Written by Films

Recent Films

I’ve spent a while away from the cinema recently, but the “award season” means that I have to face my hatred of multiplexes and get out to see a few films. Although with the exception of one film, I saw these films in somewhat nicer confines of Curzon and BFI cinemas.
I really liked The Artist. I know that it’s got so much praise that it feels as though people have to rebel against it. Has it got the most sophisticated story ever? No. But it’s a fun film that really works wonderfully well.
I enjoyed the OSS 117 films that Michel Hazanavicius made previously, which were pitch-perfect pastiches based around sixties spy films. In The Artist, he’s clearly studied many of the classic silent films of the era, because he has employed so many of those films’ stylistic devices. Thoroughly worth seeing.
Martha Marcy May Marlene is a terrific film that I think it’s right that you know as little as possible about. What you need to know is that Elizabeth Olsen’s character is first seen leaving some kind of farm community in the Catskills. Later she seeks board and lodgings from here sister who lives with her English husband. Slowly, in flashback, we learn what she had been doing on the farm where we first found her. And not everything was wonderful…
I found Olsen fantastic, although I hope she doesn’t get typecast in horror films. Don’t become a new Sarah Michelle Gellar. This was a directorial debut from Sean Durkin, and I assume that he must have something of a photographic background, because this film really has a photo-quality in many of the frames, although that must be shared with cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes. I thought this was an excellent – if sometimes very disturbing film, and I’ve been busily recommending it to people.
Incidentally, while I actually saw this at The Renoir in London, it’s worth dropping into the Curzon Soho cinema where they’ve really done a terrific job of decorating the cinema. Lots of photography from the film decorates the walls.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (aka “4”) came out ages ago, but I thought that it was worth trying it in IMAX. It’s pricey, but it’s worth going to see it nonetheless. That was partly because there was a wonderful sequence from the forthcoming The Dark Knight Rises shown before the main feature. Set in the air, during a daring breakout of Bane from a transporter plane, it’s a fantastic sequence that gloriously makes use of the IMAX format.
As for Mission Impossible itself? Well it was perfectly serviceable. I wouldn’t say much more than that, as the plot doesn’t stay with you to any extent, but some of the main sequences do. So we start with an escape from a Russian prison followed by a Kremlin break-in. But the big sequence, which is shot in IMAX, is Tom Cruise on the outside of the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. If you suffer from vertigo, you might feel it with this film.
It’s always well worth seeing a David Cronenberg film, and A Dangerous Method is his latest, with Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung, Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein, the woman who came into their lives. We spend most of our time with Jung over a number of years starting with his Austrian clinic. Spielrein is first Jung’s patient, before she studies to become a doctor, and later becomes Jung’s lover.
Although the film’s stage origins are always clear, I was utterly entranced by the film, and really lapped it all up. I really thought the lead actors were all excellent, and Vincent Cassell’s cameo as Otto Gross, is spellbinding.
Incidentally, Radio 4’s Saturday Play for the last couple of weeks has been a pair of plays detailing a couple of Freud’s actual cases. Neither are related to the events of this film, but I enjoyed them both.
Of all the films I’ve seen recently, The Woman in the Fifth is certainly the most disappointing, but that’s not to say that I didn’t find it interesting. Ethan Hawke’s writer, Tom Ricks, has been away, and we find him, an American in Paris, trying to see his child who’s in the care of his estranged wife. He gets robbed on a bus, and winds up in a grotty hotel where he has to take a curious, and largely unexplained job for a dubious character who runs the hotel and cafe underneath it. Lots of things are left unexplained in this film though.
Ricks ends up in a very odd literary soirée – one where you have to pay twenty Euros to enter – and he runs into Kirstin Scott Thomas’ Margit, a woman of almost indeterminate origin (not true, as she explains it). They fall in love. But Ricks is also beginning to fall Ania (Joanna Kulig), the Polish cafe bartender, and perhaps partner of the Turkish cafe/hotel’s proprietor.
Then things take a turn for the, well strange. Is everything quite as it seems? Apparently not. Is Ricks a well man? Probably not.
The film attempts lots of things, and perhaps isn’t always altogether successful. However, I still found it intriguing and worthwhile. Seemingly director Pawel Pawlikowski picked and chose which parts of Douglas Kennedy’s source novel he used in it. I’m not certain I want to read the book to find out which sections he used (and which he discarded), however.
The other films I’ve been spending time with are kids films of varying quality courtesy of Sky Anytime+, my laptop and an HDMI cable while I babysat my niece and nephew. I can tell you that Megamind wasn’t too bad, and most notably had quite a rock music soundtrack used reasonably well. Furry Vengeance was a bit “meh”. The kids liked the animals doing their stuff, although there really wasn’t enough of them. It feels as though Brendan Fraser really has doesn’t too much decent stuff recently. I think back to him in The Quiet American, and it feels as though he’s just dropped into lazy roles (I was also thinking recently that Kate Beckinsdale hasn’t done anything decent for years and years. I know she can act, but she’s just slumped into sub-Milla Jovovich “kick-ass” roles. Do something that stretches you please!) And Rango was fairly decent, with an entertaining voice cast. It could probably have done with losing 15 minutes, but overall enchanted the kids I was watching with (illness prevented us getting out to see The Muppets sadly).