Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Film Report

In which I provide short reviews of the films I've seen recently. Four of these films I caught on my flights to and from London.

Jack Reacher. Airplane movie. You know, there was quite a bit to like in this film, especially the pace, which felt closer to a 1970s crime thriller than something from today's attention deficit disorder cinema. But the occasionally cheesy dialogue and Tom Cruise's vanity acting really dragged this down.

Life of Pi. Airplane. I liked this a lot of more than I thought I would. An imaginative, original piece of work. When all is said and done, Ang Lee is going to have had one of the most diverse careers ever.

Side Effects. Airplane. A thriller with one idea, and while I like Steven Soderbergh's icy direction, this was just so-so.

The Great Gatsby. At a cool theater in Cambridge, UK. Went in with low expectations. It was okay. Some nice sequences but it hits you over the head with the symbolism. How many times do we need to see that goddamn green light?

Brave. On Demand. It had some story problems, especially with the big mid-film twist, but I loved how original this princess story was, how different. And the animation, especially Merida's gorgeous hair (her entire character design, really) was impressive.

Shadow Dancer. On Demand. I'm biased, of course, because director James Marsh wants to make a film of my book, but this slow-burn IRA thriller with Andrea Riseborough and Clive Owen is excellent. Haunting, surprising, and with terrific performances.

Star Trek Into Darkness. Somerville Theater. Enjoyed it, right up until the final twenty minutes when (spoiler alert), it starts to replicate Wrath of Khan, down to an ill-advised shout-out (literally) from Spock. It was good popcorn fun up until that point, and Benedict Cumberbatch was incredible.

The Impossible. Airplane. A very moving film about the Indonesian tsunami. And yeah, it focuses on a pretty white family that survives, but it's well told, well acted, and Naomi Watts, as always, is excellent.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Film Frames Friday

Possible Film of Girl with a Clock ....

I know enough about the movie industry to know that I shouldn't get too excited about a film adaptation of my book The Girl with a Clock for a Heart until the cameras start to roll, but a couple months ago it was optioned by a British film company, with James Marsh (Man on a Wire, Shadow Dancer) attached to write the screenplay and direct. I've talked with James Marsh and he was very enthusiastic about getting a movie made.

Anyway, Screen Daily wrote a little article (press release?) about it here. Pretty amazing, even if nothing ever happens.

The lovely Mr. Marsh

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black

The BBC America series Orphan Black is a total blast. It's a science fiction series in which a bunch of young woman discover they are clones of one another, and that they are being hunted and eliminated. None of it would work if the lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, who plays all the clones, weren't pretty remarkable. Not only has she developed total physical personalities for each iteration, she is often doing scenes with herself, and sometimes she plays clones pretending to be other clones. There is never a moment when I don't believe in her.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Americans

There's a nice article in The Atlantic about how restrained (and excellent) The Americans' final episode of the season was. I agree. Even though there are plot twists and action scenes in this show about Russian agents living as Americans in the Reagan era, the show has always been about character, plus the hard grim realities of espionage.

Still, there was nothing restrained in the absolute stunner of the scene where Granny (the genius actress Margo Martindale) got a little revenge on a CIA operative. A very good end to a very good show that maybe should have had ten episodes instead of thirteen. Oh, and one more thing for people who watch this show: Did it seem that Philip "marrying" Martha (the amazing Alison Wright) was the cruelest thing we'd seen done on this show? And we've seen some pretty cruel things.

Film Frames Friday