Film review by Jason Day of Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s live action remake of the animated hit from 1991, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.
Film review of the psychological thriller about a policeman (Ethan Hawke) investigating why a father has no recollection of sexually abusing his daughter (Emma Watson), despite admitting to the crime.
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Director: Sofia Coppola. American Zoetrope/NALA/Pathe et al (15)
Producers: Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley.
Writer: Sofia Coppola.
Camera: Christopher Blauvelt, Harris Savides.
Music: Daniel Lopatin, Brian Reitzell.
Sets: Anne Ross.
Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda, Gavin Rossdale.
A group of Los Angeles teenagers take to breaking into the homes of absent/holidaying celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lyndsey Lohan and make off with as much as they can carry in jewels, cash, clothing and drugs and parasitically enjoy the high-life that such accoutrements yield on the L.A. party scene. But the law is soon hot on their heels.
Coppola, not the old one but his daughter, is now into her fifth feature length film as a director and continues to show a flair for tackling bold and visually beautiful things.
Her previous films have had a certain dreamlike quality to them and a tendancy to linger rather longer than expected on surfaces, textures, acquisitions and artifice, so The Bling Ring is a fruit that doesn’t fall far from the autuer’s tree.
Like her Marie Antoinette (2006), there is an outrageously obscene amount of screen time devoted to loving shots of shoes, fur and hats but rather than accessing their Laboutins via a socially advantageous marriage, these girls simply jump a hedge or fence, enter suspicioualy non-secure houses (are Angelenos really this trusting?) and commence a nab-happy night out. Sofia, more than any other American director of the moment, is able to encapsulate the flippancy and awesomeness of youth than any other.
Coppola has a kind of punk way of presenting the issues she wants her narrative to address, an almost amateurish way of handling of her story and actors, but it works precisely because this is the milieu she is focusing on. And these kids, being based in a postal code just outside of the Hollywood dream factory, are unlike any others around, so as the daughter of the esteemed movie maker Francis Ford, Coppola knows more than most the unique external glitter pressure that can bear down on them. Our narrator Broussard notes that “Everyone let us in…we had so many beautiful gorgeous things”; possessions equal access in the objet obsessed society they find themselves in.
Coppola also trails closely alongside Quentin Tarantino in terms of utilising her soundtrack to set the coolest of tones and to place her story slap-bang on target with the right social setting and personalities of the characters involved. The film’s album is worth buying alone.
There are some spot on, louche and fizzy performances from this very young cast, particularly Chang as the chillingly detached anti-hero, perfectly in step with the distant and hollow tone that her director adopts and Julien as the seriously laid back Chloe. Mann also has fun as a seriously whacked out, moon-unit Mom. The only false note is Watson as Mann’s daughter Nicki. Talk about acting from a cue card. She displays the usual flaccid, middle of the range , bland Manhattan-cum-Valley-Girl accent and seems to jut her body forward as she over exaggerates every ‘r’ for effect. She is, like, soooooo not awwwwwwwesome.
Director: David Yates
Producer: David Barron, David Heyman, J.K. Rowling. Writer: Steve Kloves. Camera: Eduardo Serra. Music: Alexandre Desplat. Sets: Stuart Craig.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, Helen McRory, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, David Thewlis, John Hurt, Imelda Staunton
Young wizard Harry Potter (Radcliffe) is now a young man and almost graduated from Hogwarts Academy. Along with his friends Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Grint) he has to race against time to destroy a set of evil pendants and uncovers the most powerful objects in his magical world: the Deathly Hallows.
The seventh of eight films based on author (now co-producer) Rowling’s seven novels about boy wizard Potter (the final book is being split into two movies for ease of adaptation…and to earn a few extra pennies for Warner Brothers before the series takes its curtain call, no doubt) shows a clear progression in terms of stylistic technique and maturity of handling what is essentially ‘young’ subject matter in the best film of the series so far.
It’s certainly a welcome trotter for Potter outside the now redundant confines of Hogwarts, a whimsical school whose cute fixtures and fittings (the animated pictures, endless moving staircases, creepy corridors and ghosts flying around) had long since outstayed their welcome.
We move almost immediately into high gear with some strong scenes of violence for a 12(a) rated movie, opening with a teacher being tortured in graphic fashion (something we return to later on). But this is a pretty grimly plotted outing altogether, death seeps not only into the title but also into every frame (the palate used by the cinematographer is unremittingly grey, drained of colour), even our heroic trio look consumptive.
Perhaps illness also explains their incessantly dull, wooden acting (particularly Watson), but this is a fault inherent in the entire series. It must have been daunting for three actors new to motion pictures to be surrounded by the cream of British Equity slumming it/queening it/lording it over them in often pointless and disposable character roles (Shaw, Griffiths, Walters – you’ve been spotted).
There are, however, performances to savour and they are always the baddies – Staunton isquiet megalomania behind twin-set and pearls and Bonham-Carter sexily sociopathic.
This film suffers from maladies that have also afflicted the other films – there are far too many characters milling around for a sound-bite and far too many new people introduced into this heady mix. There is too much ‘business’ in the writing leaving the narrative jagged (we hurry along from one scene to another and are then jolted into sedantry description) and cluttered. Kloves really needed a red pencil and blue scissors to hack a few situations out completely, particularly as some scenes are superfluous.
One thing Kloves does get spot on, is the humour. The film is frequently very funny and his cast jump at the chance to raise a few laughs, none more so than when, after his friends have cloned themselves as Harry to confuse his enemies, they re-group but wearing each other’s clothes and Harry ends up wearing a bra.
One moment to note, in fact to savour as it is probably one of the most dazzling images captured in modern film – Hermione tells a story about death and three Princes and her narration is accompanied by a beautifully animated story that recalls the Shadow Plays of yore. An incredible moment that knocks the noisy whizz-bang of the other special effects into a cocked hat.