Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Seriously... Some Movie Thoughts

I apologise for being so absent-minded lately, but that's what a quarter-life crisis, job losses and general life issues do to ya. However, to quell your desire for blogging (Oh I know you're just begging for it!) here are some brief, but incredibly important*, thoughts of some movies I've seen recently. Seriously!

A Serious Man
Dir. The Coen Brothers
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 105mins

I'm not going to claim I know what A Serious Man is truly "about" other than it being the Coen brothers' take on growing up Jewish. It's a movie that is at both times infinitely fascinating and reprehensibly repulsive. I don't know the slightest thing about being Jewish other than what I've seen in films and on TV, but are all Jewish women really that horrifying. It was, at times, like watching The Nanny if Fran Fine was a mean drunk. Anyone who doesn't have serious misgivings about the grotesque retch of a character played by Richard Kind being the butt of a sodomy joke should make rethink a thing or two.

And yet, I found stuff to like too. While I can't say Albert Brooks Michael Stuhlbarg as the film's main character cum antihero of sorts was a particularly engaging character, he did produce some wicked inner-chuckles. A Serious Man wasn't a laugh out loud film for me, but I felt like I should have been from time to time. The ending, however, leaves me scratching my head. Is it merely a metaphor for the idea that the tragedy is going to follow this man and his family or does it mean something "bigger" and I simply don't "get" it? I'm not sure. C+

An Education
Dir. Lone Scherfig
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: M
Running Time:

Such an enjoyable movie is Lone Scherfig's adaptation of Lynn Barber's memoirs that I had a smile on my face from beginning to end. Perhaps it says something perverse about me that despite the quite obvious irksome issues that the film raises I was still smiling. I put that down to Carey Mulligan who is charm personified in the role of Jenny. Perhaps it's the accent, or maybe just her plucky demeanour, but it was so refreshing watching Mulligan as she wraps her way around Nick Hornby's dialogue.

Surrounding her is a wonderful selection of choice Brits, but my biggest affection goes to Rosamund Pike as Jenny's world-worn friend. With her slaps of sarcasm and eventual reveals of sadness and loneliness, Pike is truly wonderful. That the film follows a mostly predictably trajectory was neither here for there for this viewer, because just getting there was enjoyment enough. Marvelling at the gorgeous costumes by Odile Dicks-Mireaux and production design by Australian Andrew McAlpine. Just thinking about the movie again is making me grin and wish I had a copy on DVD so I could wrap myself up in it like a wonderful warm rug. A-

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Dir. Terry Gilliam
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: PG
Running Time: 122mins

A wildly inventive and artistically unbridled film by Terry Gilliam that suffers due to an excessive running time and Gilliam's desire to not control himself. As everybody knows it stars Heath Ledger in his final ever performance and Ledger acquits himself nicely, although the more interesting performances are elsewhere. Model Lily Cole has a cool and mysterious vibe as Parnassus' (Christopher Plummer) daughter assistant, and Jude Law impresses most out of the three men brought in to replace Ledger.

Of the other two men, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell, Depp's work with Gilliam in previous projects has clearly helped and he navigates his way through his brief role nicely. Farrell, however, gets saddled with the film's problematic final act and doesn't come off as well. It's a shame the film's slides during these final moments as what had come before it was really some interesting stuff. Costume design by Monique Prudhomme, production design by Anastasia Masaro as well as the make-up work by Ailbhe Lemass are all Oscar worthy. B-

Dir. Duncan Jones
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 97mins

It was always going to be hard to not be impressed by Duncan Jones (nee Bowie) debut feature, Moon, unless you think the term "science fiction" implies cars rolling over and exploding as somebody wearing a wifebeater jumps in front of it. Despite its languorous pace and stale air, Moon is an inventive and exciting movie that will have your brain working as well as your eyes. I loved letting my bathe in the amazing production design by Tony Noble just as much as I did trying to decipher the clues and figure out what's going on and how the mystery will be resolved.

Sam Rockwell, however, proves to be the film's greatest asset and while it is nice that he on the radar of cinephiles, it's disappointing that he won't be able to get the leg up into Oscar's eyesight that he so very much deserves. Kevin Spacey, too, deserves a credit for his creepily passive vocal delivery of the robot GERTY, which thankfully doesn't merely come of as a post-HAL 2001: A Space Odyssey joke. If you enjoy your science fiction to actually be more about the science and less about the fiction, then Moon should feed an appetite that gets starved for far too long. B+

*Actually not "important" at all!


Brook Brooks said...

Rosamund Pike is still my favourite supporting actress of the year; she's way deeper and more biting than the movie requires. I wish they'd let us know a bit more in her final scene, given her a few more moments. But it bodes well for this actress I've always liked!

Chris said...

The ending of "A Serious Man" is a reference to the Book of Job, just like the entire film in fact seems to be a very loose adaptation of it.