Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Pete Travis
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver
(PG-13, 90 min.)
"You see, but you do not observe." Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
It’s really a pretty decent political thriller, with a textured plot, plenty of action, and one heck of a car chase. Within the explosive layers of orchestrated chaos, can you tell which is truth and which is illusion?
I’ll have to admit, I almost stayed home after the tepid praise Vantage Point received, but something drew me to it anyway, and I’m glad that listened to my intuition rather than the critics. America’s President (William Hurt) is assassinated at a global terrorism summit in Spain, and the colliding versions of this event are presented through at least eight points of view. The first time round it is riveting and bold as seen via the production headquarters of American TV news producer Rex Brooks - great to see Sigourney Weaver up on the screen again and in commanding presence as usual. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly any more here than she did in her Alien glory days, hectoring politicizing reporters and cameramen when they veer from covering the momentous event objectively. (We could use a few more producers like her in the real world, by the way.)
Next, we see the same series of events, this time through the eyes of Secret Service agent Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), his first time out again since taking a bullet for President Ashton a year earlier. Later on it is seen through the digital camera of an American tourist (Forest Whitaker), then the President himself, as well as a Spanish cop, and finally, from the points of view of some of the perpetrators themselves.
A few people had a problem with this structure, particularly the repetition of the Spanish mayor’s bland introductory speech several times over, my husband rolling his eyes and muttering under his breath by the third replay. Of course, the fact that our small screens at home have been cluttered with enough political speeches in the last year or so to last a lifetime may have been a contributing factor. Later on, however, the replays are more nuanced; the speech is on a small television in the background, for instance, which is a great improvement.
Some critics were appalled at this structure as a shameful rip off of the 1950 Japanese classic Rashomon, which depicts a crime as seen through various points of view, but unless you are into bygone esoteric foreign films, or merely trying to impress your audience, this shouldn’t be a consideration. Furthermore, it certainly didn’t bother these fawning elites that Cloverfield was one part Godzilla and one part The Blair Witch Project, fused together with the shaky hand held camera work of The Bourne Ultimatum.
My sneaking suspicion is that the real reason for Vantage Point being damned by faint praise is that it isn’t anti-American enough for some tastes. President Ashton is out to end global terror and has actually succeeded in organizing a summit that includes many Mid Eastern leaders. He is a decent man who refuses to be drawn into macho retaliation, being shrewd enough to know that to be the underlying purpose of the planned violence. The real bad guys resemble the terrorists we read about daily in the news, not the CIA rogues or neo-Nazis Hollywood routinely puts on screen.
Give this one a try. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, and each time round, you will learn a new detail that forces you to recalibrate your assumptions. Just the thing to hoist you past this long cinematic winter of discontent.
Though it was actually filmed in Mexico City, the ostensible setting of Vantage Point is Salamanca, Spain. The cobbled streets, the stucco walls, the magnificent central square, Plaza Mayor, are all part of a replica set built specially so that it could all be blown up without, you know, actually blowing up the place.
These guys did such a great job that it is not at all difficult to imagine finding that quiet café nearby where you could wile away an afternoon indulging in those delicious Spanish appetizers called tapas. These Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms are as easy to make as they are authentically delicious.
Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 closed cup mushrooms (I just used big Button Mushrooms)
2 shallots , peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic , peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
3 slices Serrano ham or prosciutto, finely sliced
2 ounces goat cheese (I used Feta)
4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Wipe mushrooms with damp cloth. Remove stems, roughly chop the stems, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet and saute of the shallots until soft. Add garlic, rosemary, stems, and pepper. Saute for several minutes. Add ham and stir.
Remove pan from heat and transfer ingredients to a bowl. Stir in the cheese and breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper if needed. Fill mushroom with the mixture and place on a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked. Serve while hot.
Recipe Source: Recipezaar.com