This Week In Cinema: February 17-23, 2013

adaptation.

My creative process is nowhere near as draining, that probably explains why I’ve never been all that creative!

Only a handful of films this week,

Bronson (2008, Nicolas Winding Refn, United Kingdom) ***1/2

A lead performance and a director who gets how to interject style can do wonders for a film. The crux of Bronson is that Tom Hardy makes Charles Bronson so gosh darn alluring, while Nicolas Winding Refn gives the film so much style. Bronson is not a film that someone should be able to say that they enjoyed, however I couldn’t help but enjoy Bronson. I got a kick out of the fourth wall stuff, I really liked the way that Herr Refn used music to set the tone. More than anything I loved the contradiction that was Mr. Hardy as Charles Bronson. He’s super charismatic and yet unrelentingly evil all at the same time. He’s a character that is repulsive, but Mr. Hardy makes him a character I never wanted to take my eyes off of.

Adaptation. (2002, Spike Jonze, United States Of America) ***1/2

It’s amazing to get lost in Charlie Kaufman’s brain, both in the film and in the machinations of the screenplay by the real life Mr. Kaufman. Brain candy is the best way to describe Adaptation., a collection of various candied items meant to titillate and stimulate the brain. Adaptation. gets the viewer thinking, laughing, and wondering just how messed up the creative process can be. But, the true stroke of genius in the screenplay is that even with all the intellectual structure it is the characters who drive the film. I cared about Chris Cooper’s John Laroche, and that made him much more than an intellectual oddity. Great writing, astute direction, and fine acting combine to form a heck of a film.

Girl Vs. Monster (2012, Stuart Gillard, Canada/United States Of America) *

Were I the type of man who lived to crush his daughters spirits I would have told her how terrible I thought this movie was. But, I like to think of myself as a good dad, so I didn’t. I ignored the terrible costumes, the pretty darn bad acting from Olivia Holt, the manufactured songs, the lack of a story, and so on and so forth. I’m a good dad so I ignored everything about Girl Vs. Monster that made it typical Disney TV movie trash. I ignored all of that and I told my daughter she had picked a heck of a movie to watch. What can I say, I’m a good dad, it’s what I do.

Cowboys & Aliens (2011, Jon Favreau, United States Of America) **

I have yet to see Daniel Craig as James Bond, but he must be a totally different person in that role to get all the praise he does. Outside of Road To Perdition, where he wasn’t asked to do a whole lot, I’ve found Mr. Craig to be as close to supremely bland as an actor can be. Cowboys & Aliens is no different, and his lack of charisma fits in with the general lack of caring shown by everyone involved in the film. It starts with making sure to showcase your lead actors six pack in a time and place where no coach robber worth their salt wouldn’t have a six pack. It finished with making sure that your lead, if she could be called that, actress has perfect make-up at every moment, even when she’s just had the shit beaten out of her after a few days of riding through hard terrain. That’s the stuff of Cowboys & Aliens, and it’s very milquetoast stuff at that. I suppose the effects weren’t horrible, but that’s about the most I can say for this wasted effort.

Scarface (1932, Howard Hawks & Richard Rosson, United States Of America) ***

Paul Muni is terrific as Tony, but I couldn’t stop the feeling that the rest of the film was off kilter. For instance, there’s the comedic character of Angelo, whose idiocy and dopiness is at odds with the more serious tone of the rest of Scarface. I liked certain aspects of the film, mainly the way the directors played with darkness and shadows. Ultimately I was let down by the screenplay and how it couldn’t decide on the tone it wanted or the message it wanted to convey. Scarface spent half of its time demonizing the gangster lifestyle, and the other half glorifying it. Come for Mr. Muni, shrug your shoulders at the rest, that’s the best I can offer.

Wrap-Up:

It was a tight race between two great films this week. I liked Bronson and Adaptation. about the same and felt they were both technically proficient and well made films. In a coin flip Adaptation. takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!

Cheers,
Bill

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