December 31, 2009 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight: December 2009

The last month of the year, and the final five films…

First up, The Men Who Stare At Goats tries to be an oddball tale about the forming of an army unit who are training in psychic warfare. Despite a fairly big name cast (George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, and Ewan Macgregor), it never really manages to capitalise on what it has. It’s funny in places, but largely inconsistent. It’s merely an okay film. (See my Men Who Stare At Goats Twitter review).

Spike Jonze is well-known for his vivid imagination, so there’s probably no-one better placed to turn Where The Wild Things Are into a movie. Rather than do a direct adaptation, which would be incredibly short, Jonze has focussed on telling a story about the problems people often face in childhood. It’s very cute and sweet in many places, with a tiny hint of menace streaked through a large portion. He expertly moves the protagonist, Max, through his journey, showing us a wide-range of beautiful moments and difficult challenges. The lead, Max Records, does an excellent job. Good entertainment.  (See my Where The Wild Things Are Twitter review).

Doing a biopic of John Lennon’s life you might focus on his success and admiration as a fascinating musician. Nowhere Boy instead focusses on his formative teenage years to great effect. Seeing the legendary figure as a troubled teen was a good choice for a screen play, and it’s handled very well. Given his abandonment as a child, and his subsequent reconnection with his mother a decade or so later, we get to see a fairly turbulent time in his life that seems to have shaped him. The film has several very powerful scenes, and manages to draw a fairly detailed picture of Lennon’s early years. Very good.   (See my Nowhere Boy Twitter review).

Avatar is the film that has been in the making for a dozen years according to director, James Cameron. Sadly, very few of those years have been spent on the story, which is somewhat flimsy and you have seen before. The character development is relatively meek, and most of the film lacks any real depth. It does have a message which, while delivered a little heavy-handedly, is worthwhile: both that we should be conserving the world’s culture and the environment in which we live. Avatar is, however, a good, mindless, action film. The effects (in 3D) are well-done, and some of the battle sequences are suitably epic and fun. If you want something fun that you don’t have to think about, this is your movie. It’s entertaining, but ultimately nothing special. (See my Avatar Twitter review).

Finally, Humpday is about two friends, an artist and an apparently average Joe, who decide to make an art film of themselves having sex, for various reasons. It’s shot in a natural, almost documentary style; managing to be simultaneously amusing and uncomfortable as they get closer to the filming. The tension throughout is well-pitched, particularly between the “average” guy and his wife. Some great performances make this film, even if the ending is a little abrupt. (See my Humpday Twitter review).

The winner this month is Nowhere Boy for an emotional and affecting biopic that perfectly captures an important time in a young man’s life.