Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Julia (2008)

Tilda Swinton gives one of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a thrilling film that may try the patience of some.

Ok, so I did one old movie, I feel this balances out in the grand cosmic scheme of the universe.

Julia (Tilda Swinton) is not a good person, she's an alcoholic, a smartass, and she'll essentially go to bed with anyone who happens to be around when she's passing from sobriety to full blown drunken sluttiness.

One day, she is approached by a fellow AA member about her son, who was taken from her by her dead husband's wealthy father. She wants to enlist Julia's help in abducting her son and holding him for ransom, so that she can begin a new life with him in Mexico. But Julia takes things into her own hands and begins a frantic descent.

Tilda Swinton is THE MAIN reason to see this film. And that's not an insult to the film, it's simply that she creates a character so lived-in, so fascinating to watch that is is incredible. It's almost as if she is possessed by some sort of spirit as we see her frantically try to pull of a scheme, getting in way over her head. It's so raw and so captivating that it's hard to look away.

The film itself is a bit of a toss up. I found myself enjoying it, because I can bear almost anything if there's a strong performance in the forefront, but some people could understandably get annoyed with its long length and for some of the twists and turns that the film takes.

But for those who take the plunge, I doubt anyone could walk away without being wowed by Swinton's amazing performance, it's a shame that she didn't walk away from this with an Oscar, because it's so easily deserved.

This is another film on Watch Now, so watch it while you can.

Green for Danger (1946)

This is a bit of return to form for the blog, since it's actually an older film, and a good old fashioned whodunnit on top of it, which has pretty much become a dead genre.

Green for Danger is a great little British mystery that tells the story of a group of doctors and nurses who become the suspects when an elderly postman dies on the operating table during a routing surgery for a minor injury. The film does a brilliant job of setting up the relationships between the hospital staff before the murder occurs and is even investigated. There's a love triangle between a nurse, a surgeon, and the anesthesiologist, the operating theater sister (whatever the hell that means) who is in love with the surgeon, a nurse suffering from nerves after her mother died in a bomb raid. It's obvious I didn't remember any of the characters' names, isn't it?

About halfway through the movie, we get Inspector Cockrill played by Alistair Sim who has been sent to investigate the situation. The sort of eccentric, comic-relief-ishness of the character is a bit jarring from the melodrama that so permeated the first half, but it's not so much as to make the character the general quirky detective, and Sim gives the character enough brutal honesty to keep things in check.

The film is pretty short, at only 91 minutes, but that's what makes it such an easy watch. It's always entertaining and never becomes to bogged down, we get the set up, the investigation, and the denouement which insists of recreating the surgery to try and catch the killer in the act. I know it's become to cliche to say that a film will "have you guessing until the end", but that's really the case with this one. I didn't have it figured out until the very end of the movie.

The film is available on Netflix Watch Now, for those who have, along with a lot of other movies I've recommended, so give it a watch if you have the time. It's a great underrated little film.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Peggy Sue Got Married

Yes, I have returned from the dead. I wish I had a valid excuse for not posting in so long, but I will simply blame Sandra Bullock's win for Best Actress, because it works for me.

So for my triumphant return, I will be reviewing the film Peggy Sue Got Married. It stars Kathleen Turner Peggy Sue, a middle aged woman attending her 25th high school anniversary. She's a bundle of nerves, concerned with her appearance and her recent separation from her cheating husband and high school sweetheart Charlie (Nicolas Cage). When declared Queen of the Reunion, she faints and wakes up decades later as an 18 year old in the last few months of high school, effectively giving her a second chance at possibly preventing her pregnancy that led to her marrying Charlie.

The film features a tour-de-force performance from Turner, who effectively begins the film as a beaten-down woman who slowly begins to lose the hardened skin that life has given her until she becomes an 18 year old school girl again. It's brilliant to watch and she is easily the main reason to see this film.

The film itself is light fun, seeing how Peggy Sue navigates her senior year, fully aware of what will happen later on, and how she deals with the odd situation she finds herself in. There are also wonderfully touching moments such as when Peggy Sue answers the phone to hear her long-dead grandmother on the other end.

Really, only real detriment to the film is Nic Cage, who gives an overly mannered performance as the clumsy, bumbling teen who pines after Peggy Sue. He uses a voice that was said to be modeled after Pokey from the Gumby shorts, and that decision turns out to be a bad one as he grates on your nerves for the entire film with the nasally groan that makes Fran Drescher sound like Sigourney Weaver. He's not a bad actor (Just see Adaptation), but this performance is horrible, it's too self-aware, too much forced awkwardness, and is really hard to watch.

Luckily, the brilliance of Kathleen Turner's performance far outweighs the horribleness of Cage's, and she deservedly received an Oscar nomination for it and the film's fun tone and touching scenes makes it easily watchable and very enjoyable. It's a fun little movie.