I had to carry a tray so I could see you

Well, hello!

Yes, it’s me. James. The other James.

“Where have you been?” you all gasp.

Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve been in the cinema.

Not, as the length of my absence might suggest, watching the final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. No, last night I went to see a film that makes Peter Jackson’s recent efforts look about as significant as Road Trip.

The film I am talking about is Cold Mountain, the latest offering from Anthony Minghella, who is somebody I aspire to be. And it’s superb. I won’t go into unnecessary palpatations over the details, but screenplay, acting and (needless to say) cinematography are all exceptional.

It had me in tears after about twenty minutes, and I spent the rest of the film in a constant state of near-blubber. Interestingly, what set me off wasn’t Nicole Kidman going all weepy, it was Jude Law screaming as he helplessly joined a desperate crowd of soldiers killing everything around them. This depiction of the dehumanising effects of war is the film’s strongest aspect, which relentlessly persists throughout – as the film progresses all sense of the two sides of the war, any idea of “good” and “bad”, are lost in the cruelty and violence; there are just people killing people, and all death is sickening. It’s possibly the strongest anti-war film I’ve ever seen, and ought to be shown to people who think the Army’s “99.9% need not apply” adverts are cool.

Except that, when the film’s “villain” was finally killed, a man in the row behind me chuckled and said “Nice one!” and I was filled with a desire to kick his head in. So perhaps we both missed the point.

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