I've had a quiet month or so in terms of movie-watching for a multitude of reasons, but these last couple of weeks I have seen a bunch of 2007 releases that I thought I would write about. I rarely write big reviews, so these are just a big bunch of capsule reviews.
I have Paris Je'taime here on DVD, but no player to watch it on (mine stopped working. fuckin' LG - HATE). I'm currently watching Australian Idol, but it's all so dreadfully boring so I've decided to jump on here and type a bunch of useless words for y'all to read and "ooh" and "ahh" and "he's losing his god damned mind!" over. Sound like fun? That's because it is!
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - First things first: Casey Affleck? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Seriously. He is outstanding. He's definitely going to be memorable when it comes to thinking of my five favourite actors of 2007. Secondly: Roger Deakins' cinematography? Dreamy and beautiful. If there were any Academy Award justice both Affleck and Deakins' would be right in the hunt for nominations (and wins?) come February next year. And if Affleck has to commit major category fraud to do so (he will be campaigned as a supporting actor) then so be it.
Now, to the negative: Brad Pitt. Oy. I just can't seem to catch a break with this guy. Not even here, in the role he won the best actor prize at Venice Film Festival for, can I sit here and say I really liked him. Something just doesn't sit right with me when I watch him on screen. Also, I think Andrew Dominik did a great job at directing this quasi-western drama, but I thought it was too long. If he even shaved a minute off of bunch of scenes it would be a good 10 to 15 minutes shorter and it would have worked better. Whenever Affleck is off screen is particularly where it lags. B
Away From Her - You've got to hand it to Sarah Polley. She has crafted a superb film about adults dealing with adult issues when filmmakers twice her age can't string two good sequences together to save their lives. We have a very strong - and surely Oscar-bound - performance by Julie Christie, but besides her my favourite performance was that of Deanna Dezmari as a sympathetic ear to Gordon Pinsent's husband character. Great use of the Canadian landscape to made Away From Her a very rewarding and powerful film. Loved the way it ended on a happy note, but how everyone watching will know that it won't last long. B+
Bridge to Terabithia - I have not read the Katherine Paterson book that this film is based on - I was completely unaware of it actually - so I was surprised at how deeply I found myself engrossed in it. It works hard to get to where it's going and any tears that fall as a result of the film are entirely deserved. Just a quick note to AnnaSophia Robb - be careful. If you pick good roles in good movies then you will have a long career, because judging by that mega-watt smile and your accomplished performance here there is plenty to suggest you're going to. B+
Death Proof - OMG!!!!!!11 So there are these girls and they talk some shit and then they smoke some pot and then they talk some more shit and then they go for a drive and then their car goes boom and boom again and then another time and its like "omg4rilz" and then there are these other girls and they talk some shit and then they go driving and then they eat food and then they drive and then they talk about Vanishing Point and then they chase a car and it's like "omg4rilz" and then it ends. A- (I'm going to write more about Death Proof later BUT NOT PLANET TERROR, MR WEINSTEIN)
Freedom Writers - So, this movie is pretty woeful, but it's also incredibly hysterical if you're watching it with someone that you can laugh with. Laugh at Hilary Swank's pearls! Laugh as the dysfunctional "coloured kids" teaching Hilary Swank to hip-hop dance! Laugh as Patrick Dempsey just doesn't give a damn! The most disappointing part though - funnily enough - was when Dempsey didn't show up in the final scene to nod his head appreciatively upon witnessing all that Hilary Swank has achieved. Movie cliches don't get much better than that and they ignored it. NOT HAPPY, JAN! C-
Michael Clayton - Very strong performances by a great cast - particularly Tilda Swinton - help keep this film interesting, however the excellent first and third acts are let down by the middle section, which just doesn't have enough energy to keep the excitement going. I know the middle section is where a lot of people will point to the film's strong points, but for me something was missing. B
Once - Okay, so I know a lot of people love this movie, but I just don't. Pure and simple. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but it just didn't do anything for me. The music is all very nice (well, mostly) and several of the song sequences are very well done - "Falling Slowly" and "When You're Mind's Made Up" especially - but I couldn't stand Markéta Irglová's daft twit of a character. There just isn't really anything there. It all goes nicely and such, but it doesn't go anywhere substantial - perhaps if I liked Irglova's character I may have been more invested in the resolution to her storyline - and it just feels like director John Carney is desperately trying to get his film to feature-length with songs and side-trips to the countryside. C+