Monday, 4 March 2013

The week in brief (25 February - 3 March 2013)

List of films I saw last week:

Tabloid (2010): 8/10
Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os) (2012): 7/10
Men in Black 3 (2012): 4/10

So, a pretty quiet week, with just three movies watched, all of which were fairly new releases. The pick of the bunch was Errol Morris' documentary Tabloid, which concerns a bizarre story which appeared in various English newspapers in the late 1970s. An American woman, Joyce McKinney, crossed the Atlantic in the hope of tracking down her Mormon ex-boyfriend, who had moved to the UK in order to carry out missionary work. Her side of the story was that they had previously been very much in love, but the Mormon church had brainwashed him into giving her up. She claimed that she brought him away from the church (of his own free will), and then they spent a romantic weekend together in the country . He (and the Mormon church) maintained that Joyce was guilty of kidnapping and sexual assault - she had tracked him down, abucted him, chained him up in a cottage in Devon and then forced herself upon him against his will. The documentary never makes it clear exactly what the truth of the story is, but it suggests that the reality was probably in the middle of the two stories.  What comes across most clearly is the sense that once a person has courted attention from the tabloid press, all the gory details of their personal life are seen as fair game for a story. Though McKinney clearly isn't the most stable individual, the way in which she is treated by the Mirror, in particular, is reprehensible - and the unhappy life she leads after her fifteen minutes of fame seems to be a direct consequence of that treatment.

Rust and Bone is the latest film from the brilliant French director Jacques Audiard, who was also responsible for A Prophet, The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Read My Lips. The film tells the story of Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in a tragic accident, and the relationship she forms with Ali, a bouncer and mixed martial artist. It's not just the story of their relationship, however - there are subplots involving the neglect of Ali's young son, his strained relationship with his sister and the industrial espionage work he carries out on the side with his mentor/ martial arts trainer.  Ultimately, the sheer number of different competing plot strands lead to the film feeling a little confused, and I was unconvinced by the rather contrived ending. However, I was impressed by Marion Cotillard's performance as Stephanie, and was astonished by the quality of the special effects used to make her appear to be a double amputee - these are completely convincing. Even if Rust and Bone fails to quite live up to the standards of some of Audiard's previous work, there are still some incredibly beautiful moments.

Last, and most assuredly least, we come to Men in Black 3. Once again, we join agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones in the present day and Josh Brolin in scenes set in the late 1960s), as they strive to keep planet Earth safe from the extra terrestials who secretly live among us. On this occasion, J is sent back to the year 1969 to attempt to save K's life from dastardly alien Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement).  Boris is a decidedly strange villain, a creature with the voice of Jeremy Irons, but the appearance of Lemmy from Motorhead after a heavy night on the tiles. Now, I was a big fan of the original movie, but with this latest sequel, pretty much everyone involved seems to be just going through the motions to collect another pay cheque. The CGI effects for the aliens look unconvincing and cheap, the action scenes are pedestrian and most of the jokes are stale and tired . The only things which save the movie from complete ignominy are the performances of Josh Brolin - who does an uncanny impression of Tommy Lee Jones - and Michael Stuhlbarg, whose character is the most interesting invention of the movie, an alien who can see through time and perceives all possible eventualities arising from an individual's actions. On the basis of this latest effort, I'd say it's about time for agents J and K to hang up their neurolisers and call it a day.

Before I go, I should also mention that my friend Colin has put together a rather good list of his favourite actors and actresses. I can't say I agree with all his choices (Jimmy Stewart and Emma Stone - yes! Matthew Perry and Neve Campbell - no!), but it's a very entertaining read.

Kirk's Quote of the Week

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

"Kasper Gutman: I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it's possible to get another. There's only one Maltese Falcon."

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