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Italian Movies (2012)
Potboiler comedy from Italy
Why an Italian comedy brazenly names itself Italian MOVIES, a self-referential parody or a grandstanding peddling? Either way, the feature debut of director Matteo Pellegrini turns out be to nothing but another uplifting potboiler of a vacuously self-satisfying mirage which inundates the domestic market.
The picture is about a cluster of night-shift cleaners working for a film studio in Turin, most of them are immigrants, ranges from India - the good-hearted family man Dilip (D'Souza), East Europe - the brain of the group Mako (Guskov) to Central Africa - the bossy grump Zahur (Ebouaney) and the voluptuous seducer Laloo (Gerren), in addition to the natives, an unhappy spinster Gina (Catalano), a torpid wife Charlotte (Kravos) and a carefree youngster Ben (Venitucci) who is congenitally romantic but when comes to the critical moment he gets cold feet.
So the moonlighting business of these laymen starts with clandestinely borrowing the studio cameras to shoot wedding videos on weekends, then evolves into a more audacious plan, hogging the studio during the night to make short films for their sundry clients under the brand "Italian Movies", most of the videos they make are talking heads with shoddy CGI backgrounds, pertinent to the needs of their patrons, outlandish but never inspirational, so what is the endgame of the big subterfuge? No way it can dodge suspicion all the way, so as to create a sensational closure, the screenwriters cobble together an abysmal national TV Channel hijack with the videos made by the sham studio and hastens up to the feel-good coda where reality never bites.
The characters are all superficially written, either annoyingly over-the-top like Ebouaney, in the waiting-for-her-check-then-leave mode like Catalano, or I'm-too-pretty-to-be-a-cleaner like Kravos; D'Souza is too righteous to deliver the "we all have a dream" speech, Guskov wavers between a greedy money-grubber and the perspicuous head of the group, Ventitucci is too nice to blame and the villain-like Filippo Timi has no substantive material to improvise.
The film is supposed to motivate the morale for the lower class (especially under the current economic mire), but the naiveté of an untenable script undermines the positive intention, which, alas, is also a universal malaise in contemporary cinematic comedy output.
Violette Nozière (1978)
Violette and Dr. Hannibal Lecter can be an adorable couple!
It is an atrociously unlawful act depicted in Chabrol's sensational melodrama, the based-on-a- true-story type (a murder case in 1933) which would usually generate a slew of horrific feedback in the social news commentary, about an adolescent girl poisons her parents in order to back up her gold-digger boyfriend to elope together.
What makes the film so gravely provocative is the entire scheme of Violette (Huppert) seems so juvenile and wanton, the viciousness is inexorable and beyond any logical solace. Violette is a lackadaisical, apolitical and promiscuous teenager, although at the age of 24, Huppert is unbecoming to pass for the role, but Chabrol adroitly restyles Violette with a more precocious patina, the dexterous transition between the good girl veneer when she is with her parents and the motel-hogging and man-hunting hussy potently incites Huppert's chameleonic escapade, each and every single frame zooms in on her unprovoked aloofness and obtrusive sex appeal. She is perpetually indulging in her own pathetic realm, sneers at her parents' clumsy intercourse and disgruntled at their ordinary petit bourgeois trivia, she is in an impetuous situation to find an egress, but the man in her dreams is a major disappointment as viewers all being well- informed in advance, it is money he is on the lookout for. The affair is doomed to futility, in some sense Violette knows it fairly well, but it is the defects (the egocentric selfishness, deep- rooted misanthrope and diabolic cruelty) in her character blind her sight, poison her mind and abet her into carrying on the abhorrent action.
After the murder plan goes as expected and the lousy gas-accident cover-up, Germaine, the mother (Audran) survives the poison, it is not a detective story after all, instead, it is an awkward moment of facing the truth, but Violette's vituperative accusation to her late father (Carmet) in order to justify her motive shatters all the expectation if there is any mercifulness left in her, she is an archetype of the malevolent side of human nature, an anomaly which defies all the logical interpretation, she and Dr. Hannibal Lecter can be an adorable couple!
Stéphane Audran, whom I just appraised for her delicate performance in BABETTE'S FEAST (1987, 8/10), is astounding here as the overbearing but doting mother of Violette, she is the one we can mostly project our compassion on, yet, we might also prompt to question her tutelage, perhaps she is at least partially responsible for the decadence of her sole daughter, how Violette's double act (constantly stays in motels and hangs out someone the parents have never met) can blatantly evade a mother's instinctive nature is a shade bemusing, not to mention the intaking of unknown medicine for the sake of hereditary syphilis, at least verify with the doctor first (and in this case, both parents are too unmindful)!
New to the canon of Claude Chabrol, the pick of VIOLETTE may not be the optimum starter, the disrupted narrative never fully register any excitement barring a bitter aftertaste and shocking values of the subject matter, its foremost merit is to grant Huppert a stage to unleash her glacial pulchritude, which one can appreciate from every unyielding close-up on her, and comfortingly augurs an eminent career for her as crème de la crème of the French cinema, her screen magnetism is inherent.
Disney's keystone in this era!
A bravura and toasty comeback to the zenith of Disneyland, FROZEN, the freshly BEST ANIMATION PICTURE crowner in the Academy Awards, has already swept the globe with its colossal box-office gross and the ultra-appealing theme song LET IT GO, it also signals the first time for our beloved animation tentpole, a lovey-dovey boilerplate of a princess in the quest for her Prince Charming is preponderated by the bond between princess Anna and her sister, the Ice Queen Elsa, a more broad and wholesome act of true love.
Step into the shoes of the cutting-edge sub-brand Pixar, whose BRAVE (2012, 8/10) heralds a trend whereby a female heroine can break the shackles of looking for male suitor as the one and only goal for life. FROZEN goes for a more ambitious yet crucial route to accentuate the courage of embracing yourself as who you are, no matter how different you are from the rest, shut down your heart and lock yourself up in an isolated kingdom is not a way out. Such a valuable message can be widely assimilated among viewers while the roots remain Disney-esque, tuneful and catchy musical numbers with routine delivery, prominent sidekicks fittingly align with the protagonists, like Olaf, the snowman naively thirsts for summer and sunlight, the contribution of Josh Gad's voice cannot go unnoticed.
Veteran animator Chris Buck teams up with the first-time director Jennifer Lee, together they construe Hans Christian Andersen's popular fairytale (The Ice Queen) into a visually variegated adventure, minimize the cliché-ridden flourishes which commonly embellish the leitmotif (no redundant sub-plots to slow down the narrative pace). The story progresses in a wonted and linear approach, yet the whole journey is never in deficiency of enchantment, while the plot is fairly more twisty than Disney's usual fare, a key revelation against the grain can blindside audiences without a hitch.
The voice-cast are enjoyable despite that Menzel's voice is overtly too old for Elsa, it is also a plucky move to cast an openly out actor (Groff) to dub the valiant reindeer rider as Anna's genuine soulmate and love-interest, along with the connotation for a more nondiscriminatory society extracted from the pith of its tale, FROZEN is a cinematic hero of our times, a film reaches a much broader demography and transcends its general raison d' être, it may indeed positively refine our world into a more civilized tier and it is no end of virtuous achievements!
Babettes gæstebud (1987)
RIP Gabriel Axel
A tribute to the late Danish director Gabriel Axel, BABETTE'S FEAST is the paramount legacy left by him to us, an Academy BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE PICTURE winner, a chant implies us what gustation could evoke a religious epiphany. It is a ritually ceremonious fare renders us warmth and serenity without the customary sanctimony or doctrinaire preaching, a crowd-pleaser dauntingly satiates the audience's aesthetics irrespective of their religious disparities.
A dour and self-sacrificing manner of living in an isolated village, Flippa (Kjer) and Martine (Federspiel) are two spinster sisters adhere to the holy cause of their late father (Kern), sermonize local believers. Narrated by a poised and tranquilizing voice-over, through Flippa and Martine's episodic and never-fully-blossomed romance with two gentlemen in their youth, not only we witness their tested devotedness to the conviction, but also it gently sets the context for the arrival of Babette (Audran), a French fugitive seeks for refugee during the wartime, who voluntarily serves the sisters as a housemaid, until she wins a lottery and decides to prepare a genuine French feast for the sisters and their followers, who are dumbfounded at the sheer exotic and exquisite banquet, and the comical and scintillating vibes of their apprehension towards the unknown treat and protean reactions after savoring each course are depicted in a self-effacing but divinely innocuous mode. We might not all enthusiasts of French cuisine, however, the contradiction can never be more wisely enjoyable.
The performances are rigidly rehearsed, a mite of histrionics but overall, there are nothing but amiable characters, Audran imbues a underplayed enactment of a woman afflicted by the most atrocious trauma, but hides them all under her worldly facade, even in a foreign country, she spunkily embraces her life without compromise. Kjer and Federspiel pair up harmoniously in their saint-like personae, embody all the virtues with compelling grace and benevolence. Jarl Kulle uniformly eloquent as Gen. Lorens Löwenhielm, a true gourmet guides the devotees into an emulating farce of a viscerally gustatory escapade, and the real-life baritone Jean-Philippe Lafont imprints a gleeful tonality as a maestro stumbles on a hidden gem which contritely he can never possess.
It is simply a winsome bucolic prose with minimal adornment, encompassed with pictorial shots of rural scenery, still-life scrutiny and rigorous portrayal, enchants us with empyrean hymns, but emotionally BABETTE'S FEAST is immensely opulent, an ethereal fable oozes humanity and compassion can feasibly strike a chord in any heart with perspicacious pulsation, RIP Gabriel Axel, may thou will be feted with a feast in heaven too.
Better than the first chapter
Coming to cinema two months later in Mainland China, the second chapter of THE HOBBIT TRILOGY is poised to prevail the box office in a rather lethargic period after the red-hot Chinese Spring Fe festival.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012, 6/10) is a relentless roller-coaster ride with a slew of visual stunts to propel a succinct plot, which doesn't live up to the expectation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS' Middle Earth triumphant standing, also Peter Jackson's innovative shooting technology has received with some resistance and negative feedbacks. The second round, a 3D version is all we have in China, the palette is light-toned, the textual sharpness hasn't been refined from the first one, a tad dim and the same landscape doesn't register the same rapt effect anymore.
Nevertheless, the film is an ameliorated update from AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, not simply because of Smaug's imposing grandeur and droll garrulousness (voiced by a malignantly intoning Cumberbatch). The plain narration bifurcates from the early start, when Gandalf (McKellen) detaches from the rest of the expedition on a solitary quest, as it often pans out, the journey without the omnipotent grey wizard galvanizes more excitement and comic relief. The action set pieces are imbued with sufficient antics in the barrel cruise, the comeback of Legolas (Bloom) and a freshly coined female elf Tauriel (Lilly) reinforces audience's modern aesthetic as a welcoming love triangle among the two and a handsome (and slightly taller-than-average) dwarf Kili (Turner) is a clever deployment to gratify a touch of romanticism and conforms with the topical love equity enthusiasm. The pulchritude of slaughtering orcs with dexterous archery can never stultify the viewers.
When Bilbo (Freeman) lurches into Smaug's turf to exert his burglar role, it prompts the zenith with the disparate duel between the dwarf pack and the indomitable fire-generator, it is also worth mentioning the dissonant atmosphere between Bilbo and Thorin (Armitage), is the hobbit only an expedient pawn for Thorin's stout-hearted vengeance to reclaim his kingdom, or the boundary of species can be breached through Bilbo's valorous altruism? Let's wait and see what will happen in the final venture.
This time, one might be able to distinguish the 13 dwarfs more easily besides Thorin, Balin (Stott), Kili and Fili (O'Gorman), Freeman is consistently indulged in his invisible vantage with the ring, while McKellen's Gandalf has some perilous path to overcome. The film is properly enlightened by several new characters, apart from Tauriel's apropos feminine touch, Bard (Evans) is the key character introduced here, and for certain his import in the finale is well hinted although we haven't seen too much potential in him yet. And it is always a delight to watch Stephen Fry, sketchily appears as the Master of Laketown, quips with his insidious underling Alfrid (Gage).
As a middle section of a trilogy, this film actually skirts the conundrum of being left in the epic and enmeshed background without a certain closure to end the film itself, it is both satisfied to see to a not out-and-out victory and intrigued to imagine what will happen when the dragon is released to a more spacious scale, all magnetizes its core audience to return for a third time.
El ángel exterminador (1962)
Brunuel's another surrealistic metaphor
A Bruñuel school's invitation is always becoming for any cinephile's reservoir, currently this film marks my fourth entrance into his territory after the lesser approachable THE MILKY WAY (1969, 6/10), THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL is an outstanding surrealism allegory, Bruñuel maneuvers a sleight of hand with sheer simplicity, the entire story is predominantly crammed in a living room of a regal mansion, the owners Lucía (Gallardo) and Edmundo (Rambal) host a dinner party for 20 middle-class guests. Bizarrely the party never ends, all of them, with the steward Julio (Brook) are incarcerated in the living room, whoever intends to get out of the room, will involuntarily alter his mind to stay, meanwhile for the people outside, the same mysteriously inexplicable force hedges them from entering too.
Trapped in this claustrophobic space, the coexistence turns sour with time ruthless consuming the sustenance, the energy and the etiquette, simultaneously squabbles, vituperation, oneiric hallucinations, suicidal tendency and roughhousing all come to the fore (Bruñuel could go to extreme with cannibalism but he chose to refrain), the procedure of everyone takes off their facade and betrays their true self is excruciatingly riveting, the film could scale new heights as a superb probing essay on human nature if Bruñuel cared to exhume deeper to each character's meaty back-story (the fraternal hint, the flirtatious lady with terminal cancer, the undercurrent of adultery between the hostess and the Colonel, a votive trip to Lordes, the before/after reaction of taking the ulcer pills, not to mention the "La Valkiria" Leticia played by the first-billed Silvia Pinal, there are a slew of untold scandals are in need of elaboration). Instead the upshot is executed with a much murkier distinction, conspicuously they are all pawns in Bruñuel's storybook, it is rather an exacting task to distinguish all the different roles from a first-viewing, if only Robert Altman would do a remake, and expunge the political metaphor of the ending, then it would be transformed into a highly-watchable character analysis and an incisive farce with eye-dropping theatrical showpieces.
Of course Bruñuel's mastery is omnipresent in the film, the superimposition shot of a clear sky upon a facial portrait, the outlandish amalgam of lambs and a baby bear, and the creative approach to offer a vent to let them out (a Paradisi's sonata is the turning point), until the climax, we all realize it is just a trial run, and the denouement is a dual indictment on undiscerning religious belief and the political status quo at then, pepped up with a palpable feeling of hopelessness.
Also the slap to the bourgeois is loud and clear since the film's opening, it is the servants who are sentient of the pending uncanniness, and urge to leave the house as soon as possible, only the obtuse are being entrapped by the almighty trickster. Then what happens to the hoi polloi in the church? The purge is more generic or we should merely stop over-interpretation? Anyway who needs a concrete answer as long as Bruñuel is concerned.
La grande bellezza (2013)
A Giraffe in Rome
After his tepid foray into America (THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, 2011), Paolo Sorrentino returns to Rome, confects his latest film, LA GRANDE BELLEZZA, a rambling fresco about the menagerie of events around Jep Gambardella (Servillo), a one-time writer and a successful journalist. Jep is an urbane hipster habituates in nightlife, a spouseless socialite, both an adroit party thrower and avid participant, but what has changed since his 65-year-old birthday? He begins to meditate on the existential meaning of his life, through his eyes, we are invited to probe the unseen vista of the middle-class' decadence in the urban Roman society, it is a ritual, sentimental prose, plus an ode to the foregone glory.
As a man with certain social status, Jep descends into nostalgic about the past, especially when he learns the death of his first lover, he recollects his memory of her, and meets a middle-aged stripper Ramona (Ferilli), who is an unwonted idealist with an enigmatic secret (not her intimacy with Botox obviously). They form a platonic relationship, romanticizes the ideal of love instead of making love. There are other facet of Jep's life which concerns his friends, his pygmy boss Dadina (Vignola), an affluent widow Viola (Villoresi) with her radical son Andrea (Marinelli), the condescending Stefania (Ranzi), the lascivious Lello Cava (Buccirosso) with his wife Trumeau (Forte) and Romano (Verdone), an ill-fated writer. They all have their episodic presence in Jep's life, their stories are more or less expanded but never elaborated.
The portmanteau structure meanders over 2 hours, like a night cruise, sometimes we admire, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we indulge, not that the narrative matters, as if Sorrentino has a non-stop palliative generator to peddle viewers its pills to be enchanted with petrifying exquisiteness (from the body-swirling parties, then a giraffe disappears in a jiffy to the magical flamingos summoned by the wizened Saint), idiosyncratic modern art (Talia Concept, a kid's performance art and Ron Sweet's self-portrait exhibition, or maybe the Botox hospital, looks like a wacky play), and not to mention the groovy shindigs, all arrayed in painterly compositions, but Jep is not among all of this, he is an onlooker, a parvenu with patronizing stance to reflect the recognition we are hankering for, sophisticated, superior yet still hasn't found what he is looking for. Servillo (only 55 but always passes for older men) exemplifies the role without detectable effort, his creased physiognomy is telling enough to indicate what's in his vulpine mind.
It is easy to find allusions to the vintage national auteurs like Fellini, Visconti with Sorrentino's darkly flamboyant touch, but the film seems to no more a panegyric to the ancient capital than a contemplative eulogy which fixates on the internal struggle of aging, not only our lives are ephemeral, so is the aggregate city itself, and this is what beckons the core of the Academy voters, I can safely put my ante on a BEST FOREIGN PICTURE win in the upcoming Oscar ceremony, a majestic 15-year comeback to the kudos after LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (1998, 8/10).
Anna Karenina (2012)
a typical miscast with all the froufrou
It's the third time for Jon Wright to tender Keira Knightley a leading role in a period drama, the first two (PRIDE & PREJUDICE 2005, 8/10; ATONEMENT 2007, 9/10) have raked in handsome rewards, but woefully the third time is not a charm, a plain and simple reason is that Knightley's screen reputation is a far cry from Anna Karenina, Tolstoy's prime epitome of a Russian belle, a married woman with a modernism perspective, who is enchanted by her dauntless quest of passion and dare to break out of the shackles of a dead-water marriage, yet consequentially, entrapped by her capricious psyche and finally corroded by the society's scorn and her overestimated perseverance of standing her ground.
However, the film is a high-caliber colossus of mise en scène, deluxe costumes and outstanding art direction, particularly during the first act, its tableaux-on-stage suppleness can effortlessly dazzle the audience and preserve a spellbinding momentum while multifarious characters emerge and disappear, honing up to the climax, the resplendent ballroom sequences, introducing the lust-exuding pas de deux between Anna and Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson), concurrently, the subplot of Kitty (Vikander) and Levin (Gleeson) has been practically rolled out as well.
Next, here comes the predestined adultery, which is fueled by the laborious emphasis on the enticement of the (not so inadvertent) eye contact, soon appears to be an over-contrived obligation to fornication other than following what your heart wants and the chemistry is purely physical, Anna and Vronsky should be soul-mate right? But here in this film, it is a Hollywood aggrandizement of a skinny beauty shagging a hot youngster who beams with pretended profundity (Taylor-Johnson was only 21, and not masculine enough to take on the role). So the magical momentum slumps, fortunately a little compensation is availed by Jude Law, whose version of Karenin is redolent of compassionate forbearance, elicits a free pardon to dissolve any blame generates from his side, occupies the moral higher ground, which skews our emotional pendulum and undermines Anna's character-building as an anachronistic woman who tragedy is mostly accredit to the time she is in instead of her own defect in making poor decisions.
An involuntarily pouting Keira Knightley, treads the same water in THE DUCHESS (2008, 7/10), no wonder the aesthetic fatigue surges, so she can nail Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennet, but not Anna Karenina, she is not that versatile as an actress. With Anna hogging the spotlight, the rest of the cast seldom has any chance to enrich their roles, Macfadyen (Knightley's Mr. Darcy in PRIDE & PREJUDICE) plays her luscious brother Oblonsky, adequately amps up some farcical digressions; as a mirrored romance between the rejected and the neglected (contrasts Anna and Vronsky's passion play), Gleeson and Vikander imbue the film with a modicum of subtlety but the wayward editing fail to make their story more engaging.
So this adaption is a musically lyric venture for Joe Wright fans, it has its marked imperfections (thanks a lot, English is not my native tongue, otherwise I would find it is hard to take a Russian literature with mixed accents seriously), but the redundancy of his grandiose aesthetics, suggests Wright is a man knows what is his strongest suit, I can envisage him a successful comeback if only he can acquire some apposite fodder to prepare, maybe it will be his next project PAN, the origin story of Peter Pan, a wonderland backstory may fall right into his froufrou niche, meanwhile hire a new casting director is more contingent now.
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
For the three women who act like bitches to survive!
It all starts with Dolores (Bates) wields a rolling pin and tries to finish the life of Vera (Parfitt), a decrepit lady in wheelchair, so the first thing jumped into my mind is, is this MISERY (1990, 8/10) part II, another Stephen King's creepy thriller starring Kathy Bates?
Yes, the movie will blow you away, yet in a very divergent way, DOLORES CLAIBORNE is a majestically hatched harangue to the male-dominant society with a pungent tint of misandry, and miraculously, as a male audience, I am not repelled at all, because a trio of actresses thoroughly win me over with their powerhouse rendition, they all act like a bitch to survive in the inequitable world, the undertone oozes with bone-chilling malignity which as if we are reaping our own consequences to disparage the worth of womanhood.
Director Taylor Hackford (Mr. Helen Mirren) maximizes the juicy script (adapted by Tony Gilroy with superb grasp on verbal tit-for-tat) with contrast palettes (seamlessly segue between bleak present and balmy past) to channel us into two unsolved death cases. 15 years later, Selena (Leigh), a young reporter in New York, reluctantly revisits her mother Dolores in remote Maine, who is accused of murdering the aforementioned Vera, a rich widow and the longtime employer of Dolores, who works as a maid in her house for over 20 years. Local detective John Mackey (Plummer) keeps his suspicious eyes on Dolores and steps up offensively, while the friction between the mother-daughter pair exacerbates since there is an irreconcilable one-sided estrangement (Selena to Dolores) or even hatred standing between them.
Soon what really troubles all these people comes to light, it is many many years ago during an eclipse day, Dolores' domestic abusive husband Joe (Strathairn, heinous, smug, but dangerously sexy) accidentally (or not?) fell to his death near their home, and Dolores gets away with it (and thus ruined Mackey's perfect career record), but the truth is never that simple, the justification and motivation behind a premeditated murder is converted to a self-defensive protection, it is a familial harassment with a much dark and more reprehensible secret, but the repercussions haunt and torture the pair for so many years although the maltreater bit the bullet long ago.
Firstly Kathy Bates is robbed for an Oscar nomination say the very least, compellingly affectionate and decisively bold as a desperate mother who will do anything to offer a better prospect for her daughter, a selfless love which she asks no recompense, even though Selena completely cuts her out of her life, she is just contented to collect her newspaper articles and be as proud as a mother can be. Bates is simply a nonesuch to be a big-screen diva with her killing bearing fluctuating between a vulnerable housewife and redoubtable matron.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, the most under-appreciated actress among her coeval, strikes as an unthankful and wayward stuck-up hipster at first, but she slowly unwinds her wound with aching perseverance and she is pretty amazing too, we are all fully aware there must be a reason behind all the bickering and rebuffs, then we discover her deepest trauma which she wholly obliterates, it hits like a big bang, and she generates wonderful luster of compassion no lesser than Bates.
The biggest surprise is the lesser-known theater actress Judy Parfitt, a bona-fide scene-stealer, plumb pivotal to the sinuous storyline, who registers unsettling incarnations during two different time frames, the younger Vera who is haughty and fastidious on the appearance, far-seeing and astute underneath; then the elder Vera, paralyzed and miserable, death is her only salvation and she wants to culminate it in her own way for the last time. Although the
She is my current win for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS of 1995 while Leigh comes strong as the third. Last but not the least, Christopher Plummer never fail to attain the limelight with his incisive gaze and lucid utterance, even the character is not particularly interesting.
DOLORES CLAIBORNE radiates phenomenal visual potency by juxtaposing the eclipse marvel with the accentuated action set piece, only when the sun is blocked by the moon, as if it symbolizes, that's the time the cold-blooded retribution can be consummated with heightened sentient venting! A truly remarkable movie and let's not diminish the merit of the perfectly aligned score by Danny Elfman.
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
for McConaughey and Leto
Riding the tidal wave of accolades and awards recognitions, will DALLAS BUYERS CLUB assist the vehement renaissance of Matthew McConaughey to decisively harvest an Oscar statue as the top honor? The odds are very rosy and clearly he is the front-runner now, the only weighty competitor is his THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) co-star DiCaprio, whose overdue condition may facilitate him to snatch the highest kudos.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is a dark horse in the BEST PICTURE race and altogether it picked up 6 nominations, apart from BEST LEADING ACTOR, Jared Leto is also having BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR trophy in his bag. Both men's weigh-lost exploits are purely meritorious for the sake of taking "acting" with full-blooded dedication, which usually works every time, say Daniel Day- Lewis in MY LEFT FOOT (1989, 8/10), or Tom Hanks in PHILADELPHIA (1993), right, the film is also about AIDS, but Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is an out-and-out straight man, a dissolute rodeo actually, who is as parochial as his working-class peers, homophobic, ribald and unlikeable, squandering his life immoderately without repentance.
So, when HIV resides inside his body, as if the almighty God generously give Ron a chance to redeem his meaningless life, it is a customary one man's fight against the venal DEA, the monopolized pharmaceutical enterprise and the collusive hospital MDs, but there is a missing point, like many biographical narratives, all the achievement comes rather easily in a way that we audiences never comprehend what makes the protagonist "the chosen one", as for Ron, it is his macho heterosexuality distinguishes himself from the massive homosexual patients, thus the clash and metamorphosis is very theatrical, but how does he manage to be the pioneer in the business of illegal medicines deserves more detailed dissection.
Director Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y. 2005, 8/10) is not a novice in dealing with gay-themed feature, although DALLAS BUYERS CLUB is more of an assigned job for him, a light touch comes effectively when he wields the rodeo clown metaphor to manifest Ron's inner fear, surreptitious and hallucinating. The make-up team is quite praiseworthy too with so many damaged goods to take care of, the impact is authentically appalling.
From denial to acceptance, McConaughey unleashes an energetic personification with electrifying panache, self-destructive, uplifting and utter poignant, Ron is not a likable person, but in the end of the day, he becomes a better man, an unorthodox hero. Leto, on the other hand, sets an immaculate epitome of a woman's soul trapped in a man's body, his most emotive scene is the only time he wears a baggy man's suit to ask help from his estranged father, awkward and uncomfortable, his vulnerability is all over the place. Jennifer Garner, as the good side of the hospital doctors, is almost characterless and generic, a major disappointment in the storyline, her patronizing poise is perpetually obtrusive, it is a character should not occupy so much of her screen time, we would love see more of Leto instead.
It is never a winning battle for Ron, the obstacles are too redoubtable to conquer and Ron doesn't have the time either, we might wallow in the staged success, but the reality tells us it is a tough one to hem in the lucrative pharmaceutics within a modulated system, the "life first" rule certainly is easier said than done.