Monthly Archives: November 2011

50/50 by Jonathan Levine

This is a Christmas tale.

Some called the film pretentious, I would call it hopeful.

It depicts a painful and long way of a 27-year old journalist who finds out he has a 50/50 chance of survival and suffers from a rare type of cancer located near his spine. The story seems very true and is marvellously balanced between bitter and sweet aspects of everyday life, relationships, friendship, parent-child dependency as well as doctor-patient rules.

A beautiful tale of reaching the stages of denial, shock, acceptance of asking the questions – what if today was your last day? How would you live it, what would you do? Whom would you call?

Evenly paced, the film grasps the attention and emotions, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is magnetic and the supporting roles fall into his shadow not too far, just the right amount of distance to show his loneliness and their efforts to support him.

Great cinema touching upon important matters such as cancer, death, human relationships.

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My week with Marilyn by Simon Curtis

A disappointment. I was hoping for a solid biopic. It’s a shame because with the budget and with the names on the poster, it could have been a much better film. I spoke to someone before viewing it and we concluded that Scarlett Johansson might have been a more true MM. Well, as it turns out, she was one of the big celebrities who actually turned down the role. Was it because of the thinness of the script? It may as well have been the reason.

The story is shallow and fails to turn MM into a valid human being. For the last two decades there was no film about the famous blonde and this attempt is quite frustrating. Despite the fantastic work of set decorators, costume designers, despite great music and interiors as well as locations (including Eton, Windsor etc.) the film is a weak reflection of what it could have been.

Dame Judi Dench, Kenneth Brannagh, Emma Watson… cast as if to compensate for the failures in other fields. Michelle Williams may be a good actress but there was a very limited amount of material for her to use her acting skills. Such a shame. Such a disappointment. I am still waiting for the next film, which will feature a fatter, full of sexappeal star and waiting for a script fully and fairly presenting Norma Jeane in her prime.

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Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

One of those films that should really be watched more than once to appreciate all the little tricks and layers of meaning.

After a too long introductory scene of shots of Paris, which can only be forgiven because it’s a Woody Allen, the audience gets immersed into a seemingly typical Woody Allen set. There’s a clever guy hopelessly trying to prove that this other man drawing to him the main guy’s woman is a loser. Surprisingly, this time Woody Allen is played by Owen Wilson. And very successfully. Maybe making a point that Allen’s ideas do not age and his characters are stuck somewhere between 35 and 43 with the eternal and universal every day issues of jealousy, pose, snobbism and inconvenient truths. Also the in-laws and their superior nonchalant treatment of the main character as if he weren’t an adult man responsible for his deeds and actions. A beautiful comedy of manners. As always.

There is more.

There is the philosophical trip through time where the main protagonist realises that being hooked on the past may not be the solution to living in the present.

There is an incredible mind game questioning his existence. What he sees and whom he meets becomes the best ever riddle and proper entertainment for those a little interested in the work and the great minds that resided in Paris during the Golden Age between WWI and WWII. An absolute must to anyone who a) appreciates Woody Allen and b) is fascinated by 20th century literature and philosophies.

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The Ides of March by George Clooney

The title. Before going to watch the film I thought it was obvious what the title was referring to. But, as it turns out, not everyone is aware of the term that marks the day of Julius Caesar’s death and betrayal by his closest friend Brutus back in 44 BC. So thought I’d clarify that. It’s March 15th, the day of god Mars, when the Romans organised festivities for their army.

The film offers political fiction – one of my favourite genres. Being a devoted fan of The West Wing, expected something similar to that. The pace is not as fast, and there does not seem to be that much actual politics. What is present to a much bigger extent is office politcs rather than grand politics. This is not necessarily a flaw because it may actually be a little easier to follow the plot.

Cinematography. There is one great scene where the camera looks through three glass walls and we follow action as it moves from the last of the rooms into the first, hearing the dialogue from the back office, then the middle one and finally the first one. Interesting!

The budget. Even before I checked its budget on imdb, there are dollars dripping down every setting, drape, location.

Binary oppositions. A nice touch when juxtaposing politics with consultancy, brains with balls and friends with bosses.

Similarities to Taxi Driver. The place where the governor’s campaign headquarters are based bears an appealing resemblance to the place where Cybill Shepherd’s character works.

And there is something for the ladies too. George Clooney. And something for the younger ladies. Ryan Gosling (meow).

It’s a good film. A strong 7 but not a 10. I expected much more mind games. The only one that happens is good, but I’d like more.

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