Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Away We Go surprised me. It made me think twice about every snide comment I've ever made at the expense of director Sam Mendes. It's like the anti-Mendes film. Archetypes are replaced with real characters. Grand moral statements are traded for honest uncertainty. There is something unpredictable if not inevitable about the way the screenplay by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida unfolds. The movie has a breezy, melancholy, spirit of discovery -- we feel as though we are discovering the world all over again through the eyes of John Krasinsky and Maya Rudolph, as they prepare for the birth of their first child and contemplate what kind of parents they'll be. Touring North America from Albequerque to Montreal, they encounter various couples who have devised their own unique child-rearing strategies and are now facing the consequences of their decisions.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
George Cukor's Holiday is an enchanting, old fashioned, romantic comedy with a premise as irresistible today as it was when it premiered in 1938. Cary Grant is a free-spirited dreamer, engaged to Doris Nolan, an upper crust socialite from one of Manhattan's wealthiest families. When he makes a killing on the stock exchange and announces his intention to retire from law so he can sail around the world, he draws rancor from Nolan and her family. The question then becomes whether he will compromise by taking the desk that his would-be father in law has offered him, or pursue the life he truly wants. Enter Katherine Hepburn, Nolan's sister, a very modern woman hemmed in by her stuffy, elitist family. Hepburn responds to Grant's youthful ideals and quickly makes it her mission to hold onto him -- on her sister's behalf.
It's plain to see that she and Grant belong together, but Donald Ogden Stewart & Sydney Buchman's script is truly a crash course on how to write your characters out of a potentially unsavory triangle. Somehow Hepburn manages to steal her sister's beau without betraying her trust and Grant wins our sympathies after quitting his fiancee in favor of her sister. Cynics may dismiss this as romantic pablum, but fans of the genre will be hard-pressed to find a film that is as funny and genuinely romantic as this one. Cukor keeps things moving, Grant somehow makes even the clumsiest acrobatic flips look dashing and gallant and Hepburn tugs at our heartstrings without resorting to maudlin theatrics. Watch for peerless character actor Edward Everett Horton and Jean Dixon as Grant's closest friends, who realize before anyone else that he and Hepburn are made for each other. Sparkling and timeless.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Branagh's customarily baroque storytelling style is ideally matched to the material. The camera moves at just the right pace. The cuts have impact. The chills are doled out methodically, leading to a revelation that has to qualify as one of the most brilliant red-herrings in the history of cinema. Franks' snappy dialogue and macabre sense of humor punctuates the suspense and keep us on edge of our seats. Derek Jacobi and an unbilled Robin Williams only add to the fun.