March 16, 2009 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight: February 2009

It’s February and the film fight is already a few weeks late. This does not bode well, but let’s see how it goes anyway.

Revolutionary Road is a difficult to watch, and delightfully so. The film centers on a failing relationship between a couple whose dreams are further away than they can stomach to reach, causing resentment and tension. It’s that tension that brings this film to life; the arguing, and picking, and ugliness of a once beautiful marriage worn down to a tiredness. It’s well-acted and lovingly shot, forcing us to watch some uncomfortable situations. The only place it really falls down is in the ending, where a cut a few minutes earlier could have avoided some unnecessarily tying up of loose ends. A great film. (See my Revolutionary Road Twitter review).

It’s a shame to see a great idea hampered by a some pretty clunky writing, but that’s what Doubt happens in doubt. The plot revolves around a priest who is accused of being indecent with a young boy in his care, and the nun who condemns him without any great degree of evidence. The story isn’t so much about innocence and guilt, as much as it’s about a witch hunt; a feeling that something is wrong being enough to make them wrong. The leads, again, provide strong performances, but they’re let down by some pretty weak writing. The wind as a metaphor for change? I can’t think of anything more trite. This is a good film, but with some pretty noticeable flaws. (See my Doubt Twitter review).

I like a good yarn, and that’s exactly what we get with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Every facet of the story, a tale of a man being born old and growing backwards, is larger than life and simple; much like Tim Burton’s Big Fish, but a touch less magical (save the central conceit). Sure, it’s not very deep, and some of it doesn’t really make sense, but it’s a fun story and told well enough that it doesn’t really matter. It looks the part, and is worth seeing, even if just to gawk at the fact that the lead’s head is entirely digital. (See my Curious Case of Benjamin Button Twitter review).

You’d like to believe that Anvil: The Story of Anvil is a mockumentary in the style of Spinal Tap for certain parts, but it isn’t. The band featured here, Anvil, never made it big in their youth but, unlike most bands, have never given up their dream. That’s what this documentary is about: the reality of never giving up on something you want more than anything else. It’s painful at times (you know exactly what a record label A&R guy means by “we’ll call you”, but the band are oblivious) and sometimes very earnest, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. (See my Anvil Twitter review).

Finally, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is, well, a mess of a film. While Penelope Cruz shines through in the role that won her best supporting actress this year, the rest of the cast either fail to sell themselves or are simply unable to. Almost every major scene is undermind by a cold, flat narration that, rather than allow the actresses to emote and for the camera to capture the atmosphre, tells us frankly and plainly what every one is thinking and feeling. This is the worst kind of tell-don’t-show storytelling, and much of the movie comes across as self-indulgent yet empty. Avoid. (See my Vicky Cristina Barcelona Twitter review).

There are a few contenders this month but the winner is… Revolutionary Road. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are reunited in a winning combination.

As an aside, I also saw Winslet’s The Reader this month, but not at the cinema. It’s a great film, if a little long-winded in places; she puts in a solid performance, but the real depth lies with the main character.