Saturday, 5 March 2011

At the Movies........

Hullo ma wee blog,

I love a good film and am happy to spend hours squirreled away in the dark watching a movie or two. I'm not overly particular about what genre of movie {except one} I'm going to see either as long as it's well made. Even in a film that doesn't grab me for plot or characterisation I'll often enjoy the music or the cinematography or some other aspect of the production. I just love being at the cinema. The lovely G and I both have 'unlimited' tickets to get into the cinema - pay a monthly fee and go as often as you like - which is worthwhile if you go more than twice a month and that's no problem for us. I used to like all the gore and guts of a good slasher or horror story but as I get older I'm shying aware from these more and more as they get more and more predictable and more and more over hyped. I still enjoy the odd shocker but it's more of a rarity these days. While I love the escapism, action and adventure tales that cinema offers I do like a good story well told and I love films about the human condition, relationships and just good human interest stories. The best films make you think about them long after the final curtain and we've been lucky to see some great movies over the last month or so, so I thought I'd share a recommendation or two with you in case you missed any of them.

Paul Giametti is one of those actors who can often lightly pass by in a movie with his understated performances and lack of screen idol good looks and to be honest I wasn't sure at the start about casting him as the lead in 'Barneys Version' which is a cracking film about life, relationship and regret. I have to say I was absolutely wrong in that and he turns in a wonderful performance that by turns makes you hate, despair and finally appreciate his character. As the film unfolds, and I'm not going to spoil it or any of the movies by just reeling off a plot line, he really manages by slow degrees to make you  aware of the complexity of a life of selfishness, yearning and the regret he has for the way he's lived and some of the choices he's made. A great film. I absolutely loved it and was mesmerised for the whole performance. A great supporting cast too.

I was really looking forward to going to see The King's Speech, although I always worry about films that get so much hype and critical acclaim. I really prefer to ignore all that and make my own mind up. Imagine my disappointment when we went to the cinema as we often do with no firm decision made about what we will go and see - one of the strengths of these 'unlimited' tickets is that we just go, see what is starting soon and go watch and this has let us find some super films that we wouldn't necessarily have chosen to go and see - when my Lovely G said that even though 'The King's Speech was starting first, she didn't really fancy it and would rather wait and see 'Black Swan' that was starting a little later. Like most men I realise what has to be done for a quiet life and so, with a little sigh, I agreed and dutifully went along to this film about ballet, or so I thought.

The movie stars Natalie Portman in this portrayal of obsession and descent into paranoia of a ballerina who has longed for recognition and especially the chance to play the dual perspective lead role in the ballet Swan Lake only to feel this is being snatched from her at the very moment when she should be being acclaimed for it.. Cleverly written and directed and with a well played lead role from Portman this again was a surprising and intriguing film which caught the excitement and fear of the slide into madness in a very graphic way. It's been panned in some areas for being too melodramatic and over the top, but I thought that it captured the fear and angst of Portmans character in a very understandable way and didn't go beyond the limits of realism either with the portrayal of the obsessed star or the conniving and manipulation of the dance troupe by a megalomaniacal director of dance. It's dark and manic and I felt that it draws you in to the story and the passion of these dancers who have a very short career-span before having to give up what they have trained so hard to achieve really effectively. For a film I didn't expect to get much out of I really enjoyed it. Portman - who I've always thought of as credible but not much more puts in a stunning performance and also trained so effectively for the part that you do actually believe absolutely in her as the highly driven and incredibly capable dancer she portrays. It was an Oscar winning performance and I understand why. It is melodramatic and it is borderline over the top at times but that's how I think of madness anyway. Great film, but don't go expecting many laughs.

The poster for the film shows Natalie Portman with white facial makeup, black-winged eye liner around bloodshot red eyes, and a jagged crystal tiara.

Next in the movie timeline of recent weeks we went to see a reshowing on the big screen of 'Inception', starring Leonardo Di Caprio. I'd actually seen this before but G had missed it and was delighted to see it reshown as she wanted to see it on the big screen. I'm not the biggest fan of LDC but I do appreciate he is getting better as he gets older and I really thought he was perfectly cast for this role. Great idea, great effects, a great performance by Di Caprio and a great supporting cast all worked together to make this an incredible piece of movie-making. A deeply intriguing psychological idea at the heart of the story and a movie that, although bewildering if not given full concentration, fairly rattles on at a great lick and has plenty going on to keep you rivetted to the screen for the duration. I loved this movie and found so much more on second viewing. One that'll end up in our DVD collection for sure.

A man in a suit with a gun in his right hand is flanked by five other individuals in the middle of a street which, behind them, is folded upwards. Leonardo DiCaprio's name and those of other cast members are shown above the words "YOUR MIND IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME". The title of the film "INCEPTION", film credits, and theatrical and IMAX release dates are shown at the bottom.

At last I got what I wanted when  we went to see .The King's Speech'. I do like Colin Firth and he was great in this film, well cast and deserving of all the praise for sure. Helena Bonham Carter I'm not really a fan of and as usual I thought that although she played the part well that others could have played it even better. She did fit the look and fashion of the 1930's and 40's particularly well and that to me anyway made her  a completely realistic choice. For me though the star of the piece was the character played by Geoffrey Rush as the king's speech therapist. I felt he stole every scene he was in. He just dominates in such an unassuming way. I find him mesmerising to watch. He brings absolute realism to everything he does and for me is one of tha great actors around just now. I was sorry he didn't get more recognition for the part he played in this movie, which is a relationship tale told with great humanity. It really deserved the number of Oscar nominations it received. I thought that for a story about royalty - which I'm also no great fan of - that it focessed successfully on the human side of the tale and didn't lose itself in any of the visual spectacle that would have been so easy to slot into almost any part of the narrative. I though the main characters were all well and sympathetically written and yet it was probably quite near the historical truth. I thought the sub plots of family relationship and antipathy of the establishment to Wallace Simpson were all well done and neither under or over emphasised. It's a film that I felt was well balanced throughout. Even the Lovely G, who really didn't want to see it said that she enjoyed it.

'The Kings Speech' gets a new showy poster!  Main

The final movie we went to see was 'Never Let Me Go', an adaption of a book by Kasuo Ishiguro. It's always hard to see a film of a book as comparisons will always abound and any screenplay isn't going to have the same impact as the novel. Here though is a film that is so deep, so well rounded and so perfectly sparse and understated that it may well be my favourite out of all the films we've seen recently. The three main characters, played by Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield, put in stunning performances and Carey Mulligan is perfection. Her playing of the girl experiencing confusion, anxiety, hurt, bewilderment and finally acceptance is simple, graceful and spellbinding. One of those films you talk about all journey back home.

All in all it's been a great couple of weeks of cinema going and I thoroughly recommend you to see any of these movies if you get the chance. Next on my list is 'True Grit' and I'm also looking forward to 'The Adjustment Bureau.

see you later..........


Unknown said...

Thanks for the recomendations. We do like our movies. We don't have unlimited passes, I'm not sure they offer them here. We do have netflix, DVD's either come in the mail of we can watch on-line. The King's Speech is on our list, now I will add the others.
Have a great weekend.

Alistair said...

I really hope you enjoy them as much as I did and that I haven't overdone it. There's nothing worse than really looking forward to something just to find it's a load of tosh - but I'm sure that won't happen with these films.

You have a good weekend too. We're off to the brother in law this evening for a catch up and a curry night.

{Hope G decides to drive!}

DB Stewart said...

You made me anticipate even more experiencing those I haven't seen. Thanks.

Rebecca S. said...

Thanks for the thoughtful reviews, Al. My son absolutely raved about Inception, but by Oscar night the only film I had seen of the contenders was The Social Network. I do love Geoffrey Rush as an actor and am very much looking forward to seeing The King's Speech. It has just been re-released here. My favourite ballet film will forever be The Turning Point with Shirley McLaine and Anne Bancroft :)
Never Let Me Go looks interesting for sure, and I loved Paul Giamatti in Sideways.

Bovey Belle said...

My son and daughter have both treated me to the movies in recent weeks. Firstly, G and I saw the Black Swan, which I enjoyed far more than I thought I would and I think you have given an excellent appraisal of it.

My son took me out on Orange Wednesday, on a 2 for 1 deal. We saw True Grit - you will enjoy it, I know. I saw it first time round with John Wayne, but I think that Jeff Bridges made a more convincing Rooster Cogburn - yeesh - I swear I could SMELL him! And there was one bit at the beginning where I leapt out of my seat!

I still haven't seen The King's Speech, and suspect I will have to wait until it comes on Sky or someone buys it on DVD.

Sigh - memories of when I used to go to the cinema every week in my youth. There's something about the Big Screen . . .

Anonymous said...

have a nice weekend

Howard said...

Enjoyed reading your movie suggestions...

i was one of those people who were hopelessly confused by Inception. maybe it's worth a second look.

did you see The Fighter? An excellent, rough-talkin' movie, amazing performances by Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams... Before I saw it, i thought, Oh no, not another boxing movie! But it's a great story and the boxing scenes, unlike Rocky or Raging Bull, are incidental.

Jane said...

Enjoyed your reviews Alistair. I, too, loved The King's Speech and totally agree with you about Geoffrey Rush. My favourite movie of his is 'Shine'. He absolutely does shine in every film he's in.

Alistair said...

Thanks all,

Howard - never saw that but it;s still on here so I will hopefully catch it before it goes. The trailers look good and like you say it's about more than boxing.

Jane - Geoffrey Rush is fantastic in the movie. Shine's one of my all time favourites too.

BB I think we all have that nostalgia for some cinema moments of our youth.

Rebecca - I'd forgotten about Sideways. We really liked it when it came out.

dbs - I don't think I could cope without a good movie or two.....

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