Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Slightly Underwhelming Mixed Bag of FIlms

A few weekends ago, I darted over to Taiwan for a friend's wedding, which not only meant a brilliant weekend in a foreign city that I've never visited before (that serves Michelin star dumplings no less!), but several hours of uninterrupted new release film-watching bliss.

Surrounding each of the films I watched, there had been considerable hype. So I was a little disappointed when I felt a little take-it-or-leave-it to the films (to varying degrees). I'm going to present the films in order from underwhelming given the hype to yeah.... it was pretty good. [Note: there's a good chance this had something to do with sleepiness, crap sound quality and a fingernail sized screen].

The Descendants
Yes, George Clooney is a very nice looking man. Yes, he has strong political beliefs. Yes, I believe he can act... However I felt that the understated elegance he went for here (he was, after all, playing the role of a man who was indifferent to his wife, his daughters and the enormous tract of pristine land under his control on the island of Hawaii), was at times at the risk of sucking the life out of his character, causing us to find him a little unbelievable in his emotionally stunted response to traumatic events. George plays a man who is confronted not only by a dying wife whom he is aware he has neglected, but also the news that his wife was in love with another man and had been planning a divorce. He also has a cantankerous 13 year old daughter and a wise-beyond-her-years, gorgeous teen with a somewhat odd-ball friend that she insists on dragging around with her. The children create the light in this film. Perhaps that was the point.

GC and the kids embark upon a journey to find the lover - amidst another key moment in GC's life: should he sell the beautiful nature reserve in Hawaii that his family has owned for generations to a developer, or keep it to ensure its natural beauty is preserved? The Hawaiian scenery is truly beautiful, and it was an interesting inclusion.

I was just a little distracted by GC's indifference. Perhaps I've adapted to what Hollywood ordinarily produces (i.e. OTT, emotional ending), but I was left feeling a little oddly hollow at the end. It's one of those Sunday afternoon, I-should-probably-see-this films. You won't be disappointed with it, but you also won't be overly moved. 3.5 stars.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Elizabeth Olsen (and yes, she is the spitting - albeit much healthier - image of the Olsen twins) is truly great in this film.

Billed as a psychological thriller, I felt the understatedness of this film meant that it never quite reached its full potential. There were moments of beautiful tension, and the can't-quite-see-it-all elements of the film were certainly effective, but I just got a little lost in this one. Maybe I needed something bigger than my Penguin book-sized aeroplane screen to appreciate the enormity of the story? John Hawkes as the creepy commune leader was certainly excellent... Martha Marcy May Marlene is definitely in The Virgin Suicides territory. Enjoy this on a rainy evening with a bottle of red and your boyfriend film. 3.75 stars.

My Week With Marilyn
Eddie Redmayne - current Burberry pin-up boy - appears as Colin Clark, an enthusiastic young film buff who finds himself in the enormously lucky position of working on the poorly received (yet heavily starred with Laurence Olivier and Marily Monroe as stars) comedy The Prince and the Showgirl.

Michelle Williams is just so good in this - she presents the sexy Marilyn who breathily sang Happy Birthday as the creation of a woman who in reality is childlike in her neediness, insecurity and vulnerability.

The moments when she appears with the equally needy Olivier (performed so perfectly by Kenneth Brannagh it's not funny) are both amusing and cringeworthy. You really feel for this woman who seems at once so out of her depth, yet with an ability to nonetheless manipulate most situations to her own ends (which are certainly not malicious - she was thoroughly lovable).

This was my favourite film out of the bunch (perhaps because the subject matter wasn't so dark), and I just loved Michelle Williams so much in this. I also really loved seeing Emma Watson in her first role post-Harry Potter.

She was excellent, but really the show was made by Michelle Williams and Kenneth Brannagh.

This is definitely one to watch - with whoever. Just make sure they enjoy films. 4 stars.

No comments: