Sunday, 14 July 2013

Ranthology 2013 - Part:Three

Despicable Me 2 (2013) - I have one word for you: MINIONS!
The story in this sequel is a bit less novel, as Gru (Steve Carell) continues to be a wonderful dad for the tots and is requested to assist with crime-fighting, where he puts his villainous skills of yore to good use. Along the way, he also falls in love with his partner on the case, Miss Hattie (Kristen Wiig). All very cute and adorable and fairly bland.
But it's the legendary minions that make this film just as much fun as the last one. They are absolutely hilarious and bring unbridled mirth to every scene. Bring on Minions (the film) in 2014! Best news ever!!

The Hangover: Part III (2013) - Too much of a good thing? Maybe!
The last part of a so-far-so-funny trilogy that does not amuse at all. Besides the 'Ave Maria' moment, I literally did not laugh once.

The Big Wedding (2013) - Watching cinema giants like Robert de Niro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton and Robin Williams waste their talent, while being accompanied by pretty young things Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Katherine Heigl and Amanda Seyfried, was absolutely heartbreaking. A really bad 'comedy' that did not work at all.

Stand Up Guys (2012) - Watching cinema giants like Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin waste their talent, was just as heartbreaking (see above review).

Mud (2012) - A coming-of-age drama where teenagers Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) come upon a fugitive called Mud (Matthew McConaughey), whose sole purpose for being in town is to reunite with the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), and as soon as he can do that, he plans to escape with her. As the boys get more and more involved with Mud's story and help him out with his plan, they go through a series of life lessons about love, loyalty and lies. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols (of Take Shelter 2011 fame), the plot is very simple, but it is the succinct storytelling and the perfect performances that lift this film from mediocrity to award-worthy status. McConaughey has been choosing role after role, for the past couple of years, that have ensured that his shirtless loverboy image is shed for good and is replaced with the reputation of a bankable actor. He is mesmerising in the title role. The film belongs to the two boys though - and at the heart of it all, it is their lives that concern and elate the audience. Highly recommended film.

The Great Gatsby (2013) - I don't seem to be seeing eye-to-eye with either the fans or the detractors of this film. The fans think it's a beautiful, exciting, moving piece. The detractors think it is completely over-the-top and doesn't do justice to the greatest American novel. To me personally, it's the ultimate visual representation of our concept of Art Deco. It is also an excellent adaptation of the novel. And yet, I did not like it because it is so true to the novel! I have never been moved by the soulless, hollow characters of 'West Egg' and their decadent, excessive lifestyle. Cautionary tale or not, the novel never gripped my interest - and in turn neither did the film. Still, Baz Luhrmann has recreated a visual delight and everyone, from Leonardo di Caprio to Carey Mulligan to Joel Edgerton and even Tobey Maguire, has put in an excellent performance.
But I remain unconvinced.

Iron Man 3 (2013) - Robert Downey, Jr. Multiple Iron Man suits. Guy Pearce as a deranged villain.
What else could one wish for?
And if one wishes for more, then one shouldn't really be watching a film called Iron Man 3.

Star Trek into Darkness (2013) - Have you seen Star Trek (2009)? Well, this is like that, with less novelty and more Benedict Cumberbatch. Perfectly acceptable!

Love is All You Need (2012) - Having seen the posters with Pierce Brosnan against an Italian backdrop, I thought this was a typical Hollywood rom-com. So, I was quite surprised that this was a Danish film, for one thing, and was directed by Susanne Bier (whose last film In a Better World 2010 was an Academy Award winner). Then when the film opened with Trine Dyrholm (star of my favourite non-English-language film, Festen 1998), being told that she has cancer, my presumptions about this film were dashed. All in all, it's still a simple love story, but with some of real life's surprises and unkindnesses thrown in to keep it grounded. Definitely a notch better than what I had bargained for, but to be avoided if you are averse to any sweet, romantic films.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) - Directed and co-written by Derek Cianfrance, of Blue Valentine (2010) fame, and starring Academy Award nominees Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, this film had set high expectations. Unfortunately, it did not live up to them. The narrative is divided into three acts, and though each stands quite well on its own, each feels almost completely disjointed from the other parts, which is a major flaw here. Even the last act, which is notable for its relative 'star'-less-ness and raw intensity, would have benefited from some more integration. Also, for a film that's pretending to be slightly off the beaten track, it really is the most unsubtle parable about how crime doesn't pay. Still, despite the scripting issues, Cianfrance has managed to extract great performances from his actors, whether it is Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, or the teenagers Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen. Ryan Gosling, as always in my reviews, gets a separate nod. He is exquisite in his portrayal of a man suffering from senseless loyalty, intensity, bull-headedness and sheer bad luck. If this film is worth watching, it is for him and him alone. Otherwise, it's a pass.

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