Monday, February 18, 2008

An ode to 'Atonement'

On Sunday, Feb. 24, The Times will publish five essays about the Oscar best pic nominees. Each is written by a local cinephile. We're also publishing a "Pick the Oscars" chart that features 10 local cinephiles. I'm one of them.

Each day this week on my blog, we'll cover one of the films in some form or another.

If the film at hand is your choice for best pic, tell me why by posting your thoughts to the comments.

For Sunday's essays, Judy Kieffer wrote about "Atonement." Just for fun, she wrote a poem about the WWII-era drama. She never intended for this to be published, but I begged her. Here goes:

"Atonement"
By Judy Kieffer

Teen writes,
Life’s light.
Guest invited
Lola’s smitted
Notes sent
Briony’s bent
Robbie nails
Cecilia pales
Briony tattles
Cages rattled
Robbie’s jailed
Unfairly nailed
Love’s cut short
Lives contort
War looms
Robbie’s doomed
Cecilia nurses
Briony muses
War’s scene
Forever mean
Robbie wains
Briony trains
Cecilia perishes
Briony anguishes
Briony type writes
Her final plight

TOP PHOTO CREDIT: Keira Knightley, left, and James McAvoy in a scene from "Atonement." (AP Photo/Focus Features, Alex Bailey)

8 comments:

Chris-Brad said...

What can I say about "Atonement?" For one it has grown on me since I first saw it. Maybe that is because I just read the book. Maybe it is because I didn't originally give it its due.

But whatever the reason, I still doubt "Atonement" can win Best Picture. Why? Because "Atonement" feels like almost every other sweeping British film. Please keep in mind that I mean no disrespect when I write that. But the film feels so been-there-done-that. It has the lush setting, the beautiful people, the sweet accents, the literary references, the war story, the love, the hate, the betrayal... It has everything that the Academy has already rewarded.

Does "Atonement" deserve being nominated? Sure. A month ago, on this very blog, I said it didn't. I admit I was wrong. But I still have no doubt that the film does not deserve the Best Picture award. If this was a race between "Atonement" and "Michael Clayton," well, that would be a different story. But this is a race between at least two other highly deserving films. Come Sunday night I am pretty sure my stance on this category will need no atonement.

Alexandyr Kent said...

Good points, chris-brad.

I felt that the movie's first half was wonderful: full of tension and rich in its layering of competing perspectives. Very rewarding, "Rashomon-like" stuff.

But once Robbie became a soldier, the movie no longer felt as tight as the book. The epic war sequences just kind of drifted into these long scenes of emotional suffering. I felt as if the characters, now torn apart, had been flattened a bit too much by the end. The last few scenes felt fatalistic, and I don't remember the book being that way.

chrisbrad said...

The book did start to loosen a bit just like the film. The difference, though, is the book is more intimate. You've put in several hours of your day and have come to love (or hate) the characters by the time things begin to drift. Like me, you likely were able to mentally forgive the book. On the other hand you are likely not as involved in the movie so the "drift" is more noticeable.

That's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely no movie expert and have not seen all of the movies up for Best Picture but I thought this one was very well-written. I enjoy a good story and this one did not feel like the same old thing to me. I have not read the book, but now I am sure I will. I thought it was well done.

Noma said...

Judy rocks, though.

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