot of fun.
(Can you tell which film I saw more recently? Yup, you're right...)