Monday, February 04, 2008

Screening log for 29/1/08 - 4/2/08.

Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, 2007)

From the beginning to end of this film I was reminded of Bernardo Bertolucci’s political drama The Conformist both by its style, music and tension.

Without the sex, I thought Lust, Caution worked terrifically, a taut and thrilling story of a group of idealistic students who originally bunch together to assassinate a traitor to the Japanese, Tony Leung. The score from Alexandre Desplat is astonishing, it fits the mood perfectly.

Tang Wei is terrific and would make my personal lineup for Best Actress. You see her go from naive student to experienced madame through the course of the movie, and everything she does – perform in a patriotic Chinese play, perform the role of “Mrs Ma” and even sing is done really well. Tony Leung was pretty good too, but I’ll never be able to look him in the same way even again, simply for those, ahem, athletic sex scenes.

Whilst I understand that they were there to tell the story, they were soooo unsexy and gratuitous that it almost put me off the entire film. I get enough sadomasochism studying Physics for A-level, thanks. B-

Sydney White (Joe Nussbaum, 2007)
Quite a bit better than I was expecting, though I wasn’t expecting that much. It’s a modern-day retelling of Snow White, with Amanda Bynes as Sydney White and seven dwarfs being… dorks. As soon as she lays eyes on the cute eye candy (Matt Long, playing a popular and funny guy that does charity work… realistic (!)) you know how things are going to pan out but its still a fairly fun and very charming 90 minutes with a surprising lack of clichéd gross-out jokes that mainly succeeds due to Bynes’ charm. B-

The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass, 2007)
Oh, how I loved this so much more than Greengrass’ previous, United 93! In short, it’s the perfect denouement to a great trilogy, with terrific performances from Joan Allen (Goddess), David Strathairn and Daniel Bruhl (as Potente’s character’s brother… Germany link there!)

The editing is precise and brings all the action together in such a way that we're never bored, we feel as irritated/panicky/wanting to kill as Jason Bourne, and constantly keeping us on the edge of our seat.

Intense, tightly paced and aptly directed, this is everything an action movie should be. And let's all raise a toast to Matt Damon, who has made the Bourne movies what they are and brought me one of my favourite trilogies. A-

Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi, 2007)

One of the most poignant films of 2007 is a cartoon! Persepolis is a autobiographical animated film telling the life story of Marjane Satrapi who grew up in a time of revolution in Iran. Perfectly judged between sad (but not overly sentimental) and funny moments, it recounts Satrapi’s transition from childhood to adulthood, and her personal experiences.

The voicework, particularly from Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve almost make you forget that the whole thing’s a cartoon, and it says a lot about the state of the world today without ever getting overly political. Wonderful. A-.

Calendar Girls (Nigel Cole, 2003)
A heart-warming and genuinely moving tale of some WI women who do a nude calendar in order to raise money to buy a chair at their local hospital, only to go on to become recognised worldwide. Funny, well-acted (particularly by Mirren and Julie Walters) it’s a very entertaining, British treat. B+

Nothing below a B-! Good week for me.


Kayleigh said...

Ooh I really want to see Persepolis. I might erm...aquire it. Is it better than Ratatouille, or does Pixar have the animation oscar in the bag?

Kayleigh said...

Sorry for the double post, but have you seen the Empire award nominations? I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

anahita said... lust caution is not happening for me...unless me and my friends get crazy at some sleepover. And you've SEEN Persepolis?!?! DAMMIT I wanna see that so much. It'll be good for my french, plus, hello, iran! apparantly the subtitles are really bad though. And I simply love the calander girls, I saw that too last night xxx

Adele said...

oo i love these lil reveiws!
I watched lots of films this weekend maybe i should do some lol.
Glad you gave Sydney White a B- give me urge to watch it now as i love Amanda Bynes but i wasnt excited about this movie. Did you watch Calender Girls on channel one the other night by any chance? haha

Arthur said...

I’ve only seen two out of those and I don’t feel that strongly about Ultimatum (in brief, I had several strokes while watching the camerawork and the whole thing started stretching beyond belief. And they just HAD to bring in Nicky as a love interest. Sell-out. Should’ve just stuck with the original which was actually revolutionary, and stopped making sequels. Also Rod’s script does just say it all: )

I actually wanted to “defend” Lust, Caution (I know you weren’t attacking it, but w/e) since it’s one of my favourite films I’ve watched this year. It’s perhaps the only film that has been so powerful that it actually made me feel fiercely patriotic, and that is _rare_. Tony Leung is my favourite Chinese actor and is able to communicate so much simply through his eyes. You watch this self-loathing coward commit atrocity after atrocity. You want to hate him, you do hate him – yet in the Japanese geisha house, with his tearful, soulful eyes he makes you wonder “How can such a monster be capable of love?” Wei Tang is stunning too, definitely casted the right actress there. Obviously beautiful to look at, but just a simple dress transforms her from a plain college student to a confident, graceful mistress. Bizarre how she sounded possessed when she spoke English though… she spoke all three dialects very well and the singing was not bad either.

About the sex scenes: I find it a bit inconsistent how what would normally be classified as hardcore porn is suddenly classified under “art” when directed by Ang Lee, mais c’est la vie. That said, I don’t think it was gratuitous, I think all of the scenes had to be there and brought meaning to the film that dialogue would not (off the top of my head: the pillow/gun scene. God I realise how kinky this film must seem to the people who haven’t watched it yet.) Unsexy, yes, but it wasn’t meant to be erotic. There was a sense of urgency to it all – brutal, raw, honest. And fine, a bit of S&M involved but then that’s never a bad thing. :P

Would very much appreciate it if you can send me Desplat’s Falling Rain btw, for some Godforsaken reason it is not on iTunes UK… =/

Darwin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Besty said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Monkey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Banana Raccoon said...

You're right Monkey, I am deleting this!