Magic in the Moonlight

(Woody Allen, 2014)

Anyone who watches enough Woody Allen movies will see themes, ideas, characters repeating themselves (it’ll happen when you’ve been making a movie a year for about 4 decades). There are certainly plenty of elements here that have been done before, probably been done in more subtle fashion, maybe done in a more comprehensive way in his earlier work, but a lot of this still works here. Colin Firth is a riot, imbuing a not so likeable character with just the right amount of charm and wit to make him acceptable, but not so much that his edges are too significantly softened. Emma Stone is fine in tandem with him, though the vast majority of the film pretty much sees her on the leash. She’s capable of so much more, and it’s a little sad to see her getting stuck with a role that is too often beneath her.

The fact that the themes at the heart of the film (initially interestingly set up) are presented to us with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and that there are clear issues here (like a 28 year age gap between the leads) that go completely and utterly unaddressed leave the whole thing feeling a little bit unfulfilled, and disappointing. Given what we know of Woody Allen’s personal life the thing could frankly read as something sort of autobiographical (again, nothing new for him) and that makes the simpering pedestrian way in which events play out all the more irritatingly simplistic. I don’t really think it earns the ending that it goes for, and frankly a promising opening and generally entertaining closing are let down by a pretty poorly paced, heavily wordy mid section,

Firth, and Eileen Atkins, and Stone on occasion keep the whole thing watchable. There is plenty of humour in the movie that worked for me, and I think Allen’s attempt to lace the comedy with deeper introspection is occasionally admirable. it’s just a shame that this thing is kind of a mess that doesn’t do as much with the material as it could, that wastes the cast at its disposal (Did I mention that Marcia Gay Harden is in this movie? She might as well not be) that too often feels too soon before, and in spite of some amusing moments is just a bit of a mess from both a writing and filmmaking point of view. As with most minor Woody movies it’s watchable, it’s got more to it than most peoples major comedies, but it’s a let down considering what clearly might have been.


A Most Wanted Man

(Anton Corbijn, 2014)

In which a recently deceased all time great actor shows what he was still capable of at the time of his passing, and thus makes every moment he spends on screen in this movie a truly mournful one.

What’s good is that aside from the work of his titanic leading man, Anton Corbijn’s third feature follows perfectly on from his previous two. Corbijn is expert at creating atmosphere, at capturing the mundanity in the world while remaining compelling character wise, at crafting powerfully communicative visuals, and yes, at getting the most out of his actors.

It’s a little sad that Nina Hoss, and Daniel Bruhl, two of Deutschland’s finest go kind of to waste, though Hoss gets the occasional nice scene to play. It’s a little sad also that in such a thoroughly European production Rachel McAdams and Philip Seymour Hoffman get shoehorned in, though thankfully in spite of the occasional accent slip it doesn’t become a major issue. What’s more of one is that McAdams doesn’t have much of a character to work with, though she does fine with it. I feel like a better actress could have gotten more from a pretty simplistic role.

All that said, on screen this movie belongs to Hoffman. His every little movement radiates personality, and character. It’s a majestically physical piece of work where you can tell everything about the man just from watching him with the sound off. It’s not easy to play such a lowkey character and keep him intriguing, but thanks to Hoffman this is one that for me at least was 100% gripping 100% of the time. He fits in this world, he looks the part, he (generally) sounds the part, and when at the end a brief explosion comes his weariness, his frustration that we’ve witnessed throughout the movie more than earns that moment.

Though it’s admirable (testament to his maturity as an actor, and the class of the filmmakers) that he doesn’t just overwhelm and consume the film around him. This movie is an adaptation of a John Le Carre novel, and Corbijn captures the Le Carre look, the Le Carre feel as well as I think it’s ever been done on screen. It’s not easy to get right in feature length, but he does it. It looks drab, it feels miserable (in the most gorgeous aesthetic way), it’s the cold war sensibilities on which the author made his name transposed appropriately to a post 9/11 world, and yet the compelling power of the characters, of the journey that they’re taking makes the whole thing riveting.

It’s a damn shame that these kind of spy movies, intelligence thrillers don’t come around too often, but for me it’s always a pleasure when they do, especially when executed this well. Anton Corbijn is comfortably one of the best directors to have emerged in the past decade, and that he can keep making these slow burning movies in this day and age is massively admirable. While this film may stand as indicative of a great, great cinematic loss, there is thankfully still that spark of great hope for the future.


bornandbredginger:

Ray Rice Inspired Makeup Tutorial

guys. watch.


toshiromifunes:

Toshiro Mifune in Drunken Angel (1948)

toshiromifunes:

Toshiro Mifune in Drunken Angel (1948)



babybacalling:


"You learn from hard experience. But that’s what life is all about. Puts lines in your face. Gives you headaches. Makes you nervous. But just look at anyone you know who hasn’t gotten hurt. There’s a big void there." 

Lauren Bacall’s mixture of humanity and grit, and her determination to excel, seem so overwhelming that it is difficult to imagine it coming to an end. “My idea is that I’m going to hang around forever,” she says, “and just drive everyone bananas.”

babybacalling:

"You learn from hard experience. But that’s what life is all about. Puts lines in your face. Gives you headaches. Makes you nervous. But just look at anyone you know who hasn’t gotten hurt. There’s a big void there." 

Lauren Bacall’s mixture of humanity and grit, and her determination to excel, seem so overwhelming that it is difficult to imagine it coming to an end. “My idea is that I’m going to hang around forever,” she says, “and just drive everyone bananas.”




Incendies

(Denis Villeneuve, 2010)

This is a film that leans on macguffins, and stretched logic, but I think its aim is so true, so worthy, and its point made so powerfully that neither of those things really matters in the end. It’s an odyssey of self discovery undertaken by twins set on their path by their recently deceased mother throughout which a series of dramatic hammer blows are interspersed, each one flipping its characters understanding of their lives on its head. It’s to the credit of the movie that rather than seeming like dramatic gimmicks there to get a cheap rise out of the audience these moments dig deeper beneath the skin, serve some greater thematic purpose. It’s a story of the bonds between humans, families and enemies, and the blood that binds us all.

Some of its critics feel the actions of the central character, the mother played with ferocious passion and fragility by Lubna Azabel, are cruel upon her children, that the voyage of self discovery is purposeless, and can result in nothing but pain and emotional torture for the twins. Taking said twins out of the story, and making it all about the mother would certainly spare her children, the fictional characters, some pain but it would make this movie about half the experience that it is. For every child that ever had any kind of resentment towards a parent for the way they were treated through childhood this should be a movie with which you can identify. It may be set in a land that socially, and politically is a million miles away from most of us, but it’s the childrens journey that makes this story more readily universal.

Villeneuve has crafted a great movie here. It’s his graduation to the big leagues. Long without feeling its length, monstrously involving every step of the way, his writing generally avoids overly ham-fisted  use of exposition, working perfectly both as epic tale, and deeper dramatic allegory. His use of music is unique and powerful, and his way with actors strong. Shying away from grandstanding, favouring more cerebral turns that serve the story above all.

Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, and Maxim Gaudette play the twins with a suitable mix of anger, bemusement, and the burden of responsibility. Veteran Remy Girard brings a sense of comfort and calm to proceedings with his gentleness as the lawyer that sets everything in motion, but ultimately this really is Azabel’s movie, and it is her life story told in flashback that provides 90% of the grand drama that makes up the movie. She brings such dignity to her character no matter what trials she goes through, she executes with subtlety no matter what ferocity she’s faced with. Her journey, the complexity of feeling, the raging tumult that is her life, caused by her nation, mirrors it. Whatever nation that may be (it’s left ambiguous in the movie) it’s another of the movies universalities. She’s the heart and soul of this incendiary melodrama made timeless, universal allegory.