Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Perfect Sense (2011)
World Premier review
A global pandemic is about to shatter the world and irrevocably change the human race. It starts with an emotional breakdown- the brain responding to the first stages of infection by frying receptors in the Limbic system. Those infected flare up with overpowering grief, sadness, despair. And then their sense of smell fails. It is this touchstone moment of emotion before the loss of one of the five senses, which brings the two main characters together and it is their shared experience of a planet-wide neurological disorder that brings us into the film. One by one, emotions rage, and other senses fail. Taste, followed by, hearing and finally in the last crushing blow to a society struggling to hold on- sight.
If this plot sounds too much like science-fiction or derivative of a nail-biting season finale of House, fear not, it is merely the backdrop for an exploration of the human condition. What makes use who we are? We are fragile, unstable creatures even at our best- but sometimes resilient and courageous when at our worst. The science behind the epidemic is never explained and there's no pretense of curing it. So quickly do the symptoms take effect, that the film's inhabitants are left with little more to do than make the most out of the time left and strive to achieve something beyond their base- to champion their souls and fight against the crushing illness and the loss of that which has identified them for so long.
If you are familiar with Scottish Director David Mackenzie's early works, the outline of the film's premise makes it fairly easy to see why he chose to bring Danish writer, Kim Fupz Aakeson's screenplay to life. His seminal works have laid the foundations for the new resurgence of Scottish film. While contemporary and far more well known Scotsman, Danny Boyle, enlivens his films with bold color, sharp edits, and a signature kinetic energy, in an appeal to a mass audience, Mackenzie chooses instead to wash his films in the rust of the Edinburgh shipping lanes, blanket them in the heavy slate sky of the highlands, and dampen each soul within his camera's frame with the weight of the world. In films like Asylum and Young Adam his lens is a dystopian one, tackling a somber reality and exploring the depths of human weakness with an unflinching, if almost depraved honesty. Then- he went on to direct an Ashton Kutcher sex comedy. For that we can forgive him, because Perfect Sense brings him back to form.
His fellow collaborators rise to the artistic merits of this piece as well. Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens (who we can all agree owes us many more great films like this to make up for lensing the worst film of all time, Battlefield Earth) gives this film a clarity and gentle depth of field that allows the viewer to sink into the story and goes on to highlight the emotional and psychological pay-offs of the dynamic plot. Composer Max Richter, one of the unsung stars of his craft, brings about a gentle piano score- it serves the story in the best possible way: never intruding, only elevating. Star Ewan McGregor also puts forth some of his best work to date. His previous collaboration with Mackenzie brought us Young Adam, and with the same visual tableau on display here, it could have been easy to start seeing shades of that unsettling character when this particular story deserved a much subtler approach. McGregor shines in a difficult role and helps guide the audience through the strange tale. Eva Green is perfectly cast. Her striking features and cool, collected demeanor can sometimes be so visually arresting and emotionally blunt that she distracts. But here she plays to her natural strengths as an actress and serves as a bellwether for the societal apocalypse to come.
We follow these two characters, McGregor a chef, Green an epidemiologist brought to Scotland to study the mysterious illness, through the stages of breakdown, the loss of senses one by one. We see the world spiraling out of control through their heroic struggle to hold on- to enjoy a meal without smell or taste, to take the time to appreciate a church bell's ringing or a child crying, knowing it may well be the last time they hear anything at all. Around them we see the slow breakdown of the human condition for some: rioting, chaos, the loss of will. But we also see reminders of our strengths. People dining out just for he pure experience of buying someone else a drink and being waited on. Or later in the film, lone citizens walking the streets after a riot, resetting bikes on their racks or stridently sweeping up glass shards- refusing to let the gradual loss of their senses define who they are as people.
The film itself makes bold choices. When the pandemic begins to affect the sense of hearing, the sound drops out, and yes when the illness finally takes away one's sight, the screen goes dark as well; but the film plays on. It's a bit tough to describe any further, as that would be giving away too much. Remember, this is not about a film about curing disease; it's about who we are as people. And rather surprisingly considering his previous films and the dark subject matter of this film, David Mackenzie seems to think there is a lot to champion about humanity. That despite all our imperfections, there is a little spark of something pure and almost holy within each of us that isn't defined by how we interpret the world, or, quite literally, how we feel. It is defined and strengthened by what we do. When everything else is going wrong around you and the world is slowly fading to dark- what one does in that exact moment is what defines a soul.
A Child's Christmas in Wales (1987)
A Timeless Classic To Watch Every Christmas Eve!
A Child's Christmas in Wales is a timeless classic. In fact I watch it, without fail, every Christmas Eve. To me this movie allows me to once again look at Christmas through the eyes of a child. Dylan Thomas's lush description of a Welsh Christmas is both a beautiful and poignant work that translates masterfully to the small screen. The inclusion of beloved British actor Denholm Elliott, as the wistful grandfather, eagerly telling his grandson of the great, snowbound Christmases of his childhood, only adds to the nostalgic air of this masterpiece. What makes this movie so amazing is its appeal to both young and old alike. When I first saw it on the Disney Channel as a young boy, I instantly loved it's simple story, vivid photography, and heart-warming humor. Now as an adult I appreciate even more the message it so wonderfully sends.
It is the endearing story of Thomas (Mathonway Reeves), a young Welsh boy, and the night of Christmas Eve. Denholm Elliott deftly portrays his loving, poetic grandfather, Geraint. His kind parents are played by the talented Michael Fawkes and Glynis Davies. The story begins on the night of Father Christmas' great journey. Thomas, as any young boy his age, is already planning to stay awake until the patter of hooves can be heard on the shingles and a pair of slick, black boots can be seen emerging from the hearth. According to Welsh tradition, one gift may be selected on Christmas Eve to be opened before all of the others. This year Thomas has chosen to open the present from his grandfather. It turns out to be a richly crafted snow globe. This, of course sparks Geraint's narration on how, the rainy Christmases of today, were nothing, no nothing when compared to the Christmases of his youth. When all the white Christmas rolled down toward the Welch-speaking sea like a snowball rolling whiter and bigger and rounder. And where the snow was not only shaken from whitewash buckets out of the sky, but seemed to come out of the ground itself.
The majority of the movie is a flashback, to one typical Christmas in Geraint's childhood. The flashback scenes are lovingly constructed, with wonderful narration, by Elliot, and heartfelt humor from Dylan Thomas's original story. What Christmas after-after all, would be complete without the fattened uncles resting after dinner by the fire, examining their cigars? Or the busy aunts bustling in the kitchen? It will most surely remind older generations of the way Christmases were, but younger generations can easily relate to both. Seeing a magical wonder in the winters of old, and a new found miracle in the modern Christmas. With great cinematography, acting, and an unforgettable ending, A Child's Christmas in Wales is a story for all ages. It is the perfect film to watch on Christmas Eve and establish a family tradition for years to come.
The Rare Breed (1966)
Stewart obviously out of place.
A fifty year old Jimmy Stewart wrestling cattle? Did anyone stop and think about this for a second? James Stewart has solidified himself as one of the best actors in the history of film. But even his prestige and talent cannot save this picture. An overly long epic about cattle breeding is not what greats like Stewart should be used for. It's almost sad to see how hard he tries, in a role with little substance, supported by a dry script. Of course there are some good points. Stewart finding a lost calf is a good moment, but that's solely his doing. (If there were other good moments I was probably asleep). Rare Breed was a disappointment to say the least. It's depressing to think that there weren't other roles available for an aging actor. I miss the "Hitchcock" Stewart, and the "Capra" Stewart, and the "Ford" Stewart. As painful as it is to admit, this may be one of his worst performances. Any other actor would have drowned in such a bad picture, but Stewart stays afloat, just barely.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)
It's Not The Next Generation, that's why it's so good
While Deep Space Nine is considered by many to be inferior to its predecessors, I do not consider it so. There have been many episodes to rival the best TNG has to offer (See: Way of the Warrior, The Visitor, Hard Times) Plus, it's a different type of show. With the Next Generation you could get by without watching every single episode. DS9 does not afford its viewers this luxury. That's a plus if you've got the time. And Avery Brooks' Captain Sisko is the perfect follow-up to greats like Kirk and Picard. Reoccurring villains, an entire army of alien extras, a hauntingly beautiful space station, and the endless mysteries of the wormhole are just some of the reasons why this series is one of the stronger members in the Star Trek Universe. With great characters like Captain Benjamin Laffette Sisko, Jadzia Dax, and even TNG's Miles O'Brien and Lt. Cmdr. Worf, the acting and character interaction is at least as good as the originals. Rarely do television actors soar to the levels that Avery Brooks and Colm Meany (O'Brien) have. Armin Shimmerman's Quark is a unforgettable classic, The Dominion one of the best Star Trek menaces in a long time. Capt. Sisko provides the ideal example of what it means to be a father, through his interaction with his son Jake. Is it any wonder that DS9 stands by itself as a superior Sci-Fi/Dramatic series? I for one will look forward to the day when Sisko will return to his beloved DS9, this time on the big screen!