Sunday, April 17, 2011

Carlos: Miniseries

Netflix sez...
2010 NR 3 episodes
Édgar Ramírez stars as Ilich Ramírez Sánchez -- aka Carlos the Jackal -- an elusive Venezuelan terrorist who executed scores of assassination plots, abductions and bombings across Europe and the Middle East. This Golden Globe-winning biopic follows Sanchez from 1973 to 1994 as he and his cohorts wreak havoc on the Left Bank in Paris, storm OPEC headquarters in Vienna and carry out other devastating acts of politically motivated violence. This is the 5 1/2 hour miniseries.

The 73rd Virgin sez...
A remarkable star turn by Edgar Ramirez is maybe the best but not the only reason to see this. He leaps from Spanish to English to French to German to, I guess, Arabic, all while physically dominating every scene without chewing the scenery. It is humorously revealing when he lectures his German wife, in German, and begins to adopt the finger pointing and foot-stamping of Hitler. Just a fascinating performance.

Otherwise, this is a gigantic undertaking totalling about five hours of partly factual and partly speculative story that follows him from the silver-spoon socialist salons of Europe to the cold-eyed fascism of the Middle East to the jerk-waters of Sudan. Ceaselessly mouthing words about the struggle, the oppressed, the downtrodden, he spends all his spare time drinking the best liquor, smoking the finest cigars (every character smokes - all the time - in every scene), bedding the prettiest little revolutionaries, and hatching mostly inept murderous plots.

We are introduced to dozens of characters whose signifcance is only slowly revealed, and a few times I lost track, but the technical aspects are flawless. I admire how the film is willing to show us brief bursts of procedural detail that Hollywood would deem too dull or episodic but which really help to describe Carlos existence. Sometimes it helps to know how one gets thrown out of Syria and taken in by Sudan. Fascinating. 5 stars out of 5.

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