Monday, March 02, 2015

Movie Monday 3/2

I felt pretty awful for much of last week with yet another flare-up of yeast overgrowth, so Friday night was take-out and DVD night!

We got Chinese food and watched Philip Seymour Hoffman's last movie, A Most Wanted Man. I'd heard good things about the movie before (especially in light of it being Hoffman's last work), but I didn't realize it was based on a thriller by John Le Carre. Most of his novels are set in the Cold War, but this story is a more modern one, set in the post-9/11 world. First a little history that I hadn't heard before: apparently, the 9/11 attacks were planned and plotted in the port city of Hamburg, Germany. Ever since then, both German and international intelligence agencies have been keeping a close eye on Muslim communities there, searching for any signs of terrorist activity.

In the film, Hoffman works for a small, secret organization in German intelligence, tasked specifically with ferreting out terrorist activity. His group notices a suspicious looking man at the airport, a half-Chechen, half-Russian Muslim man who is acting nervous and evasive. They watch him and everyone associated with him very closely as he moves around the city. Rachel McAdams plays an idealistic young lawyer who specializes in helping those seeking asylum, and William Dafoe plays a banker she contacts about some money that the mysterious man's father left him. Soon, other agencies are interested in the man, too, including the US State Department (with an embassy employee played by Robin Wright). The big question: is this man just an abused and persecuted person seeking refuge? Or is he a terrorist plotting another bombing? Most parties want to apprehend & imprison him first and ask questions later, but Hoffman and his group would rather watch and wait, hoping he will either lead them to more important people in a terrorist network or that he is perhaps an innocent man.

It's a tense thriller, with plenty of suspense. Like all Le Carre adaptations, it's got plenty of plot twists that keep you guessing and is a little bit complicated to figure out at first, but it soon becomes engrossing. This one keeps you wondering right until the last moments. We both enjoyed it very much.

Coincidentally, I just finished a wonderful, moving novel set in Chechnya that gave me the perfect background for watching this movie: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Have you seen any good movies lately?

(And if you are also interested in what we are reading this week, check out my Monday update at my book blog.)

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