Reel Society

11Jul/103

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Ok so I have returned from another little break. Not quite as long as my first break where I went to Israel for two weeks. This time I spent the fourth in DC and have not gotten a chance to update since then. I have seen a few movies that have received positive critical analysis this year and I want to share my thoughts on them.

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By now most people have heard of the novel "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". I rarely read and I know all about the Millennium trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. I usually find out what is popular just by looking around the subway to and from work. The two novels I have seen people reading the most in the last six months or so have been Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and Larsson's Dragon Tattoo. My co-worker is in the process of reading the trilogy so I went to see the first movie with him. First thought after it was over was that even at two and a half hours it did not feel complete. I had the feeling that the filmmaker had too much info and story and ran out of time before he could process it all.

From what I have heard the novel is very detailed and intricate and digs deep into the inner workings of politics, business, journalism and crime. There is no doubt that it is difficult to adapt a popular novel with loads of information and a story that spans decades but that is the filmmakers precise job. It is his responsibility to create a fluid film that does not feel rushed but at the same time says everything that needs to be said. This first cinematic installment in the trilogy does not accomplish that task. Either the screenplay was jumbled or the film was not edited properly or both. I did not read the novel but it is definitely an intriguing story and is a film worth seeing despite its flaws. However it is a great candidate to be remade and I firmly believe David Fincher will end up producing a much better adaptation of this popular novel.

2.5/5

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I also saw Debra Granik's Winter's Bone. The film was a little better than expected but I am not as high on Jennifer Lawrence's work as critics apparently are. Lawrence plays Ree Dolly who has become the guardian of her family including her mother and two younger siblings as her dad has gone missing. She receives news from the police one day that her father had put up the house as his bail bond and then proceeded to flee. Now she has to find him in order to save her family from becoming homeless.

Winter's Bone reminded me a little of Blue Velvet in the sense that what seems to be a nice, peaceful town turns out to have darker and deeper secrets than people would guess. I came into the film very unfamiliar with the Ozark community and in a sense I still am so perhaps I should do my research before thinking that I know anything at all about them. From the film it is evident that they all lead very humble and often difficult lives. The children learn at a young age to fend for themselves and they are only provided the basic necessities of life. In other words you don't see any Ozark children playing an Xbox 360 in the film.

The standout performance of the film for me was John Hawkes as Ree's uncle Teardrop. I have only seen Hawkes in a few films (Perfect Storm, Me, You and Everyone We Know) and here he plays a character I could never have foreseen him portraying. The film is better when he is on the screen. Jennifer Lawrence is fine as Ree but I saw the same potential and similiar work from her last year in The Burning Plain. Lawrence is definitely on track to become the next Charlize Theron or Hilary Swank and become that beautiful actress that plays rough and rugged on the silver screen. However this is by no means her breakout role. It is certainly not comparable to Carey Mulligan's work in An Education last year or Gabby Sidibe in Precious.

Winter's Bone is bleak and gritty so make sure you are not in the mood for a light film when you watch this. It is an interesting look at a people I knew nothing about with an inspiring lead character whose wits and will are tested throughout. In terms of atmosphere the best comparison of Winter's Bone I can think of is Hillcoat's The Road from last year. Winter's Bone however is superior cinema.

3.5/5

On a final note since I have not written anything on Toy Story 3 I want to chip in and hop on the bandwagon. It is yet another masterpiece in what seems to be an assembly line in Pixar Studios. It is my favorite of the Toy Story trilogy and behind only Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Ratatouille on Pixar's list of achievements. It is my third 5/5 film of the year alongside "A Prophet" and "How to Train Your Dragon".

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  1. A Prophet? Boooooooooo. It was So.Slow. I felt like I was the one imprisoned.

  2. Well as we have discussed before a lot of movies you find slow I tend to view as the best cinema has to offer, prime example Kurosawa films. I think we said the same about There Will Be Blood as well? Not sure how you find A Prophet to be slow though. There was something interesting going on at every moment.

  3. There Will Be Blood was excellent, but I felt like A Prophet just drug on forever. I started checking my watch forty-five minutes in and almost cried.


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