Awards Season Feature Post

Awards Season 2015-16 Scoreboard

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Jul 9, 2013

Quick Takes: Hemingway & Gellhorn, Hitchcock and The Pirates! Band of Misfits


Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012) (TV Movie)

Cast:

           Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen, David Strathairn, Molly Parker, Parker Posey, Rodrigo Santoro, Robert Duvall, Tony Shalhoub, Mark Pellegrino, Peter Coyote, Lars Ulrich, Leonard Apeltsin, Jeffrey Jones, Santiago Cabrera, Aitor Inarra, Diane Baker, Steven Wiig, Keone Young and Joan Chen

Director:

                   Philip Kaufman

Review:

                 Hemingway & Gellhorn is a TV movie which was shown last year on HBO. As the title suggests, this movie is based on the life of the journalist Martha Gellhorn and her famous writer husband, Ernest Hemingway. This movie tells the story of how they met, how they fell in love, how they used to work, their passions etc in a way that makes one think twice about watching a TV film of more than two and half hour ever again without taking a good look at what the critics thought about it first. Yes, it is a bad movie and a big waste of time. Not that i was interested in finding out about the lives of this prominent and famous writer couple but history is always intriguing unless it is treated in such a laughable way. If anything, read some Hemingway rather than watching this movie because it wont tell you anything about him or Gellhorn that the tabloids wont say. They both met each other for the first time in 1936 in a bar. Hemingway is very earthy, rough and carefree. Gellhorn immediately takes his attention with her beauty but moreover, her intelligence and sophistication. A few banters later, they have left a lasting impression on each other in different ways. Hemingway's wife at that time knows about how women throws themselves at him and how he can't resist. They meet each other once again during the Spanish Civil War crisis which they both cover. Many other writers and officials stays in that same hotel, during a bombing one day, they both find each other taken over by the feeling of lust and a relationship is formed between them. They stays with each other for a few years and at the end, they marry. The main focus of the plot is not Hemingway even if it does usually makes the mistake of being intimidated by the figure and irrespective of what it actually is about, it can't help but show Hemingway in a careless manner. Gellhorn becomes very famous and well regarded in her own right, she has a passion for covering the wars and showing what was happening around the world in her own words. When two extremely passionate, wild and opposing forces collide, the friction is there..... and you can guess what happens next in their lives.

                 So what were both Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen thinking when they decided to do this movie? Weren't they aware of how laughably awful the script was? It makes me think of that funny category that one of the award shows had last year... "An actor in dire need for a new agent" or something like that. Kidman who is bound to shine with her beauty and moreover with her acting talent in whatever she does but its not about her performance here but her choices which have been quite questionable lately. Anyways, Nicole Kidman's performance is good and appreciable here. She has that force-of-nature kind of attire and persona that makes her a perfect choice to portray a character like that. Even though her performance is affected usually by the ridiculousness of the plot and the shortcomings but she does what she can with whatever she has. Most of the focus is on her, how she looked at the world and important historical events as well as her husband. Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway is sidelined and drenched in the known persona of Hemingway rather than giving him enough material to work with. As if he was told to act like Hemingway and not be him. He looks good in it as a rough and tough man but the problematic writing gets its toll on everything including the performances. I don't know what the writers were thinking. The focus on the plot, the characterization, the personal and the professional, the attention and the distraction is so narrow that the movie feels like a big, bloated and expensive mess that could have been an amazing project. The focus on the couple in this movie is from a distance, as if the movie is based on the tabloids or what people thought of them and not exactly on them. It feels like a gimmick, pretentious and drained by heart and passion project which surprisingly is exactly opposite to the full of passion couple that they were. Yes they were doomed lovers but if we don't care about them in the first place thanks to how badly they are introduced and how carelessly the movie progresses, why on earth would we feel anything regarding what happened or what did not happened between them? Technically its good with cinematography and sound effects. The movie suffers in the direction department as well. Hemingway & Gellhorn tries to be a historical melodrama but doesn't really comes off as one. Neither does it soars in the intellectuals, ideologists, writers-talking-about-big-things department. The incidents adds nothing to the characters or the movie, they are just there because they happened. Not an intense doomed romantic story, neither a passionate breakup drama. A painfully big misfire.


Grade: D+



Hitchcock (2012)

Cast:

           Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ralph Macchio, Kurtwood Smith, Michael Wincott, Richard Portnow, Wallace Langham, Richard Chassler, Josh Yeo and Paul Schackman

Director:

                   Sacha Gervasi

Review:

                 Hitchcock was a movie that i was quite excited to watch last year not because i had high expectations from the movie itself but because of its subject and how fun it would be to have a closer look at how Hitchcock used to work. Film enthusiasts would just love the references here. But i knew what this movie would be like, thanks to the trailer which made it looked like My Week with Hitchcock. In the end, i prefer that Marilyn flick slightly over this. Hitchcock isn't a bad movie at all, its fun and breezy film that you will enjoy but is overall quite average. Hitchcock is a biographical drama based on a book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho". The title pretty much explains it. The movie revolves around Hitchcock and his relationship with his wife Alma around the time the most influential and game-changing horror movie "Psycho" was being made. Having just made "North by Northwest" to a great success, Hitchcock learns from a reporter what the audience might be thinking about him now that he's been making movies for years. He wants to get back their trust and establish his impression again by doing something daring and artistic that he was once known for. Turning down a few projects, Hitchcock decides to adapt a book that is based on a real life serial killer. Hitchcock was known for his strict sense of showmanship, determined nature and having to do things his way. The movie takes a closer look at how Psycho came into existence, the troubles he had to face from his colleagues or him for that matter. But the real revelation in this movie is how much of an influence, inspiration and a collaborator his own wife Alma Reville was in his life. I never knew anything about this i mean she was basically THE woman behind him. That is something that gives a nice little touch to this movie, an interesting thing that i wouldn't have known otherwise. As i said earlier, if you have an interest in cinema and if you are a big fan of Hitchcock then i don't see why this experience wouldn't be irresistible and fascinating. However, the movie itself is flawed and doesn't really handles its subjects and sub-plots the way it should have. So all the secondary elements aside, you wont think this is a good movie.

                 Anthony Hopkins in a role of a lifetime for anyone. I love how he gets Hitchcock's movements and his persona so right. They way he used to speak or stand or do things. What really compliments him further is the makeup work which is really good and doesn't really feel overdone. But the best performance in this movie is given by Helen Mirren, not a surprise! Her scenes with Hithcock are very good. To get an intimate look at the personal life of a genius like him, something that we have never seen before is wonderful. Alma always stands right beside Hitchcock in every way that she can. She is a perfect wife and a perfect business partner. Her role is not just as a wife but as a collaborator. The differences, strains and misunderstandings always arises in marital life. That happens here as well. Mirren perfectly captures the feelings of a woman torn between her loyalty and her dedication while being appreciated less for what she have been doing all her life for her husband and how she get things in return. A pretty dramatic scene when they both fight is a highlight. Now Hitchcock isn't a perfect film. Still better than most of those movies that are based on the life of a famous couple. You can see how much tabloid inspired the plot seems. There is hefty material to work with, which is what saves the movie from being a mess. The whatever insight that this movie seems to be giving us is quite superficial. A very shallow depiction of a creative giant and his personal and professional life that is saved by the few things that appeals immediately to the audience. There is also a sub-plot which is the worse thing about the movie. It tries to explore the psyche of Hitchcock himself but stumbles very bad when it tries to do so. Forget the shaky and questionable beginning and ending of the movie that makes it laughable but that sub-plot makes it all the more bad. The production is quite good and colorful. The movie has a look of a TV movie. Good costumes and every other technical aspect. It has some famous actors playing the roles of other famous actors so that is a joy to watch. While all the unfocused narrative and shallow depiction aside, the movie is actually entertaining to just watch. And who can forget that amazing scene (which was so freaking exciting to watch) when Hitchcock standing outside the screening room hears the screams of the audience to that shower scene from Psycho with the deadly score playing and he looks excited and hopeful for his project?


Grade: C




The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

Voice Cast:

                       Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, Brian Blessed, Anton Yelchin, Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, Al Roker, Mike Cooper, David Schneider, Mitchell Mullen

Director:

                   Peter Lord

Review:

                 The movie with a weird title, "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" is the fifth animated feature by the Aardman Animations. Like their most of the films, it is also a stop-motion comedy adventure film. It is actually based on the first book of Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! series. It revolves around the Pirate Captain and his crew of the amateur misfit pirates with funny names and funny features. In order to prove themselves and have a name, the Pirate Captain decides to enter the Pirate of the Year competition with his crew. They try many times to plunder ships but fails in their every attempt. Pirate Captain is about to give up when they board a ship and find Charles Darwin on it. Yes, Charles Darwin. Darwin recognizes the crew's pet Polly as the last living dodo and urges the Pirate Captain to enter it into the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Academy in London. Of course, Darwin's intentions are not very good. The Pirate Captain agrees to do that despite knowing the hatred that Queen Victoria has for the pirates. Yes, Queen Victoria. And yes, Queen herself has evil intentions. I know it has such a silly sounding plot and it is. The movie at first basically seems like a spoof of the pirate movies with added gags of scientists and Queen Victoria with an underdog crew, each with names like Pirate with a Scarf, Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate and Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens. The visuals, its style, the funny jokes and touching story is what makes a good animation to watch. It may not be one of the best animated movies you will see and definitely not a great effort by the Aardman studios but it still is a very worth film to watch and enjoy. Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton, Martin Freeman etc did a really good job with the voice acting. It has beautiful visuals and design and really impresses you with that. The look of the characters and everything else is very clay like, the same as their famous "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit". The detailing of the pirate stuff, lovely sea atmosphere, the many physical gags and their dangerous adventures and the chaos is really well depicted visually.

                 Even though the movie feels a bit stiff in the middle, it usually is very good. The screenplay is written rather well. Most of the jokes gets past by the very young audience as i would imagine but slightly older kids and mostly adults would be really pleased by the kind of a near slapstick humor that it has. Of course the nature of the humor is very British, which is what makes it more fun. The very rapidly said dialogues and the delivery of one liners in a strictly British manner gives it an elegant air *feels the need to insert LOL! here*. The quirky nature and the way it offers the variety of gags that even feature the Elephant Man and right down to someone like Queen Victoria being portrayed in such a way gives it a broad sense of scope with humor and plot which surprisingly doesn't feel quite forced or just being all over the place with it. There are moments of amazing fighting and specially chase sequences that makes it a fun adventure movie. Its handling of history, which i don't think would be ideal for kids to watch JUST for the history lessons is quite hilarious to think of. It does a better job at spoofing than many of the shows and movies does with its clever wits and quirks. A riot of a fun and has those small moments that you would smile at after watching the movie for a while as you'll recall the bits and wouldn't help but feel amused. Its the kind of a movie that the whole family can enjoy. It does however has a slight problem with the screenplay where a part of it seems to lack the extra punch that it needs as i said. But otherwise its good and even towards the end, the movie gets very touching. In all the weirdness and silliness, the movie entertains and makes up for a good experience. A time well spent with the pirates!


Grade: B-