Archive | March, 2012

My Week With Marilyn: Enthralling

22 Mar

Well, I haven’t been doing much writing lately. Instead I am being driven mad by my search for a place to live in Sydney. Well needless to say the whole boring saga has been keeping me up at night. But today thanks to the fact that real estate agents are closed on Sunday I took a little time out to see a film, ‘My Week With Marilyn’.

Since writing the above I have found a place to live and sent all my possessions on a truck to Sydney. I am now freaking out about actually moving. I seem to be spending all my time freaking out these days.

The only general criticism that can be found about ‘My Week With Marilyn” is that a week is too short a time to explore such a complex character. The consequence being that Michelle Williams doesn’t have enough material to work with and so gives a shallow performance.

This critique drives me crazy because it doesn’t take into account what the film is actually about and what it is trying to achieve. This film is not about the character of Marilyn Monroe .  This film is about Colin Clark, a young inexperienced man of 23, his first time on a film set, growing up and falling in love with icon and the reality of Marilyn Monroe. In short this film is about first love and the loss of innocence it brings.

Colin believes in many fantasies before he becomes 3rd Assistant Director on Lawrence Olivier’s production of ‘The Prince and The Showgirl”. First off he believes that film making process is a pure art form. Secondly he believes that movie stars are not like the rest of us and thirdly he believes in love conquering all.

At the end of the film, Emma Watson’s ‘Lucy’ the wardrobe girl asks Colin if he had his heart broken and he replies, yes, he did. She says ‘Good, your heart needed a little bit of breaking”. That line is what this film is all about. The innocence of first love and the need for a little bit of heart break to educate and bring us into the real world. So I would say that it is in fact ridiculous to say that this film could have said more about Marilyn when that is not the point. I feel it is the reviewers responsibility to review films on the basis of what the film is trying to achieve and if it did it well. It is not up to us as reviewer to project on to films what we want them to be and be disappointed when they are not.

Well getting that out of the way, I thought Michelle’s performance as Marilyn was simply enthralling and the magnetism of Monroe as a megastar was perfectly captured. I couldn’t take my eyes away from her beauty and sexual power, she was a revelation. Her instability wasn’t overplayed and her seductive powers were both endearing and manipulative.

I also loved all the scenes on the set of the film, they offered a brilliant insight into the art of film making, it’s players and family that is created on set. The chemistry and conflict between Marilyn and Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) is complex and brilliant.

‘My Week With Marilyn” is brilliantly paced making you feeling both relaxed and engaged all at the same time. The film gives to a window into the world of the screen gods of the age through the eyes of one of us. Making it completely relatable and yet glamorous and thought provoking. This film has really stuck with me, so much so that I am still l thinking about the story and the characters weeks later.

JITTERS (Órói)

22 Mar

I saw the Icelandic film ‘Jitters’ at the MQFF last night. I’ve had a big week in the countdown to my own small music video shoot. Waking up in the middle of the night to scribble to do lists, driving around Melbourne for hours to find the smallest prop. I finally finished shooting in the early hours of yesterday morning and by night time I was basically the walking dead.

This film fit perfectly for my mood, you could just slide right into it and forget yourself. Focusing on a close-knit group of friends and their coming of age issues, the film is led by Gabriel who kisses his room mate, Markús, on a study trip and isn’t sure how to feel about it. The film has been accused of being too episodic, more like a TV series than a film, but I found it’s narrative structure to be completely engaging. I never doubted the characters, nor did I even think about the great performances or character mapping. They just felt totally honest and real.

The only problem with this film is a tragic event that turns the film to it’s third act. The event is so awful it feels out of place in this film and all the characters seem to massively under-react.

Apart from that though, I loved this film. It was tender and earnest and didn’t patronise teenagers like a lot of films in this genre do. The friends were each others whole lives and the care they felt for one another ran deep. The relationship between Gabriel and Markús was beautifully executed and their chemistry was arresting.

This is Baldvin Zophoniasson’s first feature, I can’t wait to see what his next venture will hold.

Hold Me While I’m Naked

10 Mar

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Amazing. This could have been my dream last night.

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Sick Day Couch Rental #2: CONVICTED

8 Mar

For some reason all I felt like watching today was a prison film. Maybe I’ve been cooped up indoors too long. Although, I have to say I have always had a bit of a soft spot for them. Whether it be the raw and chilling ‘R‘ (you must watch this) or the awesome at every re-watch (and there have been many) ‘Primal Fear’. I guess something about the metal bars and orange pajamas’s just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Convicted a.k.a Return to Sender is one I’d never heard of before. But the DVD cover looked just tacky enough that I thought I’d give it a go. Turned out to be a surprising mix of ‘Dead Man Walking’ and the Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts film within a film in ‘The Player’. It centres around a washed up Texan attorney who now makes his living writing letters to prisoners on death row and then sells their final letter to the press. He begins writing to the woman at the centre of a highly publicized murder trail, who’s final letter is set to be his most profitable yet. But the trouble is- of course- he falls in love with her and begins to believe that she may be innocent. Also included an almost gravity defying sex scene through the prison bars which I didn’t see coming.

I’m not sure you’d call it a good movie, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Sick Day Couch Rental: TELL NO ONE

6 Mar

One of the only good things about having the flu is sitting on the couch all day watching bad movies. I spent today feeling sorry for myself, seeing if I get through a whole box of tissues, trying to hug my cat and then yelling bitter insults when she walked away and watching ‘Tell No One’.

Turns out this film actually wasn’t that bad. In fact it was pretty awesome. It had all the classic thriller elements, a mans dead wife might not be so dead at all- but he’ll have to outsmart the police, gangsters and hired hit men (who use only their hands!) to find out for sure. Has a beautiful pace and cinematography and just enough twists and turns without feeling like a Law and Order episode. I’d definitely recommend it.

Anna and Lisa review GONE: Good Trash or Just Trash?

2 Mar

Anna:

Lisa has come back to Melbourne this week until she moves officially to Sydney next month. We caught up today for a coffee and decided to catch an afternoon session of GONE, Amanda Seyfried’s new blockbuster. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been to Hoyts and I have to say it was a bit of a relief. It was all oversized screens and stained velvet seats, kids throwing popcorn at each other and teenagers having a sneaky pash at the back. There was not a glass of red wine in sight and I didn’t have to endure an overheard conversation on Lacan. Best of all there was none of that ‘Oh yes I get the irony here’ laughter of the dreaded cinema studies audience (hem hem Nova). It was lovely to escape the heat and see a film purely for fun.

I didn’t know much about Gone before we went in. Here’s the general plot: Jill (Seyfried) is a kidnapping survivor trying, and failing, to move on with her life. She spends her days wondering the forest in which she was found, followed by self-defence classes and graveyard shifts at a diner. Her only human connection is with her older sister, Molly. One morning when she returns home from work she finds her sister missing and believes her to have been taken by the same abductor. The police believe she is mentally unstable and that Jill herself was never kidnapped in the first place, so she sets out to find her sister on her own.

There was a lot about this film I liked, especially the general premise. It took a lot from suspense thrillers as well as Noir conventions, with Jill playing both victim and detective. It also had nice blue tones and grimy settings that fitted well.

But there was also a hell of a lot of problems with the general structure which made it hard to enjoy. What did you think Lisa?

Lisa:

Well while I was a little skeptical about this film before seeing it, mostly due to a generally uninspiring trailer, in the end  I quite liked it. It was definitely gripping and action packed. Jill was a complex protagonist, tormented by her kidnapping, possibly insane and completely ruthless. Her mental state was superbly played by Seyfried and was very realistic. Her paranoia was her weapon and it often saved her. Her desperation to face down her attacker was gripping and slightly mentally unhinged and her scenes by herself or facing off with the abductor over the phone were the best in the film.

Where the film really didn’t hit the mark was the supporting characters. Possibly the writer concentrated too much on Jill and didn’t have time to flesh out the rest. There are fours cops that Jills tells her story at the beginning of the film. They then spend the rest of the film trying to find her, as she is now a vigilante. Four cops is far too many and only two really serve a purpose, one to believe Jill’s story and another to not believe it, the rest just seen like dead weight.

Another problem was the final confrontation. For a film that is all about suspense and building up to the big showdown, the fight between Jill and the killer left a lot to be desired. It was over too quick and in the end I felt Jill really overcame him far too easily. What do you think Anna?

Anna:

Agreed on all counts! I never felt like Jill was actually physically strong (I mean look at those nimbly arms!) she was just so nutso that she’d overpower people because they didn’t see it coming. There is no way she’d have won so easily in that conflict. You’re right though, the suspense toward the end was actually built up really well. I don’t know if you noticed me covering my eyes! That long drawn out phone conversation as she drives toward a man that she knows wants to kill her was done incredibly well. I felt the best parts of this film were the simplest. Once it got too bogged down in plot it lost its power.

The other thing I got really annoyed at was the shower scene at the beginning with Jill. The whole film seemed to be trying so hard to set her up as an active subject. They even didn’t cover up the lines on Seyfried’s forehead in order to show that she wasn’t just your average young skinny blonde, but she’d experienced real trauma. But then they have this ridiculous sexy shower scene with the see-through shower curtain that seemed so divorced from the rest of the film. I guess it was just in there for the pubescent boys with zoom functions on their DVD players. I’d be interested to know if that was in the script though.

So what do you reckon Lisa? Good trash or just trash?

Lisa:

Actually, yes, Anna I did notice you covering your eyes. But for some reason I was convinced that you were far too cool to actually be scared and you were just trying to sleep or something. I was pretty frightened there too. Ah yes the shower scene now that you mention it was a little out of place and you couldn’t really see anything much anyway and her character had no sex appeal at all anywhere so it was a bit of a mistake. I have no problem with a bit of nudity but if it really serves no purpose it just makes the filmmaker look like an amateur.

My other big issue with the film, was the way the police treated Jill when they thought she was crazy. It’s no wonder she took matters in her own hands. Trying to patronise, manipulate and trick a mentally ill person made the police look like ignorant egotistical douche bags regardless. In fact I was pretty happy for them to caught up in the line, they totally deserved it. The film would have been far more interesting if the police had of been more sensitive and educated about mental illness, this would have put me more on their side and created more conflict in my mind as to whether Jill was in the right or not. This too would in fact probably be more realistic as police deal with the mentally ill a lot. But by making them all ignorant and angry at Jill you never really felt any empathy for them or were on their side for a moment.

To sum up the I think you’re right the film excels in the basics of suspense thrillers but when it comes to the details of characters and the subtle turning points of the story, it just doesn’t measure up. As such I would have to say, although it’s on the borderline, it’s just trash. What do you think Anna, do you disagree?

Anna:

Yep, definite trash. Not super trashy trash, but trash none the less!