Hateship Loveship (2013)

hateship loveship

Spoilers are up ahead.

Me and Saturday Night Live alumni Kristen Wiig have a complicated relationship, it’s sort of a love and hate thing actually. Every time I see her face, I’m reminded of the horror that was Bridesmaids for me but there’s no denying that the woman can act. The fact is proven by her excellent work in Hateship Loveship, where her character Johanna made me feel quite uncomfortable multiple times, but in a good way!

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Iron Man 3 (2013)

iron man 3

There are no spoilers in the first half but there will be in the second – you’ve been warned!

Following the hype of last summer’s The Avengers (2012), Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) had some mighty big shoes to fill – though some might not agree, I personally think Iron Man 3 was a great follow-up and a perfect way to start off the blockbuster filled summer of 2013.

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Animal Kingdom (2010)

Animal KingdomDuring the Oscar season I heard something about Jacki Weaver’s previous award nomination worthy performance and decided to add Animal Kingdom to my ever-growing list. Then the other day I sat down to watch this Australian, for the lack of a better description, artsy-indie-crime movie. It’s definitely not a fast crime thriller I was sort of expecting, but it is definitely interesting in its core just enough to keep things fresh. Though Animal Kingdom made it to Tarantino’s top 3 of 2010, I was not as enthusiastic about it but then again, I’ve bee having one of those weeks where everything is so average. So I blame me, not the movie.

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Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott is a name every person slightly interested in movies should have at least heard of, movie lovers should know it by heart and be able to list his movies in their sleep. But despite his long list of movies he has directed over the years, he has still not made it into my list of favorite directors. This, as I tend to think, is because he is the kind of director who doesn’t write his own movies, a thing I seem to appreciate the most in my favorite directors. Scott is passionately focused on directing, I give him credit for that, his main interest towards the visuals and the cinematography  only makes him better at it. But is he the kind of a man who can take a script and make it stand out, this is a matter of further discussion.

Low spoiler alert – vague hints about the plot.

Before taking on a more in-depth analysis (the use of the word analysis might be too bold here but I’m gonna run with it) of Prometheus, I have to say that I have no bad feelings towards Scott’s directing abilities that have entertained me in many occasions. His latest adaption, boldly called “Ridley Scott’s Prometheus”, is a visual treat but falls short when it comes to the characters and the script. That said, a movie that serves as a prequel to the well-known movie Alien (1979) still seems elegant and beautiful but it all has less potential to work when the storytelling is weak. Frankly, the scenery and especially those shots in the cave, were literally saving me at times when I wasn’t motivated to pay attention to the dialogues and conversations. I find my reaction to be a logical response to the story because one of the writers of Prometheus was the sole-writer of The Darkest Hour, a movie I didn’t like at all. A fact I was luckily unaware before I saw the movie but sort of a proof, for me, that the story was a bit weak and unable to add something to the audio-visual experience Scott had created.

So was the movie better because Scott is able to use his abilities to craft an amazing story out of a mediocre script? To be totally honest, I think he did make the movie better than it would have been in the hands of another director, because if we strip the whole plot down, there is definitely not a lot of a story to tell in two and a half hours. Scientist find proof that life on Earth was created, they go to find the creators, they find them dead, a little bit of drama, alien issues and final “battle” basically ends the movie but not before we get a glimpse of the alien baby. The whole point of human origins is daring, people created by human-like aliens is an A+ starting point, but like The Darkest Hour had some interesting ideas regarding the engineering of the aliens, the idea in Prometheus starts to cool down after the discovery. Then, as the story starts to inject some background stories to the characters, things slow down even more before a lot of questions, that remain unanswered, surface.

As said, Prometheus is the story before the Alien and it takes place in the year 2093 where two scientists, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) with a team of 17 are traveling to a destination they believe to be the place of their engineers. After finding several cave paintings on Earth they believed it to be a message and since a very wealthy man Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce in disguise: took me almost the entire movie to realize it was him) is seeking eternal life, they have gotten a team of experts and a spaceship called Prometheus to go look for answers. The fact that there are 17 members is pointed out but worthy to mention are only five, out of which one stood out by a mile. Two and a half hours of sci-fi was my own personal kind of paradise just because Michael Fassbender was there to play the soulless android David – the stand out performance in the entire movie.

The reason Fassbender’s character worked that well was the fact that he is not only a great actor but his role was well written. This is mostly because he was a controversial being with no emotion, and there was no need to add him a human-like back-story like Prometheus did with Shaw (Noomi Rapace). She wasn’t bad, I would say Repace was better than Shaw (at this point I find it difficult to explain) but even when Fassbender was only a head, he outplayed her and stole the spotlight. Shaw’s boyfriend Holloway was heroic when he basically let himself be killed after he got infected and that was the hottest he ever looked (if you know what I mean). Other roles worth mentioning included the team leader Vickers (Theron) and the ship’s captain Janek (Elba) but only because they had more relevant roles to the whole plot. Though I like Elba a lot I think his character was a bit too American-hero for my taste, while Theron portrayed a woman who did exactly what I thought she would do – run scared and die stupidly.

Concluding this post, I would say that Scott is the king of visuals and for me, the images that were created on the screen, next to Fassbender of course, made the movie. It was less about the story, which of course had its appeal from the whole origins point of view, but more about how everything looked and felt like. The underground cave and tunnels, the dogs that mapped the area and of course the holographic memories which were especially elegant when David was exploring the plan/map of the creators. That was also the only time I felt the 3D effects, which like everywhere around the world, are forced on by almost totally eliminating the 2D screenings. Was I frustrated by the 3D? Not so much, but I felt like Scott was being careful with it and that might of eliminated the typical 3D effects that had annoyed me in the past. The holographic map thing was breathtaking, I just can’t stop mentioning it because I still picture it in my mind and let it be the final thought in this post – Fassbender and the powerful holographic storytelling…

Images from Prometheus homepage.

# 230 – Mildred Pierce (TV-show special)

To be clear, Mildred Pierce is not a TV-show but a mini-series that snatched Emmys for both Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce. I watched all the five episodes in one day and enjoyed it quite a lot, it even motivated me to watch Dowton Abbey of which I’ll be writing soon.

Since Kate Winslet was the star of the series, with valid reasons, I’d start with her and her character. It seems Winslet is used to roles that take her back in time, she has that look to her, that old beauty that is now shadowed by leading ladies with a lot of plastic surgery. She portrayed a woman, Mildred Pierce during her years of struggling with life, kids and money. Since it is based on a novel I’m not surprised it had such great stories to tell, has Todd Haynes as the director/producer/writer and was aired on HBO I would say this series was destined to be great. While reading other reviews on it, it seems that the general criticism to it has to do with the length of Mildred Pierce. Many tell it was too long and 5 hours is just too much drama.

In my opinion the mini-series is kept interesting by good actors and this series had a lot of them. I do like Kate Winslet so it is hard to say something bad about her, she is a great actress so I didn’t even try to find any mistakes she might had done while portraying Mildred. Guy Pearce took the role of the wild and carefree lover who I liked cause I rarely see Guy Pearce and I don’t know why since he is such a brilliant actor. One of my favorite surprises was Evan Rachel Wood who got to portray Mildred’s oldest daughter in last two episodes. In addition to the fact that Wood stood out, I think the younger version of the daughter, played by Morgan Turner, was as delightful to watch. It is great to see young actresses take on such huge personalities on screen and I believe she has a interesting career in front of her. Melissa Leo, the Oscar winner, took on the role of a friend and was just that – a safe and helpful character.

What was also enjoyable was the atmosphere of it all, the 40s were captured in clothes, interior, cars and the way of speaking as well. Did it feel real? Yes, but since I’m no expert on the era I can’t really be trusted on this matter. Besides, I am all for the oldies that are done nowadays – this is why I enjoy Downton Abbey so much (I really do!).

I would think that the idea of making it into a mini-series was quite good cause I couldn’t imagine getting into the whole thing with in 2 hours. Although I did have some moments when I wasn’t paying any attention to what was happening cause it seemed to have a lot of scenes I wasn’t that interested in. So I might be agreeing with those who say it went on for too long and irony of it all is that the best parts of this whole 5 hour experience were somewhere in the beginning and then the last 30 minutes or so. And those final acts of the whole story really showed of the strength of Winslet and Wood.  So it is an interesting issue, as a movie it wouldn’t have worked and I guess 5 episodes was just the right amount for them in their minds so why not go with that.

All in all I’m very happy I have been in a mood to watch more serious movies and shows lately, this gives me a chance to write something good about the things I write cause it really seems that the serious ones get better reviews – until the next serious review!