Monday, February 4, 2013

Finishing up the year - Part 1

This’ll probably end up being my last bunch of smaller review posts for this year, and I’ve only got one individual review left to do for The Master. I’m pretty much finished up with 2012, and I’ll be moving on to 2013 soon. Awards season is now in full swing, so that’s where I’ll end up turning my attention. Enjoy reading. I’ll do one post with five reviews, and another for the other four.

This first post is for Bully, Hithcock, The Impossible, The Imposter, and The Intouchables.

With Bully, director Lee Hirsch gets down to the uneasy topic of bullying in high schools. The movie follows several students, as well as the families of these students, who go through this routine of suffering from verbal and emotional abuse, physical contact, and even so far as bigotry because of same sex preferences. Those kids who don’t have the strength to shake it off or stand up for themselves have simply accepted it as an everyday occurrence, bring weapons in defense of themselves, or have gone so far as to kill themselves, seeing no other way out.

Bullying is an important issue that a lot of people acknowledge, but few seem to genuinely take action against. While it doesn’t get down to the issue of why bullying is around, there’s no denying that the footage here is powerful, and that it bears a ring of truth. The movie points fingers at teachers and officials sweeping the issue under the rug, a lack of consistent ethics and guidelines, as well as intolerance for those with differences, and it doesn’t shy away from these, at least not enough to criticize it for.

All in all, Bully is a film that should be mandatory viewing for all schools. I’m not saying it isn’t an unpleasant issue, but it shouldn’t be ignored. It should be talked about, strongly so in fact. And it shouldn’t even stop there. Take action, start support groups, help a friend in need, and talk to that friend so that friend doesn’t feel alone, because no child should have to feel like there’s no way out.


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

With credits full of the most enviable thrillers of all time, it’s no wonder why Alfred Hitchcock has always been seen as the master of suspense. In Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock, we see the man facing troubles with his wife Alma. At the same time, he’s in action shooting his now oft regarded best film, Psycho. Hitchcock is fairly enjoyable, but pretty average. One of the two main flaws is that the movie lacks rhythm, and the other is how dry and almost passive it comes across. The movie’s attempts at comic relief miss a whole lot more than they hit. What’s even more disappointing is how flat Hitch, himself, is, barely tapping into what should be a fascinating personality. While Anthony Hopkins is good, it’s ironic that Hitchcock should be overshadowed by his own wife, played by the wonderful Helen Mirren. The makeup designed by Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero (both of The Walking Dead fame) is one of the few excellent qualities in this movie.

**1/2 / *****

The Impossible:
Based on true events, The Impossible centers on a family on vacation in Thailand, whose lives are affected after they’re all separated by the tsunami that struck the land in December of 2004. Through the eyes of this family, we’re witness to all the devastation and heartbreak surrounding this catastrophe, all gritty to the point that makes it hard to watch at points, although some of that may be the shaky cam as well. The whole cast is great, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor specifically giving some of the best performances of their careers, pouring out so much sincere emotion. On a visceral level, on an emotional level, it hits HARD. Not only does it hit, it practically delivers a punch to the gut. If you can stomach the bloody material, you owe it to yourself to see this undervalued gem.

**** / *****

The Imposter:
Constantly unsettling, but impossible to switch off once started, The Imposter is a slow burning, but intense documentary that looks into the case of Nicholas Barclay, who went missing in 1994, but was thought to have been found in 1997, unbeknownst to many that he was someone else entirely. The Imposter sets itself apart with the presentation of interviews with reenactments interspersed, both a fascinating and distracting stylistic approach. Still, the strength of the subject material is all so gripping, slowly evolving from simple stolen identity to conspiracy mystery. Specifically, the main subject (whose real name I won’t reveal) is a fascinating person. Whether or not anything that he says is actually true, he is a very interesting individual. It’s the kind of documentary that makes you question so called “facts”.

**** / *****

The Intouchables:
Inspired by a true story, The Intouchables follows the friendship between a rich man paralyzed from the neck down, and the man who aids him in his daily life. The story itself is not overly special, and it’s been done better many times before, but the movie rises above the mostly standard quality thanks mainly to the rich chemistry between the two lead actors. Their interactions are strong, humorous, and sincere, much to the film’s benefit. It’s a feel good movie, and just as enjoyable as a feel good movie can be.

**** / *****

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