FILM THIS WEEK

Finally Something With Some Ambition

In typical Ghanaian fashion, I considered bitching about A Good Day To Die Hard which is basically a good day to see something else but I decided focus on something worthwhile.
Step forward director Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines which I first saw last week and it’s the first movie of the year I have truly enjoyed. It stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and the now top notch Bradley Cooper coming of his Oscar nom last year and they all give solid performances. This movie is about a motorcycle stunt rider played by Gosling, who turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for the baby boy he has with Mendes’ character. All this points towards a clash with Cooper’s law man character who also has his own problems dealing with a corrupt police force (enter Ray Liotta). 
“If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder”

The movie is in three parts and kind of plays like a novel although the script isn’t adapted. It has an Oedipus Rex/Gods Are Not to Blame thingy going on with all the main characters intertwined across three main parts.

The first two parts deal with Gosling and Cooper as their paths cross with mixed results for both. The final part which presents some negatives focuses on their kids, two boys of the same age and eventually the same high school. This part seems a little boring and I wasn’t as engaged in it as the first two parts but it does pick up and end well and at the very end provides one of my favorite scenes from the movie. 

The movie is not without its flaws but all in all another feather in the cap for director Derek Cianfrance and I’m tipping his next project, whatever it is, to do well with the Academy.Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G07pSbHLXgg

Some Joy in a She-Monster

I’ve never really been charmed by female performances on the big screen. They may stand out as impressive but I can’t honestly say I loved it or call one of my favs. I can genuinely site Renee Zeleweger in Cold Mountain, the young but brilliant Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit and Whoopi Goldberg’s Oda Mae Brown in Ghost. Maybe I’ll throw in marge Gunderson played by Frances Mcdormand in Fargo but the lists ends there.

However 2003’s monster provides a gift of a performance from Charlize Theron who in my humble opinion gives one of the best female performances of all time, certainly the best I have come across. Theron is barely recognizable here with some extra weight and prosthetics making her commitment to the role evident.
She portrays real life prostitute and later serial killer Aileen Wuornos who you can say generally hates people. She’s been dealt a bad hand by life since her childhood with abuse molestation and the first time we see her, she’s holding a big-ass magnum contemplating suicide. She later in that day runs into her eventual lesbian lover (Selby in the movie) played by Christina Ricci.

Her relationship with Ricci brings another dimension to the character with her showing she has some ability to love and care about another person. She appears willing to do anything for her one may be even led to believe it is devotion to her that pushes her to go on that mini killing spree although I’m pretty sure her hatred for men played a greater part. 

There is one sequence where she spares a man who appears to be a virgin and is looking for his first time but any doubts about her cold blooded nature are dispelled where she murders a man offering help after he sees her gun. She was quite paranoid at that point. She kind of redeems herself in my eyes with her final act of love and charity at the end towards Ricci’s character.
spot the difference, anyone?

As far as performances go it still ranks up there for me. She embodies an angry, depressed, sometimes loving and later violent individual and her actions in the movie are somewhat understandable given her circumstances but not excusable. The crude manner with which she interacts with most people is so amusing to watch and her relationship with Ricci shows us a softer side to her character.

The story line may be a bit off but Theron here is a definite highlight and an absolute must-watch. 

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