Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

06 July 2008

A Kids' Movie?

As predicted by Julie, I loved Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which upped the ante on James Cameron's first (1984) Terminator by focusing more on character development, increasing the special effects and taking advantage of 1991's better visual effects technology. Arnold Schwarzenegger, merely menacing and indecipherable in the first film, emerges as a comic talent, essential to the second film, where he was only incidental in the first.

Edward Furlong is also great as the young John Connor, who learns to trust and love Schwarzenegger's Terminator. Cameron crafts these scenes so well that long before the heavy-handed voice-over explicitly states it, we realize that the cyborg gas become an important father-figure to the young boy. The only real problem with Terminator 2 is Linda Hamilton's overly serious performance as Sarah Connor. She's great in the first film, where she spends a lot of time running and screaming and, well, responding to all of the crazy plot twists provided in The Terminator. But in the second film, Hamilton is asked to drive entire sections of the movie, and her intensely earnest portrayal of what could be a diva-esque role makes her scenes irritating or even slightly painful when they could have been wickedly fun.

And today I watched René Clément's 1952 French film Jeux Interdits, which goes by the (rather salacious, if you ask me) title Forbidden Games. This is a movie about games played by two children and the English language title implies slightly scary sexual play to me. Anyway, my problems with the English title notwithstanding, Jeux Interdits is an excellent little film about a young girl named Paulette whose (civilian) parents are killed in one of the Nazi bombings of France. Paulette is immediately adopted/befriended by a little boy named Michel, who brings her home and insists that his family take her in. The jeux in the title refer to the pet cemetary the two children begin to construct after Paulette decides to bury her pet dog Jock, who was also killed by the Nazis.

Jeux Interdits didn't make me cry per se. It isn't sentimental in that way (I did cry at Terminator 2 in case you were wondering), but Clément's film gnaws away at you in a different way. The film's ending is absolutely devastating. It's a sock-in-the-jaw, merciless way to end a film that feels honest but heartbreaking. I'm not going to give the ending away, but for me the ending makes or breaks a film and Jeux Interdits' ending unequivocally makes this one.