Sunday, October 10, 2010
18.104.22.168 (Noel Clarke, 2010)
Shank, you know you've got problems, blud.
Made in Dagenham (Nigel Cole, 2010)
From an unspeakably poor British film, to a much, much better one. Nigel Cole’s film tells of the Dagenham Ford strike in 1968. Led by feisty but down-to-earth Rita (Sally Hawkins, always lovely), the car-seat makers of the Ford plant decide that they deserve better, and, guided by Bob Hoskins, they take matters in their own hand. An unashamedly pro-women film, this delight does girl power far better than 22.214.171.124 ever could. As with 126.96.36.199, it’s anything but subtle (many characters have monologues and soliloquies talking about the strifes of being a woman) but such is the quality of Billy Ivory’s screenplay, that the film never feels manipulative, or force. And, unlike 188.8.131.52, the acting is stellar. Sally Hawkins is wonderfully natural and sweet, Bob Hoskins is amusing, Geraldine James is very very moving, and Rosamund Pike, though underused, illustrates the film’s key point that one should never skim the surface and automatically disregard a woman as just a pretty face. The costumes captured the earthy Essex chic wonderfully and overall, I walked out of the cinema with a big smile on my face.
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006)
Now, as you know, I wasn't the biggest fan of Inception. OK, that’s an understatement; I detested it and wanted my money back. But, I know that Chris Nolan is a mighty talented film director, and I wanted to reinforce this point by revisiting one of his more underrated films – The Prestige. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play magicians who’s friendship turns sour when a magic trick gone wrong has the latter’s wife dying. From then on, friends turn to enemy as the two continually look for ways to jeopardize each others’ magic acts. A wonderful study of obsession, The Prestige also boasts a clever look into the world of magic performance, as well as some REAL magic, which still turns my head. For once, Scarlett Johansson didn’t bug the crap out of me in her performance, and dual casting of her and Rebecca Hall had me cracking a smile at the Vicky Cristina Barcelona link. Michael Caine is as Michael Caine always is, awesome, and the cinematography, score and editing are all accomplished. Much, much, much more magical than Inception can ever hope to be.
The River (Jean Renoir, 1951)
In short, one of my favourite films of all time.
Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004)
Paul Giamatti stars as Miles Raymond is a divorce, a jaded middle school teacher, aspiring writer and wine lover, on a road trip with his friend, bit-part actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church), the week before Jack’s wedding. Miles wants to play golf, taste wine and wind down, Jack would prefer to chase women and bonk about a bit before getting wed. Such is the set-up for Alexander Payne’s bittersweet and highly intelligent film, the ultimate “anti road trip movie”. Though I’m perhaps a bit young to appreciate the full genius of this film (certain scenes dragged on for me and it veered dangerously close to just the wrong side of pretentious), one thing I cannot fault about it is Paul Giamatti’s performance, the epitome of mensch. He turns Sideways into a mediocre comedy into a strong comedy-drama with his perfect comedy timing and emotional depth in the more controlled scenes. Furthermore, his romance with Virginia Madsen’s (also divorced) smart and sexy waitress Maya is awkward, initially somewhat embarrassing and unsure, as a believable romance should be. I don’t often care whether or not 40-somethings get the women of their dreams, but such is the power of Giamatti’s performance, that, for him, I did.
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)