Sunday, January 15, 2012

December Film Highlights

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams, Paul Anderson. Dir: Guy Ritchie.

Holmes’ pits wits against Moriarty on the eve of Watson’s wedding. Occasionally veers close to nonsense but otherwise very witty action entertainment. Set pieces are stunning, but performers are the highlight. Law and Downey are an ideal double act and Harris perfect as their seething nemesis. Rapace, alas, deserved more.


Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagan, Cyd Charisse. Dir: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen.

A film star tires of his publicity invented romance with his leading lady, just as sound threatens their careers. Has its cake and eats it, managing to lampoon, celebrate and indulge in all Hollywood’s fantastical excess. Clever, funny, beautiful, and with astonishing dancing, it’s 100 minutes of pure cinematic joy.


Why Worry? (1923) Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, John Aasen, Jim Mason. Dir:Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor.

A rich hypochondriac travels to a Mexican resort to relax, but unwittingly walks into a revolution. After the set-up the story never really goes anywhere, but it hardly matters. Mildly amusing at first, once Lloyd teams-up with the gentle giant it settles into a consistent stream of hilarity. Terrific fun.


Play Time (1967) Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Jacqueline Lecomte, Billy Kearns. Dir: Jacques Tati.

Monsieur Hulot gets lost in a high-tech modern metropolis. A satire about dehumanising urbanisation and technology. Sets and cinematography are stunning, each shot an intriguing visual puzzle, with gags scattered amongst the crowds. Frustratingly aimless in its unfolding, it’s more intellectual puzzle than comedy, which is a strength and weakness.


My Week with Marilyn (2011) Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Brannagh, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, Dougray Scott, Dominic Cooper. Zoe Wanamaker. Dir: Simon Curits.

While working with Olivier in London, an insecure Monroe befriends a studio assistant. Teary-eyed nostalgia painted with very broad strokes. Williams does a respectable Monroe, and Brannagh enjoys himself as Lawrence, but it's as subtle and obvious as Mills & Boon, with dialogue that’s so clunky it starts to hurt.


Batman Forever (1995) Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough. Dir: Joel Schumacher.

Batman fights Two-Face and Riddler, while an orphan becomes Robin. Unlike Burton’s movies, has a structured narrative focused on Batman – positives end there. Has the same schizophrenia, being part Frank Miller, part Adam West, but with added ADD. Jones and Carrey seem locked in a battle over who’s most awful.


The Gorgon (1964) Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelley, Patrick Troughton. Dir: Terence Fisher.

A man is accused of being a serial killer, but unknown to the public, all the victims turn to stone. Having an enemy the characters can’t even look at is a narrative hurdle it can’t overcome. The monster isn’t even unnerving, and its unconvincing mythology seems made-up on the fly.


The Deep Blue Sea (2011) Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale. Dir: Terence Davies.

A woman attempts suicide when the romance with the man she left her husband for begins to wane. An elegant adaptation of Rattigan’s play, skilfully performed by a strong cast. But despite their talent and Davies’ natural grace, it’s too stately and modest in scope, well-mannered but feeling surprisingly in-substantial.