Let Me In – Review

Let me In (6.5/10)

Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins

Let me just start by saying that I don’t really see the point of any English Language remake, especially when the new film in question is so close to the original that you sometimes even forget which  one you’re actually watching.

Matt Reeves decided to play it safe, very safe if you ask me. In various interviews he’s been claiming that he never really wanted to make a vampire story, but more of a story about friendship between two people who both happened to be outcast. Well, yes fine, fair enough. But all this was in the original movie too!

There is absolutely nothing new in this film. No apparent reason to have a remake if not for the fact that people are just lazy and cannot be bothered to watch a subtitled film. So, let’s encourage laziness and remake exactly the same film without those annoying subtitles! And while we are there,  let’s add a little bit more blood and gore, that green tint that nowadays seems to be the only color of horror and let’s add more music, filling up every single second of silence in the film (I thought there was just way too much music!!).

I don’t really want to rubbish this film. It was after all very well handled, and at least they didn’t really make fools out of themselves. Let’s face it, it could have been so much worse. Thankfully the director and producers decided to be quite reverential towards the original source (the Swedish film itself was drawn from a novel, which is also one of the sources from this US version) and in the end didn’t really piss all over it.

My criticism is probably a bit biased because it starts from the premises that there was just no reason to remake it, especially just a couple of years after the first one. So let me try for a moment to pretend this is no remake (almost shot by shot in a few cases!) and let’s look at it as a piece of work by itself (it’s hard but I’ll try).

To be honest, it’s beautifully filmed. Every shot is carefully framed and composed, sometimes to the point that it becomes a bit too unreal. The idea of never showing the mother for example, seems a bit too forced in places… and let’s face it. It’s nothing new. Steven Spielberg had done it before in ET (and before that, Tom & Jerry Cartoons or even Peanuts). The parallel with Spielberg is interesting, since apparently Director Matt Reeves did have a meeting with Spielberg before he started filming. Spielberg gave him various tips about directing children (things like “Do listen to what they have to say and don’t force your idea about how they should do things), but also he was the one who suggested that both young actors should keep a diary in which they should write daily, in character.

Whatever Spielberg’s suggestions were, Matt Reeves did a really good job with the 2 kids. The performances from both Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz are very very good indeed! Little Chloe is clearly destined to greatness, as she has already shown her capabilities in “Kick Ass“, and after this one, we can probably even expect some nomination in the forthcoming award season.

So, to wrap it all up. It’s a competent film, without any single original idea in it. If you haven’t seen the original you might like it (or probably think it’s all a bit slow), but if, like me, you’ve seen and loved the original, then you’ll be left with a slightly sour taste in your mouth, wondering “Why… Why… Why?”. Well, probably because some American think it’s easier to spend 29 million dollars than to tell people that they should spend a couple of hours reading a bunch of subtitles in a good film.

6.5/10

127 Hours – Review


127 Hours

Directed by Danny Boyle. Starring James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn.

For some reason I keep on comparing this film to “Buried”: the concept and the  scope of both films is pretty much the same. One person stuck in a confined place for the whole length of the film. But while in “Buried” the director was able to keep the entire film inside the box and never “cheated” by giving the audience flashbacks or shots of whatever was happening in the outside world, here in “127 Hours” director Danny Boyle uses every trick in the book to make the visual more exciting and sometimes to the expense of the emotional response that one should have for a story of this kind. Split screens, speeded up/trippy sequences, long zooms out from a tiny close up of James Franco’s face to the widest view of the Canyon. Surely it makes it all exciting to watch, yes the photography is beautiful (2 different Directors of Photography were used for this film. And by the way that first bicycle riding sequence is really breath-taking), yes the editing is as flashy as it can be (in fact I think it’s easier to produce showy editing of this kinds than proper invisible one… But then again, wait and see how this one will win the Oscar), but when it comes to getting really close to our main character, knowing his history, his background, his life, that’s when the film fails for me.

Listening to a Q&A sessions with the makers at the end of the film, I was actually intrigued to hear about the real story and I started longing for a documentary about it… Hold on a second… Would I need a documentary if the film had satisfied me completely?

It’s really not James Franco’s fault! He gives the performance of his career and I can easily see an Oscar nomination coming his way, the problem is that Boyle is so preoccupied about whizzes and bangs, about his visual flashy style and about making you feel so trapped like the main character has, that he forgets what the story (and the original book) was really be about: a cathartic experience about a man who’s accepted his own death and looks back at his life realising all the mistakes he’s done. In the end it just becomes a story about the power of self-preservation.

It’s absolutely not a bad film, but this one could have been so much deeper and fuller, at least to match the fullness of the visuals (and its soundtrack too, I should add, as always in a Boyle’s film, was very accomplished).
People will love, I’m sure about that, but I really wanted a masterpiece out of this one, like the trailer made it look like. At the end of the day, the style of the film won over the actual substance e reduced it to just a good one, but not a great one.

7/10

RETATED REVIEWS:

 Buried

Winners at the London Film Festival

How I ended this summer has just won the first prize at the 54th London Film Festival this year: the film about 2 meteorologists isolated in a polar station gathering data, is a fairly slow (actually very slow) but visually beautiful (punctuated by striking time-laps) minimalist psychological drama. It’s a film about communications between people, responsibility, self preservation and I’ll stop here, because the least you know about this film, the better.

The British director Clio Barnard won for the documentary “The Arbor“. The prizes have been officially announced during the latest episode of “Film 2010” presented by Claudia Winkleman. Both presenters didn’t seem particularly impressed by the choice… She sounded like she really wanted Black Swan to win.

The Kids Are All Right – Review

The kids are all right

The Kids Are All Right  (7/10)

USA 2010 – Directed by Lisa Cholodenko. With Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson

This is one of those film that walks the fine line between comedy and drama and for most of its length succeeds in doing so pretty well. It’s not going to be on anybody’s list as a top favorite film of the year, but it certainly does a good job in being honest and to be fair it always manages to avoid falling into that cheesy Hollywood swimming pool of clichés.

What really elevates this film to something above your usual average comedy is the tight and fresh script with particular attention to details, but more than anything the acting of every single character in the film. Annette Bening will probably get her nomination once again for this: the moment when she (SPOILER ALERT!!) finds out about the betrayal of her partner and especially the moment where Julianne Moore apologizes to her and her kids, is probably one of the finest moment in her acting career. Julianne Moore is good too, but then again this doesn’t really surprise me anymore (nor it surprises me to see her taking her clothes off once again!). Mark Ruffalo manages to portray a character who full of flaws and acts badly as sympathetic and likeable. Even the two kids are very very good. The are given a proper script through which they can actually act their age instead of having to stick to unbelievable characters (like in June for example, which I did like, but it was all a bit unreal). Mia Wasikowska had already shown she could act in the beautiful “In treatment” on TV. I truly hope she’ll be able to do a lot more in the future.

The film is about an unusual family in an unusual situation and yet behaving in the most usual way. Even though the couple is a lesbian couple, the film doesn’t really linger on that too much. In fact it could probably work just as well if the couple had been a non-gay one. I didn’t find it offensive or exploitive (maybe because the director is actually gay herself and she’s willing to play with the clichés without making it all about them. It’s all about the characters and the details.

This is a very gentle film, about family values and emotions. though it might not have any stand out laugh out loud moments it certainly manages to keep a smile on your face pretty much for its entirety and I have to confess, by the end of it I even found myself shedding a few tears here and there.

7/10

Latest News

What Francis Ford Coppola is doing next

Paranormal Activity 2 Sets Horror Film Record

Liam Neeson On For Hangover 2’s Cameo

Tina Fey says another live ’30 Rock’ will be up to NBC

Spielberg set for Robocopalypse

The Social Network – Review

The Social Nework (7.5/10)

Directed by David Fincher. With Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Joseph Mazzello

I know, this film has now been out for weeks, but I’ve only just managed to catch it on the big screen and since I can tell this is one of those we are going to be talking about in the coming Awards season, I thought I should probably spend a couple of words discussing it.

Easily the starting point has got to be the script. Aaron Sorkin is the real star of the film. The fast, sharp and witty dialogue, the same we all fell in love with on the West Wing is Sorkin’s trade mark and it is apparent on pretty much every single line in “The Social Network”. At the end of the day it’s what really makes it work.

David Fincher’s direction this time seems invisible to the untrained eye, but obviously to be able to make a bunch of nerds sitting by a computer interesting and compelling, as this film is,  must have been not an easy task.

The entire cast is faultless, lead by Jesse Eisenberg who is absolutely perfect in his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. Even Justin Timberlake, however hateful and annoyingly disgusting he is in the movie,  is actually very good as Sean Parker, the inventor of napster, as we learn from his first scene in the film.

From the start the film  quite clearly does not want to take sides and decides to avoid lawsuites by drawing its dialogue from the various transcripts from the various procedural meetings with the various sides’ lawyers.

And if there is a problem with the film, this is maybe it: there’s a certain detachment throughout, from the way it’s filmed (Ficher’s direction is often quite cold and calculated), to the way it’s written (typical of Sorkin), and edited (the constant cutting backwards and forwards from the procedural meetings to the real story), basically from the way it’s conceived right from the start. All of which prevents you from having a real emotional attachment to any of the character on the screen.

You never really care about any of them in particular. Each of the actors does absolutely their best with what they are given, but clearly that’s not enough.

We almost want to feel bad for Andrew Garfield’s character (who plays Zuckeberg’s best friend Eduardo Saverin), but we are never given the chance to get too close to him, to fully care and really share his feeling of betrayal. In fact his character disappears half way through the film (he goes to New York) and when he comes back towards the end, are we supposed to reconnect straight away and feel for him? I don’t think so.

The film is so careful about not taking sides and sticking to the truth that it ends up being too clinical, cold and makes you feel really detached from it. I am sure that was probably the way all those people are in real life, but if you have to watch them for 2 hours you really need someone to care about.a

Towards the end (SPOILER ALERT… but not really…), we’re almost given a glimpse of a moment where we are meant to feel sorry for Mark Zuckerberg (a person so incapable to connect with real people, just as he was so good in making them connect with the internet), but it’s too little, too late. It’s really not enough and actually, that’s not how the film has been up until that point.

I really wanted to love this movie, I wanted it to become my favorite film of the year and instead, I just thought it was all right.. but not more than that. And I am almost angry with myself for saying that!

With all the will in the world, I don’t think I can give it more than 7.5/10. Still a very good film, but not the masterpiece I was hoping.

Black Swan – Review

BLACK SWAN  

USA 2010 . Directed by Darren Aronofsky. With Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder

Black Swan is the 5th feature by director Darren Aronofsky. If you think that his previous works include movies like “Requiem for a dream“, you won’t be too much surprised when I tell you that this latest piece is a pretty strong draining experience. A dark, emotional, nightmarish roller-coaster of a movie, and a real exhausting experience. When I left the preview theatre where I watched this I felt I like I had lost a few kilos.

It is also the most accomplished film by Aronoksky. In a Q&A session after the film, the director revealed how he’d been wanting to make a film about ballet for a very long time, but found it quite hard to get it financed. Finally he managed to combine an old treatment he’d been working on for a long time about understudies and ballet dancer in what can only be defined as a psychological thriller.

It is filmed mostly in very tight handheld close-ups, with muted and colors and a general grainy style reminiscent of his previous film The Wrestler. It is quite unusual to be so close to a ballet dancer while she’s performing. We are so used to watch ballet dancers from an “audience prospective”, that is from enough distance where they all seem so light.and graceful. Their movements effortless. But only when you’re so close to them you can really see and feel their pain: the sound of the heavy breathing, the look of exhaustion on their faces. Aronofsky captures all that and more.

The film is certainly not for everybody’s taste: people may find it too strong or even too slow, but if you are a film lover, I am sure you’ll appreciate its technique.

The music also plays a huge part in the film. Once again the director teams up with Clint Mansel who so successfully had produced the hit soundtrack from requiem for a dream 10 years before. The score builds on Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and re-works into a film score, enhancing it, making it sound bigger or more haunting and slowing it down, according to what the mood of the film requires.

It is an amazing achievement, but the real star of the film is Natalie Portman, beautiful as ever,  who gives the best performance of her career so far (Yes, better than in Leon). She manages to capture both that grace and lightness of the white swan and the darker side of the sexy and devilish black counterpart.

The scene where she phones her mother to tell her that she’s got the part in the Swan Lake, all filmed in a tight close ups,  is probably the highlight of the film in terms of acting. You can see every single possible emotion passing though her face: happiness, exhaustion, pride, terror ! She really deserves an Oscar for her performance, though having said that, the film itself is a bit too weird for the Academy and its dark mood that might prevent any other Oscar recognition.

A lot of people have been praising this film calling it a masterpiece, I wouldn’t go that far. It is all fairly predictable if you really want to take it to pieces and, dare I say, slightly over the top with a few moments where it almost falls into a splatter horror without any real need. And of course at the end of the day, it’s all rather ludicrous! Yet it is still closer to “the wrestler” than “Requiem” at least in terms of real emotion and character development, as opposed to “style” over “substance”  (let’s face it, I did loved “requiem for a Dream“, and it was beautiful to watch but it did go on for a bit too long and over-stressed its point) and it did manage to create a palpable atmosphere like very few films have this year.

With this movie Aronofsky confirms himself as one of the most interesting, visionary director working in Hollywood today. I wish him good luck for the forthcoming awards Season (though I wouldn’t want to bet on him, as it’s clear that the King’s Speech and the Social Network will get everything else) and I am looking forward to see what he’ll do next with X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2

(note added after the Oscars 2011). Natalie Portman won the Oscar for her performance in this film, as I had predicted by the way…

OTHER RELATED REVIEWS:

The King Speech
The Social Network


What is the moviegeekblog and why?

If you’ve stumbled across this page it’s probably because you are, like me, a movie lover… (or maybe you’ve simply made a mistake and you were searching for something completely different.  :P)

You might be thinking “There are so many movie blogs and movie-related websites out there, why do I need another one? Well, good point.

The truth is: you probably don’t.

However if you want to read reviews of the latest movies which are about to come out, or even simply just comment on what you’ve seen recently, give this blog a chance.

%d bloggers like this: