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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Roundup of New Films Released 26 August 2011

I suppose I should hold off with this roundup until I've seen the new Conan: The Barbarian film but since it was barely press screened and I am in no rush to see it, I might as well just post a few thoughts on the rest of the films that I did see. I should also point out that I haven't seen The Ward but that wasn't press screened at all and only a handful of cinemas are showing it throughout the country, I can't really be bothered. 

Anyway, onto what I have seen. 

Love, Wedding, Marriage is a pretty bad rom-com that I really wish was a whole lot worse. Oh what I would give for it to be a truly hateful, detestable piece of excrement that I could properly dig into - not just because at least then I would have more to say about the wretched thing but I might also have not needed the IMDB's plot synopsis and the film's trailer to remind me what the hell it was actually about. That I saw Love, Wedding, Marriage a few months ago certainly doesn't help but I all but forgot about it the minute the end credits started to roll. Its story of a young psychologist who is so busy trying to fix the lives and relationships of those around her that she totally neglects her own marriage could perhaps have been interesting but between its chuckle-free comedy, blindingly obvious plot turns and a supporting cast of characters who mostly range between teeth-grindingly irritating and forget-em-as-you-see-em bland, it can't help but vanish into the ever-growing sludge of nondescript "chick flicks". (3/10)   

Presumably, the reason its distributors decided to release Love, Wedding, Marriage this week is because they are hoping that people would confuse it with the sort-of-similarly-titled Crazy, Stupid, Love when buying their tickets. It would be insane to go head to head with Crazy, Stupid, Love otherwise. They may both be relationship-comedy/dramas but Love, Wedding, Marriage looks all the more pathetic when held up against so solid an example of the genre as the film at hand so clearly is. It's certainly not perfect in that the initial plot of Julianne Moore's character asking for a divorce from Steve Carell's character after years of marriage quickly spirals into a few too many converging storylines and characters for its own good and the way they are brought together is somehow both well done and rather contrived but it is a tremendously enjoyable dramedy that succeeds in being both emotionally engrossing and funny. It certainly doesn't hurt that it has so good a cast and, though the emphasis is squarely on Carell and Gosling most of the time - both of whom are excellent in their roles - Moore, Bacon, Tomei and, most especially, Emma Stone still squeeze some fantastic moments from their relatively limited screen time. Crazy, Stupid, Love is a bit of a mess but it's a mess that you're kind of willing to get lost in for the two hours it takes to play itself out. Fun stuff. (7/10)

Lastly, we have this week's little indie drama in the form of A Better Life, sort of a cross between The Pursuit of Happyness and The Visitor about an illegal Mexican immigrant and his troubled teenage son, living in the more impoverished parts of Los Angeles, who face obstacle after obstacle in a pursuit of - yup, you guessed it - a better life than the one they have. It shares the former film's proclivity towards overdoing the suffering of the main characters but it's far less tiresome here as its main protagonist is far more sympathetic and there's none of the questionable parenting that somewhat marred Will Smith's character's pursuit of the American Dream. It is, however, no where near as good as Thomas McCarthy's The Visitor, which deals with the question of illegal immigrants with far more panache and, though Demian Bichir is very good as a good man struggling to overcome a life that seems intent to knock him down at every turn, he never quite manages to match Richard Jenkins' quiet magnetism - but then his character isn't quite as engaging as he should be either. (5/10)

Best Film of the Week: The Lion King but if you want something new and not in pointless 3D, Crazy, Stupid, Love is well worth checking out as well.

Worst Film of the Week: Love, Wedding, Marriage.   

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