Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Mish-Mash of Movie Memories (Reviews Galore!)

As Siobhan so eloquently stated, CineCritical has relaxed our blogging schedule recently. School has been busy and life has had its hurdles.

Since my last blog post I have seen five (yes, FIVE!) films on the big screen and I have not reviewed a single one of them. I was not as as enamored with any of them as I had expected, but that is the life of a cinephile.

So here, in a hopefully chronological order, are my mini-reviews:

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Back in January I complained about movie trailer. Lasse Hallstrom's adaptation of Paul Torday's novel was amongst the terrible titles. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Alfred Jones, a government fisheries expert, and Emily Blunt as Harriet Chetwode-Tolbot, a consultant with a wealthy Yemeni client interested in introducing salmon fishing in Yemen. Hollstrom's filmography is a bit hit and miss (2000's Chocolat was nominated for five Academy Awards and 2010's Nicholas Sparks adaption of Dear John), but Kristin Scott Thomas' supporting role was enough to lure me. Thomas' character is entirely one-dimensional and delivers great one-liners, but the cliched love story between Alfred and Harriet brings down the film. The film had potential, but Alfred's doomed marriage to Mary and Harriet's relationship with Robert, an army officer who ships off to Afghanistan just weeks after they meet, muddies the film in uneven emotional chaos that evoked no sympathy from me.

My rating: 2 stars out of 4.


I was invited to a teachers-only screening of the controversial documentary Bully. The film has been shrouded in controversy with the MPAA threatening to give the film an NC-17 rating (for a particular profanity-filled scene on a school bus that I barely noticed!). As a teacher, I notice that bullying is a huge problem. I experienced bullying as a student in elementary and high schools. Bully focuses on five families, including two whose sons committed suicide as a result of bullying. The film suffers from shaky-cam syndrome and deals too heavily with the bullied rather than the bully. I would have preferred a more in depth look at why these kids turn to bullying. Sitting in a theatre full of Ontario teachers it was amazing how incompetent we felt the administration was on screen. There need to be stricter laws enforced to help students and families deal with bullying.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

The Hunger Games

So Jennifer Lawrence did not completely ruin the film, an adaption of Suzanne Collins' bestselling young adult novel. We all know the story: set in a dystopian future, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), a sixteen year old girl, volunteers in place of her younger sister to fight in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death reality show featuring a young boy and young girl from each of the twelve districts of Panem. I was won over by Woody Harrelson's Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz's Cinna, but Stanley Tucci was the real supporting star as Caesar Flickerman. The film took a long time to get going but settled into an exciting adventure. My chief complaint is that Katniss' relationship with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is downplayed far too heavily. Running at 142minutes, it is a long film and it lags at the beginning, but more could have been shown from District 12 at the start to set the tone for the entire trilogy.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

The Secret World of Arietty

I have not seen any Studio Ghibli films, most known for Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away (2001) and Ponyo (2008). The Secret World of Arietty (known also simply as Arietty) is based on English children author Mary Norton's novel The Borrowers. The film centres around a family of borrowers (small people who live under the floorboards and who borrow necessary items from humans). Arietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler in the North American dubbed version) is fourteen and befriends Shawn (David Henrie), a twelve year old boy stuck living in the countryside while awaiting heart surgery. Arietty's parents (voiced by Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) fear humans and believe they must move after learning that Arietty has been seen by Shawn. Hara (Carol Burnett), the caretaker, is suspicious of the existence of the little people and catches Arietty's mother one day, leading to much more trouble. The Secret World of Arietty, while exceptionally animated and featuring a beautiful story, is far too laboriously paced. I found myself losing patience with the story very early on. The film plays as a crippling stroll, even though it comes in at 94 minutes.

My rating: 2 stars out of 4.

21 Jump Street

CAUTION: Channing Tatum does not take his shirt off! Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko in this action comedy remake of the 1980 police procedural 21 Jump Street, which gave Johnny Depp his big break. Schmidt was a nerd in high school. Jenko was a popular jock. Fast forward a few years and they are both at the police academy. Schmidt is still a nerd. Jenko is still a dumb jock. They become close friends and after a drug bust gone wrong they report to an undercover unit where they go back to high school in an effort to bust a drug ring. Posing as brothers, and mixing up identities, Schmidt is instantly popular and Jenko is branded a loser. Schmidt gets close to Eric (Dave Franco, brother of James) and Molly (Brie Larson of United States of Tara), but soon finds himself far too deep in the assignment. 21 Jump Street is surprising funny, despite all its terrible cliches. It is an enjoyable experience, even if Channing Tatum remains fully clothed!

My rating: 3 stars out of 4.

1 comment:

  1. You get four points for your glorious alliteration.