The Weekend Movie Recap: 1/13/12

posted by Rolocop

CARNAGE – I consider myself a fan of Roman Polanski, though I probably only have seen half of his films.  I missed his last film, GHOST WRITER, which I heard was pretty darn good.  CHINATOWN is one of my favorite films.  I also really like REPULSION, FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, ROSEMARY’S BABY, FRANTIC, THE PIANIST and yes, even THE NINTH GATE.  The only one I didn’t care for was OLIVER TWIST.

His latest seems more like an after thought.  Based on a play, and with the exception of 2 shots, takes place entirely in an Apartment.  A kid seriously injures another kid at a playground, and now their parents get together to discuss the consequences.  What starts off as an artificial courtesy call, slowly becomes a breakout in brutal honesty as the 2 couples trade insults and harsh truths with each other.

Like I said, it’s an after thought… but a pretty entertaining one.  When I first heard about the premise, it sounded like it was going to be rather serious.  So I was surprised that there was a great amount of humor.  I would classify this as a comedy.  While the subject matter is a bit heavy and dark themes are explored, it’s executed with some great comic timing from the four actors who play the couples, Kate Winslet & Christoph Waltz and Jodie Foster & John C. Reilly, who are all terrific.  It’s hard to say who is the best because they all have their moments to shine.

Waltz is amusing as the shrewd business man who is permanently attached to his cellphone.  Winslet plays his uptight wife who has a hilarious puking scene (I laughed out loud on that one).  It was nice to see Jodie Foster take this hysterical role as a very liberal mother who has large tantrums.  And at first I thought that maybe John C. Reilly would be out of his league, but then I remembered that he got his start doing dramatic work before he became a silly actor.  He’s probably got the film’s best lines, and is one of the highlights of the film.

My only complaint was that the movie constantly builds and builds, and then just kind of ends.  It’s a disappointing climax in an otherwise very entertaining flick.  Those that like character studies should enjoy this one, as it is sort of a satirical take on one.  CARNAGE opens exclusively at The Edina.  Rating:

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THE IRON LADY – Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of England.  The movie focuses on Thatcher in her later years as she struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, looking back on her life.

Now, I don’t really know anything about politics or much about the lead character, but I found the movie compelling.  I thought it was clever how the flashbacks of her late husband (Jim Broadbent) haunted her every day life.  Director Phyllida Lloyd comes up with some pretty imaginative transitions and edited techniques to make the film have a unique style.  The movie shows how Thatcher started off when she was younger, and then working up to be Prime Minister.  I found myself more interested at her personal life when she was older than the politics, but that’s just me being bored by politics.

The real reason to see this is Meryl Streep, who delivers a marvelously theatrical, powerhouse performance.  She completely embodies Thatcher (which is entirely expected, given Streep’s track record) from her mannerisms to her vocal influctuations. Even the makeup job on her is entirely convincing.  Broadbent also stands out as her loyal and loving husband.  And Alexandra Roach really made in impression as a young Margaret Thatcher.

The script is kind of jagged, but that’s what you get when you try to cram someone’s life into an hour and forty-four minutes.  I would say it is mostly successful, as the film is held together by Streep’s excellent work.  And if Thatcher’s life is of great interest to you, you’ll enjoy it all the more.  I think it’s worth a look.  At the Lagoon.  Rating:

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Also opening this weekend:

CONTRABAND – Well, it’s January and the first films of 2012 are bound to be mediocre, and that’s exactly what this lazy heist thriller starring Mark Wahlberg is.  It’s a sloppily directed movie (lots of bad shaky-cam) with boring performances and a generic script.  Wide Release.  Rating:

JOYFUL NOISE – And I thought Tyler Perry movies were bad.  This faith based film about a church choir is just embarrassing.  Dolly Parton looks like a clown and delivers one of the worst performances I have seen on a movie screen in a long time.  It’s a bad TV movie complete with cartoon-like characters that would never live in the real world.  Cinematic garbage! Wide Release.  Rating:

SLEEPING BEAUTY – Wasn’t screened for me.  At St. Anthony Main.

THE DEVIL INSIDE – This opened last week in wide release, but wasn’t screened for critics, which is usually a bad sign.

Thursday, January 12th, 2012 at 10:48 pm