The last month has been mostly about Oscar nominated films… surprise, surprise! So without further ado here’s February selection of speedy reviews:
The Danish Girl: the life of Danish painter Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, pioneer transgender, and his wife Gerda, also a talented painter. I know that this is considered an Eddie Redmayne’s film, whose performance is both convincing and effective, but the one that truly shines is Alicia Vikander as Gerda. She embodied the role of loyal, supporting wife and her struggle to make sense of her life and her husband’s. I must say that she’s the one who really sold me the story and ended up making it convincing and gut-wrenching. Tom Hooper skillfully handles this dramatic tale and beautifully recreates both Copenhagen and Paris in the 1920s. Affecting —7/10
Carol: Todd Haynes gives us an artfully shot, intense period drama with two great actresses (Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett) at the top of their game. Therese, shop girl and aspiring photographer, meets and falls in love with the titular Carol, an older woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. Set in the fifties, this love story has all the complications that come with the social mores of the time and strongly reminds of Far From Heaven, however it’s a little more hopeful but less powerful. Cate Blanchett should always dress as a New Yorker in the 1950s, she’s spectacular. Kudos also go to Kyle Chandler for his solid performance as the abandoned husband and Sarah Paulson as Carol’s best friend. Interesting —7/10
Anomalisa: the quirky genius of Charlie Kaufman takes the viewer along for a ride in a weird world. Using stop-motion animation he tells a story of alienation and loneliness (which are recurrent themes in his films): a customer service guru, Michael Stone (David Thewlis), feels detached from everything but, on a business trip, meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), his anomaly, and things suddenly change for the better…at least that’s what it seems. While the plot is rather straightforward, the storytelling is multi-layered as is Kaufman’s wont and the different media is meant to add an additional twist. Unfortunately, the latter completely backfires (at least for me) because I found the facial features of the puppets utterly distracting and not in a good way. Unexpected —6/10
Hail, Caesar!: Eddie Mannix’s (Josh Brolin) life as fixer for a major Hollywood studio is very complicated and demanding. He has to deal with a difficult director (Ralph Fiennes), a pregnant starlet (Scarlet Johansson), nosy gossip journalists (Tilda Swinton), the kidnapping of a movie star (George Clooney) and his inner demons. The Coens brings back the lights and shadows of Hollywood’s golden era with their usual humour and manage to coax great performances out of Clooney, Brolin, Ehrenreich and the rest of the cast. There’s a cornucopia of references to different film genres and their cliches as well as to the lives of celebrities, mostly what should be kept from the public. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about religion with a rabbi and representatives of the different christian confessions. Lighthearted —7.5/10
10 responses to “Quick ‘n’ Dirty: February at the pictures”
I’m really looking forward to seeing The Danish Girl and Hail Caesar. 🙂
Enjoy them 🙂
And when you say “lighthearted” about Hail Caesar, we’re talking feather-light….. I was very disappointed with it, was expecting so much more, instead I got an inexistent plot, no real depth, and a lot of eyewinks to the public in terms of references to golden age Hollywood and outside events. Great performances and greatly crafted, but really no susbtance. I think “ethereal” may sum it up better.
I see you point, maybe ephemeral works too as description 😉 I took it as a “divertissement” not a masterpiece in the Coens’ oeuvre.
I would very much like to see ‘Carol.’ Your review is similar to many others, and also mentions ‘Far From Heaven’, which I loved. I think I have a good idea what to expect, but will still be watching it.
Thanks for the round-up, Marta.
Best wishes, Pete.
I think you’ll like it, Pete, and thanks for reading!
Carol is on my watch list.
Cate Blanchett is spectacular!
She is one of my favourite actresses who turns quality performance after quality performance.