Film: 3 Reviews for the price of 1

I’ve got yet another free trial for an online DVD rental company—this is my fourth in about six months now—where you get a month to try them out without actually paying. It’s gotten so bad, I feel odd when I go an rent a film from a rental shop (especially when I rented Van Helsing [shudder]).

This means I’m so busy watching films, I don’t spend enough time writing about them. So, time for condensed reviews, which seems popular with other bloggers, like the esteemable Johnny Bacardi for example. The company I’m trying out at the moment sends out your DVDs without paying too much attention to the priority order of your selection, which explains the scattershot approach to the following three films:

Station Agent
To borrow the IMDB plot outline: ‘When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.’ Tom McCarthy writes and directs a charming tale of people and they way they interact, even when they don’t want to interact. Fine acting all round from Peter Dinklage as Finbar, the hermit in training, Bobby Cannavale as Joe, the slightly annoying hot dog vendor, and Patricia Clarkson as Olivia, having difficulty coping with life and loss. It’s great to see Dinklage in a lead role, as I thought he was hilarious in Living in Oblivion.
Rating: VID

Mystic River
When the director, writer and five of the six main actors are either Oscar winners or Oscar-nominated (Kevin Bacon being the exception, which is an oversight on the part of the Academy), you know that the film is going to be serious and Oscar baiting. A story that touches on child molesting and death is never going to be light viewing, this is intense stuff. Right from the beginning, Clint creates a sombre atmosphere for the film, which stays throughout. Everyone is very good, putting in some fine performances all round, even if I find the Boston accent slightly annoying (apologies to any Bostonians reading). I’m not sure why Penn’s and Robbins’ performances were more Oscar worthy than their other respective nominees, especially as I thought their accents dropped a bit during the emotional scenes, but that’s just the way things are. A powerful story, with a downbeat and ambiguous ending, I was absorbed from start to finish.
Rating: DAVE

The Day After Tomorrow
Bit of a link here, for those like myself who enjoy these sorts of things, in that Emmy Rossum is in this and Mystic River. This is a film that is not so much a story as a lecture wrapped in disaster movie trappings. The dialogue is ropey (scientists don’t say, when someone introduces themselves as Terry Rapson, ‘Professor Rapson, of the blah-blah institute?’ emphasising Professor, when at a conference on your specialised field), the plot secondary to the central idea (of the devastating affect that industrial pollution has on the fragile ecosphere) and the acting perfunctory. It starts okay, builds well, but finishes weak, like Emmerich’s other films, but it’s the special effects that make this worth watching. Spectacular scenes of CGI destruction are marvelous to behold, but there is no emotional connection to the characters, and you’re left with the feeling that you are being harassed instead of attempting to initiate a discussion on the very important topic at the heart of the movie. With its resolution being that a few people in New York survive after billions die in the big freeze, and having the astronauts say, ‘Wow, doesn’t the atmosphere look clean now?’, it makes you wonder what the point of it was. Still, it looks nice.
Rating: DA

2 Comments

  • Greg 4 February 2005 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve only seen Mystic River once, so maybe I’m missing something, but I just can’t believe I wasted two+ hours on it. Yes, it was well acted, but shit was it depressing (and I like depressing movies!). It wasn’t depressing in a way that made you weep because sad things happen, but depressing in a way that if this is the way Clint sees the world, his world must suck. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, except for the fact that Marcia Gay Harden should have put a bullet in Sean Penn at the end — now that would have been an ending I can get behind! The spirit of the movie says she should have, instead of simpering around while Penn lords it over his little fiefdom. And why did Laura Linney suddenly turn into Lady MacBeth? And Kevin Bacon decides not even to investigate Mr. Penn, even though he knows he did it? It was a nicely done movie, but I really don’t think it had much of a soul. In Clint’s directing career, Unforgiven, despite being just as depressing, is a better movie because it has a soul.

    Reply
  • David 7 February 2005 at 4:32 pm

    I think that it was a good film, but I won’t be going out of my way to watch it again, because I don’t think I would get anything out of it.

    I think of it as ‘intense’ rather than ‘depressing’ and says more about Dennis Lehane, who wrote the novel and is based around the streets where he grew up.

    Marcia Gay Harden was obviously a weak-minded person, hence her going to Sean Penn with her fears, so there was no way she was going to do anything in the end. I liked the ending, because it stayed true to the spirit of the film, which is rare these days – Collateral is a good film, until the end, which is just conventional thriller ending.

    I think that Laura Linney’s character came over all Lady Macbeth because she was like that all along – she was smart and could see that her husband, Penn, was still in love with his dead wife, as could be seen by the way he obviously loved his elder daughter by him so much, and the way he casually referred to the beauty of her in front of Linney to the cops. She was well aware of who he was and where she stood in the pecking order. Just because it wasn’t concentrated on in the rest of the film doesn’t mean it isn’t there, which I think is a sign of a good film.

    And no question that Unforgiven is a masterpiece 🙂

    Reply

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