A hopeless film about a hopeless situation, Melancholia also has a piercing insight into the human condition. Writer/director Lars von Trier envisions the end of the world twice. The first time is almost romantic, as slow-motion tableaux foreshadow events, visualize inner turmoil, and watch from a distance as a massive rogue planet pummels into Earth. The second time, it’s intimate and horrifying. In between, two sisters are devastated by forces outside of their control. Justine (Kirsten Dunst) tries to celebrate her wedding but succumbs to depression. Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg in the performance of the year) thrives on the order of the event but begins to resemble her sister in the film’s second part as the great planet gets closer. This is a fearless film–a merciless and haunting view into a pit of despair– that’s also one of the very best films of 2011. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Matt King (George Clooney) must know how to say good-bye to his wife. She is in a coma. The doctors see no hope for her, and her living will states that she is to be taken off life support soon. The grieving process is complicated by the fact that Matt learns his wife had been having an affair. While trying to make arrangement for his wife’s family and friends to see her one last time, Matt takes his daughters (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) to find the man his wife had been with to gain some sort of closure. Clooney is the film’s backbone in a performance of delicate poise that also serves as a prism to witness the other characters’ grieving. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Behind the glamour, My Week with Marilyn proposes, was a wounded, insecure woman who felt the need to live up to her screen persona just to engage in everyday activities. The film avoids tabloid trash and cheap pop psychology through a sympathetic view of Marilyn Monroe, played with radiance by Michelle Williams. The central character is Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), who gets a job at Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branagh) production company to work on the crew of Olivier’s new movie The Prince and the Showgirl, which stars Marilyn. Colin and icon start up a friendship and eventually a semi-romance. The star-crossed romance is nothing new, but director Simon Curtis lets us see Marilyn as a human being. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
We should at least know what our heroes are searching for before the one-hour mark. The Adventures of Tintin, which has some great motion-capture work and a single-take shot that is truly a feat, doesn’t give us much of a reason to care about these characters (unless, perhaps, you’re already a fan of Hergé’s comics) because we have no idea what they’re doing for far too long. The resulting exhibition of technology and action has some solidly redeeming value, but it’s only spectacle for its own sake. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D.
The biggest inspiration of Happy Feet Two is the introduction of a pair of krill named Will (voice of Brad Pitt) and Bill (voice of Matt Damon) who think they can move up the food chain and adapt into something greater than just food for other fish. With existential angst and a variety of puns, they wander in the background of the movie, which concerns the waddle of penguins becoming trapped by an iceberg. It’s cute, yes, but it’s still merely a shadow of its predecessor. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, DVD/Blu-ray Combo, and Blu-ray 3D.
Young Adult features a languid malcontent of an anti-heroine with a misanthropic outlook on life and people. This is fine, and in fact, the movie works much better when it simply lets Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) be unsympathetic. Sadly, that is not meant to last, as she returns to her hometown to win over an ex-boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) from high school, who’s married with a newborn baby. Patton Oswalt plays the movie’s moral center, a former classmate who lets Mavis know how terrible her plan is. Everything falls apart when Diablo Cody’s screenplay tries to rationalizing her perception and behavior. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Did we really need another adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ story of three musketeers trying to stop a plot against the king? No. Did there really need to be airships in this one? No. Is it even kind of, sort of fun? Not really. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D.