Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rabbit Hole

Director: John Cameron Mitchell.

Starring: Dianne Wiest, Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Miles Teller, Sandra Oh, Stephen Mailer, and Giancarlo Esposito

This is a sad tale which deals with the aftermath of an unspeakable tragedy. The equilibrium of the lives of Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) is smashed with the death of their beautiful, four year old son, Danny. Killed accidentally by a car driven by teenager Jason (Miles Teller) the couple become more and more preoccupied with grief. Based on the David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer prize-winning play it works better on stage and despite good performances from Kidman and co., it fails as a movie. A real weepie which is very intense at times.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inside Job

Director: Charles Ferguson

Narrated by Matt Damon.

A documentary which clearly deconstructs how American/Western economy got to the state it is in may not at first appeal to the discerning cinema goer. But this is a movie you must see. The film paints a depressing picture of the banking world run wild in an atmosphere where money brokers are answerable only to themselves, while also shaping government policies and the teaching of economics in our universities. The film does a splendid job of dismantling the whole system, in large part by letting participants in that system speak for themselves. The cast of characters features those engaging in behavior considered by many to be criminal. Highlighted are the politicians who cared more about their next election than evidence that their policies and a lack of regulatory enforcement in the financial sector was leading to disaster. Not a pretty picture but a damned good documentary.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tamara Drewe

Directed: Stephen Frears (‘The Queen”’,‘Dangerous Liaisons’, and ‘High Fidelity’)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Luke Evans, Roger Allam, and Tamsin Greig

A bright and bouncy comedy set in rural England and based on the comic strip come novel by Posy Simmonds. The movie has the disjointed, episodic feel of a serialized story condensed into a feature film. Ugly duckling, Tamara Drewe (Gemma Arterton) grew up in a Dorset village and was memorable only for her wicked humour and large nose. As a teenager she fled to London and ten years later is back to sort out family affairs. Tamara is now a successful rock journalist and after cosmetic surgery to her proboscis, stunningly attractive. She hires an old flame and beefcake, Andy Cobb (Luke Evans) to renovate her home. Meantime the antenna of local aging lothario and crime novelist Nicholas Hardiment (Roger Allam) is alerted to a new skirt in town. He lives with his wife Beth (Tamsin Greig), who runs a retreat for writer called Stonefield Farm. Nicholas catches the eye of Ms Drew but the story takes a turn when Tamara meets and falls for rock drummer Ben Sergeant (Dominic Cooper) who is being stalked by two local groups Jody (Jessica Barden) and Casey (Charlotte Christie). When Tamara becomes engaged to Ben things turn nasty. Academic Glen McCreavy (Bill Camp) is one of the guests at Stonefield trying to write a thesis on Thomas Hardy. He suspends his writing as he becomes more intrigued with the ongoing passion plays of Stonefield. What happens? Well you will need to go and see Tamara Drew and be amused.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Fighter

Director: David O. Russell

Starring:Mark Wahlberg,Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams

Been a sucker for boxing movies ever since I saw Kirk Douglas in Champion (1949). This is another burly tale of an underdog pugilist, light welterweight Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), overtaking the impossible . Based on the real life character, ‘Irish’ Micky Ward Mark Wahlberg convincingly plays the young boxer whose career is about to nosedive. Ably assisted on screen and in the narrative by his mother, (Alice) and manager (Melissa Leo); and his half brother and crack cocaine addict, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) as his trainer. Eklund was a successful boxer who is hoping to return to the ring and despite his drug problem. Alice secretly favours Dicky over “Irish’ Micky and is set up in a mismatched fight which he loses. Humiliated he retreats from boxing with an old flame Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), a former college athlete who dropped out and became a bartender. Keen to keep the Micky fighting the family set up another match and contrive to prevent the boxer from changing camps. Eventually Micky is lured back into boxing by his father, who believes Alice and his stepson Dicky are bad influences. Despite all the odds, he moves up the welterweight ranks until he gets to the championship bout. Director Russell and his superb cast manage to avoid the usual boxing movie clichés to make the story resonate beyond the standard confines of the genre. Well worth seeing.

Blue Valentine

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, John Doman, and Faith Wladyka

Stout performances throughout but this is not a movie for the faint hearted nor the romantic. Blue Valentine is an agonizing film, a raw, soul-shattering dissection of the end of a marriage. Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) spend a grueling 24hours making one last attempt to salvage their marriage. Director Derek Cianfrance's film is an emotionally bracing, startlingly honest look at what a difference just a few years can make in two lives that have been joined together. The film is cleverly split between past and present.