Compilation Post: Catching up at home…

Recently I have tried to catch up on several films that I missed at the theater and they are stacking up–so again, I resort to another compilation post.  I was actually disappointed in most, so this should be quick.  😀

Arthur Christmas

I LOVED IT!!  Why didn’t I see this last year?  I do not know, but I missed out.  I am a huge fan of Aardman Studios and they do not disappoint.  This is an original take on Santa and the North Pole with a wonderful, heartfelt story in the center.  It has quickly become a new traditional Christmas film to watch every year!   The voice talent is awesome and you will find yourself laughing and tearing up a bit.  This was the treasure in the bunch!

 

Sound of My Voice

I was very excited about this one!  I loved Brit Marling‘s Another Earth and thought the premise was very creative and intriguing.  Well I loved 95% of this film–all the way up to the last 3 minutes!! What a bummer.  Not many films can ruin an entire narrative in the closing moments…but SOMV does it.  I can not even like the rest of it because the ending is SO unsatisfying.  I am truly getting tired of indie films constant use of ambiguous endings.  Guess what guys?  It is not creative and inventive…it is LAZY screenwriting!  A good story should have a good ENDING!  Geez.  **Deep sigh**

 

Your Sister’s Sister

Another one I was looking forward to–I am a big fan of Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass–and although this one was not as frustrating (still had the “leave you hanging” ending **eye roll**) as SOMV, it just did not quite capture me.  I did not really care for any of these characters and when you do not care it is not all that interesting.  I enjoyed the chemistry between Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt, as sisters, but overall it rates a “meh”.

 

Savages

BOO!! This was soooo bad!  This was a total waste of talent–all the way around!  Oliver Stone has lost his touch.   Avoid this trash.  It does not even merit any more of my words.

 

 

Lawless

**Deep sigh**  Again.  I have to really think hard to remember this film.  Yup.  It is forgettable.  And you would think with this amazing cast that would not be the case.  Well, we were wrong.   Yes, there are fine performances, but nothing works here.  The characters are shallow and no one has any chemistry with each other–the narrative  just seems to wander and even the action is lackluster.  The ending?  Dumb. Oh, well.

 

That’s it.  Told you it would be quick.  Pretty disappointing set of films, but right now I am in the middle of my annual Christmas viewings and having a jolly good time.  Thinking I might put up a post with a list of all my seasonal favorites…that would be fun!   Happy Holidays!

 

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Looper is frackin’ awesome!

And it proves that originality still exists in Hollywood–whew! I was getting worried.  Not only is Looper original and brilliantly constructed, it is one of the BEST sci-fi films, involving time travel, that I’ve seen in a long time.  It joins the ranks of Primer and 12 Monkeys, (in my opinion) and brings Writer/Director Rian Johnson‘s score sheet of awesome to 3 out of 3 .

Time travel can be tricky because there are so many variables and little inconsistencies that, like a loose thread in a sweater, can unravel the entire premise and narrative.  Although I am sure that some are searching and can find those threads, overall Looper clears the most difficult hurdles and delivers an intelligent, tight, action filled story that relies more on character exploration than convoluted space-time continuum plot points.

You guys know already that I will not divulge anything about the narrative (no summaries here to spoil the unexpected :)), but I will tell you why I loved it.

Let’s start with the story.  Like I mentioned it tackles time travel in an original way and creates a futuristic world that feels organic and plausible–from cars and weapons, from drugs to lifestyles, it all feels right.  What Johnson does extremely well is focus on the human factor, instead of anything else and at its heart Looper plays out as a morality tale about what extremes a person will go to, to protect the ones they love.  I loved that no one was the clear hero–all the players in this story were damaged and tainted–and yet, we are able to find the humanity in all of them.

(Badass Mondo Poster)

The awesome story was played out by a pitch-perfect cast.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to confirm my ongoing love affair with him! 😀  Since Brick (Johnson’s début film) and Mysterious Skin, I have been on the JGL fan wagon and have yet to be disappointed in a performance.  This kid has some major talent and this role highlights this in a big way.  Then there is Mr. Bruce Willis–the one and only.  Willis is a badass.  We all know this.  And I love when we see him tackle a role that allows his badassness to be enhanced and magnified and yet shows his vulnerable side too.  (Damn.  They are both so awesome! It’s crazy how much JGL channels Willis and the make-up is sick!)

 

 

 

Emily Blunt is almost unrecognizable in a role that is a departure from anything I’ve ever seen her play and she nails it.  She is strong, yet fragile and you can help but root for her.  Then there is Pierce Gagnon–at merely 5 years old (at time of filming)–this kid is incredible!  I have not been this impressed with a child actor since little baby Dakota Fanning in Trapped.  WOW!  That is all I can say because his character is amazing to discover without any prior set-up.

Okay.  Story? Brilliant.  Acting? Top-notch.  Music? Perfect.  Make-up and Effects? Super cool.  I think that about does it.  Go watch it!  You are in for a hell of a ride!

Also, let us remind Hollywood that we want to see NEW ideas on-screen.  It is possible and when it happens, we must support original and awesome content.

Want a lovely film experience? Go Salmon Fishing in the Yemen!

Charming. We do not get to use that word often in film. Yet, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is just that–charming. An original, fresh approach to the romantic comedy formula. The narrative relies on an impossible dream that brings these characters together with a common goal–faith and fish (and science).  😀

Adapted from the novel, of the same name, by Paul Torday–the premise is far-fetched.  A wealthy Yemeni sheikh wants to bring salmon fishing to the desert of his country by creating flowing rivers. It sounds crazy because it is, but the journey taken is memorable and lovely. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy does a fine job with the material. The dialogue is crisp, witty and sharp (and very British). I laughed out loud at very clever moments and was impressed by how intelligent it was. Addressing themes from politics–animal nature–and our own natures, the story is rich. Now, I have to place the novel on my to-read list to see if it is just as good.

Director Lasse Hallstrom tells a beautiful story–simply and honestly, with a touch of the mystical. (That is what he does–Chocolat and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape –two of my favorites–are some of his classics.)  He allows the characters to evolve naturally and paces the story perfectly. It also helps that there is gorgeous cinematography by Terry Stacey, that enhances the experience.

Another plus is the perfect cast. Ewan McGregor is awesome, again. I always comment on his natural, easy talent because he never seems to be acting. I love him here. His character’s arch is gradual, subtle and poignant. Emily Blunt is wonderful, too–again. I enjoy her in every film she is a part of. I appreciated their chemistry–it felt real and you found yourself cheering for them.

Amr Waked is great as the Sheikh, but the scene-stealer is Kristin Scott Thomas‘ turn as the brash press director of the British Prime Minister. Thomas delivers her lines with confidence and sting. She is a power house, but is also having fun with this role. Loved it!

My only complaint is an awkward, adversarial militant sub-plot. It just felt out-of-place and unnecessary. I understand that it leads to certain major events, but it was not explored or focused on enough for it to have impact. So, it ends up feeling forced. Obviously, it does not ruin the picture and can be easily overlooked, but still is not needed. I also would have liked to see more time given to the country of Yemen and its people. It could have enriched the plot.

Bottom line? Ignore the odd title (although appropriate) and take a chance on Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. You will end up being charmed and enjoy the time you’ve spent in this universe.

 

The Five-Year Engagement? I liked it.

The Five-Year Engagement is delightful.  It may not be as laugh-out funny as some of the other Apatow productions, but it is a warm, charming and heartfelt story.  What I really liked is how real it all felt.  This is not a standard romantic comedy (which is a good thing) and I could honestly believe in these characters and their dilemma.

Romantic comedies are hit and miss with me.  I like a light, fluffy movie every once in a while but I hate the play by the numbers–meet cute–stereotypical character–ones and enjoy the original–realistic–ones. And Five-Year definitely qualifies as realistic. Instead of showing the courtship and ending with a proposal, here we begin with the proposal and follow what happens after you’ve declared your love and life gets in the way.  It helps that Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are wonderful and have a natural chemistry because the story takes its time and watching them maneuver through obstacles is part of the fun.

Writer/Director Nicholas Stoller (Segel co-wrote the screenplay) goes back to Forgetting Sarah  Marshall territory here–focusing on a light touch.  There are a few raunchy and over the top bits but they do not overwhelm the narrative.  The supporting is good–not great and I think that is the weakest part of the film.  (The talent around the stars always helps to elevate the enjoyment factor.)

Overall I enjoyed my time visiting with these characters.  It may not be the best film out there but it is better than most.  And let us not forget…it is a light, fluffy movie and it’s not trying to be anything more than that.