The Artist – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
The Artist (2011)
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writer: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and John Goodman
With all its acclaim I couldn’t help feel like it was a rehashing of the Singin’ In The Rain story, but instead of being told from a musical perspective, it was told from the perspective of the one that couldn’t easily transport from silent to sound cinema. The similarities between Singin’ In The Rain and The Artist stop at the point where they are telling the same story – the movement from silent to sound cinema – and the end that they come to – if you want to continue, just dance! – however The Artist is much more a film for our times as it addresses a much darker subject of what to do when you lose what defines everything about who you are. I saw this film twice in the cinemas, because 2 different friends wanted to see it with me not because I loved it that much, and it was interesting to hear the reception each time. The audiences response to whether they thought it was meant to be funny or not and the fact that people were unwilling to talk during the film even though it was a film without much sound intrigued me. (Side note: I can’t call it a silent film, because, let’s be real here, there was sound, there just wasn’t much talking, and many films have done a similar thing but just not as intentionally obvious as The Artist.)
Singin’ In The Rain – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
If you look at the depiction of the audiences in The Artist you can them reacting to what they see on the screen, either laughing, crying, rejoicing, rejecting, whatever the reaction, it was very much there and evident for the rest of the people watching to see. However, modern day audiences sit in silence, are shushed when they make a sound, and barely react unless to laugh or scream at what is on the screen. I often feel I get to the end of a film and want to applaud (knowing full well those who made it are probably not sitting in the audience with me) but it’s my reaction to what my senses have just beheld. I sometime wish I was back in the days of silent film where the audience was raucous and involved with the film. I understand why The Artist got such high praise, and I understand why audiences both flocked to see it and stayed away, but in my opinion I would much rather watch Singin’ In The Rain, it has much more of a hopeful tone whereas The Artist brings the reality of our current times back into the lime light. We are a world full of depressed, suicidal, umemployed people that have been thrust out of work because of the progression of technology. And just like the protagonist in The Artist, unless we have people around us to pull us out of this state and show us how we can take our skills are transport them into this new era, many may end up without hope.
Hugo – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: John Logan (screenplay), Brian Selznick (book)
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz and Christopher Lee
I had heard very mixed reports of Hugo before I went to see it. It was a Martin Scorsese film, which meant it was going to look stunning, and it didn’t fail to do that. But the way it was advertised was as an adventure film. Now in our modern era, when we think adventure we think action-film-adventure, not little-children’s-imagination-adventure, and that is where I think they went wrong with their advertising. Hugo is so much more than an action film, in fact it’s not that at all. It’s a story of discovery, of family, and of childhood. Brian Selznick’s storybook is a beautifully crafted story and it is about a boy who lives without a family, discovers a new kind of family, and helps an old man to realise his importance in the world. Selznick’s gorgeous story and Scorsese’s cinematic brilliance really give this film a delightful childish wonder. I really wish that more people had seen this film because there is something truly wonderful about escaping into France with this little boy and seeing the world through his eyes.
There is a simple truth to the idea that children nowadays have lost their imagination and that it has been replaced by technologies, video games, and television. Imaginary worlds have been created for them and they no longer know how to play and imagine for themselves. But I know that this isn’t all true in that children still know how to create, play, and explore, maybe they just need more encouragement to do so and more time given in the day to do so. Hugo Cabret is a boy who inspires me to play more, to explore the world and all it’s twists and turns, and to meet old men and women who have a billion stories to tell and who can inspire a new way of seeing the world.
My Week With Marilyn – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
My Week With Marilyn (2012)
Director: Simon Curtis
Writers: Adrian Hodges (screenplay), Colin Clark (books)
Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh
My film critic friend (he has a proper job as a film critic whereas I’m a wannabe) remarked after we saw this film that society is intrigued with Marilyn but the majority of people will have never seen one of her films. I nodded my head as I tried to recollect whether I had ever seen her in anything other than documentaries. To my film-lover shock I realised I hadn’t seen anything but snippets of her in films. I had always been intrigued by film stars like Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, James Dean, etc who had died in tragic circumstances, but whether I had actually seen them act in anything was a different matter.
My Week With Marilyn is a soft, tortured look into the world that Marilyn lived and shows a little of what life could have been like for the star who tragically fell into the history books as a tortured soul. Michelle Williams’ portrayal of this starlet was a gorgeous representation and it felt faithful to the woman. Her coyness, emotion, and playfulness all came to brilliant light on screen and brought Marilyn back to life. Williams was able to transport me back into Marilyn’s time and illuminated the beauty and hypnosis that this woman possessed. It’s easy to see why men fell for her and wanted to rescue her by loving her.
The story itself was compelling but didn’t feel genuine at moments. I suppose there is an irrationality with things like love and Marilyn, but I didn’t feel like the story was plausible. Colin Clark’s choices seemed irrational and to be honest a little bit stupid. I mean I can understand that a man would fall in love with Marilyn but are men that stupid to not see that film stars like Marilyn don’t fall for PAs? I mean sure, in a perfect world, yes they might, but if you really think a film star that is in Britain for a short stint for a film, is married to someone else, and has a reputation for using the men around her is going to fall in love with you and leave everything for you then you are seriously deluded. And yes I know this is based on a recount from a living person but as a story goes I don’t see it as plausible. And I still think you’re an idiot for thinking Marilyn really loved you. Plus Emma Watson is gorgeous and why would you ever let that pass you by? All in all it was a good film and I was fully sucked in by the characters and the story but on reflection it loses some of its allure.
Mirror Mirror – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
Mirror Mirror (2012)
Director: Tarsem Singh
Writers: Jason Keller (screenplay) and Marc Klein (screenplay), Melisa Wallack (screen story), Jacob Grimm (original story) and Wilhelm Grimm (original story)
Stars: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer
Why are all the fairytales coming back? And in force too. Especially Snow White. Seriously did someone in Hollywood just send the same idea to everyone and multiple platforms take it up in different styles? From Once Upon A Time to Snow White and the Huntsman to Mirror Mirror it is getting ridiculous how much this story is being rehashed. I mean the original Disney film – the first of the Disney Princesses – was a classic, but it’s not that great a film if you watch it back. I spend most of my time wanting the dwarves to throttle Snow White so she will stop that incessant singing. Has anyone had a higher pitched voice apart from the mice in Cinderella? I can almost stand the mice in comparison to Snow. Anyway, sidetracked getting back on course, Mirror Mirror is the first Snow White adaptation that I have really enjoyed and wanted to witch to win. I mean who can’t love Julia Roberts as an evil witch/step-mother, she’s brilliant as an evil woman and has the perfect beauty and evil laugh to get away with being both likable and hate-able. The film doesn’t take itself seriously which is such a relief. There are points at which I lost it in fits of laughter because of the deliberate mocking of itself – a shiny glint in the eye or bling of the teeth, whoever suggested that idea has my utmost thanks. It’s a comedy that works within the fairytale genre because we all know how silly fairytales are. Evil loses to Good. Snow always gets the Prince and the Evil Queen and her minions are banished to a life of hell under Snow’s reign as Queen. There is something so sublime about a film that tells a story so well but makes fun of itself that I truly love. It’s the combination of the cleverness to know when to be comic and when to be serious that is truly wonderful. I would suggest that not everyone will like this film as much as I did, it is cheesy and incites a particular kind of humour to be able to be enjoyed rather than found to be stupid, but I rate it and it’s all for a bit of a laugh. I would watch this version of Snow White over the original Disney any day.
John Carter – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
John Carter (2011)
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton (screenplay), Mark Andrews (screenplay), Michael Chabon (screenplay), and Edgar Rice Burroughs (story “A Princess of Mars”)
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe
Yes yes, I know, it wasn’t the greatest action film ever. For anyone who hasn’t seen it John Carter is a little bit of everything. Indiana Jones meets Stargate meets Star Wars (Phantom Menace style rather than Return of the Jedi unfortunately) meets Thor meets Gladiator. Did Disney decide it wanted to make a movie that had every possible reference to a cult action film in the history of action film? Because I think they succeeded in doing that, but failed in providing a good script to do so. The storytelling did not seem to be the main focus of this film rather it tried to get all the special effects right, and in that it did pretty well. The creatures were brilliant, the landscape beautiful, and the action scenes were good enough, but I am sad to say that it just didn’t hold up in the storytelling department. Also why call a film “John Carter”, seriously championing the race to worst titled action film ever award. The acting by Taylor Kitsch was okay, but I just wasn’t sold by him, I’m sure they could’ve found a better fit for the John Carter role, although he may not have been my type – I just wanted him to get his hair off his face most of the time, but maybe that was a hair & make up error rather than the actor in particular. I wanted to be on his side but I was more going for the heroines of the film than any of the male characters. Lynn Collins’ Dejah Thoris character was much more compelling and I kind of wanted the film to revolve around her rather than John Carter.
In saying all that, I could go on about the other negatives, I have to say I quite enjoyed the ridiculousness of this film. It was fun and silly and exciting and I did eventually get drawn in by the characters and the story (mainly because I just gave up trying to wish it to be a better film and just started enjoying it) and I came out of the cinema feeling satisfied that it was just a fun film, as terrible as it was.
I know I can be quite generous with films and my critiques aren’t the most in depth but sometimes films are just meant to be enjoyed, as silly as they are. I mean if you look at the Star Wars franchise you can see that George Lucas may not be the best storyteller/script writer known to man, but gosh he makes exciting films that will forever be immortalised into film history as films that changed cinema forever. John Carter won’t ever be up on that same scale, but it’s nice sometimes just to watch a bad film for entertainment purposes and to get lost in the world that the filmmakers have tried to create.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
Extremely Loud and Incredible Close (2011)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writers: Eric Roth (screenplay), Jonathan Safran Foer (based on the novel by)
Stars: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock
Before I begin I have to say, I didn’t know much about this film when I walked into the cinema. I knew it was a book and that it had been acclaimed, and that people had said the film didn’t live up to the book. I walked out with tears still streaming down my face and with a new perspective on the world and people. I still haven’t read the book, but I don’t really want to because I loved the film so much and it made me feel so many emotions in the one film experience.
The story of 9/11 resonants for most people. No matter where you were, who you are, whether you knew someone that died there or not, you have been affected by it because it has shaped the start of the 21st century. Most people have a story about where they were when they heard (especially if you live in the western world), and so when someone tells their story it hits special kind of nerve. It has the power to bring people together. Just like the moon landing did for a generation before, or the start of the great wars for the generation before that. There is something both wonderful and terrifying about a world event that connects us and divides us.
This particular story is told through the life of a little boy whose experience of that day shapes even more so who he is, who he will become, and how he experiences the world. The way he is pushed to collect people’s stories, to explore New York, to bring people together, and to find his way back home draws you into his world. Oskar Schell is a strange boy, and I know a lot of people found Thomas Horn’s portrayal a little annoying but I fell in love with the little lad and his family. His journey is tortured and Horn’s performance gives it a beauty and fight that was rich and pure. Sandra Bullock’s acting was, as always, breathtaking and heartbreaking as the mother of this tortured boy and Tom Hanks was as playful as ever. The heart and soul that this film had was touching and I loved going along the journey with Oskar as he dealt with the grief and regret he had after losing his father in 9/11. The event that has shaped so many lives still has a power over us as the generations of the start of the 21st century and it is so important to keep telling our stories as we live with the repercussions of that event.