Monday, June 10, 2013

Capsule reviews of 2012 films: Pitch Perfect, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dark Knight Rises, Trouble with the Curve

Pitch Perfect
Pitch Perfect is a surprisingly fun film that goes about as emotionally deep as it needs to without getting overly mushy. The storyline is of a reluctant college student (Anna Kendrick) who learns to open herself up more to people and possibilities through joining an a capella group. Anna Kendrick, who's been nominated for an Academy Award, is probably too good for a film like this, but thank God the producers were able to get her because she gives her all and elevates the film significantly.

The film, adapted from a book wherein the author spent significant amount of time with 3 college a capella groups, delves deep into the a capella world and it's clear that the filmmakers have done their research and this sets this film apart from the typical coming-of-age college film as we're taken deep into the world of this subculture. The music itself is also very entertaining..

Although there's a sort of love-hate romance (wherein the boy's primary method of winning over the girl is annoying her to death), the film is all about girl power and how this loner learns to bond with other females for the first time and (excuse the pun) make beautiful music.

With Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, Adam Driver, Anna Camp, and Rebel Wilson, the supporting cast has a great chemistry despite the fact that it's difficult to believe some of these people are 18-22 years old (Anna Camp and Rebel Wilson in particular)

The film's screenplay is by Kay Canon (who has written for 30 Rock and is well-known in comedy circles) and while there are some laughs, it's not primarily a comedy. It IS a fun film.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

An Altmanesque ensemble piece exploring old age, wistfully weaving in and out of several story lines fluidly. The story centers around seven random British retirees (all feeling various stages of incompleteness with their situations) who get lured by an ad to spend their retirement in a hotel that's not as glamorous as advertised.

Tom Wilkinson shines as Graham: a gay man who grew up in the days of the Empire in India before moving to India. It's true what they say: Bonus points on your acting resume for going gay. Graham's storyline, involving reconnecting with his homeland and a lost lover lies at the heart of the story.

Elsewhere, we have a couple horny seniors looking for love for different reasons (one to feel young, one for financial security), a woman recovering from surgery (Maggie Smith), a hypochondriac, a marriage in flux, and a newly widowed woman taking her first job (Judi Dench). Each of these story lines all provide relatively satisfying layers of richness. 

Trouble with the Curve
An aging scout who looks like Clint Eastwood (who in real life, by the way, is over 80) is being pushed out of his job (hello, it's called retirement) and adopts an attitude of spunky rebelliousness, when in fact he can't do the job anyways because he's losing his vision. A movie premise based on a plot hole a mile wide is on some shaky ground to begin with. It doesn't help matters that every person who disagrees with him about retirement conveniently turns out to be an incompetent a-hole.

The film still has some nice moments and takes us moderately deeply into the universe of baseball scouting and going somewhere new is always interesting. At the same time, a more realistic film might have made us feel like we were actually experiencing the life of a baseball scout.

The film's other strong points are Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. As someone who is not in the camp that Timberlake has previously displayed any acting skills, this is Timberlake's first role in which he could legitimately be called an actor. Amy Adams, who is always wonderful, showed here that she can actually be sexy on screen on top of all the other great character beats she bought with the character.

Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises was the pivotal success of Batman if you consider that Batman Begins had too much exposition and Dark Knight was so focused on the Joker and his omnipotent brand of evil, that it made for more of a horror story than an event film. The Dark Knight Rises really was the optimal blend of ingredients that one would come to expect in a Nolan film. Like Inception and Prestige, it was an epic story with twists that unraveled satisfyingly. More importantly, the film really was about Batman which is a hard chore considering he is usually always upstaged by more interesting and colorful visions in pretty much every auteur's vision of Gotham city.

The story lines are and expertly juggled and the production quality is top notch. It's also fair to say that the emotional content of a Batman film has never resonated so well with me and I even found it more realistic (and slightly amusing) that the facade of Batman wasn't kept sacred and pretty much every character just said "screw it, he's Bruce Wayne." 

1 comment:

Meow Opre said...

I soooooo love this movie & especially the pitch perfect songs! Old and new songs with a twist on their renditions. Totally aca-awesome! :) Utkarsh is my crush <3