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.


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.




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.


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