Monday, 6 February 2012
Intermission - 2011 catchup: The Tree of Life; Bridesmaids, Life in a Day; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
So you don't think I'm slacking off, I've also been catching up on some of the more notable movies of 2011 that I didn't manage to see last time round. Here's the first batch, in short, sharp doses:
Life in a Day
Kevin Macdonald's film is a peculiar piece of work; the premise is to show the multitdinous aspects of human life on earth over a single day . It is composed of hundreds of pieces of amateur footage (culled from thousands of submissions) cut and pasted together chronologically and broadly thematically, without external narration. Not a movie in the traditional sense, and only technically a documentary, it has been masterfully edited together to create a loose narrative without having to forcefeed the audience. A moving and unusual experience that should be sought out.
One of the runaway successes last year (both critically and commercially), Bridesmaids proved that gross-out comedy isn't just for the boys. I didn't embrace to quite the extent that other reviewers have - the key problems being the jerky, uneven plot and a proliferation of under-used characters - but it's nonetheless a very funny film with some fantastic gags and great performances. (N.B. for all of the girl-power, there's still no getting round the fact that this was directed by a fella. Hmnph.)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Is it possible to review a film without considering its context? More to the point, how highly can a Hollywood remake be praised? I liked the original Swedish adaptation - as well as making a star of Noomi Rapace, whose dust is eaten here by Rooney Mara, it was a pretty decent adult mystery thriller. And Fincher's version is also fine, albeit very similar. Daniel Craig is as good as you would expect, and I'm being unkind to Mara - if we'd never had Rapace, then I'd be showering her with praise. But really - what's the point of this? At least The Next Three Days had the common decency to transpose the plot to an American setting. So, ultimately we have a well-crafted thriller that benefits from Fincher's trademark kineticism which, if you haven't seen the original, is worth seeing.
However, it loses a point for doing that irritating thing of having everyone (apart from, oddly enough, Daniel Craig) speak English but in a generic Northern European accent. Drives me crackers, that does.
The Tree of Life
Blimey. Now here's a film that really defies the capsule-review format. I can't say I loved this film, though I was certainly impressed by it from time-to-time (certainly much more than by the unhappy Thin Red Line). Malick achieves real beauty, but at the expense of coherence. It's scope is epic; it's methods are poetic, and yet it didn't hang together for me. As a crossover between narrative cinema and visual art, it fails. At times Godfrey Reggio's Quatsi trilogy is recalled, and I would have preferred the bolder approach taken by that film-maker. Many more learned folk than I would call this the year's finest film, and while I gazed on with awe at times, I can't share that enthusiasm.
Coming soon: A Separation, The Skin I Live In, A Better Life, Beginners, Tyrannosaur, The Help, The Troll Hunter, Project Nim, Moneyball, The Interrupters, The Devil's Double...