Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review catch up: Arbitrage, Cosmopolis, Five Year Engagement, Moonrise Kingdom.

It’s been a slow movie watching period over the last few weeks. Recent schedules have held me back from writing new reviews, but due to some recent viewings of mine, I figured I’d take the time to make this post. I don’t know how often I’ll be updating the blog, but stay tuned for more. I even have a review for the new movie Looper that I plan to write.

A lot of people really like this movie, and it’s not hard to see why. Sure, the script may leave a bit to be desired, and the pacing may be draggy towards the end, but Arbitrage still manages to be a keen thriller, and smart character study with great performances. Equally charming and intense, Richard Gere has never been better than he is here, partly due to how strong his character is. For a man of such “moral obligations”, Robert Miller’s actions imply a contradictory lack of ethics. Gere knows exactly what the role requires of him, and does it in such a fascinating and occasionally unpredictable way. Tension gets even higher with how the people in his life react to him, played by an excellent cast including Tim Roth, Brit Marling, and Susan Sarandon. I’d love to watch this one again.

**** / ***** 

David Cronenberg has made some truly enviable thrillers in his career, and his latest is an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosomopolis. The movie reaches for great heights with its issues of economic and societal meltdown, making it a decent commentary on current times. The cast is also uniformly good, specifically Paul Giamatti, whose character totally owns the last twenty minutes. However, Cosmopolis ultimately stumbles across the finish line due to the script’s meandering nature and air of contrivances. The movie just feels cold (aside from Giamatti and rapper K’Naan bringing some genuine emotion into it), and the pacing and structure are just ill formed. Sarah Gadon is also terrible, and her dialogue is unintentionally funny. Be sure not to watch this movie late at night, as well. You’re likely to fall asleep that way.

**1/2 / *****

The Five Year Engagement:
I’ve been meaning to write this for a month, and finally found the time. Jason Segel is on a hot streak, coming off of hilarious movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets. The Five Year Engagement is yet another funny and sweet addition to his writing credits. The chemistry he shares on-screen with co-star Emily Blunt (terrific, as always) is far too charming to resist. Again, the film’s cast and writing are hilarious. I got an early laugh from Jacki Weaver, using actor Tom Hanks as a hysterical allegory for marriage. There’s still too much going on, though. The plot does get out of hand, and it feels overlong, but it makes for one touching and enjoyable rom-com.

**** / ***** 

Moonrise Kingdom:

One of the most acclaimed and celebrated movies of the year, Moonrise Kingdom might very well be Wes Anderson’s personal movie yet. It's also his most accessible movie yet, but that doesn’t mean he tones down his usual quirky style and humor. His personal stamp is ever so present throughout, his directorial choices a delight, and his cast (including Bruce Willis, Edrward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Bill freakin’ Murray) are an absolute riot.

Most enchanting, however, is Anderson’s delicate, layered script. The movie’s charm never seems to fade, but he still manages to confront issues of first love, bullying, emotional damage, and social isolation without missing a beat. It may be a funny movie, but it still resonates deeply as a study of childhood. Moonrise Kingdom serves as a project lovingly perfected by Anderson, and what he crafts - complete with gorgeous photography and music - is one of the very best films of the year.

****1/2 / *****

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