Easy A (2010) came highly recommended by friends I trust and yet I did not trust them about a teenage comedy. Big mistake. The film is an absolute delight! Olive is an ordinary high-school girl, who jokingly tells her best friend after a boring weekend that she spent the last couple of days living it up with a boy. The rumour mills are immediately set ablaze and she earns herself a huge reputation, which she initially tries to quell and later milks to advance her financial and social prospects.
It’s an amusing story, held together by excellent scripting, characterisation and editing. Emma Stone is brilliant as Olive and there is a stellar cast to support her. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, who play her parents, are equal parts nuts and equal parts endearing. Of course, I will never be able to hear Pocketful of sunshine without it invoking hilarious images from the film. Don’t be put off just because it seems to be just another teenage comedy. It really is much more than that.
Biutiful (2010) is the latest Alejandro González Iñárritu film, starring Javier Bardem as Uxbal, a man caught between life and his mortality, needs and his guilt, hopes and his nightmares. The film was heavily nominated for various international awards (including the Academy Award) and won quite a few along the way. Iñárritu uses his usual style of interlinking multiple threads to show the audience various sides of a story – and the film has moments of joy, always underlined with deep melancholy.
I tried really hard to like it as much as everyone else, but it somehow did not touch me as much as I hoped. In fact, it left me quite cold and I couldn’t wait for it to end, so I could move on to something a bit more interesting. A shame really – as I continue to wait for Iñárritu’s next Amores Perros, 2000, which just doesn’t seems to get made.
Reservation Road (2007) – an old one, which I decided to watch for Joaquin Phoenix, and did not find disappointing. The film shows us two sides of a tragedy – the accidental death of a young boy – from his parents’ and from the perpetrator’s points of view.
Beautifully crafted, it continually puts the audience in an uncomfortable position, where taking the moral high ground is no longer that easy. Mark Ruffalo plays the troubled ‘killer’ and his pain is just as raw as the traumatised father’s (played to perfection by Phoenix). The story is a simple slice of life, where things are never completely black or white – and this film has an abundance of grey. Very well-made.
The Tree of Life (2011) is a Terrence Malick film, which has been praised by almost every critic out there and has not only left me unimpressed, but so angry at the praise, that I am not sure if I should even write about it. I feel positively stupid for not liking it, as everyone else seems to have ‘got’ it, whereas I found it lengthy, boring and completely interminable.
I wish I could sum up what the film was about – there was the creation of the world, some dinosaurs, some human birth and death, a lot of whispering to God, some cliché-ridden characters and rites of passage situations, and a whole lot of pointless wandering. People keep saying how beautiful the film was and I’d honestly prefer to watch a few hours of Discovery Channel than waste my time on a film that is so ‘artistic’ that it alienates the ordinary audience completely.
Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are two of the stars in the film, but it’s not about them and they don’t carry the film forward, so I don’t think I can blame them. In fact, I would like to blame Malick himself for making such a pretentious piece – but then I don’t know what I was expecting from the man who is the creator of the worst film ever made, The New World, 2005. And with this rant, I will either lose some of my meagre audience for ever, or will have gained a couple of readers.