Monday, February 6, 2012

A handful of short reviews

Rounding off a few more 2011 films and then one 2012 film.

2011 Films:

Martha Marcy May Marlene -

A fairly strong debut from director Sean Durkin. About a young girl trying to readjust herself into a normal life after being involved in an abusive cult in upstate New York. Martha Marcy May Marlene succeeds in being very atmospheric without using too many camera tricks. One perceived flaw of the film is the way that it's structured as the film goes back and forth going into Martha's past with the cult and her present. Aside from cleverly trying to blend the timelines, it ultimately just confuses the story a little bit. Elizabeth Olsen is something to watch here, don't be surprised to see her name pop up more in the future. Overall, a very good film, although not as effective as it could've been. Rating: 7.5/10

Margin Call -

Another newcomer, JC Chandor, shows remarkable control of his craft on his first time out. A great script with a really strong cast makes Margin Call a fun film to watch on a couple of levels. The film is about a investment bank on the verge of an economic collapse. Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, and Demi Moore all fit quite nicely into this low budget drama. Rating: 8/10

Beginners -

I was surprised by how enamored I was with this film even though it also goes back and forth from past to present at a dizzying rate. About a man trying to strike a romance with a young woman while coping with his father's recent death. The film also goes into the man's father coming out of the closet at age 75. The subject matter is dealt with in a very quirky, albeit melancholic way, but there's a sweetness and an earnestness to how the material is portrayed and what results is a very affecting drama. Rating: 8.5/10

The Artist -

Perhaps I should give this a bigger review since this is nominated for so many Oscars, but there's really not all too much to say about it, at least in my view. It's hard not to be charmed by this excellently made homage to silent film (the film is about 98% silent as well). It's constantly entertaining, but the story feels slight and it all feels too much like an homage without really attempting to be something different on its own. Having said that, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this film a lot. It will probably win a lot of major Oscars and I've already expressed my ambivalence to the whole Oscars this year anyway. This is a really cute film. Rating: 8/10

Now onto the 2012 movie (and my first usage of a letter grade):

Haywire -

Steven Soderbergh latest film ultimately feels like another exercise in style, but his style is pretty off the hook all throughout, if I may say so. MMA fighter Gina Carano stars as the badass private contractor who was employed by the government for a covert operation. Some crossing and double crossing ensues and people get their asses kicked, mainly by Gina's character Mallory Kane. There's a great cast here (Michael Fassbender, Ewen McGregor, Bill Paxton, Michael Douglas) and Gina gives a pretty charismatic performance but you can see that acting isn't really her strong suit. Kicking ass is a strong suit of hers, though, and she does a lot of that here. The action scenes are also shot in a very refreshing way. Come see the film for a few kickass scenes, but don't expect to be much more entertained by it unless you like watching Steven Soderbergh show you how awesome he is working with the camera. Grade: B-

No comments: