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Short Cuts.

June 29, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011, Guy Ritchie)

This sequel lacks the cohesion of the first film and could be a little slight and zippy for many tastes but the production design, wit and main relationship between Holmes (Downey Jnr) and Watson (Law) make up for any inadequacies. Noomi Rapace as a fighting gypsy woman is woefully underused. The evil Moriarty (Jared Harris) is a little less mythic and terrifying than he should be. A fun ride and directed by Ritchie with aplomb – albeit a little carelessly.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Wes Anderson)

My feel-good film of the year. Lacking the self-consciously off-the-wall indie stylings of his other films, Moonrise Kingdom is funny, romantic and utterly unsentimental. Great acting from the pre-teen leads, memorable turns from an array of big names (Willis, Swinton, Norton, McDormand et al), gorgeous scenery and a fond elegiac glance at a bygone age all make for a charming and delicate experience. Accessible and impressively light with sensitive performances. What’s not to like about Boy Scouts?

A Dangerous Method (2011, David Cronenberg)

Fantastic film from a tightly knit, classy and fashionable cast and director all in top form. Mortensen, Fassbender [another great performance!] and Knightley are all faultless as Freud, Jung and the mysterious and misunderstood historical figure and fellow psychiatrist Sabina Spielrein. Some may find it dull, stagey and/or slow-moving but this is an elegantly dramatized interpretation of the origins of psychotherapy and some of the debates surrounding Freud’s theories at its root. Mortensen deserves some critical recognition soon! After The Road I started to suspect a conspiracy to ignore his quiet talent. A serious, provocative and very worthwhile viewing. It’s especially good to see Knightley in another demanding role: I look forward to Anna Karenina.

Haywire (2011, Stephen Soderbergh)

Carano, thespian, at work.

A disappointing mishmash from the erratic Soderbergh. A cast of well-knowns (Douglas, Banderas, McGregor), talented youngsters (Kirsten Stewart’s ex Angarano) and the inexplicably popular everyman Channing Tatum, this classic espionage thriller hangs by a thread on the basis of a performance by its lead, Gina Carano as the capable soldier for hire, Mallory Kane: a betrayed black ops agent on the run. And this is the problem. One of them.

Carano is a fantastic physical presence – a real life mixed martial arts fighter and athlete. Unlike every other woman on film playing a combat professional, Carano is utterly convincing and kicks serious ass in this film. Believably. But. She is not much of an actress. She lacks the star oomph that makes one able to watch the similarly dire Jean-Claude or Chuck Norris (hmm, maybe not him) or Dolph or Ahnold. In fact these men are all worse actors than she is, but she is just so … normal looking. So unmemorable. Beyond the fighting that is. And the bit part walk-ons by Tatum etc are just so slight. So I would actually give this one a miss unless you Really don’t care about characterization. Which sometimes one doesn’t. Carano’s a much better actress; is sexier and more personable than Cynthia Rothrock, that’s for sure. I think its just that one expects more from a proper film director like Soderbergh. Flimsy and unsatisfying.

Whoever thought to cast Rothrock as a sex kitten should be shot.

One Comment
  1. Very enjoyable as usual, havent seen any of these flicks yet, but certainly am looking forward to A dangerous method. Keira certainly keeps growing in stature. Couldnt agree more with your comments about Cynthia Rothrock, how she has managed to have a career without any sex appeal, looks or acting ability is quite beyond me, however I must confess to have seen many of her “works”, mostly by accident!!!!!

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