Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day Watch

Day Watch is a film where the trailer makes you want to see it. Why? Because it features a car power sliding on the side of a building, and you just have to know what on earth lead to that moment and how it ties into the whole. It's up there with the explodey White House in Independence Day, or the twister in Twister. So, when it shows up, you feel disappointed that it's simply because a woman is late and wants to get to the top floor of a hotel. All that visual glory, but it doesn't really serve much of a point.

So what is Day Watch then? Well, more than anything, it's a sequel to Night Watch, a Russian blockbuster that has lots of special effects and a plot that only sort of justifies them. Since you need to have a rough idea about what that movie is about in order to understand this one, I'll give a rough plot summary that contains massive spoilers. In short, a man named Anton (Konstantin Khabenskiy) wants his wife back, and that somehow involves almost making her have a miscarriage. As a result, he is put into the middle of a battle between light, dark and visual effects, which is often entertaining if a bit ridiculous. Eventually, that kid that almost miscarries grows up to be a super powerful wizard (light) or vampire(dark), depending on what he chooses. He goes vampire because he finds out what his dad did, and that sets the stage for this movie. There's about a million other things going on, but that's the jist of it.

Thinking that the best thing for Night Watch would be to make it significantly more complicated, we come to Day Watch, which has something to do with a magical piece of chalk that can correct any mistake, that kid being groomed to be both an evil genius while also being an extremely whiny teenager, several overlapping love stories, some extremely wacky body switching comedy, the troubles of only having one pair of pants, and the end of the world, all in a tornado of visual effects. It's impossible to summarize just because so much happens at once, and there are so many different subplots that seem superfluous which eventually tie into the simply insane ending, you just can't grasp how overambitious it is.

For all the ambition of the story, it manages to be strangely thrown together. It is an esteemed graduate of the 1960's Batman school of storytelling. There is not a problem that can't be solved by the introduction of a new and exciting super power out of nowhere that is both never mentioned previously and never seen again. Anton can't get into a building? Well, he'll copy the face of someone else. Truck drivers crashing into each other? Well, the truck will become super tough and drive right through a semi. Every time a problem is introduced a special super power will be created specifically to solve it. Whenever a challenging situation is introduced, the tension is immediately dissipated.

Still, as action movies go, I've seen worse. Director Timur Bekmambetov, who also did Night Watch and Wanted, loves fooling around with special effects and slow motion, and can often stumble upon some really cool visuals as he goes about his business. It might not be very interesting, story wise, but when it comes to making a quality CG exploding movie, he's a cut above Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich. It's worth watching just to see what highly improbable but neat looking effect he'll pull out of his hat next, and even as it flies merrily off the rails - everyone starts fighting with swords for some reason? I guess that makes sense - at least there's something cool to look at.

Here's a movie that is dedicated to nothing more than giving the audience something cool to look at. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn't, but in the end it's pretty safe to say that you likely haven't seen very much like it. Maybe that's a good thing, but it's hard to really get into a movie when it keeps reaching for the shark repellent*.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Pixar has killed animation.

I think I've said once before that I appreciate animation, and there are things possible in the medium that live action can't do. Cell animation, in the right hands, is often shockingly beautiful. Unfortunately, this has become less common as CG movies have become the go to source for animated family fare. The blame for this can be pegged squarely on Toy Story, which was a good, and successful film, and set other studios in a rush to copy it. As a result, there have been about a million trend-following and ultimately lazy CG pictures. Just going from the Cars DVD, Disney created something called "Meet the Robinson", which was just crap. It looked ugly, it looked half-hearted, and it made me yearn for the days when even the lazier crap would at least look good.

Pixar has also saved animation.

While competing studios might be unimaginative and lazy, Pixar isn't. The opening race scene is pretty much visual candy, every frame dripping with detail, quality and subtle in jokes. The crowd looks like a mix of individual cars rather than an indistinct mass. It's fast paced, full of detail, visually spectacular and shows the way with CG. It pushes the state of the art - visually - and it shows just what is possible in the medium - visually. It's since been usurped by subsequent Pixar features, naturally, but you can tell that care went into the product, and it does things that are not possible in live action. Since that's what animation is about, if more studios would follow Pixar's example and put as much care into their animation, maybe CG wouldn't be such a black mark on family films.

Note, however, that I conspicuously avoided mentioning the story. Whatever the visual splendor, the looks don't make the picture. Cars is effectively the stereotypical model of film. Lots of visual panache, but an empty head. The story is effectively by the numbers, Owen Wilson is the voice of a conceited race car called Lightning McQueen who is forced by contrived circumstances to learn about the value of friendship, humility and community. It's a script pulled from the redemption story guide book, with the only unique aspect being how everyone's a car.

That doesn't work either. While it leads to a number of increasingly clever in-jokes - if you know about cars, you can see the care put into some of the details - it actually doesn't make any sense. Yeah, Toy Story was about living toys, but while fundamentally impossible it still is an interesting and imaginative idea. The rest of the Pixar oeuvre makes a similar amount of sense, the real world turned a bit more fantastic with a touch of imagination and an interesting idea. This just raises weird questions, mostly related to the sheer impossibility of a universe consisting of only cars. It's like Maximum Overdrive went horribly awry.

So Pixar laid down a bunt here, and for all its visual majesty this isn't actually that good. Even if it isn't, it's still better than the Meet the Robinsons, or the Shark Tales, or any number of lazy, half-hearted 3D crap that's pushed on the kids of today. The weakest Pixar movie still manages to be better than the best Dreamworks seems to have on offer. If other studios put the care Pixar does into even their worst scripts, maybe this CG trend will be worthwhile outside of Pixar's studios. Given how successful some of that crap is, I somehow doubt it.

I suppose I can't be extremely mean, it is my 2 year-old nephew's favorite movie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week End

Let's talk about the French New Wave for a moment, since today we're looking at Week End, which is by Jean-Luc Godard, one of the big names in the movement. I'm not an expert in the movement, but the basic idea was that a bunch of French critics, taking a break from eating croissants and surrendering, started cooking up a bunch of theories about film, probably the most famous being the auteur theory, which is that the director is the ultimate author of the film. I've expressed my feelings on the theory before, so what else did they do? Well, they started to play around with form and visual style, breaking rules and goofing around with editing, text, and pretty much everything. In essence, they decided they would be Orson Welles except more French, and they both reinvigorated world cinema and ruined it in France.

That last bit might be surprising, but ever since the 60's, French movies have been terrible, because the directors have bought in to France being important and vital in filmmaking. Once the initial burst of creativity were lost, the directors got steadily worse, leading to something like Catherine Breillat, making movies like Fat Girl which are utterly terrible and objectionable, that probably wouldn't have been made (or well regarded) without someone believing that the French were still relevant. One gets the feeling that Godard has realized his countrymen had lost the plot, since he's pretty much made a movie about how he hates everyone and everything. Especially you, Curtis.

What's it all about then? The story, supposedly, is about a couple (Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne) who want to kill a parent for lots of money, and then kill each other for more money. After Darc makes a stop to describe an increasingly bizarre orgy (involving eggs), they go off on a road trip, encountering a famous tracking shot, an improbable amount of wrecked cars - apparently the French have surrendered to the urge to drink and drive - lots of speechifying, and a band of cannibals, because why the hell not? It goes completely off the rails in a complete planned and calculatedly chaotic way.

It becomes obvious that Godard hates everything. He hates cars, he hates capitalism, he hates communism, he hates materialism, he hates men, he hates women, he hates film, he hates filmmakers, he hates scripts, he hates world affairs, he hates the situation in Africa, he hates civilization, he hates barbarism, he hates absolutely everything you can think of, and develops an entire movie to exhibit just how much he hates these things, turning his sneering camera on pretty much everything to look down on it and the people involved.

It's an incredibly infuriating film to watch, taking a long time on lengthy elaborate tracking shots and technical flamboyance just to prolong the frustration. The most famous scene in the film is the lengthy tracking shot in a traffic jam, as wacky things happen, punctuated by constant horn honking and going on for an interminable length of time. It's just a frustrating sequence, making its point in the process of making you aggravated at the situation. It's difficult to watch, on purpose, so you begin to share Godard's fury at everyone and everything.

In a sense, it's successful, since you're placed into the mind of a very angry and frustrated man. If you hate the film, you get the sense that Godard means you to, calling it "A film found on a scrap heap" at one point and ending with the credit "End of Cinema." There's a sense that he's quietly flipping you off, while noisily chewing on a baguette and wearing a beret. Indeed, this film was the end of his most prolific and acclaimed period, and there's a sense of career suicide, making a point in a flamboyant and pissed off manner. He's burning bridges here, seeming to intend on making people glad he's fed up with film and also delivering an essay about why they should be as well.

So it does what it sets out to do, but I can never watch it again. It's a disturbing look into the mind of someone disenfranchised with everything. It's often visually interesting, and there's no doubt Godard can move a camera, but do you really want to see someone so mad at the world that he's got to shoot an assortment of ruined cars to get his frustration out?

Friday, September 18, 2009


The last time we saw Alejandro González Iñárritu here on Movies at Random, he had directed 21 Grams, which featured a script fresh from a blender, and got him all sorts of acclaim. Fresh off his new success, Iñárritu went out to the store and bought a new camera and film that wasn't so ridiculously grainy.

This was a good decision, it allowed him to better show off how good a director he is. With Babel, he framed shots like he's never framed before, created some jaw-droppingly brilliant sequences - there's one where deaf girls go clubbing that is an audio-visual feast - and even directed some utterly amazing performances from his actors. This is all extra impressive because the script he used was terrible.

It's one of those stories where everyone's connected in some, mostly arbitrary way. It begins with a couple horny teenage goat herders in the middle east, who get a shiny new gun and decide to try shooting a bus. On the bus are the contenders for passive aggressive couple of the year, played by Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. As though punished for participating in the most ludicrously vague argument of all time, Blanchett is shot. Their kids go to a wedding in Mexico and there's also a deaf girl being rebellious and horny in Japan, played by Rinko Kikuchi. The Japanese girl is connected in an extremely ludicrous and arbitrary manner, but it's the strongest part of the movie, so I'll let that slide.

The problem with the script is that, for the most part, it's quite difficult to care about the characters. The attractive American couple is whiny, though they did go on a vacation with a group that is apparently made up of the worst people in the world. Seriously, if someone's wife got shot in your tour group, would you constantly complain when he tries to get help and then sneak away when he's not looking? Their kids are blessed with a story which is pretty pointless until the end, but then they're thrown into a situation because their guardian's nephew is exceedingly stupid, a common source of conflict in the film - it's presented as communication problems, but cultural differences don't make someone has jaw droppingly dumb as the nephew. Hey, I'm going to be as shifty as possible crossing the border! That's not going to cause any problems. Then there's the deaf girls, who could have easily become a horribly simplistic exploration of teen angst with a dose of mild disability - and briefly do, in a scene in a car so awkwardly written it seems straight out of Degrassi Junior High - except for one major factor.

Kikuchi saves the teenage rebellion purely through her performance. She is absolutely amazing, giving one of the best performances I have ever seen. She doesn't play deaf as a gimmick, and she doesn't just do regular teenage angst. The character is given a vulnerability and a soul far beyond what is written in the script, and from thin air she gives the average horny teenager a depth that a lesser actress couldn't even hint at. She's drawing from something that's not on the page, creating a character that is completely her own, identifiable, and sympathetic, when it could have easily not been. It feels like she was written deaf for easy sympathy - she's trying to seduce all these guys, but come on, deaf! - but Kikuchi doesn't need that. You care about what happens to this girl, and it's all in the performance.

Between her and Iñárritu, I wondered what will happen when they've got a good script to work with. It's such a shame that this script isn't. It likes to think it's good, trying to make points about American foreign policy, illegal immigration, and how people with disabilities are treated, but it does such a bad job of it. The worst part is the dialog, which is frequently a hodgepodge of cliches, and is simply wooden when that won't do. You can see that it's trying to be clever, from the title - Get it, tower of Babel! Bible! And there are like, ten different languages! And people just don't understand each other! - to the whole connected storyline thing, but it feels very amateurish. Conflict is all easily avoidable but the characters are so overwhelmingly idiotic that it seems inevitable, and they're all so poorly drawn that you can't really identify with them or even care. Separated from the fractured timeline gimmick of 21 Grams, the weaknesses in characterization and plotting start coming to the surface, and you feel Guillermo Arriaga piles on the gimmicks to hide the fact that he's just not very good at writing.

Yet, this movie is worth watching, because Iñárritu and Kikuchi don't let the bad dialog and often inept plotting get them down. Often, when a sequence doesn't have words, it's visually, aurally, and technically amazing. Those two are masters of their craft, and know exactly how to use their skills to maximum effect. Babel in the hands of a different director would have been a disaster, as would the deaf girl segment, but as it is, it's entirely worth watching, and can even be affecting. Next time though, get a better script, will you guys?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tree of Palme

As Movies at Random is, at its heart, random in a true sense of the term - random number generators are used to make the list, it's unnecessarily complicated - it stands to reason that crap nobody has ever heard of is going to show up. It's just the nature of the project, so with that in mind, here's Tree of Palme.

Tree of Palme is an anime, albeit one with a stupid name. It's about Palme, a puppet made from a special tree which gains sentience. For most of his life, he's dedicated to a sick girl, who dies, leaving him to sit around. For unnecessarily complicated reasons, he has a big ball put on his person, and goes on an adventure which sees him get a bunch of new friends - including a girlfriend, though there are moments where he's somewhere between Chris Brown and Ike Turner on the boyfriend quality scale - and go to try to become a real boy. Also, in the background, there is a bunch of other crap that makes varying degrees of sense, and a whole hell of a lot of phallic objects wandering around.

This is a movie that doesn't have the slightest clue what it wants to be. On one hand, the main character is an adorable puppet and his friends are all cute kids. The general story does owe a debt to Pinocchio as well, including stuff growing off the main character when he does bad things. However, the film also tries really hard to be quite adult as well. There is copious amounts of gore, lots of violence, and an overly complicated storyline which needs several flow charts and a degree in anime bullshit to decipher. Plus there are those distracting malevolent penises, which could only come from a very frustrated art director.

This is a mistake, since the movie is only good when it focuses on the puppet, and his struggle with coming to terms with his emerging emotions. It's fantastic when he struggles with what it means to be human - both positive and negative - and how people try to react around something that is entering a world of feelings that is very foreign to him.

It's also quite a pretty movie, even if half of the scenery is dong-shaped - and that's not even including the evil wangs that show up every so often. There's some great use of light and color here, and it has a style that could never be properly replicated in live action. Stuff like this makes you wish animation could be used for more than just kids movies, and that cell animation wasn't quickly being supplanted by boring 3D - this uses a combination, but you know. There are moments where it lingers on the scenery to create a mood, and you appreciate it just because it looks so good.

So I can't quite figure out why there's so much crap going on at once. The film doesn't benefit from the side-plot about the people who live underground having cracked faces, nor does it benefit from the tacked on action and villains with vague, constantly changing motives. The world is lovely, but it often feels like nobody quite knew what to do with all their ideas, so there's a lot of side action that doesn't go anywhere and doesn't add to the story. Simplified, the movie might be killer, but there's so much unnecessary distracting crap - the entire thing is 130 minutes long - it can't focus on the little puppet and his struggles with his emerging humanity.

This is a noble idea, executed poorly. There are enough ideas here for several different films, and as a result there's no real focus. Ideas flash by, many don't go anywhere, and many of the subplots don't have anything resembling a satisfying resolution. There's pointless gore that only serves to keep young kids out of the theater, and all manner of simply unneeded crap. With some focus, this could have been good, and there are individual scenes that remain interesting. As a whole, it's just too overloaded to make it to the mark.

Friday, September 11, 2009


If there's one foreign director pretty much everyone has heard of, it's Akira Kurosawa. There's nothing wrong with that, he's a very good director. What I like about him is that he's clearly got the eye of a painter, since his images are meticulously framed and constructed. A still from a Kurosawa film can often get the essence of the scene down, and he uses the frame efficiently and creatively. However, I suspect that he's popular not because he can frame a shot, but because he's the most western of Japanese filmmakers. So, let's look at a western he made, Yojimbo.

Ignore all the samurai and swords, this is a western. The story also follows a grand western tradition, with a man (Toshiro Mifune) coming into a shockingly dusty crime ridden town, walking around calmly and in a vaguely threatening yet cool manner, and then manipulating everyone for fun and profit. Somewhere Clint Eastwood was taking notes - especially since this was later remade as Fistful of Dollars (consider that, the most American of genres being tackled by an Italian (Sergio Leone) remaking a film from Japan.)

It's actually quite odd to see samurai in the movie, since visually it owes a massive debt to John Ford. The sets, in spite of some local flavor, would not look out of place if John Wayne was walking around them. The huge dusty main street and the various actions that take place on it seem made for a gun duel. Yes, the main rivalry in town involves silk, but there's still liquor and prostitutes, as tends to show up in these kinds of things. The overall look and feel of the film makes it seem to take place in an alternate history, where the Japanese colonized America yet did pretty much the same things that the Europeans did.

But, being Kurosawa, he has managed to make a damn good western. The plot is interesting, as Mifune - who never reveals his name, instead doing the old cinema cliche of naming himself after objects he sees (a field, in this case) - quietly manipulates both sides in a rivalry to get them to do what he wants. The plot twists in interesting ways, though it does rely on the criminals being profoundly stupid and gullible. Since they're small time in a small frontier Japanese village, it's believable that they're quite thick, so that's not a fault.

The thing with Kurosawa, and why he's influenced so many different directors (in strange ways, since here's where George Lucas' obsession with horizontal wipes comes from), is that he's different enough to be eye catching and unique, without being foreign enough to be off putting. You can see familiar themes in his work, and he likes using stuff like Shakespeare as a starting point so the stories often feel accessible. However, he's such a master of his frame that you can't help not only paying attention, but having the distinct urge to rip him off.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


One movie I've seen is Jumanji, but I've never actually seen it all in one sitting. I've seen the entire movie, and I remember it as a film about a magical board game, starring Robin Williams. There was lots of CG, the story wasn't great, and it never really hooked me in - so I'd always quit watching half way through. So when Zathura came along, and promised to be Jumanji in space, I wasn't too excited. Then I found out it was directed by the man behind the entirely acceptable Iron Man - Jon Favreau - so my curiosity was piqued. It might be Jumanji in space, but a reliable director is always a good sign.

The opening credits are another good sign. They're made up of neat-o 60's style artwork and a cool old-style mechanical board game. It would be easy to just do the whole thing in CGI like a boring person, but there's a loving level of detail in the mechanical object. It looks like a worn down 60's artifact. They didn't have to do that, but they did, and that is always a good sign.

Still, you know pretty much what the movie is going to be. There are two brothers - Danny (Jonah Bobo) and Walter (John Hutcherson) - who don't really get along and compete for their divorced father Tim Robbins' attention. It's a believable setup, Walter is slightly more mature than Danny - four year age difference - and resents that Danny isn't quite on the same level as he is. Hutcherson is fairly brilliant as the older brother, trying a bit too hard to be casual, cool and grown up, and Bobo gets the younger kid jealousy down. I saw a lot of my own nephews in them, and they did a fantastic job to capture the essence of two young kids who don't quite always get each other.

Naturally, fighting siblings lead to a story about how siblings really love each other and need to be best friends. So, in comes the titular board game, coming down and making stuff explode and causing a whole lot of CG mixed with model work and lots of practical effects. Eventually Dax Sheperd shows up, both teaching a valuable lesson and being kind of a dick. Again, Hollywood proves that all people need to appreciate each other is a whole hell of a lot of explosions. If only their parents' marriage could have had some explosions in it, maybe it would have never broken up.

It's hard to really comment on the film because it does exactly what you expect it to do, and it does it in a competent way. While I would often have minor quibbles with the film - I liked it more with just two arguing brothers than I did when Sheperd shows up - but then the flaws eventually work out in a completely acceptable way and I can't imagine it without them.

In fact, the only thing I can get really passionate about is how much it loves to actually blow stuff up. There is some heavy CG, especially in the space scenes, but you get the sense that it only goes CG if it absolutely has to. Stuff actually starts on fire, things actually fly through walls. Every time there's too much CG, you want a movie like this where things actually happen. There's a lesson here, and it's that if you want a good looking movie, only use CG when you can't do it for real.

It's not high art, but it looks good and the young actors do an admirable job in their roles. It's highly predictable, but the visual fireworks are fun and it is generally well paced. It's fun, it's engaging, and you can't help but enjoy it. You can't get passionate about Zathura, but it is likable. Some days, likable will do.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust

With the phenomenon of Twilight, the question of whether or not vampires were ever cool is raised. Certainly, the Twilight vamps aren't, they're sparkly and get involved in treacly teen romance novels, and play vampire baseball. But were they ever cool? More often than not, they're portrayed as thin pale losers who never get out of the house. They can only get ladies by kidnapping them and then they bite their neck right away, which is just rude. Lame as Twilight vampires might be, were they any worse than the traditional ones?

This, naturally, brings us neatly to Vampire Hunter D, which is about a vampire hunter, named D. He's a half-vampire, which seems to mean that nobody likes him and he's slightly more magical than most. As it turns out, a sexy lady has been kidnapped by a vampire, and her family wants her back if she's still a human, and dead if she isn't. So, D and his trusty hand of comic relief, along with a different band of rival vampire hunters set off to rescue her, whether she wants to be or not.

The trouble with Vampire Hunter D is that it seems to have inherited a complex and fully drawn world - it's both a book adaptation and a sequel to a movie from 1985, which was 15 years before this one came out - but has no real idea what to do with it. There are blocks of action that seem to be done specifically for the fans, but there's real idea of where a normal person can find a foothold. Things happen without any clue what they are supposed to be, and there are both moments where it expects you to know what's going on, and others where it explains everything in an info dump. I'm all about films just using the medium instead of explaining things, but sometimes I felt as though this needed to take a step back and give me a grounding in where I was, in both the narrative and just what the world was supposed to be.

Not that getting gifted a well established world is entirely a curse. The film is a validation of animation, simply because it has such an inventive, beautiful, and visually interesting world to exist in. The original book was illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano - he might be familiar to you if you're a Final Fantasy fan - and the design and atmosphere almost carries it even when the plot is at the most haphazard. This is a beautiful film, with many moments that can elicit a gasp or a silent wow. Plus, very little else actually looks like this, and there is definitely the touch of a talented and individual artistic style in the mix.

Plus, once the movie finds its feet in the last half and gets moving, it does get pretty good. The climax is both emotionally complex and tense. The various set pieces and characters come together in unexpected and ultimately satisfying ways. Add in a fairly bittersweet ending, and we've got a film that, at the end of the day, manages to be satisfying in spite of some serious flaws early on.

There is merit here, but it is ultimately a disappointing experience, mostly because it takes so long to really find its way. You can feel the filmmakers drifting along on the good will of curious fans, not completely sure what they want to do with the material they're given. With a little more work at creating a coherent cinematic world, it could have been a good movie, as ending proves. As is, it's merely almost good, relying a bit too much on great animation to carry it when it doesn't know where it wants to go.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Salaam Bombay!

Since Parasite Eve last time got me thinking about videogames, I will continue to bring them up, even for Salaam Bombay! Specifically, game music, since a rather odd song at the start of the film got me started on this strange and unprecedented path. See, game music, for the most part, has no obvious end, because of purely technical reason. It has to linger in the background, able to go unnoticed when you don't want to be, yet important to the overall experience.

Salaam Bombay! strives to accomplish the same thing, as a comment on the poverty in Bombay itself. The characters in the film are part of a class that is deliberately unnoticed by most of society, but a large piece of the whole. Plus, the inherent repetitive nature translates here too, to emphasize how the cycle of poverty is inescapable by most of the people caught up in it.

The story is about Krishna (Shafiq Syed, who had no acting experience), who owes his mother 500 rupees, and goes to work in an attempt to raise it. First he works in a circus, before it abandons him, and then he goes to Bombay, working on the streets and getting caught up with criminals and prostitutes, finding himself in situations which cause his meager savings to disappear and disintegrate. He strives to make his life better, but life itself conspires to keep it from happening.

With poverty as the background music of life, it's telling that the movie makes no real effort to draw attention to itself. For a film with an exclamation point in its title, there is very little actual story happening, just the day to day life of the people caught up in it. While there is an overarching plot, it takes its time, moving in and out of focus as it becomes relevant to the overall portrait it paints.

As well, it sets itself up for infinite repetition. When characters die, and mistakes are made, it often will come up with a replacement and a situation which mirrors one that happened in the recent past. Especially late in the movie, as the original plots wind down, you begin to find many new stories start up again, referencing the existing ones. In the last scene, there's a sense that while the melody might be running down, the music is just going to start again.

I might not have necessarily liked it, but it is a success, making a comment on the unending cycle of poverty (while doing its part to change that, through programs to get kids off of the streets and into a better life) and managing to show poverty as simultaneously ignored and ever present. It is the background music of life, and no matter what people do, that melody is just going to repeat.