The last day of July is coming to an end, in fact it’s already August for some of you, but hey I thought I’d fit in a couple of reviews first before I post my Monthly Roundup tomorrow. Been watching the Olympics much? The only thing I managed to watch is the opening ceremony which was splendid I thought. Great job Danny Boyle! To me the main highlights were the Mr. Bean on the Chariot of Fire orchestra and of course, James Bond escorting the Queen! If you haven’t seen that Happy & Glorious clip you can watch it here.
Anyway, here are the two movies I saw over the weekend:
By the time I posted this Snow White battle post I was still on the fence about which Snow White movie I was anticipating most, but then after seeing the silly trailer, I decided I wasn’t going to waste my time on Mirror, Mirror. Well this Friday night my hubby and I were looking for something light and fluffy, and it’s either this or This Means War, and since we like a few of Tarsem’s work, we thought ok, what the heck.
Well guess what, it’s actually quite entertaining. Right from the early concept poster, this movie had always been marketed as a comedy and I think on that front it delivered. I was laughing throughout and despite some really cliche moments, I enjoyed it. Lilly Collins is definitely believable as Snow White, and despite marginal acting skills (this isn’t exactly an acting movie after all), at least she is far more expressive than Kristen Stewart!
I’m still bothered by Julia Roberts as the evil queen however, and her atrocious British accent (if you can even call it that) is just laughable. Why did Tarsem even insist on her speaking with a British accent anyway?? I mean this is a fairy tale, she could’ve been speaking with an Icelandic accent and it won’t matter, might as well let her keep her Southern drawl. Thankfully, it doesn’t derail the whole movie, and Armie Hammer as the dashing Prince more than makes up for her shortcomings. The 6’5″ hunky Californian looks like he practically jumps out of the Disney fairy tale princess storybook, but Hammer’s got some decent comic timing to prevent him from being more than boring eye candy. The part where he was under the puppy love spell is quite a hoot! The Prince and Snow White has a sweet chemistry, and there’s an amusing twist about the whole true love’s kiss notion.
Nathan Lane is a natural at comedy and he gets the most laughs here. A major plus here is that unlike Snow White and the Huntsman where the dwarfs were criminally underused, they have a pretty big part here. The relationship between them and Snow White are also much more developed in a whimsical but heartwarming way. That’s not to say this is a deep movie, but at least it’s consistent with the trailer and doesn’t over-promise us with something profound.
Tarsem’s visual is not as spectacular as in The Fall, in fact it seems too CGI-ish coming from the visual visionary. I’m also not too fond of Snow White’s makeup, I mean Collins is absolutely gorgeous but someone needs to wax her Leonid Brezhnev eyebrows! I normally don’t complain about stuff like that but those bushy brows do become quite distracting as I’m watching this.
Overall I thought it was pretty enjoyable and did I mention Sean Bean also had a cameo here? Oh, and Tarsem did an homage to Bollywood in the final scene which I thought was fun, but at the same time I’m glad he didn’t put this scene in the middle of the movie!
|3 out of 5 reels
Now this movie seems to have everything going for it for me to LOVE it. It’s a period drama, one of my favorite genres, it’s about a writer, and it’s got a nice cast. I actually like Romola Garai in Amazing Grace and Atonement, I think she’s quite underrated. There’s also Sam Neill, Charlotte Rampling AND Michael Fassbender as Garai’s love interest. Ok, what’s not to love, right? Alas, it’s quite disappointing.
The story is set in early 20th century England where Angel Deverell (Garai) grew up with her single mother atop her grocery shop. She is a gifted writer who’s always dreamed of being a novelist. She defies all odds when somehow a publisher (Sam Neill) is willing to take a chance on her and publish her romance novels. The thing is, Angel is as far from angelic as you can get. She is a pompous brat with no manners and treats her own mother and aunt, pretty much the only family she has, like dirt. It’s tricky to create a story based on an unsympathetic heroine. She reminds me a bit of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, only much, much less endearing. Heck, at least Scarlet treats her parents far better than Angel does.
The transformation from rags to riches feels rather abrupt as well, and I can’t seem to figure just what is the point of Angel’s story. We’re only given a glimpse into her best-selling novels but not enough to see just what made her the way she is. Those novels made her famous and rich enough that she could buy Paradise House, a sprawling estate she’s always dreamed of living in as a kid. But Angel remains an enigma up until the end, and it’s such a lost opportunity since the movie pretty much focuses mostly on her for the entire two hours running time.
Fassbender as the object of Angel’s affection is wonderful to watch, though even he still can’t save the movie. The moment Esme appeared he was quite breathtaking, and despite his not-so-kind words about Angel’s work, she was smitten [well naturally]. Yet there is something wanting about their romance, I don’t know why I just wasn’t enthralled by it, even their love scenes leave me cold, Fassbender’s shapely bum notwithstanding, ehm. There’s also a key relationship between Angel and Esme’s sister, Nora, who’s rather obsessed with Angel, but once again, there’s not much character development in that either, so the whole thing is just frustrating.
I generally like Sam Neill but I feel that he’s wasted here. Charlotte Rampling who plays his wife makes much more of an impression with her sardonic smile, she’s the only character who doesn’t think highly of Angel right from the start. As for the protagonist, I just can’t muster enough sympathy for Angel, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily Romola’s fault as I do think she’s a decent actress.
It turns out that this is French director François Ozon’s first English-speaking movie based on a novel by Elizabeth Taylor [no, not the Hollywood actress]. Well, I’m not exactly impressed by his work here. The set pieces and costumes are beautiful enough, but poor narrative really drags this movie down. Oh, to make matters worse, this film has got the worst special effects I’ve ever seen in a contemporary film. It looks like it was made for only $150K instead of $15 millions!
So, unless you’re a die hard Fassbender fan, I really can’t recommend this one. It’s too bad as it seems to have the recipe of a charming period drama.
|2 out of 5 reels
Well, what did you watch this past weekend? Thoughts about either one of these movies?