December 7, 2009

Justify My Netflix: Kundun

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Kundun, 1997 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it's a lushly filmed biopic about the Dalai Lama directed by Martin Scorsese, which alone is bizarre enough to warrant a space in my DVD queue; but then it was a box-office disappointment as well, one of only a handful of legitimate bombs in Scorsese's career, which has always had me extra curious about what went wrong.

The reality: I don't see what all the fuss is about -- it's simply another well-done big-budget Eastern Civ biopic by a Western Civ director, sharing much in common (all the way down to specific shots sometimes) with similar films Gandhi and The Last Emperor. But maybe this was precisely the problem after all? Because the truth is that there's not much special about Kundun either, a by-the-numbers Oscar baitfest which you can imagine just about any generic director doing at least a decent job at, when surrounded as well by that much money and those many talented people. As a result, then, it ends up looking and feeling like just about every other movie of this type, which is maybe why the world collectively shrugged when it first came out. It's nothing memorable but also not bad at all, a perfect choice for example to catch on Sunday afternoon cable.

Strangest piece of trivia: The Dalai Lama himself as a young adult is played by the real Dalai Lama's grand nephew, who happens to look strikingly similar to him.

Worth your time? Yes, especially if you enjoy lush biopics

Filed by Jason Pettus at 3:41 PM, December 7, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |