Hello again, everybody! By this point, you probably think of us as a monthly blogging trio (and if you do, I can’t fault you). Honestly, we keep meaning to post things but exams and general college-related depression have shot our good intentions to hell (Yeah, I’m really going with that excuse again.). Anyhow, apart from college (which, I’m pretending, doesn’t exist) work, I’ve been busy catching up on a lot of movies on my To-Watch list. So, in typical BWC fashion I’m going to use up my post for this month talking about them.( No, wait. Seriously. Why are you all still hanging around?)
Anyway, I left off at some of the 2012 Oscar nominees last post, after which, I watched both Hugo and The artist as well as A Separation ( Best foreign Film), so I figured, what better place to start?
The Artist: For anyone still in the dark on the Best Picture winner, this is a movie about a silent movie actor, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who struggles to adjust to a world that is far too quick to make the switch to Talkies.
Both Jean DuJardin and Berenice Bejo (who plays Pepe Miller,a girl who shoots to fame by chance but unlike George succeeds through the shift to Talkies) bring enough whimsy and joy to their roles that this movie is elevated from a purely stylistic piece to one that is lighthearted but not quite slight. The use of text to sort of wink at the audience was a really nice touch, too. Overall, it’s an entertaining watch, but I wouldn’t have voted it Best Picture (Or Best most of the other eleventy-thousand awards it did win.).
Hugo: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch Hugo in all its 3-D glory (which, most of the time, I don’t care for at all). However, since it has only just hit the cinemas in India, that might change. Also, I’m sorely tempted to just type out ‘MARTIN SCORSESE!’ and move on to the next one, but that would be misleading, because this is so unlike the gritty kind of film that is typical Scorsese-fare.
Hugo Cabaret, now an orphan, lives at a train station and winds up all its clocks- originally the job of his drunken uncle who disappears
early in the story. His living is centred around watching the people who frequent the station, and watching their lives unfold. But he is also working on restoring an automaton formerly in his (deceased) father’s possession. In doing so, with the help of his friend Isabelle, the two discover the true identity of Isabelle’s godfather, Papa Georges. And I am loath to reveal his identity or anything else that follows. I will just say that it involves a beautiful reconstruction of a lost piece of film history and is just a treat to anyone who loves film ( and I imagine anyone who doesn’t already, can’t help but fall in love with the medium by the end of this movie).
The film tends to tell rather than show, sometimes, which can get a bit tedious. But in its defence, it is directed at a younger audience.
Overall, though, this is such a rich, gorgeous movie and one that fully deserves its five Oscar wins.
(Sub)text: Go. Watch it.
A Separation: This is an Iranian movie by Asghar Farhadi that I watched not a week ago (so you have it to thank for this awful return to film-reviewing) and I can’t recommend it enough. It is very simply shot, but is an excellent example of the wonders that a good script can do for a movie.
A Separation begins with a couple filing for divorce because the wife seeks a better life for herself and her daughter, abroad. Once she packs up, her husband is forced to look elsewhere for a caretaker for his father who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, the couple’s 11-year old daughter chooses to stay with her father, knowing that her mother will not leave the country without her and hoping for a
reconciliation. A string of events occur thereafter, involving the central family and that of the new caretaker’s, which throws all of their lives into turmoil and results from every character’s making some poor decisions along the way. And yet these decisions are so understandably human, as are the characters. And that’s what makes this movie so incredible, is the true moral ambiguity of the situation in which these everyday people find themselves. That it is so easy to switch allegiance between characters is really to the film’s credit. I also really enjoyed the ending, which asks the audience to examine all sides and perhaps look at the bigger picture. If you have the chance to catch this movie, definitely go for it!
Other movie’s I’ve watched:
The Hunger Games: This adaptation of the novel by Suzanne Collins had me excited but cautiously so, because when book adaptations have large, eager fan-bases, the film-versions tend to suffer from all the pandering to the audience and the very limited time in which they’re made so as to make the most of said fanbases. Having recently watched the film, I’m glad to say it’s a pretty good
take. The opening is frustratingly shaky and had me worrying about the quality of the rest of the movie, but it got better very quickly.
The casting is also surprisingly good- in the leads as well as minor roles.
The premise here is that each year, every district of Panem sends two representatives to the Hunger Games. These are horrifying annual televised constructs of the all-powerful Capitol that pit the representatives against each other in a battle to the death, gladiator-style. Unfortunately the chosen tributes from District 12, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark spark a revolution spanning the various districts, that awakens people to the horror of these games and causes them to actively rebel against the Capitol.
Overall, I think the movie is worth a watch, but it failed to capture the ghastliness of the games. Which is odd, because you’d think a
visual medium would have greater impact. I understand that the violence would have to be toned down in order for the movies to be more accessible to younger audiences, but this sterilization only serves to drive home the book’s criticism of reality TV and cinema and its effective desensitization of the audience.
The Avengers: This superhero ensemble film really doesn’t require an introduction, judging by its box-office success. But also, I think, the movie itself doesn’t take any great pains with a complex plot, and any examination of storyline would be excessive in a review. If your objective is to have a good time, some good laughs and to watch some thoroughly entertaining action sequences, The Avengers is the way to go. However, despite a stellar cast and some great humour, this isn’t one of the better movies of the genre. By which I mean, if you’re a comic book enthusiast, or seek something along the lines of The Dark Knight or Iron Man, this movie will disappoint. The movie is at its best when it focuses on witty banter or Robert Downey Jr.(Seriously. Can the man do any wrong?!)’s antics, but as a story it lacks substance. The movie seems to be working off a checklist- Brothers at odds? Check! Humane superhero taken for a beast? check! Former badgirl with a debt to repay? Check! and so on. To me, the plot just lacked cohesion and innovation, and only some great performances from the cast ( and the entire cast really is excellent) keeps this movie from being entirely forgettable.
Those are just some of the movies I’ve kept notes on. Other 2011 films I watched include:
- Drive (Stunning; but not for those who can’t stomach some major gore.)
- Source Code ( Solid action movie, interesting premise, Jake Gyllenhaal! Worth a watch.)
- In Time ( Interesting premise; not so much a fan of the execution.)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 ( Certainly one of the better movies of the series.)
- Martha Marcy May Marlene ( Disturbing as hell, but beautifully made. And Elizabeth Olsen is a real discovery.)
- My Week With Marilyn ( Michelle Williams is incredible. Unfortunately the script is largely predictable and tends to over-simplify.)
- PotC: On Stranger tides ( Why do they persist in making these when even Johnny Depp’s presence won’t redeem them?)