Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada, Get Real and C.R.A.Z.Y.

[The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006): Meryl Streep's much-loved performance as uber-bitch boss Miranda Priestly (reportedly, though according to author Lauren Weisberger NOT based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour) is the reason to catch this bitchy- though, in many ways, familiar- comedy, especially since it's garnering her Oscar predictions all over the shop. Anna Hathaway holds her own in a rather underwhelming role as her new assistant, fashion-unconscious journalist Andrea Sachs, who gets a job at fashion magazine Runway as a stepping stone to better things. The basic outline of Andrea's story is obvious- forced to fit in, she unintentionally alienates her boyfriend and friends, then ultimately realises the error of her ways- but screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna does sprinkle a few surprises in Miranda's much more interesting story, and throws in a terrific role for British actress Emily Blunt as Miranda's other assistant Emily, a girl who is devoted to Runway and desperate to look great. Director Frankel keeps things afloat well enough, though it starts to feel a bit overstreched at points and it's never really as funny as it should be. But it's a must-see purely for the performances of Blunt and Streep- the first of whom deserves just as much attention as her legendary co-star. Grade: B-]

[Get Real (Simon Shore, 1998): This cliched and rather slow British coming-out drama puts the interesting twist of having it's central character already totally aware and accepting of his sexuality- Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone) is sixteen and cruises for older men in his local park, though only his best friend Linda (a sharp Charlotte Brittain) knows he's gay- even as his classmates constantly throw the traditional homophobic remarks his way, they don't actually believe he's that way inclined. But when, one day, his next-door neighbour in the park toilets turns out to be school sports hunk John Dixon (Brad Gorton), screenwriter Patrick Wilde brings out the traditional cliches of a young man struggling to accept himself. Get Real essentially pares down to a spate of melodramatic speeches, which Silverstone and particularly Gorton, in a surprisingly measured and tender performance, cope with well but are never able to truly sell. As it builds towards it's predictable climax, the only pleasures in watching Get Real comes the unravelling of Brittain's sparkling turn and Gorton's sympathetic hunk. If this is life at a British secondary school, I obviously skipped it. Grade: C]

[C.R.A.Z.Y. (Jean-Marc Vallee, 2005): The Canadian submission to 2005's foreign film Oscar selection, this unfortunately missed a nomination, but for those who can get it, this compelling study of Quebecian family life is well worth a watch. Fantastic performances from Michel Cote as the traditional father, Danielle Proulx as the more accepting mother and especially Marc-Andre Grondin as the central character anchor this all-encompassing story, ostentatiously concerning Zac's sexual confusion but in reality bracing a variety of issues we face growing-up, from religion to drugs. Director Vallee has a fascinating directorial hand, neither too constricting nor too loose, letting his actors fill out their roles fully while also adding some fascinatingly off-kilter touches and a bright colour palette to truly evoke the era the film charts (1960s-1980s). The much-touted soundtrack (the reason for a lack of release in the US) is indeed fantastic, with David Bowie and Patsy Cline providing much more than just background noise. If my grade is low for all this praise, it's only because I never really felt a personal connection, and perhaps because the story occasionally flew off in unneeded directions. But don't let that put you off giving C.R.A.Z.Y. a look whenever you can. Grade: B]

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