Monday, 11 March 2013

The week in brief (4 - 10 March 2013)

This week's list of movies watched:
Ordinary People (1980): 8/10
Stoker (2013): 7/10
Silkwood (1983): 6/10
Side Effects (2013): 8/10

For the first time in quite a while, I went to the cinema twice in a week. Reviews for both of those movies coming up...

Stoker is the first English language film from the brilliant South Korean director Chan Wook Park, who previously helmed Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and Thirst. It's a mixture of horror film, gothic drama and mystery, focusing on a wealthy but dysfunctional family who live in a grand old pile, somewhere in the Southern US. We enter the story at the funeral of Richard, the patriarch of the Stoker family, whose passing paves the way for the entrance of his suave younger brother Charlie (Matthew Goode). While Richard's estranged wife Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) welcomes his attentions, his strange, withdrawn daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) suspects that something isn't quite right about her uncle... Now, I had mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, while the plot is set up intriguingly, the pay off towards the end of the picture is a little anticlimactic. Mia Wasikowska is impressive as India, but neither Kidman (who appears to be struggling to emote through a heavily botoxed face), nor Goode are quite able to match her performance. On the other hand, the film looks fantastic. Park has retained his incredibly stylish aesthetic and has edited the picture in a deliberately jarring way, creating a constant sense of unease for the viewer. Not perfect, but a promising Hollywood debut from Mr Park.

As Chan Wook Park makes his entrance onto the scene, we have to bid farewell to Steven Soderbergh, as Side Effects will reportedly be his final picture. Thankfully, he's left us on a high note. The plot hinges on the violent death of a disgraced former stockbroker, stabbed to death in his high rise apartment by his former wife. She claims that her actions were the result of a side effect of a new form of anti-depressant she was taking - she was sleepwalking during the attack, so had no control over her actions. Her psychiatrist decides to fight her corner, but as he delves deeper into the mystery, he finds his life start to fall apart... This is a really interesting, intelligent thriller which seems to be taking you in one direction before lurching off to entirely different place towards the end. Jude Law and Rooney Mara provide strong performances in the lead roles and are ably supported by Catherine Zeta Jones, who seems to be making a bit of a comeback recently. If this is Soderbergh's last film, it'll be a real shame - he's had a diverse career, directing the likes of Traffic, Out of Sight, The Limey, Haywire, Contagion and Ocean's Eleven. Still, he was also responsible for one of the slowest films of all time (Che), so maybe it's not all bad news...

Kirk's Quote of the Week

 A Mighty Wind (2003)

 "Terry Bohner: There was abuse in my family, but it was mostly musical in nature."

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