Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

Here. **1/2

IN TIME (2011)
Interesting SF concept--people are genetically engineered to die at age 25, so time itself (which can be added or removed genetically in a way I didn't bother to question, since the movie doesn't work at all without this central conceit) becomes currency. It could've been an interesting study of the way society overvalues youth, but mostly it becomes a so-so action thriller with an attractive cast. Ultimately not very compelling. Cillian Murphy's pretty good in it, though. **

Creepy creepy creepy. The creepy-creepy-creepiest Lifetime movie I've ever seen, which is saying something. Jason Gedrick gives a truly creepy performance as the real life Max Factor heir who was tried and convicted on 87 counts of drugging and raping young women. Just... seriously, I needed a shower after it was over. Unusually visceral, even for Lifetime. **1/2

NOW IS GOOD (2012)
Here. ****

A short film/Sigur Ros music video featuring Elle Fanning as a daughter searching for the father (John Hawkes) who has left her behind. Super dramatic in a very bombastic way, but the music is compelling and, honestly, I just love watching Elle Fanning move. She does these things with her hands and her body that make her seem like an alien sometimes, as if she's never been in a human body before and isn't sure how it's supposed to work. Like she's finding her way through it. I love that about her; it reminds me of how fascinated I was when I was a kid by mime and dance and strange, ethereal movement. It's why I've always been so interested in puppets and special effects creatures and movies like The Dark Crystal. Elle is a special effects creature all on her own. I find her totally fascinating to watch in things like this. And she does ballet in it, which is another thing she's incredibly good at. What she and Jim Henson might have done together... ****

I never heard of this French movie until I saw a list of the best-reviewed films of 2011. I can see why it topped the list. It's hard to describe this movie without making it sound like that feel good bullshit I hate, but hey, it made me feel incredibly good. It stars the very, very good-looking Omar Sy as a man looking for a job (more accurately, looking to get back on welfare) who is hired by a rich tetraplegic man (Francois Cluzet) to be his live-in caregiver. It's immediately an unconventional relationship--Sy has no training and at first isn't really interested in doing the job--but the deep care that grows between the two is so natural, their chemistry so unforced, and the actors are so good in the roles, that it's just a joy watching these two bond through their shared situation. Like I said, it made me feel good, but not in a way that felt cheap or unearned. It's a very easy to like movie, but it's genuine. ****

Clint Eastwood as an aging baseball scout who bonds with his distant daughter (Amy Adams) while on a scouting trip. Creaky, but solid; likable, but maybe a little on the long side. It's very low-key, but Eastwood and Adams are particularly good as a father and a daughter with a vulnerable, bitter gulf between them. Eastwood continues to age gracefully on film. ***

Finally: that over-serious, dark, gritty, film noir retelling of Deep Throat I never asked for. *1/2 for obvious Sasha Grey-related reasons.

Surprising, honestly. It's not the silly old-people-having-sex-is-funny comedy that it advertised itself as. It's a perceptive movie about the ways an adult relationship can grow stale that doesn't resort to big, dramatic moments (though some of the comedy feels forced). There's a refreshing candor to that, because I am sick of those awful Nancy Myers movies about idiots acting like idiots. Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep give brave, emotionally honest performances as a couple married for 31 years who have slowly grown further and further apart. He thinks there's nothing wrong and doesn't realize they way he can bully her; she feels like their marriage is coming to an end and frets that he doesn't want her anymore ("Like two friends who share the same house," she says). Steve Carell is assured, gentle, not big and flashy, as the relationship therapist who draws out their inner turmoil. Perhaps the movie is, in the end, a little too subdued for its own good, because it never quite catches fire the way you want it to. It doesn't grab you the way great acting can, which means the resolution isn't quite the triumph it should be. But I also like its tone and the way it knows that even emotional highs can take sudden sour turns. ***

Fun-but-dumb action thriller; too good and exciting (and, in Philip Seymour Hoffman's case, well-acted) to be described as by-the-numbers, but not one of the great action flicks, either. It's just fun-but-dumb, well-directed with some truly gripping action sequences. I wouldn't mind seeing another one (which is good, because there's another one to see), but I don't really consider this series essential or anything. Does anyone? I dug the first movie (I'm in a rather small grouping on that one) and didn't like the second one at all (too forced; you're not James Bond, Tommy). Good, ephemeral, preposterous fun, like a combination of Return of the Pink Panther and a mid-nineties Bond flick, but in a good way. (Also, glad to see Ving Rhames with a bigger role in this one than in the second.) ***

1 comment:

Vachon said...

In Time was a film I wanted to like. I felt it might have been better as a television series so that this concept could be better explored. The movie tried to do too much I thought in its limited time but despite that disappointment, I found myself spending hours afterward wondering what this society is like. Even like what happens to timed out bodies. It seems like the temporally impoverished don't have time for funerals, so how does living (in some cases literally) day to day affect the mind?

And I still think the mother's timing out could have been handled better. Like, how about she would have survived had she not given her son those extra minutes in the morning? Nothing like survivor's guilt to motivate the protagonist to rebel against this bizarre society.