I have done a lot of catching-up of recent films over Christmas week:
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB [Jean-marc Vallee]
Anyone seen this? Its like a TV Movie with an Oscar-winning central performance by Matthew McConaughey, who never plays the disease [AIDS] just simply plays the character. Not my cup of tea at all however; Vallee puts his foot on the accelerator from the get-go and never takes it off.
GAME CHANGE [JAY ROACH]
Loved this. Exceptionally well done; the opening scene of Sarah Palin walking around the County Fair with her kids is worth the price of admission alone. Brilliantly acted. Woody Harrelson, fantastic never seen him better; Julianne Moore just epic in every way.
They chose a star but they didn’t know what to do with her or how to handle her.
Thank God, some might say because she could have been the Veep by now.
IDA [Pawel Pawlikowski]
Hmm. IDA. All the critics love this, me less so. It is about a young Polish nun who discovers that she is Jewish and that her family were murdered in the War by their neighbours.
More Jews . . . and maybe that was my problem with it, having just come off Patrick Modiano [see previous post] and scoured the depths of human wickedness with Search Warrant, I wasn’t really able to sit comfortably with what I am sure is a sincere script, beautifully filmed in B&W but which ultimately is cinematic entertainment.
I am interested in film. I once went on a 26-week film course, studying Mise-en-Scene, editing, tracking shots, panning shots, acting and all the rest of it. I know about Raise the Red Lantern and Costas-Gavras and IDA is beautifully done, with its off-set framing and acres of blank space and may even be a future classic, but it’s not for me.
LEVIATHAN [Andrey Zvyagintsev]
I liked this. The landscape is amazing and beautiful . . . that is definitely Zvyagintsev’s thing in a way that Pawlikowski’s thing is creativity within a strictly limited palette and Jay Roaches thing is politics from the inside. I did actually see The Return and Elena, Zvyagintsev’s previous two films and it’s the landscape again, rather than character or story that he concentrates upon. Maybe that’s as much to do with life under Vlad than any artistic choice.