Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…
Midnight in Paris
The best Woody Allen film in years, and possibly one of my favourite Woody Allen movies ever, Midnight in Paris is packed full of charm and whimsy, and perfectly illustrates everyone’s fantasy trip to Paris. The cinematography makes Paris look so beautiful that you’ll want to go there as soon as the end credits start rolling, and the casting of the historical figures encountered by Owen Wilson’s character (Wilson is pretty blatantly channeling Allen here) are all perfectly cast, especially Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald, and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali. My only complaint is that most of the characters in present-day Paris feel two-dimensional and seemingly have no personality beyond their pseudo-intellectual bitchiness, but that may well be the point: to make Paris of the 1920’s seem that much more appealing. The film also has some interesting reflections on the nature of nostalgia, but ultimately tells us that our fantasies about the past are probably better than the realities of it. I could ramble on and on about this one, as I went into it not expecting much but came out adoring it, but I’ll only say this and be finished with it: see this movie, and fall in love with Paris and the past all over again.
4 out of 5
Batman Year One
This one-hour animated movie from DC and Warner Bros. follows Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne in their first year as crimefighters in Gotham City. This movie is more about Lieutenant Gordon than Batman, however, and with Bryan Cranston voicing Gordon, it makes for a pretty good watch. The voice acting from everyone besides Cranston is rather bland and clunky, though, and I wasn’t too keen on their decision to make Selena Kyle/Catwoman a stripper. The animation is worth noting, too, as it’s really solid and has a clear and welcome anime influence. Overall, Batman Year One isn’t bad, and Batman fans will probably enjoy it well enough, but ultimately, I’d sooner recommend watching Batman Begins than this cartoon.
3 out of 5
The Way Back
The Way Back is an epic drama about human survival against the elements, as it chronicles the journey of a group of prisoners who have escaped from a Siberian gulag during World War 2 and must trek thousands of kilometres through the harsh wilderness to find safety from the evils of Communism. The movie is extremely well made, features loads of gorgeous locations (courtesy of National Geographic Films), and has a solid cast featuring Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Mark Strong and Saoirse Ronan, but there are two things that kept the movie from really hitting home. The first is that I didn’t feel as though the characters developed at all over the course of their journey. This kind of movie, all about the trip that the main characters are making, often finds success in having the physical journey of the characters imitate the emotional journey that they are taking, but in The Way Back, the characters end the movie in pretty well the same shape as they started it, albeit a bit more physically bedraggled from their travels. But it’s my second complaint that really kills the film: at the beginning, before we see any of our characters, a title card tells us that “4 men walked out of the Himalayas after travelling thousands of kilometres to find safety”…but there are eight characters in the party of travellers, one of whom is a woman. So thanks to that title card, we immediately know that only half the group is going to survive and that Saoirse Ronan’s character won’t me among them. What’s more, once there are only four party members left, there’s no more tension. The filmmakers even try to throw in some scenes where it looks like one of the four remaining members might die, but thanks to that title card at the beginning, we know it’s not going to happen. If the title card had been removed before this movie was released, I’d be giving this movie a higher rating. As it stands, it’s merely a vehicle for beautiful scenery.
3 out of 5
See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!