Carlos (2010, Olivier Assayas)

Wire! The Feelies! A long three-part series/feature about a so-called terrorist who operated by a strict moral code can’t help but get compared to Soderbergh’s Che, but the strong use of quality 1970’s and 80’s music throws a Marie Antoinette comparison into the mix.

Watched in nice widescreen over netflix streaming on the TV. Despite its epic length, the movie felt small and far away. Lots of political and historical touchstones that I didn’t recognize, because I have no education or sense of history. Carlos’s motives weren’t clearly explained (something about the Palestinian Struggle), nor were his origins (“It’s no longer Ilich. It’s Carlos”). But his battles, his public terrorist acts, his relationships, hideouts and escapes are all laid out in glorious detail. I’m generally a fan of Assayas films, but didn’t connect with this one at all. I’m thinking netflix is to blame.

Edgar Ramirez can’t be blamed anyway, was magnetic, as they say, as Carlos.

The movie was so long, and petered out in such an energy-depleting way, that I can’t bring myself to write a whole lot or even to read a bunch of articles. So I took to D. Hudson’s great notebook summary and cut out three points I would’ve made if I’d given it more thought (or took better notes).

G. Andrew:

Certainly, the film doesn’t feel anything like television. It’s shot in Scope, boasts the fleet way with narrative, camera movement and cutting that are characteristic of Assayas at his best and has a sense of scale, depth and seriousness of purpose that is essentially cinematic.

M. Dargis:

He lacks substance. He doesn’t have much to say, and his rhetoric gets cruder as the years pass (as does his treatment of women). He’s a man of action, not ideas. Mr Assayas, by contrast, is a director of ideas. … Carlos isn’t Che slogging through the jungle for the cause: Carlos is a mercenary, a thug.

T. McCarthy:

One element that vividly pops out from the film’s vibrant fabric are the numerous scenes in which government officials from Arab and Eastern bloc countries directly order, sponsor or otherwise facilitate terrorism and mayhem in other nations…. I can’t recall ever seeing scenes quite like these in any movie, and they are bracing.

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