Friday, January 27, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
As always, the cinematography in Melancholia is wonderful (as to be expected from a Lars von Trier film). With a moderately larger budget than usual, it is clear that the extra money went to the special effects (a newer field for von Trier's work). Beautiful space imagery and planetary photography enhances the entire believability of the film (which is important in this). The light from the planet Melancholia casting over the golfing grounds of John's mansion is breathtakingly real, and set against the backdrop of the soundtrack - featuring Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" - the imagery is remarkable.
Where Melancholia falls apart is within the script. Where clarification and visible character development was needed, it was consistently lacking in this film about a chronically depressed woman who seems to have no reason for her state of depression. There could be many explanations as to why Justine is depressed, but it is never answered within the context of the film. There are some wonderful side performances from the likes of the Lars von Trier regulars Udo Kier and Stellan Skarsgård (Skarsgård was also in David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), but there performances are both fleeting and at times unnecessary.
Though Melancholia is weak for Lars von Trier, it is beautiful to know that even when a director as wonderful and unique as Lars is not at his best, his films are still better than any of the typical films being released by "Hollywood" now.
My ranking: 3.5/5 stars
Clint Eastwood, an actor and director who has proven himself to be one of the best filmmakers of today, has had very few duds... but "J. Edgar" might be his most recent failure.
The directing is not particularly bad, and the acting is actually quite superb, but the film falls apart due to the most important element: the script. Written by Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winning screenwriter of "Milk", I had hoped for a film that would be as informative and full of life as his 2008 success. Instead, "J. Edgar" is a very poor snappy collection of flashbacks and highlights of the successes and struggles that Edgar Hoover faced while starting up the FBI.
"Milk", in comparison, has an established ending within the first few moments of the film. You know that Harvey Milk will die of an assassination, so you have a growing sense of tension as you await that horrific moment of martyrdom. In "J. Edgar", the film has no sense of direction at all. The film drags as it lacks a central plot/conflict to drive the film.
The movie spans over 50 years of time, but had the film focused only on the first 10 or 20 years of Edgar's time in the FBI, it would have been much more compelling.
There are great moments in this film, but each of these moments are brief and sporadic. "J. Edgar" focuses to often on the historical context and not enough on the actual person of Edgar Hoover.
With a man who had a secret so scandalous for the time (homosexuality), and yet wanted to appear so masculine and powerful, it is astonishing that Clint Eastwood allowed the script to stay the way it is.
This film reeks of untapped-potential, and though it features a marvelous cast, they and the director cannot save the film from it's horrific script.
My ranking: 2/5 stars