30 December 2010
Mini-Mad Prophecies- 2010 Wrap Up
One minute it's a romantic comedy. The next, a harrowing drama. The next, a romcom once again. Overall, the tone is both comedic and mature, pitching a grown-up love story for an audience poorly served by 12A Katherine Heigl-starring bullshit. This one rescued from its confusion by a stellar performance by Anne Hathaway and almost damned by an annoying and cliched turn by Josh Gad. With copious nudity to enjoy along the way, Love and Other Drugs should prove stark relief both to exasperated fans of the romcom form and to unwilling boyfriends who see this in exchange for getting her along to see Season of the Witch, or whatever.
What it is comes as something of a relief- a great performance-led piece that re-announces Weir after a seven year absence from cinema. Even if it's not his best work, there's a lot to admire about his consummate direction and the beautiful cinematography by Russell Boyd. There's a danger of the landscapes overpowering the characters, but Jim Sturgess, Saiorse Ronan and Ed Harris are more than capable of engaging an audience. The Way Back might drag its feet over a two hour period, but the resolution is enough to make you feel like you've travelled, and you'll get further with it than you ever would with Gulliver's Travels or Little Fockers. However, if you're not into this kind of film, you're clearly looking to Love and Other Drugs for your last cinema trip of the year.
Cravendale ads extended to feature-length, and the plot- centring around housemates Horse, Cowboy and Indian- is even weirder for its larger proportions. Nevertheless, its surrealism is consistently hilarious, and it's short enough that you miss it when it's gone instead of tapping your foot waiting for an end to weirdness. The animation is very nice too, and it even boasts one of the best action sequences of the year in its closing movement.
After that, I sobered considerably to watch Mother (now available on DVD and Blu-ray), a Korean film in which a mother's unconditional love for her mentally challenged adult son is put through the wringer when he's arrested for murder, and she's the only one who believes he didn't do it. Playing the eponymous matriarch is the excellent Hye-ja Kim, who's as good a left-field contender as any for an Oscar nomination this year, if the Academy can get past its usual segregation of better world cinema from Hollywood awards season fodder. It's perhaps a bit longer than it needs to be, but it's an arresting mystery that misleads without even becoming contrived.
Tim McInnerny as a creepy village elder who gets the meat of the film's allegorical message- zealotry of all persuasions will come to no good. It's more reminiscent of The Wicker Man than of Solomon Kane, and for the audience I watched it with (my silly family), that was something above its station. However, they are very silly, and this is actually a very interesting and thoughtful historical drama that brings forth more subtle religious horror than expected.
More outright frightening is Frozen, (now available on DVD and Blu-ray) a film I caught during the recent cold snap that brought most people to a standstill. It's apt then, that this is a film in which a ski-lift is brought to a standstill as the ski resort closes for the week, leaving three people stranded hundreds of feet in the air in freezing cold conditions. It feels restrained even in its gorier moments, and as I've remarked before, horror grounded in reality is often more frightening to me than supernatural gubbins, slasher flicks notwithstanding. Even beyond its initial premise, a lot more can and will possibly go wrong. Without any critical irony, Frozen chilled me to the bone, using great performances and some expertly intense pacing to keep my rapt attention from start to finish.
Done! From tomorrow, we'll be getting into the Best/Worst of 2010 stuff, as well as looking forward to 2011.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.