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What We Want From Movies

The number-one movie in the country this week is Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, which is based on a 2002 movie from Hong Kong called Internal Affairs. For a remake–and of such a recent movie–the public and critical response could not be more exuberant, for the actors and Mr. Scorsese. The buzz is that Scorsese may finally win the Best Director Oscar, the prize that’s eluded him in his illustrious career. And it’s really all because of the devious original script from Felix Chong and Siu Fai Mak.

Meanwhile, if you follow Oscar buzz, Scorsese’s prime competition is already shaping up to be Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers. What’s most interesting about this project, which tells a story of heroism at Iwo Jima, is that Eastwood also filmed Letters From Iwo Jima, a Japanese-language exploration of the same battle from the Japanese perspective. It comes out in February. This is a big step beyond shooting a film series simultaneously, as Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings, or doing two sequels back-to-back, as Pirates of the Caribbean did, because it’s more efficient.

Intricate layered stories, multiple perspectives–these projects (neither of which I’ve seen yet) seem to represent the ideal storytelling for our times. Top screenwriters, directors, and performers are stepping up to give us entertainment that challenges us in our multitasking, overstimulated lives. We live in a lean-forward world now, and these are lean-forward movies.

Do you embrace these new storytelling styles? Do you think they’re an evolution of what we want from movies? Are you attracted to movies that you know offer novel storytelling techniques?

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