In Retrospect - Issue 6
A film guide for January 2012 including reviews for Shame, The Descendants, The Sitter and Like Crazy.
Contents: 3-11: Reviews of this monthâ€™s film... 4-5: 6-7: 8-9: 10-11: Shame The Descendants The Sitter Like Crazy 12-13: On DVD this month... 13: A list of DVD releases for this January 14-15: In cinema next month... 15: A list of films to be released in February Creators: Journalist and Editor: Charlie Derry: http://www.charliederry.com firstname.lastname@example.org Designer and Art Director: Mikie Daniel: http://mikiedaniel.wordpress.com email@example.com Creators Note: A little thin on the ground this month with the end of our first semester at university, but we have seen a couple of great films this month so hopefully that will make up for it. Enjoy. 2 Reviews of this monthâ€™s film... 3 Shame 4 Directed by Steve McQueen, Shame follows a successful man living in New York City who, behind closed doors, is living a carefully cultivated life as a sex addict. From picking up women with his charming persona in night clubs, to paying for physical encounters with just about anyone, Brandon (Michael Fassbender) struggles on a day-to-day basis trying to find where his next night, or even minutes, of passion will come from. That is until his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) turns up to live with him indefinitely. Looking for only comfort, Sissy throws her brother’s life into a world of uncertainty as he must deal with each of their damaged lives, whilst also trying to hide and feed his own shameful appetite for sex. Full of sex, a naked Fassbender, a naked Mulligan, and, well… even more sex, Shame is a raunchy yet deeply informed film that deals with its subject matter brilliantly. The characters of Brandon and Sissy have suggestively gone through a painful upbringing that is never fully explained, as we see both of them deal with their circumstance in their own way. Whilst their relationship borders on questionable, the film is a lot less sinister than I expected it would be. Shame is actually a deep and honest look at the life of someone we wouldn’t usually be interested in. The score of a film isn’t something I would usually comment on, but it was an aspect of Shame that played in well throughout. With the inclusion of Mulligan’s rendition of ‘New York, New York’ as well, the use of subtle piano sequences of music helped to draw emotion to certain parts of the film, and occasionally even drew away from some of its explicitness. Whilst this wasn’t exactly necessarily, it worked as a great advantage as it managed to turn the intensity down a little. Because, let’s face it, if someone much less attractive than Fassbender, or even someone less ‘gifted’ then him, was in the lead role, we may have questioned as to some of the lengths that the film went to. Some scenes were so definitive that you had to question whether it was only just acting (not that I’m complaining), but again it was dealt with well enough that nothing reached the level of repulsiveness that can often be stretched to by addicts. Because that’s exactly what it is, an addiction; an obsession that needs constant attention, and scenes like that are not often so acceptable in a fulllength film. The highlight of the film is the performances of Fassbender and Mulligan who are both outstanding throughout. Mulligan pulled in a lot of attention from her performance alongside Ryan Gosling in the highly acclaimed Drive last year, but her role here is a much different character. When singing in the club with her hair neatly curled we see the same spark that we have enjoyed from her acting before, but other than scene we see a much different side to her as a completely needy, almost common, girl who needs help. For this she plays her role brilliantly, but is and always was about Fassbender, who previously worked with McQueen in his directorial debut Hunger. It’s obvious that the two have a great connection together and it undoubtedly shows, as Fassbender was his first and only choice for the role. Fassbender has become a big name over the past year and it is films like Shame that show us why. Yes, I think we can probably say that I am in love with him. However, whilst the film is almost irrefutable, a lot left to our imaginations. The scene where Sissy crawls into bed with her brother is questionable, and the fact that they see each other naked more than once without flinching is something of absurdity. It makes you wonder how far his illness has taken him before, which only further highlights the film’s inconclusive and somewhat disappointing ending. Have the tragic incidents in the final few scenes meant that Brandon has learnt to deal with his addiction? Or, in the end, has nothing been achieved and he is left to roam the streets again? Whatever the case, Shame will undoubtedly be one of the best films of 2012, so if you haven’t already, do not hesitate any longer to go and see this. It really does deserve awards. Release Date: 13th January 2012 Director: Steve McQueen Famous Faces: Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan 5 The Descendants Directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants is an adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings‘ novel of the same name, which follows Matt King (George Clooney), a Honolulu-based lawyer and the trustee of a large part of land on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i which was trusted to his family. When his wife falls into a fatal coma after a boating accident, Matt is forced to reconnect with his two daughters, 17-yearold Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller), but the subsequent revelation of his wife’s affair could mean that plan to sell his land has been thrown into the works, as his life begins to intertwine with that of Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard) and his wife Julie (Judy Greer). The Descendants is a true-to-life story which is dealt with in a way that everybody can take away something from its realistic exploration of how a family pull together in the time of tragedy. The film follows two story lines which ultimately come together at the end of the film, bringing together scenes of a heart-warming conclusion which show the true meaning of family. With this combination of a painfully honest portrayal of, not only the people, but also of the Hawaiian 6 lifestyle, and the brilliant set of acting and relatable characters, there’s no surprise that everybody is shouting from the rooftops how brilliant this film is, especially after winning the Best Picture and Best Actor (Clooney) awards at the Golden Globes earlier this month. The main aspect that works in this film is that the cast is a tremendous fit, both in the roles they play and as a family working “This is a true-tolife story which is dealt with in a way that everybody can take away something from its realistic exploration.” together. George Clooney is at his best here, playing an ordinary man trying to pull his family back together. We all know that he is one of the greatest actors of our time, and I’m sure I would have really enjoyed Ides of March if I had watched it, but this is the first time that I came away from a film still thinking about how well he really worked in his role. But whilst his role played a central part in the film’s success, it’s not all about him. His daughters, played by Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller also perform brilliantly. Woodley, especially, has a great role that she plays perfectly, as her character, I feel, is the one that draws in the emotional side of the film. Her portrayal of a slightly messed up teenage girl is very relatable as she, seeing her father struggle to cope with the news that his wife has been having an affair, steps up to help her family out. Again, it’s nice to see a genuine portrayal of a teenage girl in a film that isn’t over glamorised or plain irritating, and for that I feel that the award nominations should be aimed at her too. As for the other characters, when I first realised that Speer was played by Matthew Lillard I was very pessimistic. For me Lillard will always be seen as the man who played Shaggy in the film adaptation of Scooby Doo, and for that reason it was hard to accept his character. Whilst he does pull away from this immaturity that we are used to, I felt that someone more serious was needed to play his character so that we, as an audience, could build up an emotional reaction from his actions. His wife, played by Judy Greer, however, was a great addition to the cast. I’ve always been a fan of the roles she plays, after recently watching the first series of Arrested Development as well, so I enjoyed seeing her play in a recent and serious film. But it’s not only the actors who need credit either, as director and screenplay writer Alexander Payne is the reason why this all worked so well. Having not read the novel that the film is based on, I still get the impression that it was a decent adaptation of Hemming’s work. The dialogue, especially, and the situations the character’s were in felt so genuine that it was obvious a great writer was behind it. However, whilst I think that The Descendants is a good film, I didn’t come away as impressed as most. With all the hype around the film beforehand I was expecting something a little more; I don’t know what it was but it wasn’t there. But that’s only in relation to what everybody has been saying. Without listening to the acclaimed appraisals that the film has been given, The Descendants is still a must see, so if you plan to watch one film this month make sure it’s this one…and maybe also Shame. Release Date: 27th January 2012 Director: Alexander Payne Famous Faces: George Clooney, Matthew Lillard and Judy Greer 7 t t i S e Th 8 ter Release Date: 20th January 2012 Director: David Gordon Green Famous Faces: Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor and Sam Rockwell Directed by David Gordon Green, The Sitter follows college student Noah (Jonah Hill) who is coaxed into babysitting three, very different, children – closet homosexual Slater (Max Records), celebrity wannabe Blithe (Landry Bender) and pyromaniac Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez). When Noah’s girlfriend Marissa (Ari Graynor), or in reality the girl who likes to take advantage of his very giving nature, promises Noah a night a fun if he can get away from babysitting for a few hours, Noah and the children end up on a wild chase around town as they get on the wrong side of drug dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell). If you’ve seen Get Him To The Greek then you know what’s going on here. Apart from the fact that Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow has been swapped for three young children, everything moral lessons. Again, it was else is very much the same, a factor that came together as Jonah Hill is given a at the end to work better seemingly easy job to do than expected. but rather ends up getting Hill plays the typical in all and every kind of teenage character we are drug, sex and violenceused to seeing from him, related drama going. but even he manages to The two main irritations pull off a nice guy persona about The Sitter are what – his character is less vile is to be expected from an than might be expected and easy-going comedy. The has more confidence. This first is the use of unrealistic altered my perspective of scenes where only the worst him – even though it was possibly thing can happen only a very minor difference – the cliché of everything in the role he was playing. going wrong in the most The same can’t be said for unlikely of ways. Second is the Ari Graynor, however, as I constant over-exaggerations have only seen her play a of characters, where character too drunk and/ everybody plays a stereotype or drugged up to properly to its fullest potential. For function. Whilst she does some reason, though, this well, her character has neither of these become very little to take away. completely unbearable. In between any criticisms Whilst everything has the though, there is actually potential to be clichéd, it some quite decent comedy. still manages to work. It isn’t the best of films, and As for the characters, out it probably isn’t something I of the three child actors would choose to see again, only one of them seemed but it’s an easy film to watch to be a genuine portrayal of that works well enough with a youngster, very little effort. “It was an easy and that This is was the film to watch probably the very casual last time we Slater. Whilst that worked well see Hill as a Blithe was enough with very chubster as well, purposeful as in his next lit tl e ef fo rt .” glamourised, film, 21 Jump her portrayal Street, which went too far in places, is set to be released on and Rodrigo was just 16th March, we will see the completely unrealistic Jonah Hill that has lost all his which came off as a weight. It will be interesting ridiculous exaggeration to see how that will affect rather than a comedic one. his comedic stance as we Nevertheless, by the end are used to him playing the of the film I found all of funny, awkward fat kid, so I them fairly likeable as Hill guess we should make the attempts to teach them most of The Sitter. 9 Like Crazy Directed by Drake Doremus, Like Crazy tells the story of British student Anna (Felicity Jones) who, whilst studying in America, begins a relationship with Jacob (Anton Yelchin). Unable to resist spending the summer with him before having to return home, Anna overstays her visa and, after a short trip back to her hometown in England, is denied reentry into America. The couple must now face a long-term relationship, but as they find comfort in new company, Anna with Simon (Charlie Bewley) and Jacob with Sam (Jennifer Lawrence), the two begin to struggle with the pressure, yet they remain determined to make it work. Like Crazy sets itself up to be a film about true love; a strong passion that will make the girls weep and their 10 boyfriend’s cringe in an ignorant disgust. Unfortunately, it’s far from it. The film begins as the two meet, or at least this is their first date. An awkward conversation that doesn’t really entail anything, but are to presume from this that the “With no romance and very little drama, I find it hard to see why I was persuaded to watch it in the first place.” two have somehow madly fallen for each other, and that from now on they are supposedly inseparable. The film is a very classic indie film. A beautiful score plays throughout, as stunning backdrops of beaches and sunsets fill the screen, with frequent montages of romantic encounters between our two main characters. One thing that is very different about this film is that it’s dialogue is completely improvised. Before hand, this fact really impressed me. Sadly this was one of the main reasons that the film didn’t work. Whilst this provoked a genuine emotion from the actors, it did not do the same from the audience. Scenes were filled with awkwardness, as their conversations were weak and lacked any depth. If a well-written script was in place then this might have been a much better film. What we see, however, is a story that spends too much time depicting their fall out, and not enough time laying out the foundations of their relationship. For this reason, it was very hard to care about either of them, which for a film about romance would play quite a big part. For me, it felt like their was no feeling of love in this film at all. It was actually rather depressing. As a romantic drama, Like Crazy very much missed the spot. Felicity Jones won three awards for her performance in the film but I find it hard to comment. With the combination of these actors making up the lines as they go and the lack of any relatable connection with either of them, there wasn’t much in the way to consider anything to waive this opinion. Jennifer Lawrence, however, I did enjoy seeing. Whilst she didn’t have much of a role to play in this film, I am very much looking forward to seeing her in The Hunger Games in a few months time. It’s hard to end this with anything left on a high, as by the end of it I just didn’t care. With no romance and very little drama, I find it hard to see why I was persuaded to watch it in the first place. And that’s a great shame. Release Date: 27th January 2012 Director: Drake Doremus Famous Faces: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence 11 On DVD this month... 12 January DVD Releases: Drive Date: 30th January Ryan Gosling plays a nameless Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a getaway driver. Driver becomes involved with his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), but when Irene’s boyfriend is released from prison, Driver is left to clean up his mess. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Melancholia Based on the novel of the same name written by John le Carré, Tinker Tailor is set in London in the 1970s when secret agent George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is brought out of retirement to help identify a mole who has infiltrated the Secret Intelligence Service. An apocalyptic drama revolved around two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), during their final days before the end of the world as the planet Melancholia is heading towards Earth. Date: 30th January Date: 23rd January Perfect Sense Date: 30th January A thriller that centres on two English lovers, a chef (Ewan McGregor) and a scientist (Eva Green), who fall in love just as a global epidemic begins to unravel. The epidemic, which virus causes the loss of all senses, is about to push them to their limits. Faces in The Crowd Project Nim A woman, Milla Jovovich, has just survived a serial killer’s attack, but when she wakes up with a neurological disorder known as “face-blindness”, her ability to recognise faces becomes impaired. Unable to identify even those closest to her, how will she know who he is? A documentary about a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child by a family in a brownstone on the upper West Side in the 1970s, from the Oscar winning team behind Man On Wire. Date: 9th January Date: 9th January 13 In cinemas next month... 14 February’s Cinema: The Muppets Date: 10th February The Muppets follows Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) who plan to stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever in attempt to raise $10 million to save the Muppet Theater. The Woman In Black Chronicle The Woman In Black follows Radcliffe as a young lawyer in the 1900s who sets about to uncover the truth of a mysterious ghost set on vengeance dressed all in black when he begins to encounter fearful visions of the female figure he was warned about. Set in found footage format, three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. It’s not long until they find their lives spinning out of control though, as they begin to embrace their darker sides. Date: 3rd February Date: 1st February Young Adult Date: 3rd February Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer (Charlize Theron) returns to her home in smalltown Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her exboyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter. Martha Marcy May Marlene Carnage Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and written and directed by Sean Durkin. Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behaviour throws the evening into chaos, starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. Date: 3rd February Date: 3rd February 15