I’m kind of scared of what a sleep study on me would reveal!
This week I have a thing for foreign movies, and whiny people,
Greenberg (2010, Noah Baumbach, United States Of America) ***
This started off strong, it was equal parts poignant and funny, and then it sort of petered out and then came back a bit. It’s easy for me to relate to Roger in some ways, but he’s also vastly different from me and that made him a bit hard to completely get into and in turn that created a tiny bit of distance between myself and the film. Ben Stiller gave a very good performance, because for as much as I couldn’t relate to his character in some ways I did completely buy his performance. I’m glad I watched this, I just wish it had stayed stronger in the middle third.
Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, 2009, Niels Arden Oplev, Denmark/Germany/Norway/Sweden) **
Not so much a fan of this I was. It comes down to this movie earning its moments of violence, and it never does. It throws us into this story and then does nothing with either of its key character. After watching this I wonder if I missed something with Noomi Rapace because she didn’t do a thing with Lisbeth that was interesting or made me buy her character, she brooded and then brooded some more, threw a fit and then threw another fit, and so on. This was also pretty darn boring, the investigation didn’t do anything for me, this movie just left me feeling like I wasted my time, especially when something really could have been done with the violence the filmmakers chose to show, if only they had made me care about, or be interested in, the characters who suffered the violence.
An Education (2009,Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom/United States Of America) ***1/2
First, Alfred Molina rocked this, hardcore. Carey Mulligan and and Peter Sarsgaard were both really, really good, but this was the Alfred Molina show. The film drew me in, right up until the closing bit of narration, then I was thrown a bit. That one line of narration about never having been to Paris works against the very idea of the film, about being educated through your life experiences. That line sets it up so that she is forgetting, not coming away with an education. Otherwise, well acted, it looked great, I enjoyed it, and I thought it presented the duality of enjoyment in life versus duty in pretty darn swell fashion.
La Science Des Rêves (The Science Of Sleep, 2006, Michel Gondry, France/Italy) ****
More awesome sauce from Michel Gondry, from start to finish. It’s totally surreal, the dreams are recognizable but they also blend with the real world and I’m left pondering if it really is so hard to detach yourself from your dreams and attach to the mundane of reality. Gael García Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg are fantastic, but again I think the movie was stolen by a supporting performance, this time from Alain Chabat. Obviously the movie is super inventive, and a joy to take in visually, but I was more captivated by the ideas that Monsieur Gondry explores. I loved the way dreams were handled in this picture and how they were contrasted with reality, I’m kind of sad that a film like this flies under the radar while other films that handle dreams in a ham fisted way are so popular. Cheap shot, some will take it that way sure, but it is genuinely distressing to me that a beautiful film like this has been seen by such a limited number of people while so many others go ga-ga over other, more pedestrian takes on the idea of dreams.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010, David Slade, United States Of America) **1/2
The upward trend for the Twilight series continues, but it still fails to reach a point where I would be willing to call it a good movie, but more on that later. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is even more cinematic than The Twilight Saga: New Moon which was vastly more cinematic then Twilight. This time around the director, David Slade, has moments where his framing is simply beautiful and he does a tremendous job of capturing the feel of the Pacific Northwest, or at least what I think it would feel like. The story isn’t half bad this time around either, it’s pretty by the numbers, but it’s a decent enough ride. The problems come in three distinct ways, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and the big battle that takes place.
1) Miss Stewart isn’t as bad here as she was in the first two, Bella isn’t as bad of a character even, but she’s still so stupid and still in an abusive relationship while messing with another dudes head and Miss Stewart does nothing with this but stare straight at the camera and play with her hair from time to time.
2) Mr. Pattinson is atrocious, he has no charisma whatsoever (and when put against Taylor Lautner the ineptitude of Mr. Pattinson is especially glaring. Mr. Lautner has the visual appeal, charisma, and ability to somewhat act that Mr. Pattinson lacks), and he has two ways of acting and that is by switching between his two facial expressions at random. There’s his stoic blank face and his whiny mcwhinypants face, that’s the face he has on for most of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. I wanted to punch this dude in the face and just tell him to man up or something, you can’t be abusive, whiny and the heroic lead all at the same time, you just can’t.
3) The battle that takes place is filmed rather well, but sadly it loses most of its impact when all of the good guys leave basically unscathed. Yeah, Jake gets hurt a bit, but no one dies and after all we heard about newborns that makes the battle terribly anticlimactic and a massive letdown.
Still, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse shows a lot of promise and makes me think that maybe by the next film in the series we’ll finally get a good film.
A lot of meh mixed in with one great film and a near masterpiece. That last work should give it away, but if it did’t, the near masterpiece that is La Science Des Rêves takes home retro movie of the week honors. I’ll be back next week with five more retro capsule reviews!