A week in Film: The Reviews

Her, 2013 ☆☆☆☆☆

Spike Jonze

There, in full-colour glory, lies a bleak world where human contact is at its most basic desire. Hoyte van Hoytema is the man responsible for the visuals of this contemporary drama/romance. The images are dense and clean cut, with a texture almost tangible and enticing. This is what it feels like to watch Her. As for Spike Jonze, the approach is tantalisingly endearing. The desolation of this utopia is self-conscious and handled with wit and an almost affection to the sharing his vision of this dystopian living.

Out of the many films illustrating a dystopian living: The Hunger Games, Divergent, Robocop and I Robot, to mention but a few popular films, Her has a little more heart and soul; be it, more intimate and of course falling into the romance category, the handle of the film is most outstanding.

I love everything about film, and I know exactly what I can achieve, texture- and feeling-wise. But we chose digital specifically for those night sequences in his apartment, where the city outside the windows is so vibrant and bright. We didn’t want to do a lot of augmenting in post, and with the Alexa we could use extremely low-level light sources [for the interior] that were still controllable. –  Hoyte van Hoytema

Joachim Phoenix is engaging, a little whimsical and proves a solid in Phoenix’s body of work. He is attractive in character and somewhat in appearance, with his heavy moustache and thick-frames; perhaps it’s the smile or his enticing persona. There is a kindness, an appealing loneliness to the character of Theodore Twombly. 

“Set in a stylized version of the not-too-distant future… Her is his [Spike Jonze] first full-fledged effort as a writer-director, and in keeping with his other movies, it has an off-kilter, fable-like quality to it… There’s an undeniable darkness that creeps and swirls beneath the colorful, breezy surfaces of Jonze’s movies—in Her, it hovers around the fine line between love-as-devotion and love-as-delusion. ” – Nicole Holofcener

A Long Way Down, 2014 ☆☆☆

Pascal Chaumeil

An ensemble of people with one goal: a New Years eve suicide and of course only one building in the entirety of London to choose from; they come together by accident and change one another’s minds. Though the concept appears tedious, we are won over with a well thought out script full of humorous quips and characters full of charm and quite compelling backstories. And though it may not be the most plausible of concepts, Nick Hornby’s book has been treated well in film form. There are some beautiful shots; the scene in the hospital with the admittance of Jess (Imogen Poots), is shot with an interesting palette, and with valued framing and attention to light. You’ll certainly laugh and most possibly cry.

“Inevitably, a good deal of the novel’s intricacies have been ironed out too, though with Hornby on board as executive producer this must have been sanctioned on some level… What emerges, as orchestrated by French director Pascal Chaumeil, is a genial, lightweight farce, which largely approximates Hornby’s distinctively bittersweet tone.”- Andrew Pulver

Celeste & Jesse Forever, 2012 ☆☆☆☆

Lee Toland Krieger

Some may deem this film a ‘guilty pleasure’; A lighthearted, less cliched romantic story of sorts, which may remain underrated for time. It opens with a montage of polaroids and evolves into a film with much to lure in an audience. The humour we expect from Andy Sandberg is on pointe, whilst what Rashida Jones brings, in addition to humour, is a woman who, in script, is described as a “chronic overachiever” and can cut tension so effortlessly with her dialogue.

Throughout, theres the, will they won’t they? question looming in the air, that which we experienced through every season of Friends. Their lives are not unrealistic. There is little ‘Hollywood’ drama and falling in love with the characters is easy. Reading through the scrip will reinforce an affection for the film.

Every time we came up against a convention [of  avoiding romantic-comedy clichés] — because, you know, everything’s been done before — we tried to find some slight twist on it. People are cynical, you know. They can see things coming from a mile away. – Rashida Jones

 August: Osage County, 2013 ☆☆☆☆

John Wells, Tracy Wells

Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and Julia Roberts are just a handful of distinguished names who appear onscreen. August: Osage County is the work of John Wells (director) and Tracy Letts (screenplay), whose vision came together in 2013.

Though it is essentially a stage play, which does not translate as well on screen,  the dynamic of characters is by far interesting and the story, compelling. Tracy Letts’ work is undeniably notable. The casting is almost perfect and the bittersweet dialogue and tone is remarkable to watch. Along with Adriano Goldman’s cinematography, the cinematic experience when watching August, is a unique one; the reality presented is heart shuttering, with bouts of laughter which make you wonder if you should laugh at all, which in fact one should.

It is no doubt that the show stealer is of course, Violet Weston played by Meryl Streep, closely followed by Barbara Weston (Julia Roberts) and Jean Fordham (Abigail Breslin), without almost naming the entire cast. Every cast member is fully aware of their character, as one would expect any actor to be, but each own both a sensitivity for one another and themselves, whilst possessing the right amount of passion to deliver some rather inharmonious lines.

“Tracy and I spent about 18 months working on it [August: Osage County]. It’s three and a half hours in the theater–about 25 minutes of that is intermission–so you know, three hours is a little bit in the theater. But the biggest challenge was trying to figure out what we were going to see that didn’t require a stage.”- John Wells in an interview with ComingSoon.net

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