QUICK TAKES – 11.27.11

Sideways (2004)

Grade: A | 5th+ Viewing

I re-watched this film after seeing The Descendants and I still believe that it is Alexander Payne’s masterpiece. It is more of an ensemble film than any of his previous work, but it still tells Miles’ story better than any others. Paul Giamatti fascinatingly plays out his journey away from self-absorption in one of the most interesting roles in any of Payne’s films. I would also argue that this is Payne’s funniest film and he undercuts every moment of sadness with bitterly funny scenes.

Stay tuned for a Master Moments post on this film later this week.

Bridesmaids (2011)

Grade: B+ | 2nd Viewing

The first time I saw Bridesmaids I did so immediately after seeing the deplorable Hangover, Part II so my enamored reaction was unavoidable. Upon a second viewing the film wasn’t quite as funny, largely because it was stripped of the surprise, but it is still one of the better comedies from this year. Kristen Wiig has pitch-perfect comic timing, which is a trait that cannot be learned and I would not at all be surprised to see her receiving an Oscar nomination in a few years.

The one actress who has actually received Oscar buzz from this film is Melissa McCarthy. While I don’t think she will actually make the top five, there is no doubt that her next film roles will be highly anticipated by many including yours truly. She manages to make her character so much more than a punch line and creates one of the most all-around fun characters of the year.

My Week With Marilyn (2011)

Grade: C+ | 1st Viewing

I agree with most of what Casey said in his initial review, although I will be a little more kind to the film. Branagh is fantastic as Laurence Olivier, a role that he has been already playing his entire career. Michelle Williams is good enough, but I feel like her performance was hindered by a lack of trust from director Simon Curtis. There are way too many reaction shots to show us how infatuated the various characters on screen were with Marilyn. It would have been more effective to trust the audience to react and Williams to provide the awe.

The primary problems rely in the script. Whether for sake of economy or simply lack of creativity, much of the dialogue is rather trite and unrealistic. Many of the characters only seem to exist to neatly summarize a scene or provide character background with a few unrealistic lines of dialogue. The most egregious offenders are Judi Dench and Emma Watson, through no fault of their own.

Chungking Express (1994)

Grade: A | 2nd Viewing

Vincenzo already reviewed this one in more detail, but I finally got around to a much needed second viewing and I loved it even more this time around. The film is less visually daring than Wong Kar Wai’s later work, but it is certainly his most playful film that I have seen thus far. From one character’s conversations with inanimate objects to another’s humorous justification for jogging, Chungking exhibits such a delightful worldview.

The purposefully disjointed narrative took a little getting used to, but now having further examined Kar Wai’s style it felt just right. Other than the style of Wong Kar Wai I think my favorite discovery from this marathon has been Tony Leung, who is incredibly talented and brings so much to every one of Kar Wai’s films. It could be said that the films might not be the same with another actor in his place.

What movies did you see this week?

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