Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Case for Christmas Carol

It was once more back to the Oscar pool for Carol, the story of Therese (Rooney Mara) who falls for Carol (Cate Blanchet) and the effect that has on both their lives.  Though mainly Carol’s.

It’s a period drama set in the 1960s and as always Blanchet is luminous and graceful and beautiful and seductive and everything you can think of to describe a woman who could easily capture anyone’s heart.  Mara is similarly stunning, but in a more innocent, reserved way.  The initial attraction is not always convincingly played out, but the burgeoning relationship between the two slowly unfolds and reveals itself.

Trying to rain on their parade is Carol’s husband and, to a lesser extent, Therese’s boyfriend.  Carol’s husband holds the trump card: the couple have a child and Carol’s not always discrete indiscretions could signal the end of her ability to see her daughter.  So the relationship that blossoms between Carol and Terese is hindered and limited, and the emotional journey of the two women is palpable.

It’s a great film, slowly told, movingly acted, and seems so small and intimate, with lots of close ups, though the cold colour palate gives everything an air of repression and depression.

People come and go out of the lives of these two women, and one of the parties Therese attends is painful in the isolation and distance portrayed between her and anyone else in attendance.  Carol’s world seems smaller, if richer, with a close bosom buddy to confide in, but no greater circle of friends to lose herself in.  

All up, the film is a wonderful, small film with outstanding performances.  Should Blanchet win an Oscar over Brie Larson for Room?  No – but that is my pro-Larson bias coming through, and is no way a sign that Blanchet and Rooney’s performances are anything less than spectacular.  A beautiful film.

Verdict: Carol hits all the right notes in its telling of a small tale of love and relationships in 1960s New York.  Utterly compelling and intriguing, it’s a moving affair and totally engrossing.  9 train sets out of 10.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Case for Pooling the Dead

Its no surprise that I loved Deadpool as it has been the surprise hit of the Kiwi Summer and a surprise hit around the world.

Perhaps “surprise” is not quite the word: I was always keen to see a wise cracking, R-rated super hero flick so I always had every intention of going.  The studios were caught by surprise though, underestimating how much that would appeal to the general public.  And that the film itself is great.

Deadpool owes a lot of its appeal to Ryan Reynolds, reprising the role and remoulding it into a crude smart ar$e with super powers, and great abs underneath a scarred exterior.  He is ably supported by a small yet dedicated cast, including the gorgeous Morena Baccarin as his soul mate.  They all zing together and click in every way that matters, but it is Reynolds who drives things and keeps things on track.

The story weaves all over the place: forwards and backwards through time, through the fourth wall and back to confines of the fantasy movie genre.  Like a lot of comedies, some of the jokes miss, but a lot hit, especially for the fan boy audience who will know all the superhero movies that are referenced.  And there were plenty of things I didn’t get either, and had to be reminded of afterwards.

The cruder the humour, sometimes the funnier it is.  The violence can be pretty gory, sure, but I am used to that watching Tarantino films.  And other films such as the Revenant (how many times have a name checked that film?) feel more painful and vicious than the cartoon violence and improbable gun wielding that goes on in this film. 

To explore some of the jokes is to perhaps ruin some of the film, so I won’t go into that here. 

And I am not saying that the film is perfect: it dragged a little at times, and there are those comedic misses that had crickets chirping away in my head.

But overall, the film is brilliantly entertaining and well worth more than one watch.

Well done, Mr Reynolds.  Well done.

Verdict: Deadpool is everything the trailers promised and more.  Rude and violent and with a sense of humour to help get through all that, Ryan Reynolds shines and superhero movies may never be the same again.  9 chimichangas out of 10.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Case for Larson-y

After some rave reviews and knowing how awesome Brie Larson is myself, I was braced for a fairly intense and intriguing move in Room.  And I was not disappointed.

If you have read the book, then there will be no spoilers when I say Room is about a boy who has been born in captivity, his mother having been captured a few years previously.  They attempt to escape.  And I will leave it at that.

The performances are all incredible.  Of course Larson had me hanging on her every resigned and shocked look, but the young boy playing her son, Jacob Tremblay, is an absolute revelation and keeps everything rolling along without being annoyingly cute.  Add in some unflashy but powerful performances from the supporting cast, including the awesome Joan Allen and William H Macy, and really the film is close to perfect.

But its not big.  It’s a small film, with only a few sets and no expansive views of gorgeously snowy mountains and scenery, like in the Revenant.  All it has are the performances and the story, and they are more than enough to make this a fantastic film.

Enough said.

Verdict: You may have guessed that I though Room was awesome.  Larson should win the Oscar, though I thought she should win one anyway.  10 Lego bricks out of 10.