Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Film Week

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

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (2014)
I'll tell you one thing I was surprised about: this movie's short compared to all of the other Middle-earth movies. Two hours and 24 minutes? It seems like that's been the average running time for most movies for the past decade. And after sustaining all of the internet whining about "that interminable battle scene" I was expecting something much bigger. I quite liked this movie and I like the way the entire trilogy turned out. Like I've said in the past, a three-film version of The Hobbit doesn't seem really necessary, but when I'm watching and enjoying these movies, I really don't care. I like being in them, I like being in Peter Jackson's Middle-earth, and I'm quite sorry that (with the exception of the still-to-be-released extended version of this film) I'll never have a new experience there again. I had one or two disappointments here, I'll admit: I wanted more of the Dwarves, whom I had come to really know and love through the first two movies, and I wanted less of the humans, since I found Bard rather dull. I do think a lot of the characters get lost in what is basically a flurry of third act resolutions. I felt like this film and the previous had set up a resolution with Thranduil (still one of my favorite characterizations in the whole thing, as Lee Pace really makes his Elf feel alien) that didn't quite come off, and after liking Tauriel so much in the previous film, I wish she didn't end up being quite so defined by her love story. But none of that dampened the overall effect of these wonderful films, and I'm withholding a real feeling on all that until the extended version (and let's be honest, I'm taking all three films as one masterful film rather than three separate ones). My reviews of these movies are pretty worthless, because they're critic-proof (and aggrieved fanboy whine-proof) for me, because as much as I'm willing to acknowledge some flaws, I just don't care. They don't ruin any of my enjoyment. I love these films. Three years ago, I didn't think I needed them. Today, I'm very glad to have them. ****

GONE GIRL (2014)
If you have some time, I recommend you read a long piece by Film Crit Hulk about sexism and feminism and pulp in regards to Gone Girl. There's been a lot of talk about the character of Amy Dunne and what she represents, and I'm having a real problem with a lot of the conversation, because I don't want to engage it, but I also feel like not acknowledging it is somehow inherently sexist. Just read the article; Hulk gets at a lot of my feelings about representational critiques of this movie, and someone in the comments makes a really good point about female agency. I did really enjoy this movie; it's stupid pulp, but it's very compelling and involving stupid pulp. I think it's a good showcase for basically all of David Fincher's strengths and many weaknesses as a filmmaker, wrapped in a well-executed, enjoyable, preposterous (but in a fun way) thriller that makes a point or two about the media. I think my wife and I will argue endlessly about whether the movie tries to be an apologia for men who are accused, but the fact that it gave us this much to talk about while still being a solid-but-possibly-problematic genre flick is more than I hoped for after Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. ***1/2

NANNY CAM (2014)
The problem with these Lifetime movies generally is that the inevitably crazy girl that they put at the center of these things is always more sympathetic than the bland normo leads, and I sympathize with the annoying way Lifetime likes to exploit stereotypes of mental illness only to turn around in the last half hour and pretend to be sympathetic to how much they need help, so I always end up rooting for the crazy girl. Here, a bland couple (Cam Gigandet looks half-asleep most of the time) hires a new nanny (India Eisley from Secret Life of the American Teenager but having lost a truly upsetting amount of weight) who... eh, it's pretty obvious. Anyway, nice twist at the end. **

MASQUERADE (1988)
Rob Lowe as a yacht racer in a community of rich people. He's making it with his boss's trophy wife (Kim Cattrall, and what a trophy), then falls in love with a rich heiress (Meg Tilly), much to the anger of her stepfather (John Glover with a terrible haircut), her stepfather's new sidepiece (Dana Delaney, looking glorious), and the jilted cop who loves her from afar (Doug Savant). Everything that is at once preposterously ridiculous and gloriously sleazy/steamy about sexy 80s thrillers, with all of the murder, double cross, luridness, implied homoerotica, and revenge-planning that implies. So stupid, but so riveting in its soapiness. Written by Dick Wolf. ***

2 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Boy, I do wish I had seen Gone Girl. I had similar reservations to yours, unsurprisingly. Then when it WAS in the neighborhood, I was too busy.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I, too, love all the Jackson Tolkien films. I was crazy about Battle of the Five armies, and have seen it now twice, both times in the HFR 3-D, the second time also in Imax. I can't wait for the extended Blu-Ray to sit on my shelves, so I can sit down and watch all 9 hours at once. I agree that the last film needed more of the dwarves. It seemed only the three who were doomed got all the screen time.

Since I had no more Tolkien movies to go see, after seeing the last movie I reread The Hobbit, and then reread The Silmarillion, for the first time since it came out back in 1977. In short, I've been Tolkiening out.

Oh, and I thought Richard Armitage's performance in the third film was absolutely Shakespearean. It made me want to see his King Lear.