My snarky reviews of Movies, TV series, Food and other happenings...
A new Spielbergian epic classic is born! Fantastic, beautiful direction with a rousing epic storyline that brings you from the back lands of an English farm to the trenches of war, from the French field of hope to barren cemetery of No Man's Land. An equine love story that unabashedly aims to make your eyes moist and heart cheer on for the most unlikely journey a horse can ever make. Jeremy Irvine has a stunning debut and his acting-naïveté is brilliant in bringing out the heart of the story. Nonetheless, all the cast which includes Loki's Tom Hiddleston, Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and Emily Watson, are just there to support Joey, the eponymous horse. Spielberg's direction is top notch here; a master film-maker and storyteller that knows absolutely how to draw out the suspense and tension, tug at the heartstrings without being overly cheesy, immerse you into the chaos and tragedy of war, but yet also illuminates the ability of love to exist no matter what. He is of course accompanied throughout by the rousing, epic score of John Williams. "War Horse" is not just a story about a boy and his horse, but also about love and war, faith and compassion, equality and hope. The one fault is that this show is how plainly obvious that the film-makers/producers have designed it to break down one's inner grinch. Definite Oscar-bait! Front runner for Best Director, and tied for Best Picture with "The Artist" (drama vs nostalgia). Run, Joey, Run! Next up, "War Goose"!
Update (15 Jan 2012): Looks like many international critics/awards disagree. On hindsight, I still think it was a great show, perhaps too heavy-handed and lacking in the "acting"-wattage to shine.
Director/Writer Barry Jenkins' moving examination about one boy's tumultuous upbringing shaping his teenage years and moulding him into the man he becomes is both a deeply personal story about self-identity and also an heartachingly poetic narrative of love and romance.
Where "Fences" and Denzel Washington failed in their translation from stage to screen, Jenkins effectively transposed Tarbell Alvin McCraney's "In Midnight Black Boys Look Blue" to the silver screen and embraced all that cinema has to offer to give the story the necessary added depth, scope and cinematic magic.
However, all would have been for nought if not for the cast.
Jenkins struck jackpot with his casting of Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert as the film's protagonist in all three ages. Not only for their uncanny resemblance to each other, but also in the way their eyes and body talk. Similarly, the roles of his best friend were also exceptional. Perhaps only Rich…
A feel good, underdog triumphs, girl-power film, highlighting both a significant and unlooked scientific history during a period of known darkness and discrimination. Led by the superbly entertaining and funny trio of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, this story deserved to be told. However, despite all the hype, its execution was rather lightweight and the storytelling frou frou in nature. Director Theodore Melfi could not find the true heart of the story and although all three women are extraordinary in nature, without a true focus, all three stories felt under served.
Henson was great. Funny and heartfelt, showing us the great range that she has that made her a previous Oscar nominee and now a perennial Cookie/Emmy nominee. However, she was failed by the lack of characterisation and the simplicity in which her character was handled.
Spencer was also strong in her role. Although like Henson, her character was way too simplified.
A competent film from the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine" that tried to juggle too much including gender politics, LGBTQ rights, themes of love vs ambition and of freedom to love with a love story and a love triangle, and unfortunately, in the end, underserved all of them to the point that the actual titular tennis match was the most exciting moment of the whole 121 minutes. In a similar vein, the supporting actors, including the scene-stealing Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming, and surprisingly nuanced Austin Stowell and Elisabeth Shue, were more interesting to watch than the leads: a miscast, albeit competent, Emma Stone (who had no chemistry with Andrea Riseborough) and a funny, but lightweight Steve Carrell. Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris delivered a by-the-numbers story but may have bitten more than they could chew such that although the narrative moved forward, it moved erratically and without focus. Furthermore, with such a well known historical momen…