Monday, January 9, 2012

Let Me Know When You Figure Out My Rating System

A couple quick reviews for ya . . .

In the last two-ish weeks, I've been lucky enough to get to the movies a couple times, and I thought I'd share my experience to help you make an informed decision on what to see at the theater.

Or whatever.

For my bachelorette party (Ashley style), my dear friend and maid of honor took me to acupuncture, Thai food and to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  I had been itching to see this movie ever since I heard it was being made.  I grew up with British television and movies, and I have to admit, they contain a subtly that very few American movies and performances obtain.  I won't lie to you and tell you every second is riveting.  It is slow in places.  But, interestingly enough, I would imagine the things that go on in this movie - the research, the espionage and whatnot - are actually more true to what real life spy work is, rather than the Mission Impossibles and James Bonds.  One of the great triumphs of this movie is that the director never sat you down and had someone explain what was happening.  There was no prolonged exposition or pontification on exactly what was going on.  Thomas Alfredson (the director) trusted his audience enough to know he didn't need someone to come out now and then and make sure everyone was still on board.  He trusted that his story and his actors were compelling enough to keep you hooked on the tiny hints each character was giving, to see if YOU could figure it out before Gary Oldman.  I cannot stress enough how beautiful the performances were.  Mark Strong and Colin Firth in particular had some truly beautiful moments.  And I was so pleased to see Benedict Cumberbatch in a different kind of role for him.  If you are scratching your head as to who this gentleman is, you should first be ashamed and then be directed to the first season of the BBC show Sherlock.  He plays a modern Sherlock Holmes, and he does it brilliantly.  In that show, he is hugely intelligent, on top of his game and without a doubt a force to be reckoned with.  The character he plays in this film is smaller, more subtle and not very sure of himself.  It was really intriguing to see him in situations where he had none of his trademark confidence. 

If nothing else, every actor should see this movie to see how to tell an audience something without saying a word.  I highly appreciate that in films, and I give Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a resounding Awesome Sauce.

This past Wednesday my James and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  Have to say, I was disappointed.  And mostly I was let down by the lack of motivation.  No one really knew why they were doing anything, but they just kept doing stuff.  It was never even completely clear why Moriarty was doing the things he was doing, he just did them.  At one point he alluded to money being the driving force behind his evilness, and I have to call bullshit on that one.  After chatting with my resident Sir Arthur Conan Doyle expert, I have confirmed that Moriarty is the perfect foil to Sherlock.  Very often we are reminded that Sherlock is behind in the rent, needs money, etc.  He doesn't do what he does for the money, he does it for the thrill of the chase, in order to be the one who discovers the truth behind the lie that initially stumps him.  Moriarty is evil, because he is evil.  Money is nice, and he would get money as a result of being evil, but it would never be his sole aim.  Think of The Joker as a proper British man.  And a little quieter.  He just likes to make things terrible, you know?  He would never kill, maim or destroy just for a paycheck.  He is more sinister, more conniving.  And in the end, that is a much more terrifying villain than someone who just wants to add to his bank account.  If he just wanted that, why didn't he just rob a bank?  He could probably very easily have it done, and get away with it.  There was one interesting moment in the film, when Sherlock and Moriarty were about to fight, and Sherlock goes through the fight ahead of time in slo-mo.  Moriarty then does it back to him, to show him that he can play that game just as well as our dashing hero.  It was intriguing and exciting to see Sherlock stumped. 

So, this movie gets a Could Have Been Worse, Could Have Been Better label.  Definitely needed a better villain.

Now, last night I went to see The Artist.  I have to say, this movie was wonderful.  In case you haven't heard of it, its a silent movie, in that old style of silent movies.  No dialogue at all.  This movie relies solely on the expressiveness of the performers and a few sparsely placed frames of dialogue (like in the old fashion silent movies) to get the story across to the audience.  Jean Dejardin and Bérénice Bejo accomplish this perfectly.  They are beautifully watchable, and talk about a movie that doesn't over-explain!  By giving himself the challenge of not using dialogue, the director, Michel Hazanavicius, ensures that there cannot be any moment that is burdened with heavy handed exposition.  I found myself more willing to interact with this movie, too.  By interact, I don't mean that I was speaking to the figures on the screen.  I mean that by knowing I wasn't going to miss any dialogue, I felt more freedom to laugh, to sigh, to have a moment.  I left the theater feeling really good.  My best good lady friend (who was with me) and I wanted to dance down the street afterward.  It was a glorious return to Old Hollywood, and I loved every second.  Those of you who have seen Singing in the Rain will see similarities - a silent movie actor dealing with the rise of the talkies - but it was just different enough to keep me thoroughly engaged and excited for the characters. 

I have to award this movie not only with Awesome Sauce, but also with Deliciously Charming.

Fun fact, my maid of honor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle expert and best good lady friend are all the same person. 

Hows that for a fucking twist, M. Night?

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