Hey all. I wanted to write a few quick little notes on a few films I have seen of late. It's been a busy month with the holidays very close on the horizon. I wanted to wish all of my fifty-eight followers a Happy Holiday season! I begin The 250 in about a week, and couldn't be more excited! So three films I had been waiting for all year, came out within ten days of each other, so I knew that I was going to be spending some quality time at the theater.
Last Tuesday, I took in a late showing of Jason Reitman's Up In the Air. I was not as impressed with it, as all the critics have been. I was sold for about eighty-five percent of the film. George Clooney turns in a very solid performance, which should garner him an Academy Award nomination. Anna Kendrick was really where the film took off for me. She is a talent to watch in the future for sure. The writing was very clever, which should come as no surprise to viewers of Reitman's previous films Juno and Thank You For Smoking. However, when the ending came, I felt that possibly Reitman and writing partner Sheldon Turner had wrote themselves into a corner. I was left with a feeling that not one of my main characters had matured or learned a thing, besides Kendrick. It was not a terrible film by any means, but I do not believe it is anywhere near "Best Picture" quality. Three of a possible five stars.
To call me a fan boy, when it comes to the work of Wes Anderson, would be a gross understatement. I think everything he's done, has been pure gold. So when I took in a matinee of Fantastic Mr. Fox, I tried to leave my fanfare at the door. His latest effort, in what an outsider might see as the "family film-genre", proves to be something so much more. Mr. Fox is easily one of the most clever and funny films of the year. The stop-motion animation was a unique change from the computer generated landscapes that blow us away with every new Pixar film. The voice talent is a stable of Anderson regulars, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman. All three turn in great performances, especially Jason Schwartzman. It is George Clooney, who gives the voice to our title character. Clooney was a perfect fit for the role. His charming and debonair style create one of the the most authentic animated characters, I have seen on film. Meryl Streep is fantastic as his calm and always supportive wife. I highly recommend you see Fantastic Mr. Fox. Four and one half stars out of a possible five.
On Thursday afternoon, I saw The Road. The film based on Cormac Macarthy's novel, is one of the darkest films I have seen. I am not sure that there is a bright moment in the film's entirety. Although, that is what makes it great. We follow a father and son on their journey across a post apocalyptic America. They must avoid cannibals, fight off starvation, and deal with the abandoning of a wife and mother. Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of a father who would do anything for the family that he loves, I'm afraid is going to be lost treasure this film season. Kodi Smit-McPhee turns in a performance past his age, giving reason for a juvenile category inclusion in the Academy Awards. The dark and destroyed America that is on display, really sticks with the viewer after the film is over. It runs a very fine line of being too dark at times, but it never does cross that line. I could see how this film is lost on a casual movie watcher. Although, if you liked Children of Men, then The Road is definitely a film for you. Four out of five stars.