I’ve previously commented that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get from the Coen Brothers these days – for every near masterpiece they produce (No Country For Old Men) there is an interesting curio or fluff piece (Burn After Reading). Going into True Grit you’re aware that the results could go either way, especially given their history of remakes (The Ladykillers). Whilst the brothers insist it isn’t a remake it would be difficult not to compare the two initially. Crucially they make a clear enough change to mark this out as a very different animal from the version we all know.
Imagine if “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?” took place entirely in the principal characters head? Darren Aranofsky’s latest psycho-melodrama asks just that, whilst adding a side order of David Cronenberg style body horror (and there is a lot) – I went into the cinema expecting to see a number of bloody feet injuries but was quite unprepared for the number of horrific hand injuries that occur in the film. This isn’t quite the film I expected but is all the better for it (and it is superb), held together by a performance from Natalie Portman that can only be described as brave.
It’s something of a cliché, but British film makers excel at period drama in a way that many American directors can only dream about. There is an expected quality that comes with the genre, an understanding about what you are about to watch. The King’s Speech plays upon these understandings, but far more interestingly it decides to change some of them for the better.
Geek card on the table – I was never really that much of a fan of the original Tron. Sure, there’s a hell of a lot of innovation there but it’s never going to be mistaken for a masterpiece. Going into the sequel I had the same feeling – a massive jump in terms of technology but pretty much little else. My initial gut feeling was right.
Yes, you know the ending. Yes, it’s always in the back of your mind what is going to happen at some point, but somehow 127 Hours manages to grip you for its running time and never let you go. You know what is going to happen but you’re still interested to see how you will get there.
$500,000 doesn’t buy you much in Hollywood in these days of CGI heavy films – looking at just three of this years offerings (Inception, Iron Man 2 & Harry Potter) the result is somewhere between $1.1 – 1.7 million per minute of screen time. All four of these films share the fact that there are major digital tweaks throughout, so to do this on a $5,000 per minute budget puts an interesting spin on things.
Yates third Potter film unfortunately once again marks a drop in quality from his previous efforts. Whilst we still haven’t reached the levels of the first two (which were particularly poor) the promise that OOTP showed hasn’t fully materialised – it isn’t a bad film, it’s just not as good as it could be.
After the relatively disappointing Benjamin Button (which whilst brilliant, tried a little too hard to be an award grabber) David Fincher once again decides to change direction completely from what we’ve seen before and produces a film about Facebook – except it isn’t. It’s a smart move in some ways, catching us unaware like this.
Following his hugely successful (at least critically) directorial debut Gone Baby Gone I mused that Ben Affleck should give up acting and concentrate on directing instead. Based on the strength of his second film I’d like to add a caveat to my earlier comment that I have no problem with him acting in his own films, The Town shows that Gone Baby Gone was no mere fluke and marks Affleck as a major talent to watch.
By any rational standards Piranha 3D is absolute tosh from beginning to end – hell, even by irrational standards its absolute tosh from beginning to end. Outside of animation a sub ninety minute running time is usually a sign of deep trouble as well (what did they have to cut to get it to even work in this fashion?) and 3D is fast becoming shorthand for “Quick, hide something!”