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Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Movies Release Roundup 18 March 2011

OK, so another big week for films. Though, I do mostly mean big as in "loads of movies", not big as in "great". I have already posted reviews for Freakonomics and Red Riding Hood (as seen below) but there are still a few more to look at. Some better, one much worse.

Rango is a huge step up for Gore Verbinski, considering that the last two films he directed were Pirates of the Carribean 2 and 3. It's an odd animated kids movie, though, because it may have beautiful 2D animation, solid jokes and Johnny Depp is awesome as the title character but it's clearly going to appeal to adults for more than it will to kids. A large part of the pleasure of the film is all the allusions to some classic films but, when you get right down to  it, references to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Chinatown and Clint Eastwood's westerns are probably going to go right over the heads of the younger members of the audience - and some of the older ones too. Also, it is more violent and far darker than most kiddie fare and only a few of the jokes in the film really got the young kids in the audience laughing. With all this said though, it is actually a very solid western with a great cast (look out for Timothy Olyfant especially as "The Spirit of the West") and a beautifully dusty visual palette - thanks in part, I'm sure, to having legendary cinematographer, Roger Deakins on hand as "visual consultant". (7/10)

Now here's a movie that is strictly adults-only. Not so much because it's particularly explicit but because, at its best, its a truly sophisticated piece of work. Essentially, it tells the tale - unchronologically, of course) of a couple coming together and falling apart. Rather than going for the quirky comedy of something like (500) Days of Summer, Blue Valentine is a very intimate, very (seemingly) realistic drama. It's so intimate, in fact, and Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are so uncannily convincing in their roles that it feels like you're a fly on a wall watching a real relationship violently breaking up. This is a film, after all, whose sex scenes nearly earned it the dreaded NC-17 rating in America but, as near as I can tell, not for being exceptionally explicit but for how real they seem and how much the audience feels like they're invading the privacy of these two people. The strange thing about the film though - and this is where it falters somewhat - is that the years when they are a genuinely good couple feel undercooked so that when they do finally split up, it's made less believable by the fact that these characters seem almost unrecognizable in comparison to how they were portrayed at first. Maybe that was the point but it feels a bit too much like a dramatic invention to me, rather than an organic change in these characters and their relationship. (8/10)    

I'm sure the idea of pairing up Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler in a new romantic comedy, might sound like a wonderful idea to some but I could hardly think of anything worse. Aniston, to me, has always been a one trick poney and that trick got old a long time ago. Adam Sandler, on the other hand, has simply become one of the most vile screen presences around. I hear he's a very nice guy in real life but he always comes across as an obnoxious creep in his "comedy" films. He actually fares much better at dramas. And considering how bad most modern day Hollywood romcoms are, Just Go With It looks set to be a strong contender for the worst film of the year. As it turns out, it's not. Not quite anyway. For a start, Aniston seems a lot more problematic when pared off against someone who is as awful as Sandler usually is. Though, even Sandler is slightly less horrid here than he was in something like I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, though I still find it unbelievable that the inhumanly beautiful women in the movie would ever fall for his schtick. Still, it may not be irredeemably terrible but it's still pretty damn bad. The jokes fall flat; the supporting cast, which includes Nicole Kidman and some really irritating kids, are uniformly awful and I simply don't believe in any of these relationships. (3/10)

Must see film of the week: Blue Valentine (Or Rango, if you don't have the stomach for Blue Valentine)
Worst film of the week: Just Go With It. Obviously.

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