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FORD vs FERRARI (2019) Ford v Ferrari biographical, action, drama, sports Director: James Mangold Cast: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, John Burntal, Robert Sparta, Katrina Balf Premiere: November 14, 2019 To…

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Current War (2017)

Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is on the verge of the greatest technological revolution in world history: after the invention of the light bulb, he is going to bring light to the whole country. To do this, he uses direct current – not too efficient, expensive, but absolutely safe. Not everyone agrees with this decision: industrial tycoon George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon), holding a fair grudge against Edison (he once brazenly ignored George’s friendly invitation), wants to convince the inventor that alternating current is much more convenient, and opens his own competing enterprise. The scientist Nikola Tesla (Nicholas Holt) also repeats Thomas Thomas about this. But Edison does not agree to anything: he says that alternating current is dangerous and can kill.

Shot from the film “Current War”
Current War is a project of a difficult fate. The film, which was finished back in 2017, but could not be released for a very simple reason: one of its producers was Harvey Weinstein. During these two years, Martin Scorsese joined the Current War, and director Alfonso Gomez-Rehon got a chance to re-edit the film, whose critics did not accept the first revision very enthusiastically: the film was then scolded for narrative inarticulateness, and in every text Western journalists practiced sharpness on the subject of “low voltage” and “lack of current” in the script.

Shot from the film “Current War”
Their claims are generally understandable, and for two years of filming and other post-manipulations, the source of these claims has not been completely eliminated. The “Current War” and now, in its “directorial” version, suffers greatly from excessive narrative playfulness and the absence of some scenario “air”: the scenes here often go in a crazy cascade, and the exposition is cut into editing phrases almost of Garichev’s length . The film seems to be afraid not to have time to tell the story in due time, which, of course, is sorely lacking for it: the epic sweep of the story about the confrontation between the two technological giants could easily become the basis for a mini-series or cinema novel about 3 hours long, but instead awkwardly fit into funny one hundred minutes.

Shot from the film “Current War”

Hence the need to pronounce the characters, nuances and whole plot twists and turns, to manually irritate the viewer’s interest where, for a longer duration, this could be done cinematically (in the film, five times verbally repeat: they say, Edison is “such a person”). Gomez-Rehon too often has to rely on dramatic conventions: to build, say, a personal drama on the death of characters with whom the viewer contacted just a couple of times. But, I must admit, in the “War of Currents” it works more often than not: partly because of the outstanding caste – even Cumberbatch here seems to play a slightly different shade of its eternal archetype of “daring genius” – which is able to induce empathy even there, where this is not enough script.

Shot from the film “Current War”
And partly because of the directorial abilities of Gomez-Rehon himself – the author of one of the most prominent indie drama “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl”, the creator, in general, not unprincipled and atypical. He doesn’t shoot the “War of Currents” – a purely seemingly academic story – not at all academically: he looks at the world with wide-angle optics, strange distorting the space, impressively builds frames and moves the camera along unexpected trajectories. A separate ingenious solution is to shoot a film in constant darkness, with outright loss of information in black, to convey the natural lighting of spaces in the world before electrification.

Shot from the film “Current War”
Sometimes Gomez-Rehon is distracted by mannerisms, rhythmic non-narrative episodes, where he frames the heroes in frames of an old film, visually conceptualizing another important invention of Thomas Edison – a tube. In these rare moments, The Current War almost becomes a movie about cinema – a genre that Alfonso addressed in Earl and which is clearly more interesting to him than a showdown between two businessmen. And the story of Edison himself is a lyrical drama about a man who was chasing the future, but deep inside he longed to capture and preserve the past forever.

Each episode, even the most unsightly, becomes for Gomez-Rekhon a springboard for interesting visual solutions – not always, perhaps necessary, sometimes too noticeable and, frankly, show off. But there is nothing wrong with this aplomb, on the contrary, with its help, the film is ideologically connected with the heroes. First of all, with all the same Edison and Nikola Tesla, about whom they openly speak here, they say, they come up with more than they can realize. So the “Current War” itself, with its ambitions, clings to more than it can tell, takes in more expressive means than it needs, but in this excessiveness and pleasant awkwardness there is its indescribable charm.

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