Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Catch-Up Review Session Part 3: Final Chapter

One final burst of mini reviews to get us to our awards season home. Doing This.


The set-up: Like The Social Network? well replace coding with Baseball stats and you've got the same movie.

The reality: Yeah not quite, TSN was more of a character study than a film about a coding, whereas this film is legitimately about baseball stats. For real.

MVP: Brad Pitt. The charismatic, dependable centre a film like this needs.

Ideal Viewer: Someone who puts at least 10 hours a week into his fantasy football team, and makes o apologies.

Summation: I'm the right kind of guy for a movie about sports stats. That shit intrigues me, I'm not sure why and it probably speaks to some deep failing in my growth as a person. But I was the guy who cared just how many goals and assists Andrei Kanchelskis got in a season,. So even with it transferred to Baseball, it hits my sweet spot. But even if you're not a freak like me, the central performances of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are compelling enough and the dialogue Sorkiny enough for you to to at least enjoy the veneer of class the film plays out with.

Rating: 6/10


The Set-up: You know how you're nobody and fucking a super famous hot bitch would be awesome. Well this guy actually did it, so go fuck yourself and your life.

The Reality: This film should be called 'I saw Marilyn Monroe's boobs and you didn't'.

MVP: Michelle Williams. An impression in lieu of a performance, but it's a remarkably adept and skillful one. An Oscar nomination to come shortly.

Ideal Viewer: Someone who watches and Immensely enjoys Downton Abbey.

Summation: My disdain for the formula of biopics should be well known around these parts, and I think My Week With Marilyn sort of typifies what can be wrong with the genre. There's a laziness inherent within too many biopics, where they seem to think that the work is already half-done, and that the gravitas that their subject matter brings to the table means they can slack off on actually being a good film, and My Week With  Marilyn is that in spades. A terrific performance by Williams maybe isn't enough to save this from deathly genericism.

Rating: 5/10


The Set-Up: What if an Apatowian man-child got cancer, and everyone forgot that Funny People existed, wouldn't that be a cool, new concept?

The Reality: A film that's deceptively heartfelt and powerful, and at its best when it's being sincere.

MVP: Joseph Gordon Levitt. I think a standout performance for JGL, and you sort of feel it's one of the performances that elevates the whole film with it's goodness.

Ideal Viewer: An ex-stoner who now works as a salesman.

Summation: I don't think 50/50 is a perfect movie, and in fact I think there's sort of a lot that doesn't work about it, mostly involving the presence of Seth Rogen and other formulaic Apatowian crutches, But the simplicity and effectiveness of the central conceit is sort of a breath of fresh air, and JGL's performance is good and he and to a lesser extent Anna Kendrick make the film go beyond something merely worth watching into something I'd actively recommend.

Rating: 7/10


The Set-Up: Hey you, you miss movies based on Stephen King books? Well this isn't one of those, but it's as close as your sorry as is gonna get.

The Reality: Supernatural shit happens to everyday schlub par excellence.

MVP: Michael Shannon. In the midst of one of those Kevin Spacey alike, character actor becomes movie star transitions. Fucking terrific in this movie.

Ideal Viewer: Someone who thinks that The Stand is one of the best books written in the 20th century.

Summation: This a pretty text-book example of how effective smart lo-fi film-making can be. A compelling character study, driven by the excellent central performance by Shannon. Those who think making movies about the supernatural are inherently trashy would do well to see this, and take in how fucking classy and smart this is. Why can't there be films like this all the time. No, you get New Year's Eve all the time.

Rating: 7/10


The Set-up: Movie about Birdwatching guys. Make your cocaine plans accordingly.

The Reality: So there's this race to see who can spot the most birds in a single given year. Gangsta shit.

MVP: Owen Wilson. I really liked what was done here, both with his performance and with the character.

Ideal Viewer: A person who likes sports movies of any kind. Quite literally.

Summation: Cards on the table, I related to this movie more than probably was advisory. No, I've never been Bird-Watching, but the sense of completism, the competitive drive and commitment to just one ideal, well as someone who sees over 400 new movies a year and writes about every single one of them. There was a parallel here. The movie itself is sort of by the numbers feel good quirk, but it's got a strong cast and Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black each bring something effective to the table. Nothing wrong with a harmless, sweet movie once in a while.

Rating: 6/10


The Set-up: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084787/

The Reality: Look guys, we like money. Back off our ass.

MVP: Joel Edgerton. But it's a small victory.

Ideal Viewer: Someone who really doesn't give a shit about movies, and just wants to see some bros get absorbed by monsters.

Summation: I'm not one of those people who is pre-disposed to hate the very idea of remakes before seeing them. I went in with an open mind, but it's kind of a duffer script that really isn't very well thought through, and the movie fails to create a real sense of jeopardy. But even with that on board, I think this film goes along way towards being redeemed with a strong central performance, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is such an ineffectual presence that it sucks the tension right out of the room. The scene where she is re-creating that tour-de-force scene in the original with the blood-testing is almost laughable in how little charisma she has. Control the room Mary, for fuck's sake. I think Ms Winstead's functional blandness is as responsible for this film's lack of identity as the script. The female Sam Worthington.

Rating: 4/10


The Set-Up: Martin Scorcese? A kids film? Shiiiiiit.

The Reality: The story of a orphan boy who forms a bond with an automaton and a mysterious elderly man.

MVP: Ben Kingsley. Dude phones in performances fairly frequently these days but this was a good one.

Ideal Viewer: A 70 year old film enthusiast/film critic.

Summation: Look I liked this movie. It was fantastically shot and put together and is certainly high in the running for one of the most beautiful films of 2011, and I liked that it seemed sweet and earnest in it's 'Oliver meets the history of movies' hybrid. But the script is sort of a rambling mess, and not everything coheres all that well. Having said that, there's enough moments here that are legitimately magical enough that one is willing to forgive the roughness around the edges and just take in a soulful film for kids. And weren't Chloe Moretz attempts at an English accent just adorable?

Rating: 7/10

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