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Monday
Dec192011

We Need To Talk About Tweet Length Reviews

December (sigh)... it defeats me every year. In 2012 I'm going to start training for it like it's the marathon. Because it is! Maybe I'll try to write one December 2012 article each week all year long so that when the time comes I'll have plenty of time for all the events / screenings / interviews / awards articles. "too many things too many things too many things" to quote Boogie Nights. So here are some things I've been seeing that I have no time to talk about. But let's carve out a teensy bit anyway. None of these will make much of a dent on my "best" or "worst" lists so let's cross them off the eternal to do list with tweet length reviews... (I use to try for seven to ten words but that ends up being a series of adjectives. Giving myself a few more characters now.)

Dear Mr. Spielberg. Jamie Bell is very nice to look at. Were you not aware of this? Thanks.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
In which Tintin and his dog Snowy seek out a pirates treasure through a series of infinite setpieces
Review: Oft described as "endlessly fun" and the endless part is true. Inventive and spectacular looking but utterly exhausting. Pirates again? B-/C+
Oscar? The Animated branch might reject it under the umbrella of "mo-cap is not animation!" disdain. Me I have no problem whatsoever with mo-cap but I prefer it when it looks less realistic (like in Monster House). If you're aiming for real-looking human characters, just let me see the actual actors. Jamie Bell is very nice to look at and hiring him only to hide him away is a disservice to eyeballs everywhere.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS
Will a child be left without a gift on Christmas? Three generations of Santas spring into action.
Review: Gimmick thoroughly mined for madcap fun though it's a shade too busy. Wonderful voice work. Plenty of heart, too (which Tintin lacks). B
Oscar? Given the generally anemic animated film race, it will be a real shame if this one from Aardman doesn't score a nomination. But I think it will. 

KUNG FU PANDA 2
In which Po realizes he was adopted and fights the peacock who is trying to end Kung Fu and conquer China.
Review: Disposable with uneven humor but the palette is pure wow. I was as hypnotized as Po whenever the peacock fanned those white and red feathers. B-/C+
Oscar? Though it's the second highest grossing animated film of the year, I don't expect it to score with Oscar voters. The Globe snub is telling but depressing. If you have to have a sequel in the lineup why Cars 2? KFP 2 is better looking and funnier and has a better story and a better hero and villain. Better on all counts.

MARGIN CALL
In which a group of 1%ers and financial analysts predict / cause the economic apocalypse
Review: This involving horror film about our powerlessness and corporate greed is boosted by perfect timing though not quite above telefilm level. B
Oscar? Given the multiple "first film" prizes J.C. Chandor has won, I'm guessing this has a really solid shot at an Original Screenplay nomination. But if any of the actors were going to have found favor yet, I think we would have seen some SAG interest... at least in Ensemble

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
In which... no, I don't know what happens and I really truly was paying attention.
Review: Super handsome filmmaking, ace score, gifted ensemble but too restrained to feel, too info-crowded to follow: B
Oscar? Even when a movie has incredible craft elements, it rarely gets nominated if voters don't love the film as a whole. I'm doubtful this one will pick anything up. But maybe one nomination, two max in visual categories or screenplay.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
In which a woman gives birth to a bad seed and suffers greatly for it.
Review: Miscast and weirdly art-film parodic in its repetitions / obviousness. Tilda's eyeballs feel the horror, though. B-/C+
Oscar? I'm more surprised than you are that Tilda gained traction for this one. I thought the film too inaccessible but apparently that Julia, I Am Love momentum finally pushed her over some kind of art goddess edge and she's back in the Oscar conversation where she nearly always belongs.

Tilda and her demonic boy(s)

I would also like to note that I really was rooting for this film before seeing it because I think Lynne Ramsay's previous feature Morvern Callar (2002) is ten kinds of amazing but I was sorely disappointed. I hope it doesn't take her 9 more years to deliver film #4.

I'm still trying to get full reviews out for Iron Lady, War Horse, Albert Nobbs, Extremely Loud and Melancholia (lol. Hi several months later!) cuz I got shit to say. We shall see. I need to stop time for one week to catch up. Perhaps I should call up Hamish Linklater from The Future and get on that?

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Reader Comments (19)

Quick note: Ramsay's debut was actually Ratcatcher from 1999, a great film and one you should certainly check out.

Also, wasn't she supposed to helm The Lovely Bones at some point? Now that could have been interesting...

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

dom -- ugh. of course you're right. my brain lately. have fixed. i agree that she would hvae made a very interesting lOVELY BONES movie

December 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat, I fully agree with you about how exhausting much of "Tintin" was. I felt as if I needed a nap after that North African chase scene! (I see Kris Tapley thought the chase was wonderful...but you see one chase scene, you see them all, if you ask me.)

They could have shortened the film a bit, too. The subplot with the pickpocket was pretty much unnecessary, except as a way to have Tintin lose the bit of paper...and they could have accomplished that some other way.

I do, however, disagree with you on human actors. You don't want visible humans playing Tintin; you want Tintin to look like Tintin in the books. Unfortunately, the "animation" added onto Jamie Bell wasn't a great match...and Snowy was all wrong. The real Snowy is an angular dog; the Snowy in the movie was far too rounded.

As for "TTSS," I didn't find it too hard to follow, but then, I'd read the book a few months ago. As I said in another post, "TTSS" will surely rank pretty high on my list of favourite films of 2011.

As for "Margin Call," I think I liked it more than you did. It'll also make my personal top 10 for sure.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Nat,who was miscast,i thought ezra miller was fantastic,tilda was better in i am love and julia,i felt she did not connect with the character or audience,i don't get the oscar love over dunst and colman especially

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

Mark - Over Dunst, really? When I look back on specific caps or clips of Kevin I'm always just so struck by how simply and effortlessly Tilda was able to show so many shades of haunting, emptiness and guilt with single looks that Dunst wishes she could have if in her blank expressions. I was so disappointed by Melancholia — Gainsbourg aside, who I think wiped the floor with Kiki and would be dominating the Actress conversation from that movie if she were as cute/starpowery.

Loved Colman, though, saw her as well as Margin Call earlier in the year at the New Director's Festival. I didn't think of the latter that much back then but I can see the admiration for it especially with the uber-luck it had coinciding its release with OWS .

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErica

That's funny that you found WNTTAK to be "weirdly art-film parodic in its obviousness/repetitions," because I thought I Am Love was at that level of ridiculous, like laughable, as if it was parodying itself and its genre. It was like the director just took a giant piece of indie cinema and beat his audience over the head with it while screaming "THIS IS ART! THIS IS AAAART!" So, is that similar to how you felt about WNTTAK? Also, could you elaborate on your thoughts about I Am Love? What was it about the film making itself that makes you think it's a masterpiece?

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Mark -- i thought both Tilda and John C Reilly (but especially John C Reilly) were miscast. I never once believed them as a couple and consequently didn't buy any of hte flashbacks

December 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Jim - and I thought I was the only one who felt that way about I Am Love. (I tried, I tried, I honestly tried. Tilda porn + food porn = winning combination, right? Not for me in this instance. Minus points for the affluence porn, which is a more modern version of"period royalty porn".)

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Jim -- in short. yes. That is similar to how i felt here. funny how one person's treasure...

I never wrote a full length review of I Am Love unfortunately but here is the capsule.

December 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I just happened to rewatch Morvern Callar yesterday and... It's one of those cases where I agree that, objectively, film nr 1 (Morvern) is better than film nr 2 (WNTTAK), but I still care more about film nr 2. It must be at least partly because I can very easily imagine being a Tilda-esque parent myself :)

But yeah, Reilly was miscast, and the handling of Kevin's character is problematic and at times way over-the-top. Also, I understand that Tilda's character was supposed to be an "unrealiable narrator" like in the novel, but it still felt more like "okay, so she may not be a good mother, but it doesn't really matter anyway, since the child was born evil".

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJan

"Perhaps I should call up Hamish Linklater from The Future and get on that?"

I'd just like to point out that cutting this sentence off from the one before it turns it into something else entirely. Something about which I concur.

I'm not a fan of Kevin the movie either and I really hope it doesn't keep people from reading Shriver's book, which is ten times more curious a beast than the movie turned it into with its weird obvious choices. Still, I'll never knock love being expressed for Tilda. She deserves every morsel anybody ever aims her way.

I'm so far behind and have no idea when I'm gonna get to see half of these movies.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJA

I chuckled at your "In which" for "Tinker Tailor." But in a good way, and I really liked the movie! I can definitely see how it would be too exhausting for some viewers. I am glad that they chose to populate the movie with almost entirely well-known actors (well known to the cinephile crowd, at least). That really helped me keep up with the story. And yes, the movie is the very definition of "handsome."

And I completely agree with your capsule for "Arthur Christmas," which I just got back from seeing. Cute, with great design and and excellent voice work, but I sometimes just wanted to shout, "Enough! Take a breather!" If "Tintin" is busier than this movie, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle it.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

Not wanting to suggest adding more to your plate but I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on The Skin I Live In, especially you being an Almodovar connoisseur.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDean

Don't you just wish that Julia and We Need To Talk About Kevin would have switched release years? That way, We Need To Talk About Kevin would only have served as a momentum gatherer for Tilda back in 2009, and by this time Julia would be out in theaters with voters and critics finally recognizing (like they seemingly are doing so right now) how FABULOUS and actress she is and awarding her for, not only one of her best performances, but one of the best performances in cinema...EVER!!

P.S. with her Julia performance, Tilda would probably actually be winning everything and be considered frontrunner: what a fantasy!!

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

How can you like a movie (Tinker) if you don't couldn't follow its plot? Isn't that a major problem?

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

I just finished watching WNTTAK and found it to be often uneven, but I kind of sort of love those movies that are ridiculous and will more than likely always give it a chance. It worked for me. You say it was obvious and I'm...50/50 on that. I feel like it shows you the questions blatantly but doesn't have the audacity to answer them. And that works in this and it doesn't. As well I felt Kevin himself was perfectly cast in all 3 stages. And we all know Tilda is marvelous (really fucking marvelous). But where exactly was this miscast? John C Reilly? I love him maybe I'm a little biased but I thought he was an interesting choice :O

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony A.

Nathaniel, have you seen We Bought A Zoo yet? My man and I caught it at one of the sneak peeks and we both found it utterly charming. Definitely not an Oscar contender, but a really, really NICE movie. I worry that a lot of people will think it too saccharine, but I thought it walked that fine line really well.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Note: An unreliable narrator is something that, although it can be done, I'm not sure can work too well in mediums that rely on objective visuals like films and comic books. I CAN see it working in first person perspective books and FPS video games due to those being told from inherently subjective viewpoints, but the Kubrick Lolita film worked because it analyzed and called out the book's unreliable narration and painted something closer to what would have ACTUALLY happened. The fabricated story: She admits emotional distance to her son that prevented her from stopping his monstrous tendencies. The real story: A couple of nasty, physically abusive parents actively cause their son's evil due to their mistreatment. They could be (to excuse the South Park reference) a dramatic version of the Stotch family.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Note: An unreliable narrator is something that, although it can be done, I'm not sure can work too well in mediums that rely on objective visuals like films and comic books. I CAN see it working in first person perspective books and FPS video games due to those being told from inherently subjective viewpoints, but the Kubrick Lolita film worked because it analyzed and called out the book's unreliable narration and painted something closer to what would have ACTUALLY happened.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia
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