Cinema Six-Month Report Card Part One

Despite not blogging regularly at all this past year (after a productive year in 2010) for various reasons, I have still been going to the cinema on a regular basis. I’ve reviewed a couple of the films I’ve seen, but the rest have been ignored, not even mentioned on Twitter. Therefore, to catch up and document somewhere the films I’ve seen in the past six months, I’ve decided to list the films in order of viewing, along with a few lines about each and my rating value, for what it’s worth.

Love and Other Drugs
A manipulative romcom with at least some genuine chemistry between the leads, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, but it didn’t make me believe the ending. DA

Tron: Legacy
Boring but beautiful (within The Grid, the only part that needed the 3D): I liked Jeff Bridges (cool as the Tron Jedi in the bar scene); Clu didn’t quite work, especially when he talked; Michael Sheen seemed to be doing an impression of David Bowie as the White Duke, and as if he was in a different movie. DVD

The King’s Speech
Very good indeed; Colin Firth deserved his Oscar as he really did a great job with the stammer. Uplifting and enjoyable, with excellent support from Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush. DAVE

127 Hours
Danny Boyle does a great job about making a film about the real-life story of an overconfident man (James Franco) who trapped his arm under a boulder in Blue John Canyon and (spoiler) has to cut off his arm to escape. It’s cinematic and Franco is excellent and THAT moment is incredible and will make you squirm. Despite the premise, it is actually an uplifting film. DAVE

Season of the Witch
Oh dear. I’d hoped for some B-movie fun but Ghost Rider and Hellboy fighting with swords in the 14th century is boring and silly, with an obsession with killing witches because of the church but the reading of a holy book saving the day at the end. Strangest part was seeing Robert Sheehan from Misfits in the film and having to adjust. DA

Blue Valentine
A vanity project for the actors – Ryan Gosling plucking his hair to a receding bald patch and Michelle Williams playing a woman coping with lots of emotions – about the start of the end of a relationship. They are good but, as executive producers as well, the film doesn’t feel like a story, more like an acting workshop. DVD

Black Swan
Totally deranged but in a good way: loud and excessively melodramatic, with a good performance by Natalie Portman (probably her best since Leon) as the good dancer going crazy playing the dangerous Black Swan. She is ably supported by Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey (very creepy as Portman’s mother) and Mila Kunis, and Darren Aronofsky directs with brio and intensity, but it’s Portman’s show and she really makes you believe in her dancing and her madness. DAVE

Barney’s Version
An adaptation of a book that probably worked better as a novel – Paul Giamatti, very good as the central character, seems too unlikable a person to be married to Minnie Driver and then Rosamund Pike – but it still has its charms, including Dustin Hoffman as Giamatti’s father. DVD

The Fighter
A film that doesn’t break new ground for the boxing film but it is very enjoyable nonetheless. Mark Wahlberg plays it straight and low-key as the lead, allowing Christian Bale to act up a storm as his junkie brother and worthy of his Oscar. I didn’t think that Melissa Leo’s performance as mother of the clan warranted an Oscar, but you will be left with a good feeling at the end of the film so you won’t really care. DAVE

Animal Kingdom
Excellent crime drama from Australia, showing grim and gritty life in Melbourne, with Guy Pearce in a supporting role (presumably to help get the film made) and terrific performances all round, but particularly from Jacki Weaver as the mother of the criminals – she is truly terrifying and deserved her Oscar nomination. DAVE

Adjustment Bureau
Already reviewed: see here.

True Grit
A really, really good Western: Jeff Bridges is good as always (although occasionally unintelligible), Matt Damon is good in a sidekick role but the standout is Hailee Steinfield as the young girl who shows true grit when she employ’s Bridges Rooster Cogburn to hunt down the man who killed her father. It feels authentic and gritty and harsh, and not what I expected from the Coen brothers, but in a good way. DAVE

Never Let Me Go
Muted, slow, pensive, composed, uneventful – this adaptation of a novel is a strange little film that always feels like it made for a better book. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad film – the script by Alex Garland deftly handles an unusual concept as the basis for a doomed love story, the three leads (Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield) are all very good, and Mark Romanek directs with an attention to Britishness that is rather eerie. However, the story-with-a-sci-fi-kink is very slow, sometimes distancing the viewer from the characters because the drama is so internalised. DVD

Paul
Already reviewed: see here.

I Am Number Four
A film that is mostly drippy and chaste teen romance hiding behind the mask of sci-fi trappings, which completely wastes Timothy Olyphant in the mentor role, and only gets going in the last third, which is fortunately all action and aliens using their psychic powers, sorry I mean ‘Legacies’, to beat down the very silly looking bad guys. I don’t think the plainly hoped-for sequel will be forthcoming. DVD

Battle: Los Angeles
Another film that uses sci-fi trappings to mask another type of film; in this instance, a straightforward war film, along with all the clichés that this involves, with a better-than-necessary performance from Aaron Eckhart and some pretty amazing special effects to bring an alien invasion to Earth. It’s certainly impressive to look at but the story and characters don’t hold water. DA

Part Two to follow and bring me up to date.

[Explanation of my updated film rating system]

No Comments

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.