Friday, October 30, 2009

Paranormal Activity (2009)

A great idea for a low-budget horror movie. And it's well done, especially the naturalistic acting. I liked it better than Blair Witch but I also had much lower expectations than I had for Blair Witch. I've learned my lesson: being told how scary a movie is will pretty much take away its power to scare you. There are, however, a few real moments of dread but its not as frightening as one hopes, and in the end, its realism works against it, I thought. Because it looked so much like genuine footage, I was constantly reminded that what I was watching was fake.

I do get a warm glow knowing this film will make about ten times what the sixth entry of the Saw franchise will make, and it cost less than the price of a new car.

The Biographer's Moustache (1996)

No author I love has produced more mediocre books than Kingsley Amis. It hasn't stopped me from my determination to read them all, but this one was a real slog. It's about the relationship between a biographer and his subject, an elderly writer and unrepentant snob. The characters are thin and so is the plot. It was Amis' last published book, and the bad reviews made him comment that terrible notices wrecked his breakfast but not his lunch. There's nothing as clever as that in the book.

An Education (2009)

Not quite what I expected. It was more of a character study, less of a romance. Carey Mulligan, as everyone has said, was perfectly cast but other performances stood out for me. It was the first time I was really impressed with the acting of Rosamund Pike, as opposed to just being impressed with how pretty she is. Her and Dominic Cooper not only look amazing together, playing a slightly amoral, more-than-slightly shallow couple. With very little, they both register a lot: boredom, self-satisfaction, sexuality, even sadness. Alfred Molina - an actor with seemingly unlimited range - was perfect as the class-anxious father, and I loved Olivia Williams, as Ms. Suggs, a character straight from a Barbara Pym novel.

All this added up to a very good film, although the tagged-on, tied-up ending was a disappointment.