Saturday, 31 December 2011

Film Roundup - December - Part 2

Okay, we’ll keep this quick and zip through as there are going to be another part (or two) after this one.

First up we have Crazy Stupid Love, which includes (amongst a uniformly great cast) Steve Carel, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Although at first glance it appears to be just another rom-com, this one isn’t afraid to go a tone darker in its humour one minute (the marriage an older couple falling apart) and then delight with witty banter the next (Stone’s charming ‘seduction’ scene with Gosling).

Various coincidences, complications and love triangles abound; and despite the lengthy running time (the ending should have come soon after the barbeque scene where all the characters collide spectacularly), this one’s a keeper.

Also starring Emma Stone is The Help, based on the best selling book of the same name. Set around the time of the civil rights movement, the film documents the experience of several black women who serve as hired ‘help’ in rich white families and contains plenty of tear-jerking and heart-warming moments.

Standouts include the two housekeepers Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), but also Bryce Dallas Howard shines as the stupendously villainous socialite Hilly.

Mel Gibson stars in The Beaver - a darkly comic effort directed by Jodie Foster, where he plays a CEO of a toy company who is rescued from the spiral of depression by a talking glove puppet with a mockney accent.

After regaining his family’s affection and turning his fortunes around via the outspoken and can-do attitude of the puppet, it becomes apparent that the thing has a life of its own and is unwilling to relinquish its host.

Despite sounding like a barrel of laughs (at one point this was a purported Jim Carrey vehicle,) this film is actually very dark in tone, with scenes of Gibson attempting suicide and struggling with his mental illness.

Perhaps it is just fate that recent controversial events in Gibson’s personal life add more resonance to his part and make his fall from grace and eventual redemption in the film eerily fitting.

Last up we have Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth entry to the series – actually presented as more of a spin-off, with Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow taking centre stage in the adventure.

Despite having a great cast (Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa returns, joined by new entrants Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane and Angelica played by Penelope Cruz), the film which should have been an exciting monstrous Squid ends up being a lacklustre damp squib.

The characters are not given much room to breathe and the story lacks any tension or interest. Maybe its time to commit this franchise to a watery grave?

Also can Hollywood please give Stephen Graham a good role, already? Have they not seen This is England?

See you in Part 3 of December’s Film Roundup!

29 Dec 2011

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