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Short Cuts: January-February 2012

February 2, 2012

So, Ive been travelling for the past few weeks but I have had the chance to view a wide range of movies. Here are some of my brief takes on a few that Ive seen and that made an impression:

1) Pleasant yet overrated:  Moneyball. Just what is it about Award Season that brings out the Old Boys (or, should I say, the Middle Aged Boys) club, where critics and fellow auteurs fall over themselves expressing admiration for the George Clooney’s and the Brad Pitts – the so-called Hollywood royalty? I have nothing against Brad Pitt. He is an often-underrated performer of note which is to say he is skillful, subtle and plays versions of himself – three qualities that ensure overlooking. I have always found Pitt less effective in serious roles but I have to admit he was excellent in the wildly pretentious Tree of Life. And Moneyball is a cool little movie, nothing outrageous. Sports etc with pleasantly little Kevin Costnery heroic cliche to undermine it. But why single out Pitt or Jonah Hill for praise? Both performances are good, workaday, what one would expect from skilled professionals. Neither actor needs a gold star for acting in this movie.(Gold star awards or reviews are those pinned on stars who suprise critics or the industry by acting in serious, dramatic or trendy films; often ‘going ugly’ or imitating real people. Examples include Halle Berry and Kim Basinger. I refuse to include the fabulous Charlize Theron here. Her performance in Monster, and I believe Young Adult, is breathtaking.) Now I haven’t yet seen The Descendants, but I imagine that Clooney’s performance will be of his usual high yet effortless and predictable standard.

2)  Senseless and overrated: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I will say straight up that I loved the Swedish versions of this series. I also loved Noomi Rapace’s performance. I tried to watch the Fincher version with an open mind and by and large I succeeded. I’m not one of those people who hate adaptations – I loved both the US Let Me In and the Swedish Let the Right One In for their differences, namely the crucial differences in the interpretation of each film. One cannot see the sense in any such differences in Fincher’s version. He does ‘soften up’ Lisbeth to a noticeable extent and Rooney Mara is a less hardcore presence than Rapace was. She exudes a fragile vulnerability that Rapace did not which Fincher’s angle on her character only emphasises – this is not neccessarily pleasing to fans of the Swedish version. On the whole the film looked very similar to the Swedish one and bar the Swedish accents (why speak English with a Swedish accent? If one has to believe that English ‘is’ Swedish this should be unneccesary), seemed imitative. While perfectly well-acted and directed, it seemed a pointless exercise. I know many critics have already said this but at the end one sits and wonders “Why?”.

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