Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick DVD Reviews

The Wind that Shakes the Barley
I am not surprised that this one won the Palm D’Or in 2006, as it is a rather gorgeous piece of historical film making. There’s also a good amount of raw emotion and rather shocking violence that really pulls in the viewer. It also features some very strong performances, anchored by the remarkable Cillian Murphy. All of that being said, it is far from perfect as the narrative tends to meander and one gets the sense that Ken Loach was not sure when and where to wrap things up. Grade: B+

The Station Agent
For one reason or another, I never got around to watching this well regarded 2003 film. It is nice to have movies like this around, for those days when I’m staring blankly at the New Releases shelf at my local video store. It is the tale of three very lonely people, and the three different ways they deal with their loneliness. I hate to use the word ‘bittersweet’, but it is really appropriate here. All of the players are fantastic, but Bobby Cannavale absolutely steals the show as the unbelievably upbeat, Joe. Thomas McCarthy is a writer and director with undeniable talent and I imagine he’s got a dozen more great films in him. Grade: A-

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
This 1974 Sam Peckinpah film recently did the podcast circuit and received nearly universal praise. Perhaps I went in with far too high expectations, but I came away quiet disappointed. The film is very deliberately paced, and I am normally fine with that it is just that the transition from the lulls to the action set pieces is often quite jarring. Warren Oates’ performance is also a bit inconsistent – as he seems to be sleepwalking through much of the middle chapter. The final 10 minutes owes a bit too much to both the Wild Bunch and Bonnie and Clyde for my liking. Again, if I had seen this without the baggage of critical praise, I may feel differently but I was never sufficiently engaged with any of the characters. Grade: B-

Away We Go
The leads and supporting cast are quite strong, and many of the scenes are quite touching and/or funny but this movie is far less than the sum of its parts. I do have a tough time accepting that this couple was in such a state of arrested development. Sure, parenthood can sneak up on us, but it almost seemed like these two were teenagers. The scenes set in Montreal and Miami were particularly strong, but there was far too much filler and I think that Sam Mendes & Co. are still wandering North America trying to determine what type of movie they were try to make. Enjoyable buy disposable. Grade: B-


Jacque Nodell said...

Station Agent is an excellent movie, I really enjoyed that one too.

Pink Frosty said...

Your movie reviews and taste in movies is spot-on. And you love great comic books. This is my new favourite blog.