Fans of the cinematographer Darius Khondji are having a bit of a busy week, with the opening of two new, albeit distinct, films captured through his masterful lens. Wong Kar-wai’s sickly sweet tourist film, My Blueberry Nights, and Carter Smith’s sick-inducing film about tourists, The Ruins, are each the work of the erstwhile cameraman of choice for Fincher and Jeunet-Caro, though one can scarcely imagine two more divergent films. Of course, world-class DP aside, there’s not much that unites them: the former is a loose collection of episodes about lovelorn twentysomethings in search of America, while the latter is a one-note survivalist horror film about horny college kids in search of the way back home. Indeed, at first glance, these two would hardly even seem the work of the same cameraman: Wong’s film is shot with the restrained palette of a Texas whorehouse, while The Ruins looks as gray as a skeleton baking in the Mexican desert sun. The only common theme to be derived from the two films is one that’s obvious and fashionable everywhere these days: a vaguely condescending attitude toward Americans. But at least in Smith’s film the culturally insensitive gringos get the chance to redeem their more selfish habits, while Wong’s itinerant Yanks only have their insatiable Western appetites for drinking, gambling, and pie-eating rewarded with a gooey Hollywood ending.
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