Finally saw Olivier Assayas's five-and-a-half hour Carlos, a researched but fictionalized account of the life and deeds of Carlos the Jackal. While I enjoyed the mini-series quality of watching it on three different nights, each time looking forward to the next, I have to admit I found the film just a wee bit overhyped.
The eminent Kirk Michael gives a lovely defense in his best of 2010 round-up -- and he's right that Edgar Ramirez is dazzling to watch -- but in the end I think I like what Kirk says about the movie better than what the movie says about the movie.
There were just too many stock speeches about this or that terrorist's commitment to the internationalist revolution and too many procedural scenes that felt taken straight from witness testimony. The film does offer an interesting look at the geopolitics of the 1970s and the ways in which governments and terrorists interacted. And you definitely feel the shift in global ideology as Carlos finds himself cast out of Europe -- in the end only Sudan will have him -- becoming ever more the pampered fat cat he supposedly abhors. But for all the lingering of Assayas's camera on Ramirez's naked frame (and a fine frame it is -- at least initially), the film rarely lingers on the man behind the passion. While it's true that extremists might not have much use for introspection, cinema certainly does, and it was a shame not to get more of it here -- or at some acknowledgment of its frustrating absence.
author of The Violet Hour, reader, prodigious eater of ice cream