As a film, Godzilla is perfectly adequate. But that’s the nicest thing I can say about it. It’s always disappointing when a breakthrough director like Gareth Edwards catches the eye of a big studio only to be hired for rote product. Big blockbusters like this tend to swallow filmmakers whole and render them more or less anonymous (see also: J.J. Abrams‘s Star Trek, Guillermo Del Toro‘s Pacific Rim). Edwards’s Monsters was a distinctive movie with real characters and story. His Godzilla is more expensive, but less of a movie. There’s nothing in it we haven’t seen a million times before.
Dir. Joe Wright
(2012, R, 130 minutes)
I’ve never read the book or seen another adaptation; Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina is my first exposure to Leo Tolstoy‘s tragic romance, and as the film began I was concerned its highly stylized approach may not be an ideal introduction. It starts at a rapid clip, morphing from scene to scene in a large, ever-changing theater that the film uses as a figurative representation of 19th century Russia, and at first I wondered, maybe this isn’t the right way in.
Dir. Rodrigo Garcia
(2011, R, 113 min)
Albert Nobbs is a pretty good film that would have been better if it had gotten rid of the exposition. I say that often, but this is a unique case in which the exposition not only gets in the way but makes the characters less clear. This is the labor of love of actress Glenn Close, who plays the title character and also co-wrote the screenplay and penned the song “Lay Your Head Down” for the closing credits. Albert, who lives in 19th century Ireland, is a woman living as a man. She works as a waiter at a hotel, anticipating the needs of the guests but otherwise keeps to herself. In her practiced shyness, she’s interesting. Beneath her placid exterior is a vivid inner life full of longings, regrets, and aspirations … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.
Dir. Sam Taylor-Wood
(2010, R, 98 min)
★ ★ ★
Nowhere Boy is a music biopic that works because it’s less about the making of the music than it is about the making of the man. Telling the story of John Lennon as a teenager just discovering his love of rock music, its least interesting scenes are the ones of the forming of the band that would become the Beatles. Have you met my friend Paul? He’s pretty good on the guitar! Such scenes in such films tend toward self-consciousness. The characters are oblivious to the importance of meeting, while the film winks at the audience about the epochal encounter.
Dir. Matthew Vaughn
(2010, R, 117 min)
★ ★ ★ ½
How you respond to Kick-Ass will depend on how you look at it. There are elements that suggest a film to be taken seriously and several others that suggest pure escapism, some that seem exploitive in their violence and others that seem to be satirizing that violence. What do I think? It would be self-flattery to claim that I got the film; many will enjoy it simply as giddy, violent spectacle, and others will hate it for the same reason. But I think there’s more to it than meets the eye. I think the film is doing with ambivalence and a sly wink what Michael Haneke’s Funny Games tried to do with smug, scolding superiority: shine a light on our consumption of such violence, and in the process highlight the fundamental disconnect between our sanitized PG-13 fantasies and the cold, hard smack of R-rated reality.