Archive | June, 2012

BRAVE

22 Jun

Synopsis:  Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Voice – Cast:

Kelly McDonald…………………………………….Merida

Billy Connolly………………………………………..Fergus

Emma Thompson…………………………………….Elinor

Julie Walters………………………………………The Witch

Robbie Coltrane……………………………..Lord Dingwall

Kevin McKidd……………Lord MacGuffin/Young & Old

Craig Furgeson………………………………Lord Macintosh

Review:  Pixar/Disney’s new animated adventure Brave is upon us, as all Pixar’s films, it is breathtaking in it’s artistry.  Is it is as groundbreaking as say Toy Story, Wall E or Up were in story telling, no, however that said it is a solid story with Celtic mysticism and strong female role models.  The story takes it’s nod from Disney’s princess stories and turns them on their head. Princess Merida is shown at first as a young child, on her birthday her father Fergus gives her a bow and arrows and she becomes determined to be the best archer she can be. She is strong willed and as her mother Queen Elinor tries to give her lessons on how a Princess is supposed to act Merida will have none of it.

The day comes when Merida is old enough to get married and her mother arranges a competition between the sons of the other three Scottish clans to win Merida’s hand. Merida reluctantly goes along with it, protesting along the way.  Merida now a master archer decides which contest the three first born (following tradition) son’s will have to win, she chooses archery. When it becomes clear all three sons are not worth her time Merida decides to break tradition and she hits the bulls-eye and decides to go her own way. King Fergus is sort of a Celtic Tevya (Fiddler on the Roof) and the situation is reminiscent of Tevya’s daughter Tzeitle wanting to marry her true love not be forced into an arranged marriage.

Fabulous imagery abounds in the Celtic woods, the Willow-the -Wisps stand out as an obvious nod to the sprites and spirits of the films of Japanese Master animator Hayao Miyazaki, think Spirited Away. The story of bonding , mending relationships and finding your own fate also are Miyazaki themes.

This is a story about mother-daughter conflict, love, bonding and resolve. Like Disney Princess films there are funny gags, secondary characters for comedy relief and a selfish prince who was transformed into a angry bear. Merida wanting to change her fate and not follow in her mother’s path that has been set before her, runs away into the woods and meets a witch who givers her a spell that will change her mother. Too late Merida finds out the spell is the same Bear spell she cast upon the prince. Only mending the broken bond between Merida and her Mother before the second sunrise will break the spell and restore harmony in the family.

Brave is a mix between Pixar story themes and Disney Princess themes and sometimes things get a little lost, solid entertainment none the less. The film does make up for the awful Cars 2 and the flowing hair of Merida is amazing.

Two footnotes: There was a terrific Pixar short subject called La Luna, it was clever and beautifully animated. There was also a trailer for Monster University that makes me worry if Pixar is going to dilute their product by adding so-so sequels to their cannon.

Recommended:

Prometheus

13 Jun

Synopsis:  Millions of years ago In the distant past, the spacecraft of an advanced humanoid alien race arrives on Earth. One of the aliens consumes a dark liquid, causing its body to disintegrate and fall into a nearby waterfall, thus seeding Earth with the building blocks of life.

In the year 2089, archaeologist couple Elizabeth Shaw and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway discover a star map among the remnants of several otherwise unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity’s forerunners. Peter Weyland the elderly founder and CEO of the Weyland Corporation, funds the creation of the scientific deep space research vessel called the USS Prometheus to follow the map to the distant moon of LV-223 several light years from Earth.

Cast: 

Noomi Rapace………………………………………….Elizabeth Shaw

Michael Fassbinder………………………………………………….David

Charlize Theron……………………………………….Meredith Vickers

Idris elba………………………………………………………………….Janek

Guy Pearce………………………………………………….Peter Weyland

Logan Marshall-Green………………………………Charlie Holloway

Sean Harris……………………………………………………………….Fifield

Rafe Spall………………………………………………………………..Millburn

Emun Elliot………………………………………………………………..Chance

Benedict Wong……………………………………………………………..Ravel

Kate Dickie…………………………………………………………………….Ford

Patrick Wilson……………………………………………………Shaw’s Father

Lucy Hutchinson…………………………………………………..Young Shaw

Director: Ridley Scott

Screenplay: Jon Spaits/Damon Lindelof

Review: I have often pondered the question of human existence. Who hasn’t asked the question “Why are we here?” or “Who is our creator?”  Ridley Scott’s uses these themes in a number of his films such as Blade Runner where the androids question their mortality and wish to meet their creator to question him about the very reason they exist at all.  Scott’s films always draw you in by use of imagery as is the case of Prometheus with it’s H.R. Geiger designed aliens and spacecraft. The film is both intelligent in it’s search for answers to human creation and solid as a Sci-Fi horror/Adventure. The combination is sure to please most audiences and fans of the Alien franchise as well.  Prometheus is so well crafted a tale that if you have never seen the Alien films it doesn’t matter because this film stands apart.

Another running theme in Scott films is the tension between corporate funding and scientific discovery where human life is incendiary to the corporate mission.  *(Spoiler Alert)*  This plays out well in this story as Peter Weyland the head of the Weyland Corp. is old and dying and funds the trillion dollar mission to find immortality by meeting his creators. Scientists Elizabeth Shaw and her scientist boyfriend Charlie Holloway had thought they recieved the funding to find the origins of mankind as created by a human species who planted DNA as an experiment on Earth. (Read the Synopsis).

Michael Fassbinder plays an android named David who studies ancient languages and human civilization was brought aboard the ship to communicate with the aliens and run the ship while the crew is in stasus for the two and a half year journey to the alien planet. His detachment/souless nature is played well by Fassbinder for he too is on a journey of discovery and lives to serve his creator. (Weyland) It occured to me the name David may be a homage to 2001’s Dave, played by Keir Dullea and to the detached HAL computer of the same film. David also has a curious fascination with the film Lawrence of Arabia and has a similiar hairstyle and physique of a young Peter o’ Toole as Lawrence.

Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers, plays corporate detachment to the hilt. It is her job to explain to the scientists that this is the Weyland corporation’s mission not theirs. She is ruthless in her self-determination for survival and making sure the mission goes as planned. There seems to be a secret she and David share, which no one else knows, that drives her loyalty to the company and her anxiuosness for the mission to end ASAP.

Noomi Repace who plays Shaw, is as strong and driven as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the other Alien films. Also the film asks more questions than it answers but who said the question of creation or “engineering” as it is referred to in the film, has an easy answer. Is human – kind an alien experiment in genetic engineering?  The film does question this and shows us what might go wrong if you try to play God with DNA. The film deserves a sequel and perhaps this will answer some of the questions that were left unanswered.

The film has a horror element that like the other Alien stories is a neccessary component of an Alien film. Scott seemed to be more interested in the tough questions of God, creation and man-kind’s existence making the combination of horror and intelligence elevate the film, tho at times I felt the gratuitus horror moments ditracted rather than enhanced. I am drawn to intelligent stories and I have to say it is nice to see Scott directing Sci-Fi with his knack for realism and provoking thought over violence. Had a great time viewing this movie and you will too.

Recommended:   

Albert Nobbs

8 Jun

Synopsis: Albert Nobbs struggles to survive in late 19th century Ireland, where women aren’t encouraged to be independent. Posing as a man, so she can work as a butler in Dublin’s most posh hotel, Albert meets a handsome painter also a woman disguised as a man, and looks to escape the lie she has been living.

Cast:

Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs

Mia Wasikowska as Helen Dawes

Aaron Johnson as Joe

Janet Mcteer as Hubert Page

Pauline Collins as Mrs. Baker

Brenda Fricker as Polly

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Viscount Yarrell

Brendon Gleeson as Dr. Holloran

Maria Doyle Kennedy as  Mary

Mark Williams as Sean

Serena Brabazon as Mrs. Moore

Michael McElhatton as Mr. Moore

Kenneth Collard as M. Pigot

Bronagh Galligher as Cathleen

Review:

Glenn Close stars as Albert Nobbs, her startling, Oscar nominated portrayal as a woman posing as a man in 19th Century Ireland is remarkable in its underlying sadness and asexuality. Based on the novella by Irish novelist George Moore, the themes of the story parallel the conundrum of 19th century battered and oppressed women with the struggles of lesbian woman in today’s society.

We learn that Albert as a 14 year old girl was abandoned by her mother and gang raped and beaten by a group of men. For reasons of economic security she poses as a man to find work as a waiter a job only given to men . For many years Albert works in a fine hotel as a waiter/butler and lives in fear of being found-out. She squirrels away all her money in a hole in the floor of her room hoping one day to find a way out and a better life.

In a profound moment a painter named Hubert Page, played by Janet Mcteer arrives at the hotel to paint the interior. Albert is forced to share her room with Page and is terrified by the prospect of sharing her bed with a man. Page a gangly, streetwise, cigarette smoking character sees through Albert’s disguise,   To stop Albert from cowering in fear, Page opens his shirt and exposes his breasts and to Albert’s astonishment finds out Page is also a woman posing as a man. They become kindred spirits for the rest of the film. Albert is also astonished to find out Page is married to another woman, Cathleen, and leads a relatively normal existence. Albert from this moment on wants the same and starts looking to purchase a tobacco business of her own and marry a woman she has fallen in love with.

There are a few twists and turns that lead this tragic story, Close’s performance is the glue that binds this all together. This is a fine film and Close makes Nobbs so real you can’t help but feel the emotion behind this character’s sadness and unlikeable nature. It is a brave and heartfelt performance worthy of the Oscar nomination.

Recommended: