Tag Archives: 2stars

Jolene

There isn’t a weak performance in this movie and Jessica Chastain really sells her titular role. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the coming years. But none of these performances overcome the basic failures of the story that provides a strangely weak main character whose consciously bad choices are being sold as being a “free spirit that follows her heart.” Bull.

How can you find sympathy for someone who, even as a survivor, keeps making bad decisions after admitting they didn’t want to do so in the first place and doesn’t learn from their past? That’s not following your heart, that’s following your … something else I’ve yet to define, cause it certainly wasn’t her Id. Often she ended up with people that just made her life easier rather than better; and then only for a time. Perhaps that just made her a parasite?

Another interpretation is that this is an orphan’s coming-of-age/fantasy story, both of their own life and the life of their parent in fantasy. This is far from satisfying as well. Perhaps she is just a borderline sociopath who was using people? Honestly, I cannot say.

And strangely, despite this being based on a fairly recent story by Doctorow, and while admitting this covers a breadth of time (well, 9 years anyway), the production designers and director went for a timeless sort of feel that left you floating rather than anchoring you in place culturally. This can be a good thing for some films, providing timeless truths. In this case, the events are so society dependent, that the lack of a time actually frustrates rather than enhances the experience.

Overall, this is miss for me and I cannot recommend it unless you have a serious jones for the original story or one of the truly good actors in the film. Since it is told as a serial, it makes it rather easy to pick out the 20 minute chunk you want to watch and then walk away.

A Summer in Genoa

Haven’t had much time to watch movies for the last week due to visitors and work deadlines. It is a shame that this was the first on my docket after the pause. It made it to my disc player thanks to some intriguing teasers on other rentals that were good. And it had a couple performers that can usually bring me to the table: Firth and Keener.

However, and you knew that was coming, this movie just never comes together, despite a promising start. I understand what the director was attempting, or think I do, but the movie isn’t quite slice-of-life, isn’t quite suspense, isn’t quite coming-of-age. It is really not quite anything and ultimately never gels despite solid performances by the entire cast. Add to this lack old film stock, or the look of old stock, which is too dark and washed out to really see some of the action (let alone Genoa) and weak editing that leaves much to be desired and it is an overall miss.

It has been a long time since I was so led astray by both trailer and Netflix ratings, but it is bound to happen at times. Though it wasn’t so bad that I didn’t watch it till the end hoping it it would resolve into something more than its jumbled parts, I cannot recommend this movie on any level.

Shameless (BBC) Season 1

This was a tough one for me. As much as I truly enjoy Skins (UK version) and The Misfits (which few in the US have seen), I found this utterly unappetizing. All the more surprising to me as it was highly praised by BAFTA and recommended by friends and family.

So, what is the difference here with other similar shows of self-destruction and less-than-proud families? I think, mainly, that despite there being a couple of characters I was sort of interested in, none made me care enough to come back. I just don’t enjoy mocking people or watching people mess up their lives due to stupidity. That just angers me, especially when you don’t see any changes in them over time; I didn’t see that possibility in most of the family members in the show. They all just get by in their own ways. They are fiercely independent and strong, but they are also in their own way and proud of it. That last bit is probably what soured me the most. Perhaps there is a change coming, certainly there was potential, but it looked so far off that I wasn’t willing to sit through the pain of getting there with them.

While well acted, directed, and believably written, you had to have a train wreck mentality to enjoy it. And, I feel compelled to add, if you are going to have nudity in a show, make it worthwhile! Just, yikes! Some folks really will watch and enjoy this series for reasons I’ve mentioned and others I probably don’t recognize. You may even be one of them and that’s OK. This was not a pleasant experience on any level for me and it didn’t get me past the first episode.

The Road

starstar

This is one of those rare times that Netflix and several friends were wrong. WRONG, I say. First, let me admit that I haven’t read the book. This means that I get to approach the movie as its own entity; which it had better survive if it is to be taken seriously. While there was a great sense of disaster and unblinking, post-apocalyptic ennui, unless you take the whole as allegory it is absurd because of the son. The son, who has known no other life violates everything in world building that I’ve ever learned. He is clearly our representative in this horror wrought upon mankind (and I say that specifically because apparently all women have been eaten or committed suicide other than a very few in this world), which in allegory or metaphor or whatever else you want to dress this up as, could work–except he’s a whiny git that just grated on us. If you take this as a story, the son’s actions and emotions are horribly wrong since he’d have no reference for most of what he says and does. Honestly, we were shouting at the screen and finally, after giving it over an hour, zapped to the end… and were even more annoyed. What the chatter was about this film other than its color-bled bleakness. Just lousy writing and pointless story. A Boy and his Dog did this much better *and* you got to laugh.