Archives for January 2011

Ten Reasons I Will NOT Be Viewing the Golden Globes This Evening

Without fanfare, here is my list (in no particular order):

  1. Awards shows are not so much awards shows as they are now fashion shows – and this is coming from someone who subscribes to InStyle magazine and loves it! I do not need to see a fashion parade in prime time, however.
  2. It’s boring – by boring I mean that it takes so long to get to the categories that you might care about.
  3. The sillinest surrounding the nominations of the Tourist, Burlesque and the absence of other performances, leaves me feeling kind of “blech.”
  4. If I am so bothered, I can read the winners’ list tomorrow morning.
  5. Part 2 of Downton Abbey is airing on PBS tonight.
  6. As strange at it sounds, I feel quite odd watching what someone judges at the “Best ….” when I have not even seen all the nominated movies/shows/performances.
  7. Commercial interruption – not a fan of commercials at all; most of what I watch nowadays is on video disk, Netflix of courtesy of DVR where I can advance through the commercials.
  8. I am sensitive to seeing people’s reactions to being skewered and poked fun at – with Ricky Gervais as host this is an absolute guarantee!
  9. No real vested interest in seeing a particular performer win – well actually I do. Rooting for Colin Firth and Idris Elba. But it kind of goes to my point you (dis)like who or what you choose and whether someone wins an award or not will not change that idea at all.
  10. Yes this awards season but it is also Aussie Open time! So I am in more Grand Slam tennis mode (at least for the next fortnight).

For those who will be watching, enjoy!

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Every time I see Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, I am reminded by how entertained by it. The first ten minutes alone are well worth the price of admission. It cannot be mentioned enough the almost genius of the comedy of Cary Grant’s physical presence. For me this hearkens to some of the comedy of the silent era.

This film is also the second and final pairing of Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in a light comedy. One can only imagine how successful a duo they would have been if their screen partnership were allowed to flourish .
And let us not forget the supporting talents of Melvyn Douglas as the “voice of doom.”
One thing always leave me scratching my head – given present sensibilities if the story were to be retold nowadays, don’t you think that Bessy would have sued her (former) employer for ripping off her ad slogan?

Sleep My Love (1948)

Imagine my surprise as I sat watching the credits rolling on this film noir piece and in the “Directed by” field, Douglas Sirk’s name popped up! Is this the same Doug Sirk who would go on to make the bold sweeping melodramas such as “Written on the Wind,” “All That Heaven Allows,” and “Imitation of Life” (my mom’s personal favorite)? Indeed it is.

Released in 1948, “Sleep My Love” obviously predates those films. This inspired me to go back and check out Sirk’s biography and filmography to see how this film fits into his body of work. What I concluded was this: ‘Sleep My Love’ was made during a time when Sirk was establishing himself in the Hollywood studio system.

Another thing that naturally happens when you look at the earlier works of an auteur is to look for those signs or trademarks that make their films THEIR film. In the case of this movie, I did not see many hints of what was to come to define Douglas Sirk; that is okay. Overall my reaction to the film is a positive one. Yes it is a bit derivative (“Gaslight Lite”) but it hits all the notes one would expect in a “I want to kill my spouse so I can get her dosh and live with my lover” story. Which leads to a pleasant surprise this film offered – the rather dark turn by normally affable Don Ameche. That is worth the price of admission.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

* Review contains spoilers (esp. for those who have not read the novel)

To start off the new year I have decided to talk about a film many people may not have seen in 2010 but should have.

Never Let Me Go based on a novel by British author Kazuo Ishiguro (he also penned The Remains of the Day), is directed by Mark Romanek and stars Carey Mulligan (Kathy), Keira Knightley (Ruth) and Andrew Garfield (Tommy).

From the opening credits the rules of engagement are laid before us – we are not in Kansas (or England) anymore. Where we are in a parallel/alternate world from ours where essentially all diseases are curable. However as one would surmise, with such great progress, there is a cost to be paid.

We then open on to Kathy (Carey Mulligan) in what appears to be an operating room. She is our guide on this journey; right now, she is gazing at who we will come to know as Tommy (Andrew Garfield). In voice over, she starts the story that will eventually bring us back to this scene in the film’s closing chapter …

Enter flashback to Hailsham, a boarding school located in the English countryside. It is apparent that by the way the students interact with one another and the regimented, sterile environ, that something is quite not so kosher at Hailsham.

Eventually, the dark secret of lies within and without the walls of the school. From this point forward, we the audience understand full and well the “cost” of society’s scientific achievement.

Over the next two acts of the film, we see Kathy and her friends move from their school days at Hailsham to “The Cottages” and finally into the adulthood which is sealed in a tragic fate.

Never Let Me Go is delicately and beautifully filmed by cinematographer Adam Kimmel. As for director Mark Romanek I mainy know him as an acclaimed music video director. To date, this is only his third feature film – one of the other two films being One Hour Photo (2002). He has a great eye; in fact, he is a good visual storyteller.   As I watched the film I was taken with just how visual it was. During more than a couple of passages, it felt like there was very little actual dialogue. Whether or not by design, this scheme boded well for my viewing experience. The musical score of veteran Rachel Portman enhanced this.

Overall, the performances are very well executed. Carey Mulligan goes from strength to strength in the central performance as Kathy – it is through eyes and voice that we see and hear the story. In a slight departure, Keira Knightley portrays a character that is at once vindictive and at the same time sympathetic. Andrew Garfield’s Tommy is the most sympathetic character because he seems the most hopeful in the face of what is essentially a great human tragedy. The performances of our leads evoke an emotive response from the audience because we already know what they will eventually have to come to terms with – the inescapable fact of their lives’ mission and purpose.

A notable supporting performance is by Sally Hawkins as “the harbinger of doom” to her pupils. Early on she tells the students what is to come of their lives, your heart breaks in despair. What struck me was the “as a matter of fact” way she delivers the message and the expression on the faces of the students.

In reflection, I am reminded of a film with a similar cloning-dystopian theme, The Island. Don’t worry, I only use it as a point of comparison. While the bleak Never Let Me Go may not have the audience wish fulfillment conclusion the far inferior Island offers us, it had a pathos and I dare say “soul” which makes us shoot back to our side of the parallel worlds and think a little.

And, as the screen fades to beige, we are reminded of the following: that this is no matter the length or “purpose” of theirs or anyone’s lives, “completion” is an “act” that will ultimately visit upon us all.

Happy New Year!

Thank you for all your support in 2010. Here’s to a fun and exciting film conversation in 2011!

~i luv cinemaHappy New Year!