Friday, May 28, 2010

Mini Movie Reviews: Bulk Hit No 17

Robin Hood (2010)
Haki and I left the cinema in complete agreement on this one; the latest interpretation of Robin Hood is disappointingly average, and more violent than its predecessors. To me, the 2010 epic-attempt is striving to be to all Robin Hood films before it as Batman Begins was to the Batman legend - a grittier, darker and more "realistic" (although it has its share of anachronisms and factual errors) "how the hero became the hero" tale. Russell Crowe did little for me, and although Cate Blanchett is hard to knock, both characters seem a little old in their parts - considering the film centres on the dawn of their relationship and the legend (Sean Connery was younger when he played Robin Longstride in a Robin Hood story set after tiring of the Crusades and returning to Marian). I always think it's a bad sign when the villian is more intriguing than the leads (I'm referring to Mark Strong here). At the 2-hour mark I was semi-disappointed it wasn't over yet.

Boy
My take on this film will probably be unpopular /sigh. There were some glimmers of hope and beauty in here, but for the most part, my bowels were torn between compassion and that nauseating feeling of, "This is what we're showing an international audience?" I wanted to sink in my seat. I "get" that the film is a very accurate portrayal of life for some. I get that. I also see that there is a lot of comedy founded on mockery and the subversion of authority...which doesn't make me laugh so much. I would not line up to watch a movie that "accurately portrayed" a lot of things. "Accuracy" is not enough, most often. Personally, Boy doesn't serve up, for me, what I want from a film. It was heart-wrenching to hear upbeat, traditional Māori song play over heart-wrenching scenes - creating associations that many work hard to undo. I would have been happy to watch a whole lot more school-scenes (with Jackson-esque dance moves in attempts to impress a girl), and a whole lot less spotlighting neglect and bad mentoring. I believe some of the things visually captured (like bright-coloured crocheted square-blankets) are incredible, and some of the music is exceptional...but it is hard to appreciate when the content plays out like a slow and sad violin.

Sherlock Holmes
I paid for a ticket to see this in the theatre, but Esky had other plans. I'm glad I rented it to see the rest. I really, really liked this one. Haki is not as fussed on it, and seemed surprised I liked it so much. I'm surprised too. What I'd seen in the theatre was moderately intriguing. Re-viewing it, I found the cinematography, music, and overall style delicious. I enjoy cheeky visual tricks and flash-forward and flashback montages, playful tones, and generous servings of wit. The explosions and action are not the film's core, but for its edge, and for Robert Downing Jnr's characterisation, I recommend this film. (Plus, my villian-of-the-month, Mark Strong, co-stars.)
Old Dogs
Hmmm...I wanted more from this. For a cast-list that screams, "Comedy!" this was lack-lustre in the laughs department. The children even fail to provide much light relief. The story is choppy and unstructured. The film isn't bad, per se, but it doesn't seem strong enough a piece for the leads to work with, nor a reflection of Disney's budget.

Whip It
This turned out to be the surprise big-hitter, from this group. You see, I expected Sherlock Holmes to be good....I expected Whip It to be without a story, and B-grade, but something I should see. I was wrong. I can't say it's a work to base your life on, but it is intelligent, interesting, and timeless.

Easy Virtue
I think the writing is this film's greatest strength, closely followed by the presence of two veteran BBC A-listers (Colin Firth and Kristen Scott Thomas). More than a handful of scenes are thoroughly entertaining, and while the overall message and conclusion left me slightly unsettled, all-in-all it was an great piece of comedy; a 20s twist on Pride and Prejudice themes with lots of tongue-in-cheek about English stuffiness.
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