Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of Everyone’s a Critic! Pardon my lack of reviews this week and the next as I’m quite busy planning/preparing for our California trip next week, yes, less than two weeks away until Comic Con! 😀
Anyway, check out the reviews below courtesy of my good friends Vince C. and Paula G.
CARS 2 (2011)
My son (who turned 4 this past month) is one of the millions of faithful Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater fans in the universe. He has seen Cars a few hundred times by this point and numerous movies on Netflix streaming and DVD – but he had never been to a movie theater and so what better way to christen this young lad into the joys of big screen entertainment than by seeing Cars 2? Win, win, right?
First, I should say, for his attention span, I credit (my son) for seeing the movie all the way through without demanding to go home for one reason or other. The movie was loud even to an adult’s ears and I was worried about him becoming overwhelmed. There was also the distraction of new surroundings for him. For the most part, he watched in interest, but with a consistent stoic expression. By the end, I sensed a mild disappointment.
During the course of the movie, he asked, “Where are the tractors?”, “Where’s McQueen?” and “Is Mack gonna be there?” From his perspective, this was really Mater’s movie which is great. Lightning McQueen (the star of the first movie) plays a supporting role; but because the movie is now set abroad across the globe, many of the lovable sub-characters from Cars 1 are not in Cars 2. And that is the problem with this action packed, spy themed, sequel. Gone is the compelling backstory of Route 66, of McQueen’s character development from arrogant racecar to earthbound ego and most importantly, the cool desert landscape of Radiator Springs.
A colleague once commented that the original Cars could’ve been made as a live-action movie with real actors in real settings and be just as good – it was written well enough to satisfy this adult’s (and most other parents) expectation. Cars has become a classic in story and technical achievement. Cars 2 needed a good story to balance out its technical boisterousness. Unfortunately, it was all loud explosions and no ‘bang’ (more like a clunk). This was clearly reflected in my son’s reaction to it – indifferent.
|2 out of 5 reels
Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a 15-year-old girl living in a cramped apartment in a housing project with her young single mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing) and younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Mia has anger issues (as does Joanne) and has been kicked out of school. Mostly she spends her time practicing her hip-hop dance moves in an empty apartment. Joanne resents both girls and doesn’t care much for their welfare. There is a lot of yelling and arguing which sometimes turns physical. Into this gunpowder factory comes some dynamite, in the form of Connor (Michael Fassbender), Joanne’s latest boyfriend.
At first, it seems like Connor will be the family’s savior. He’s handsome and charming, but more than anything, his presence is like a shot of normal loving parenthood. He’s encouraging, nicer to them than their mother is, and does normal dad things. But he also flirts with Mia and says and does some inappropriate things. It soon becomes clear that Mia’s attracted to him, he may be attracted to her, and that Joanne views her older daughter as competition. When Connor moves into the apartment, things get really complicated.
It is easy to see why this film won a bunch of awards, including the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and the Jury Prize at Cannes. Director Andrea Arnold got uniformly great performances from her actors, particularly Jarvis and Fassbender, who makes a potentially sinister character complex and likable. Their chemistry is a big factor in the film’s believability.
It’s also an amazing-looking film. Mostly using what looks to me like natural light, Arnold keeps the camera moving, and also uses slow motion and changing focus in subtle ways, for instance to show when Mia’s emotions are overwhelming her. It is also a very subjective film, almost everything that happens is experienced through Mia. Most of the time, we’re looking over her shoulder, seeing through her eyes and even hearing what she hears, especially where Connor is concerned.
It is interesting to note that the film was shot chronologically, and the actors were shown only a week’s worth of script (which Arnold also wrote) at a time. None of them knew what would happen to their characters later in the film. This improvisation keeps it real and explains why I sometimes felt like I was eavesdropping.
I love this film but I’m not sure I’d say I enjoyed it. It’s is funny at times, but more often uncomfortable and disquieting. Mia’s narrow, trapped life and the strong possibility that she will repeat the cycle of poverty are sad. The film is honest and flawlessly done, and it is well worth watching.
|4 out of 5 reels|
Have you seen either one of these films? Do share your thoughts below.