Posts Tagged ‘Patricia Clarkson’

‘One Day’ feels oh-so-much longer

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess in "One Day" The relationship between Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) changes over time in “One Day.”

Maybe it was all more resonant, more poignant on the page: the many highs and lows and major life shifts that occur during the decades-spanning friendship/romance between Emma and Dexter in “One Day.”

But here they feel so cursory and rushed, it’s as if we’re watching a filmed version of the CliffsNotes of David Nicholls’ best-seller. Nicholls himself adapted his novel into the screenplay, and the amount of material he tries to cram in suggests he didn’t know how or when to let go of his baby.

It’s a handsome misfire, though, with its tasteful production design and impeccable costumes — all very British. And it’s all the more curious coming from Danish director Lone Scherfig, whose last film was the excellent “An Education” (2009), which was nominated for three Academy Awards including best picture. That film had a piercing insight about it, a startling honesty beneath its glamorous exterior. Nothing of the sort is to be found here.

The central conceit is this: Em (Anne Hathaway) and Dex (Jim Sturgess) meet after a long night of post-college graduation partying on July 15, 1988. She’s self-consciously middle-class, he’s breezily posh. They jump into bed but decide to remain just friends — but we all know where that’s headed.

“One Day” keeps coming back to that one day, year after year, and checks in with them as they date other people, forge careers, share awkward dinners and basically wait around until the eventual July 15 when they’ll be together. (Read more…)

Give this teen sex comedy an A for effort, at least

Friday, September 17th, 2010
Emma Stone in "Easy A" Olive (Emma Stone) narrates her own version of how she earned a scarlet letter in the high school comedy “Easy A.”

Emma Stone possesses soft, come-hither eyes that could drink in the oceans, a sexually playful, raw, husky voice that could melt icebergs, and a feminine fragility that summons forth the protector in males.

“Easy A” fulfills the promise that this remarkable young actress showed in the horror/comedy “Zombieland.” She single-handedly carries her sassy new high school sex comedy with crates of confidence, charisma and charm.

In “Easy A” (also one of the smartest, cleverest titles in recent years), Stone tosses out a career-making performance fraught with conflicting emotions, torn loyalties and adolescent confusion, all built upon a foundation of Christ-like good will toward men.

Stone’s seemingly effortless performance does wonders to cover the sins of the movie, such as a weak, tentative use of her character as a Christ symbol, the ridiculous overuse of the word “awesome!” (nine times) and a blatant pandering to 1980s nostalgia at the cost of the story’s unnecessarily sacrificed originality.

Stone plays Olive Pendergast, a high schoolgirl who narrates her story via a streaming broadcast from her computer. She lays out everything that has happened, complete with chapter titles.

One day in the restroom, Olive’s best pal Rhia (Aly Michalka) pushes her hard to find out what she did on the weekend. To shut her up, Olive tells a white lie: She lost her virginity to a college guy.

Faster than you can run around the campus with a super-speeded-up camera lens, rumors spread that Olive has become a woman.

This works well thematically for Olive, who’s studying Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” in English class, taught by the cool Mr. Griffith (Thomas Hayden Church). (Read more…)

Scare-sese’s ‘Shutter Island’ fueled by death, dread and deception

Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley in "Shutter Island" U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), left, interrogates Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) in “Shutter Island.”


The scariest parts of Martin Scorsese’s surrealistically creepy thriller “Shutter Island” aren’t the sudden shocks, or the terrifying visions, or the bizarre revelations, or even the vanishing bodies.

As you watch “Shutter Island,” a palpable sense of paranoia slowly tightens around your throat like an invisible wire noose.

Tighter.

Tighter.

Tighter. Until you feel just as trapped, as frightened, as confused and as helpless as the U.S. marshal at the center of Scorsese’s waking nightmare.

I am sure other critics will make this obvious connection, but “Shutter Island” is to Scorsese what “The Shining” is to the late Stanley Kubrick: a stylish, artful study in the power of escalating dread.

The comparisons between “Shutter Island” and “The Shining” are appropriate, and not necessarily all positive.

Both films are beleaguered by cold, unfathomable main characters we can’t quite access or truly get to know.

But that’s all right, because these movies aren’t about relating to the main characters. They’re all about two master moviemakers slumming in a “lesser” genre who know just how to ratchet up the tension by plying their knowledge of film and storytelling to create a dark and disorienting experience that will leave us exhausted.

“Shutter Island,” faithfully adapted by Laeta Kalogridis from a 2003 Dennis Lehane best-seller, brings U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Scorsese favorite Leonardo DiCaprio) to an island outside of Boston on what appears to be a missing persons case in 1954. (Read more…)