Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Three Recent Viewings

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Long, slow, gorgeous, mesmerizing. By the end of this David Fincher film, I had completely forgotten where I was, so either the film had drawn me in so completely or it had put me to sleep. Let’s be generous and go with the former. It was an absorbing old-fashioned epic that makes you believe the unbelievable. I particularly enjoyed the first half of the film, when Button is still an older man, and the fantastic period detail throughout. The cinematography is outstanding. Brad Pitt does a fine job as Button, and Cate Blanchett is always good. But the film was just too long for me (i.e. the story just didn’t have enough strong content to sustain it for that long). There is a discussion to be had here about the meaning of life from a B.B. point of view, but it needs to be done in person. Maybe it would help if I watched it backwards? ***+

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Strange little film by Woody Allen somehow got the critics loving him again, but I, who am a huge Allen fan, did not think it was one of his best, though I certainly enjoyed it. The acting is very good, the cinematography is gorgeous, the setting is one I like, and I particularly enjoyed the constant voice-overs. But the plot didn’t really work for me. I think the story could have been much tighter (I couldn’t always tell if it was trying to be silly or just being silly) and the dialogue could have been more intelligent (for an Allen film). It won the Golden Globe for best comedy and I am happy for Woody, but I thought Happy-Go-Lucky and In Bruges were better films. ***

Man on Wire

This critical favourite was certainly a brilliantly-made and inspiring documentary, but my phobia for heights prevents me from giving it an objective viewing. While I respect the film and all who were involved with it and I respect highwire walking as a metaphor (the last lines of the film were great), I simply have no respect for the actual act of highwire walking (or mountain/rock climbing, or most death-defying activities). Because of that, I simply could not enjoy the subject matter of this film in a way that most people (including my friend Gareth, who ranked this as his favourite film of 2008) apparently could. I give it ***+ because it was such a lovely and brilliant film, but it will not make my top ten.

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