Tag Archives: 2011

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Wow, that was a great movie. I actually understood what was going on! And apparently, that’s something I should be proud of considering that the only feedback I’ve heard about this film was that it was extremely difficult to follow the plot.

The basic idea (really basic) is that Gary Oldman plays George Smiley, a “retired” agent for the British Intelligence, asked to return to work to uncover a double agent that has been planted in the British office for a long time. There’s a lot of great acting, particularly Gary Oldman (obviously) and Benedict Cumberbatch (his eyes!). Great music, great cinematography, it had a late Hitchcock style to the filming, in the sense that the viewers’ eye slowly unfolds the answer at the same rate as the protagonist. The camera angles highlight the answers, and I’m sure, if I were to watch it again, there would be a million clues suggested by the camera itself.

I have always loved espionage films, it’s exciting and thrilling to not know who to trust, and there’s an unnerving sense of doubt in the conclusions you draw throughout. In a lot of Christopher Nolan movies, there’s that constant back and forth between illusion and reality, to the point where no character, no audience member, can truly decide what is true and what is not. This is applied to several espionage films, even like James Bond, in the extreme amounts of double crossing, undetectable lying, and the shattering of trust in both the characters and the storyline itself.

It really is thrilling. See this movie, see it!

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The Descendants (2011)

I watched this the other day out of obligation: the Oscars are slowly approaching (which I am going home from college that weekend just to celebrate the occasion), there was slight conflict within my family about the movie, and I was simply curious.

I’ll say this once and won’t mention it again: George Clooney will always be Doug Ross to me. He’s the same in everything and despite his charm, no one can possibly argue me on that. But I don’t suppose the film wanted anyone different. Clooney‘s type casting character was ideal for this role, one that separated his emotions from the situation. This is either full of courage or cowardice, I’m not sure which.

I often associate my relationships with the characters with their relationships with one another. The family drama had very little visual emotion, so my reaction was no different.

I find that the argument here draws from what an audience is really looking for.

If you’re me, you look for that one character to pull for. There needs to be one person that reacts the same way you would, the same way so you can understand. Julie Speer, played by Judy Greer, was my favorite character because she was so caught in all this complicated emotion: her husband was cheating on her with a woman who is now a coma. Talk about conflicting emotions. She was frustrated, hurt, and stuck between hate and compassion. Finally, she is the first character in the whole movie to just scream about it. For me, it was kind of a nice release. I understood her emotion.

Other audiences pull for realism, another completely understood approach at watching a movie. Some viewers just like the characters to act as they would, by not lashing out every time things get tough. They put on a brave face to hold themselves together, which, now that I think of it, is just as honorable as lashing out all together.

I couldn’t see myself having any strong emotion about this movie. I couldn’t love a film that had this story line (though it is a plot that I have seen a thousand times before) and I couldn’t hate a film that was about a father rebuilding his relationship with his kids.

My favorite scene was the final one: with the slightly smaller family gathering together on a couch under one blanket, sharing ice cream. To me, this is was family is, and choosing to use this scene as the one to wrap it all up was the best decision they made.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)

I just saw this film tonight with Annie and my initial thoughts are as follows.

Beautiful. Just beautiful. First of all, I have always been a fan of Woody Allen films. Annie Hall is an absolute classic and his comedy has a charming cheekiness to it. We went to the movie with open minds because you never really know what to expect when it comes to Woody Allen, respectfully admiring his quirkiness.

I read through the other reviews when I was searching for good photos for this post and I don’t want to say what everyone else said, “Oh my god, this film is like my life.” But I think that’s the whole point. The entire message of the film is that it is human nature to be unsatisfied with the present. Even the good old days had good old days.

I discovered that the reason I’ve been so obsessed with old music and movies lately is because I am so sick of the pop culture that embodies the present tense. I’m tired of listening to cop out artists that are only in the business to make money. I’m bored with the same songs and movies and television shows that are being released that claim to be original. After seeing this movie, I realized that I should just shut up, because deep down everyone feels that way. In real life, we can’t just jump into a cab at midnight, time travel to the 20s and have Hemingway and Picasso critique our work. We just have to make the best of it.

If you think about it, the artists of today are in a pretty tough spot. We read and write about these painters, writers and musicians that have laid out impossible acts to follow. Artists are desperate to find something special and original, and despite my opinion of it all, it is one of the eras that pop culture must travel through.

Back to the film, Owen Wilson is the same in everything. But his blissful ignorance is so charming in this movie, perfect for a classic Woody Allen character. He carries the same romanticized view of the world that I do.

I absolutely loved this film, it was a breath of fresh air.

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The Artist (2011)

I just got home from The Artist, I did my best to have zero expectations. Being a big  Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow fan, these intentions were unsuccessful. There were several moments when I thought, well in real silent films they did this and that… blah blah blah and I had to keep reminding myself that this was no silent film from the 1920s.

My sisters and I decided on the way home that it was all about taking something old and dated and adapting it to modern media. The quality was obviously far better than any film from 1930, and the cinematography was much more sophisticated than anyone would have come up with back in the roaring twenties. So taking the core ingredients of silent film and spicing it up with flare of special effects and technique: you create an entirely new genre of film. This innovation transcends boundaries that were once uncrossable, and the ability to swing from silent to sound allows the audience to be hyper aware of both the audio and visual experience.

This adaptation was also represented in character development. Like so many real life actors and actresses (Clara Bow, Lillian Gish, Gloria SwansonMary Pickford), the change from silent to sound film ended George Valentin‘s career. After years of depression, both emotionally and financially, Valentin takes his expertise and submerges himself into the musical theatre era. Though he was not desired for drama or swashbuckler films as before, he learned to adapt.

Here is the parallel. A silent film from the 20s released now would not be as well received just as Valentin attempting to continue his classic characters would not be successful. The film discusses movement with the changing times, adapting to technological advancements, and proving talent can transcend time and era.

All in all, I liked it. I thought it was a refreshing take on producing a classic genre film while allowing it to become part of the modern cinema. And let’s be real, it allows film fans like myself and my sisters to spoil ourselves on this holiday with some good ole silent movies. I’m considering putting in City Lights right about now.

Oh yes, it’s a flick worth seeing. Happy holidays!

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