The last film fight before the big finale has three films…
First up, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is that most annoying of films: the set-up for another movie. It feels very much like a cash-in. With the lucrative franchise coming to an end, the decision to split Mockingjay into two films has seriously harmed at least this part. For the vast majority of the film, we see a boring set-up and a few dull action sequences to fill it in. With the exception of one remarkably well structured sequence towards the end (the SWAT-style assault), this film is fairly tiresome, never making us care about many of the characters. To be clear, it’s not bad; merely unnecessary. Avoid. (See my Mockingjay Part 1 Twitter review).
Joss Whedon decides to do something different for In Your Eyes: his newest writing project (he did not direct), that went straight to digital services, rather than a regular cinematic release. So what does a Whedon indie film look like? Pretty great. It’s strikingly pretty, with sweet dialogue (rather than the writer’s trademark humour) and great pacing. The two leads are very good, giving a sense of reality to the central conceit (people across the country who can see and feel through each other’s eyes) and keeping the whole thing interesting until the end. Very worthwhile. (See my In Your Eyes Twitter review).
Finally, Big Eyes is based on the true story of Margaret Keane, an artist who let her husband take credit for her work as it became world-renowned. While there are great moments in the performances by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, they are ruined by the film’s lack of tonal consistency. It can’t seem to decide whether it should be a straight biopic, somewhat light, or wildly over-the-top and thus fails at them all. It also has the worst voiceover I’ve seen in a long time. A minor character pops in occasionally to literally state what is already happening on-screen. A real shame, because the core of the story is interesting but there’s too much wrong with this for it to really work. Avoid. (See my Big Eyes Twitter review).
The winner for December is In Your Eyes. Well-written, and touchingly performed.