Saturday, January 21, 2012

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Just to let you know right off the bat, Never Let Me Go (2010) is a rather depressing film, but nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a story that is sad, creepy, mostly predictable, yet profound and emotional. It is based on the 2005 Kazuo Ishiguro novel of the same name.

This dystopian story is narrated by a young woman named Kathy H played by Carey Mulligan. She tells the story of her childhood with her friends Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy D (Andrew Garfield). All three attended a boarding school called Hailsham. At Hailsham, things seem a little bit different as they put extra emphasis creativity and art and on keeping their bodies healthy. We soon discover that the children who attend such schools (as there are others) only have one purpose in life, to donate their vital organs and eventually die or "complete". Through all of this Kathy, Tommy and Ruth have a complicated and sometimes volatile relationship 

It definitely reminds me of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four due to the dystopian and rather depressing nature of the plot. It kind of gives you more appreciation that the world isn't really like this. The plot is quite predictable once the premise and the characters are introduced but it doesn't really take away from the movie. 

As for the acting, I genuinely think the three stars did a masterful job filling out each character's little qualities. I haven't as of yet read the novel, so I can't really say what was done differently, but I am actually looking forward to reading it. A lot of people bash Keira Knightley on her inability to act, which is apparent in certain cases, but she impressed me with her portrayal of the manipulative Ruth. I haven't seen The Social Network (mainly because I simply don't really care) but I have seen Andrew Garfield act before in Boy A (2007) which I also recommend watching. On that note I think he'll do a great job as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spiderman tentatively scheduled to release on July 3, 2012. At least he'll do a better job than Tobey Maguire. I am definitely biased but I love Carey Mulligan in the role of Kathy. Kathy is quiet and reserved but throughout the different phases of her life she learns to become strong, more independent and the most confident of the three, a reversal from the beginning of the story. There is a rather abrupt change in all three characters between the second and third acts of the film which is fun to watch even if it is obvious why.

The British definitely have a knack for creating depressing stories, which reminds me of another Keira Knightley movie that is unbelievably depressing, Atonement (2007).

Never Let Me Go is simply a great film that involves the evolution of relationships between friends and showcases great young British talent.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving, with an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman his only companion.

Steve Martin and John Candy are a fantastic duo. Although Steve can have his crazy moments in film he leaves most of that up to John in this case. John Candy basically embodies everything you hate about travelling into one extremely obnoxious person. He means well but good but intentions only go so far. I'll try not to spoil the ending for those who have missed out all these years but I'm sure you'll get to love John's character by the end.

Neal Page (Steve Martin) is just trying to get back home to Chicago for Thanksgiving after a business trip to New York but runs into all kinds of trouble. This is mostly caused by the bumbling shower ring salesman Del Griffith (John Candy). Although it is nearly impossible for them to co-exist, the journey allows them to develop a respect and care for each other.

This movie has a great balance of serious moments and laugh out loud moments. John Hughes was the master of this balance in film. You can watch just about any of his movies and be brought to tears from him either pulling at your heart strings or just from laughing so hard you seem to have wound up on the floor.

I would recommend watching this at anytime, it isn't a film you have to be in a particular mood to watch it's simply wonderful.

Also, Kevin Bacon has a great cameo in a scene racing for a taxi opposite Steve. 

There is one song at the very end of the movie that suits the scene so well and literally brings me to tears every time I hear it. For those who know this movie, you'll know what I mean.

One thing I would like to add is...

Dylan Baker in Planes, Trains & Automobiles as Owen

Dylan Baker in Spiderman 2 as Dr. Curt Connors

I know it was 15 years between roles but still I just thought it to be a hilarious difference in my opinion but that's what actors are paid for.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pulp Fiction (1994)

It's sad to admit it but I didn't watch Pulp Fiction (1994) until late last year (meaning 2011). It's a cult classic and brings out a lot of things that I enjoy in film like offensive language and violence, but I simply never got around to it.

This is one of Tarantino's best and stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel and of course Quentin Tarantino himself. Plus there are small parts and cameos from Eric Stoltz, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Phil Lamarr, Julia Sweeney, and the great Christopher Walken. This is a fantastic cast not only because they are all such great actors and actresses but because each has a specific role to play and no one role really overpowers another and all work together to tell the story. Unlike some ensemble movies, notably Garry Marshall's last two directorial efforts, this one actually works well.

The film is split into three main stories that transition pretty nicely between one another.

Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife
The Gold Watch
The Bonnie Situation

I would tell you more about each individual story but I'd rather you watch it for yourselves.

Although I do love this movie, if you can't stand extremely offensive language and an abundance of violence, gore, and rather intense situations, then I do not recommend watching it. For those who can handle it, you're in for a real treat. 

Another great movie, although not really related, is Drive (2011). It has a certain similarity to it, a kind of dark quality.