8:00 PM, 31st May, 2008
I'll admit it, I needed Google to find out what "rendition" meant. The term refers to 'extraordinary rendition', where suspected terrorists can be sent, without the legal consent of their parent nation, to prisons abroad to be questioned and detained. It sounds scary already, doesn't it?!
With that in mind, the storyline is fairly predictable. Anwar El-Ibrahimi is an Egyptian-born American who disappears from a flight from Africa to the US. When he doesn't show up at the airport, his wife is told that her husband never boarded the plane. She tries to track him down and learns that he is suspected of collaborating in a fatal bombing that occurred recently in a North African country.
But aside from the predictable story, Rendition introduces other storylines such as the impact of the duties given to two active CIA agents (Gyllenhaal and Streep), and the background of Abasi, an expert torturer given the job of getting "the truth" from Anwar. It is the mix of emotions that swirl around the main story that make it worth watching.
Rendition has a list of minor flaws a mile long, but it's definitely a film whose sum is better than its parts. If you are looking for a movie that engages your brain, and preys on raw emotions, see this one.
9:37 PM, 31st May, 2008
Two convicts, one white (Curtis) and the other black (Poitier), are shackled together when the truck taking them to prison is overturned. Both men harbour racist feelings, yet the two must cooperate in order to elude recapture. Together they travel the Southern back roads attempting to keep one step ahead of the approaching posse. In time, the two escapees learn to respect one another, and when they succeed in removing their shackles they do not go their separate ways. Though the device of binding two racial antagonists is fairly obvious, the film is compelling thanks to the very powerful performances of the two charismatic leads. Director Stanley Kramer is noted for making "message" films (he later directed Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?), and this film captures the integrationist mood of liberal American society in the late 1950s. Screenwriters Nedrick Young (using the pseudonym of Nathan E. Douglas as he was under a McCarthyist blacklist) and Harold Jacob Smith won Oscars, as did the cinematographer Sam Leavitt.