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 ♥ hated it . ♥♥ 'sok . ♥♥♥ liked it . ♥♥♥♥ loved it . ♥♥♥♥♥ will force you to watch it

***

Tuesday
Mar152011

Biutiful

♥♥♥♥♥

I do not like Alejandro González Iñárritu, I've intensely disliked every film he has made, I even have a 2007 review I wrote about Babel documenting this intense dislike. I had written him off as one of those world hating, pretentious, impossible directors, until now.

This also marks one of the first time I have to disagree with the AV club film commentary. (Those guys seem to hate Iñárritu for the exact same reasons I did, if only I had known this 4 years ago when it was me against every single person I knew) They feel that this was much in the same vein as his previous releases, and very much just depressing events heaped on each other.

Make no mistake, practically every single terrible thing that could happen, happened in this movie. But for the first time, I didn't see just the commentary and instead saw a human story. The heartbreak translates from screen to seats, and all the terrible things that happened didn't feel forced or manipulative, but rather a natural progression of a shitty world spiraling into more shit. Miserable, yes, but also believable.

The overarching theme this deals with, instead of the myriad of issues it is involved in, is actually fatherhood. Perhaps this is what gave this film something real, an actual relationship for once, held together by the absolutely astounding performance by Javier Bardem. I can't begin to tell you. There is this one scene that still breaks my heart when I think about it. I looked at it, and in a Ron Burrus way, I said to myself "That is what remorse looks like." (Apologies to anyone who is not Adler, and therefore have no idea what I'm talking about)

The direction is masterful. My blazing hatred for Iñárritu always got in the way of me noticing that, ever. But finally, what I felt about the contents stepped out of the way and I saw all the beautiful things he was doing. There would be this fantastic extreme close-up shot of these ants on a window, then it would cut to the woman looking at them idly while talking to Javier, only making one off hand mention of them at the end that ties the whole speech together. It was beautifully constructed, and little things like that permeate throughout.

My point is, even if you don't like Iñárritu, watch this.

Tuesday
Mar152011

The King's Speech

♥♥♥1/3

Aaaaaah, the Oscar Winner. I saw this the night before the ceremonies, on my own, and after I came home from it, I listened to the creative screenwriting podcast episode on it with the writer. I'm going to try to give my opinions of the film separate from my sentimental inclinations in rooting for this.

The screenplay is unfaultable. It's a classic double hander, and feels exactly like what it is, an American writer writing a perfect BBC film. All the excellent things about it (that won it awards), the writing, the direction, the acting, they all took a step back for the story, and that is where it succeeds, but also, makes it slightly less remarkable for me.

Is it just me? Haven't we SEEN this kind of BBC film before? Far less polished, but more or less, just this? Maybe I'm just a tired old grumpy pants (It is 5:35am right now, I should probably go to bed). But I distinctly feel like I've seen so many really good british films that are pretty much just like this.

Despite that though, it is very very well done. Like I said, you can't really fault it in any aspect. My love affair with Geoffery Rush is boundless. (He once asked me for meat pies, I brought him pies, and he said to me "I love you forever". Damn straight). Even when I saw him in the preview session of Exit The King at Malthouse when lines were being dropped, I adored him. Pit all of that love for what he does with this performance, and it becomse slightly less than what its touted to be. He played a well written character, with a lot of character. Colin Firth on the other hand did achieve a career high. I was so happy when he thanked Tom Ford during his acceptance speech, because that was exactly when I stopped to take notice of him, finally. His understated, ebbing emotions in A Single Man was really beautiful. Please know that before that film, I had outwardly expressed my distaste in the guy. Coming from Australia, a land which rivals England for it's obsession with Pride and Preje, and the BBC mini-series of that crap, and Mr. Darcy, and THAT FOUNTAIN SCENE with Mr. Darcy, it was very easy for me to hate him. I didn't think he was a very good actor. He was weak in the portrayal of men who were outwardly masculine (in that britishy gentlemen way). But now, he's in full stride.

Helena Bonham Carter can do no wrong in my eyes. The more insane her outfits, the more I love her. Everything she says is utterly charming. She didn't have much of a part in this, and even so, she made her memorable.

I highly recommend the podcast that I mentioned earlier, the whole series itself (which has now ended, but Jeff Goldsmith has moved on and will be starting another podcast soon) and this episode in particular.

Now it's almost 6am, and I need to get my ass to bed. I will finish the last review tomorrow.

Tuesday
Mar152011

The Illusioniste

♥♥♥♥1/4

Not to be confused with the Ed Norton/Jessica Biel fodder. This film accomplishes the near impossible of capturing the humour and pathos of a Jacques Tati film with the lush animated visuals that's more like a Miyazaki. (while searching of images for this post, from the thumbnails, some of the backdrop pictures I came across I actually thought were from Laputa: Castle in the Sky)

This FEELS like a Tati film. The character of the illusionist could definitely be Mr. Houlot as a magician. It's warm, ironic, bittersweet. Not enough outpouring of love I could possibly heap upon this film would reciprocate what it poured into me. The director, Sylvain Chomet also gave us The Triplets of Belleville, which comes from the same spot in the heart, with its similar sepia toned nostalgia.

It understands history, and it understands humanity. And for Tati fans, it's especially special.

Tuesday
Mar152011

The Company Men

♥♥

My GOD this was depressing. It's about corporate unemployment, did you know that? I sure didn't walking into this.

The ending was cheesy and cheapens the rest of the film. Each of the men affected in this movie was clearly a representative character more than something more substancial. Sure, the actors are all very good and inject as much dimension to these people as they can but that only makes it more depressing. Chris Cooper, who is always excellent, plays a similar character to what he has done frequently (and ends up a familiar way too). Tommy Lee Jones kind of plays the tired old guy that he's prone to do lately, its reminiscent of his No Country performance actually, which is a good thing. Ben Affleck is good in parts like this; the earnest everyman, proud and fighting for something. He's clearly not a character actor, but in these leading parts, he is very watchable and sympathetic. Maria Bello was also comfortable in a familiar strong carying woman role that she's used to. Rosemarie DeWitt who I really only know as the first fling of Don Draper in Mad Men was playing this Mary-Louise Parker type, which she could almost pass off. She's a little more sincere than the devine MLP though, with less of that kooky cold detachment, which serves her better.

So the performances were all conventional and across the board, very good. It was just so unnecessarily depressing, and it all unfolded in the exact same shitty way that you would expect it to. And it keeps getting predictably worse, until it picks up at the end. Poo.

***

Note: I don't mean this is not an important story to tell, especially since this is the prevailing story of America in these last couple of years. I'm still waiting for that defining film for that to happen in.

Tuesday
Mar152011

No Strings Attached

♥♥♥

I'm not even ashamed to say it, I genuinely liked this movie.

Look, I feel that every film should be judged for its purpose, and this film serves a very specific purpose. It's a rom com, and for the genre, I would argue that it's well done.

No one is arguing that the overall plot is predictable. If you've ever watched a movie in the history of cinema, you don't even need to see the trailer to know that they are going to end up together. So that's not a spoiler.

Along the way though, there's some sweet, hilarious, and unpredictable things that happen. And some lines are really quite cleaver, and kind of more risque than I thought they were allowed to be.

The two leads are sincere, and funny, and better actors in this than people give them credit for. Ashton cops way too much flack. I actually liked him in his dramatic efforts too (Butterfly Effect. It was his face and everything else it represented that made it funny, but audiences found it hard to see past that beautiful goofball face.) The bevvy of supporting cast are all very good too, in their stock character capacities.

If, like me, sometimes you just want to see a rom com. This is a pretty good one to tune out to.

SIDENOTES:

- period mix. I'm totally going to make one.

- "He's so tall, when we walk together people are going to think he's kidnapping me."