It's the return of the capsule reviews! They're just so handy. Here are some thoughts on the last five 2007 releases I've seen.
It's been a few weeks now, but the last 2007 release I saw, on DVD, was Bridge to Terabithia. Point number one. Gabor Csupo, the director, is also the man behind the Rugrats. This makes him a very important person in my childhood. Point number two. I had never heard of- and therefore never read- Katherine Paterson's book on which the film is based. These points have no connection and no real bearing on anything, but I just thought I'd mention them. As for the film itself: I really liked it. It's not a film of particular technical finesse (the special effects are awful, but they're also unimportant, unless of course you're the marketing people...) or great revelation, and some of the scripting seems rather simplistic and trite (particularly the school scenes), but it's remarkably affecting and the central relationship, which is the entire basis of the entire film, is so well acted by Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb (whose smile will probably literally kill men when she's older) and so charmingly done (and heartbreakingly broken) that it just makes the heart beam. This might be overly generous, but it's a B+.
It's also a B+ for Black Snake Moan, which is so deliriously absurd it all its off-kilter shots at convention that it's hard not to admire it. Every time I thought the film was heading into cliched, obvious territory, it seemed to take a sudden swerve in a direction I didn't know existed. Its addressing of issues of race and sexuality are at first so blatantly transparent that it seems the film is going nowhere; but it subverts everything, finds new depths in old cliches, and does so with such panache and vibrancy that I just found it rather bewitching. And its good to see Christina Ricci in a strong, challenging role again.
Cate Blanchett, though, finds herself in more familiar territory with Elizabeth: The Golden Age, for which Nick Davis has written such a hilarious, deliciously-constructed putdown that it hardly seems worth chucking in my own piece. But suffice to say, Elizabeth has the gloss, but it is, literally, all surface- poke it, and it shatters. So Elizabeth wore an enormous gardenia for a hat: so what? Director Shekhar Kapur presents all the requisite events of Elizabeth's 'golden age' (as you might expect), but there's nothing in them- no life, no impact, no emotion, no purpose. It's just a story. No one seems to care about it, except to dress it up in pretty clothes and either yell, giggle or whisper at you. It's a C- from me, and most of that grade was earned by the stone walls. Oh, and Samantha Morton.
Once was too a disappointment, though in a markedly different way. I by no means hated the film; I was charmed by the music and the central relationship, but after hearing such great things about the film, I couldn't help expecting a little more. It's one of those films where the two characters don't have names- they're simply 'guy' and 'girl'. And it's not like we don't find out anything about their lives- we go to their homes, meet their families, see their jobs. I don't know what it lacked for me. But there was something missing. I'll get back to you if I figure out what it was, but, for now, it's a (still) tentative B.
And, furthest back in time, we have the rather terrific documentary Deep Water, which screened on tv over here, and concerns the tragic events of one of the entrants of the 1968 round-the-world yacht race. What was great about the film, I feel, was how it kept a superb balance between the central figure of the film and the other entrants- they weren't ignored, forgotten about, simply because they survived. Deep Water, less than focusing on just the one man who died, is concerned with the effect of the 'deep water' on all the entrants, how it affected them all differently. The film is also beautifully narrated by Tilda Swinton, superbly scored, and mixes in some more artistic effects rather well. B+.
That's all for now, folks. Come back soon when uni is done and I'll actually have time to go to the cinema.