I can’t believe it’s already Globes night! And thanks to my inordinate amount of free time at the moment I’ve actually made really good progress on my list already this year (though of course it did grow with the BAFTA noms this week…) And thankfully some of the movies I saw this week were actually about women. (See last week’s post for my brief moment of despair at the masculine-centric film season we seem to be having.)
This is a feel good movie done right. Although the storylines are different when I got to the end of this I thought of St. Vincent, mainly because Chef succeeded where that movie failed in showing someone grow from a distant man to a warm loving one without feeling jarring. I think this works because you believe (or at least I did) that these are real people. Even Sophia Vergara who I often think acts like a cartoon, was delightfully relatable as a worrying mom.
I also really appreciated this take on technology and social media. We all experience it as both a positive and negative in our lives and it is shown here as potentially limiting and dangerous or a force for communication and community. Overall the movie just made me happy (and hungry).
This was a really unbelievable story, based on the truly remarkably weird marriage of painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) and con man extraordinaire Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) who stole all the credit for his wife’s work for the decade of their marriage. Her collusion in the scheme can be hard to take at first, except that Adams plays her vulnerability amazingly well and I at least empathized with how trapped she seemed to feel.
Perhaps because it’s written by someone else, the movie didn’t feel too Tim Burton-y (which I was worried about), but it also doesn’t really feel as distinctive as he could have made it. It’s an ably done and at times heart warming biopic (and it does take on the struggles of being a woman in a patriarchical society) but it doesn’t rise about that genre for me.
I admit that at first I did not give this foreign language nominee the attention it deserves. It just felt so stark and bleak and foreign and I didn’t know quite what was going on, but then watching a scene between Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska), a young woman about to take her vows to become a nun, talking to Lis (Dawid Ogrodnik) a young jazz musician, outside of a club framed in the shot like they were on a vintage postcard I was literally taken aback by how beautiful the image was. The story is dark (and best discovered along with Ida so I won’t summarize it here), but the shots – particularly of Trzebuchowska’s face – are arresting and by the last frame I felt so connected to her. It was everything you could want from a foreign language nominee: complex, soulful, and wholly original.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read this book yet despite both of my parents (and a million book blogs) having told me that I should. So this is very much a review of the movie, which frankly, felt very old-timey. Not because it was set in the past, but because it reminded me of an old American myth making 1950s movie about good triumphing over evil. And, well, that narrative isn’t very interesting to me.
But you what is? Jack O’Connell’s face. I read this Reese Witherspoon quote recently about Matthew McConaughey having the kind of face you want to look at for two hours (or maybe 6) and it’s all I could think about throughout Unbroken. That boy has a Two-Hour Face and it gets literally starved, bloodied, and covered in coal in the course of Zamperini‘s horrible ordeal but it never stops being compelling.
I can’t quite figure out how I feel about this one. Alan Turing‘s story is important and compelling and needs to be told more often. And it was told here in a moving way by a wonderful group of artists, but I wasn’t as blown away by it as others (including my parents) seem to have been. Maybe I’ve just reached biopic saturation, because seriously it is very well done. We all know by now that Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent, and it’s always a joy to watch him play the eccentric thinker. And I adored Keira Knightley’s take on Joan Clarke, the brilliant mathematician who had to pretend to be a secretary to appease her parents. But somehow I just connected more to the Radiolab piece on Turing from a few years ago, more than this full length movie…