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Nov 18, 2012

Quick Takes: Haywire - The Kid with a Bike - The Deep Blue Sea.


Haywire (2012)

Cast:

          Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Michael Angarano, Mathieu Kassovitz, Eddie J. Fernandez, Anthony Brandon Wong, Tim Connolly, Maximino Arciniega, Aaron Cohen, Natascha Berg and Fergal O'Halloran.

Director:

                   Steven Soderbergh.

Review:

                Steven Soderbergh is a very interesting filmmaker, everything he does has something new to it. In his entire career he tried to do things that he wanted, making movies in his own way. With Haywire, Soderbergh did what he is known for by the masses, the heist/crime/spy thrillers. The look and feel of this movie is unlike anything i have seen recently, no wonder i get bored watching the similar but very badly treated movies that does so great at the box-office thanks to its stars but they aren't just made with the precision that Soderbergh shows here. Haywire is the debut movie of the MMA fighter Gina Carano and she stars as Mallory Kane, sort of an agent working for a company that handles "operations". Movie begins with a scene where she is meeting Aaron (Tatum) at a diner. They talk, everything is calm, something comes up and boom, they start fighting. Throughout the movie, Carano is someone that blows your mind with her fighting skills and she is great at it. She can fight men and can easily win. Kudos to Mr Soderbergh for creating such uniquely staged fighting sequences that looks so real thanks to the editing and cinematography. Kenneth (McGregor) is the firm's director and Mallory's ex who tasks Mallory and Aaron to rescue Jiang who is held hostage in an apartment in Barcelona. They successfully do it but little do we know that this will be the starting point for the troubles that Mallory is about to go through.

                There are quite interesting narrative twists and turns in the movie and you get enough time to actually keep them in your mind and catch up with the bigger picture. I wont say that Gina Carano can act very well (though this is her first movie) but she is excellent in fighting/action sequences. Even though this is not the kind of a compliment any other woman would like to hear but her face has this roughness that shows when she is in a full on to-kill-and-survive mood in the movie. There is a sequence in the movie when she is returning back to her hotel room with the British MI6 agent Paul (Fassbender), she is tasked to pose as his wife. As soon as they enter their room, Paul is ready to attack her but Mallory who knows he is going to do something like this attacks him too instantly. That is such an interesting sequence when they are fighting as they break things in the room, she uses her thighs and legs and arms in ways that i haven't seen anyone else do. The way Soderbergh captures those scene is just brilliant. There are some great names in the movie, from Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas to Bill Paxton and Ewan McGregor followed by the IT boys Michael Fassbender and Channing Tatum. I think everyone did a fine job in the time that they had in the movie, the real star is of course Gina Carano. I loved the locations they chose to shot the movie, the use of light and darkness in the few scenes. The natural flow of the scenes adds up a lot to the kind of a grounded action meets stylized direction theme, but Soderbergh makes it sure that it doesn't look very usual Hollywood-fest but more realistic yet something that you haven't seen. The score is very edgy and jazzy and it works here. I think Soderbergh did a good job in making this movie, the real spy thriller fanatics will appreciate it but the ones who cares a lot about how a movie should follow certain rules will hate it.


Grade: B



The Kid with a Bike (2012)

Cast:

          Cecile de France, Thomas Doret, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Egon Di Mateo andOlivier Gourmet.

Director:

                  Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

Review:

                The Kid with a Bike is the latest movie from the Dardenne brothers. It won the Grand-Prix award at Cannes film festival last year which it shared with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. This is a heartbreaking and very rich drama with the usual rawness that their movies has but it is made in a very fairytale type of setup as they themselves described it. This is the story of a 12 year old boy Cyril (Doret) who is in foster care but is searching for his father. His father is alive but he doesn't want him and he is living his life away from him. The boy who is so in love with his father that he isn't ready to accept the fact that he left him as he constantly tries to dial the number of his apartment to talk to him. He escapes from there in search for his father, he reaches to find but he isn't there. Angry, sad and trying to escape from the caretakers, he hides in the doctor's office nearby and grabs a woman and doesn't let go. He doesn't even accepts the fact that his father sold his bike to someone, the bike he brought for him and believes that someone must have stolen it from his dad. The next day, the woman Samantha (France) brings his bike back. Slowly he develops this bond with the woman and she with him without they actually realizing it. You will see the boy in a red jacket all the time, it shows a troubled, angry and very intense natured soul haunted by the troubles he had in his life. The woman comes in his life as someone who comforts him, she loves him and shows affection towards him which is something that he needs. It is painful to see how much he wants to meet his dad and once he does, he is told to never contact. I mean how devastating it is for a child who has no one else but his father and only to be rejected by him as well. No wonder his brutality, insane amount of anger and his rough behavior is easily accepted by the viewers.

                  This movie never comes off as sentimental when it could easily have, the flow and style with which its been made tries to never let us feel that way. Its brutal, honest, raw in ever way. Its morally complex and emotionally heart wrenching. There is a very limited use of music, only in a few significant scenes. The cinematography is superb, the beautiful sun and streets and the woods adds up a lot of distinct mystical realism to this "real life-brutal-fairytale". This movie is definitely kind of nod to the classic Bicycle Thieves but it is not in anyway like it. The directors are really known for these kind of modern-realist movies and they most of the time tackles parenting issues. The boy played by Thomas Doret is quite impressive in this movie, he is the driving force of it and for a child to have an entire movie on his shoulders, he does a great job. He doesn't speak most of the time, limited dialogues for him but he shows the anger, frustration and regret in just a single glance. Cecile de France, the ever wonderful actress did a nice job too. An incident happens with him that really knocks him over, a kind of a wake up call for him. And as the movie ends, he accepts everything and moves on. If you carefully watch the movie and are able to move emotionally with it, the end is quite rewarding and satisfying. Very carefully observed, sharply written and emotionally honest movie.


Grade: B+




The Deep Blue Sea (2012)

Cast:

          Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Harry Hadden-Paton, Ann Mitchell, Sarah Kants, Barbara Jefford and Oliver Ford Davies.

Director:

                   Terence Davies.

Review:

                The Deep Blue Sea is a British drama based on a play and is set around the 50's. It tells us the story of Hester Colleyer (Weisz). Her troubled life as she is caught up between her husband Sir William Colleyer (Beale) who is a High Court Judge and is quite old and Freddie Page (Hiddleston) a former RAF pilot with whom she is having an affair. The style and substance in the movie is amazing, i wont say perfectly balanced but certainly quite great separately. Movie begins with a very lovely and quite long shot accompanied by a haunting violin score. There are some stunning sequences, as she tries to commit suicide, her despair that is shown throughout and the end. Her husband is someone who is very nice to her and loves her very dearly but he can't physically satisfy her. She is a young, beautiful and very intelligent woman and as she meets a young good looking pilot, she develops feelings for him. Freddie is someone who might be perfect for her physically but he can't really give her the love she always gets from her husband. He is a very troubled soul, haunted by the memories of war, thrill seeking soul to whom life now feel ordinary and pointless. He is not very sensitive or emotionally present at all. Terence Davies who brilliantly directed this movie does a great job in showing us these inner battles and the emotional complexity of Hester's character. He lets us experience every single detail of it, lets us examine her dilemma in more than one way. She is caught up in a web, the time that she lives in, the moral and social values, both of these men and then there is herself.

                 Rachel Weisz gives what looks like the best performance of her career which is something i hope more and more people recognize. I am not sure she will win awards for this, which i hope she does because she is astounding in this movie. The right mix of emotions is something she easily portrays, the confusion she has, the anger and frustration that arises from the difficult situations. The hopelessness that develops since nothing seems to be working for her, she either jumps in the deep blue sea or get destroyed by the devil that is following her. The kind of a blurry look that this movie has in the parts that shows the present time in which Hester is living a life of misery makes these moments quite haunting, cold, dull and just sad. Most of the movie shows us the various fragments from her past, the flashbacks in the middle of her trying to decide whether she should continue or end her life. The feel of the movie is very nostalgic, wonderful London shown during World War II and after it and how it changes drastically and changes the people with it. Many will find this movie too much staged, melodramatic and just weird but i didn't. It never really goes towards that side, no soapy, syrupy melodrama but effective and passionate story of love, lust and heartbreak.


Grade: B