Monday, May 2, 2011

Reviews Round Up, Part 1: American Beauty, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Red, The American

In the midst of my Classic Movie Marathon, I was still watching a lot of movies (thank you school holidays). Therefore, I have a lot to catch up on. So, sorry, long reviews fans, I'm just going to give some quick paragraph long reviews otherwise I'll never catch up, though you can expect a lengthy review on Thor coming veeeeery soon.

American Beauty

I was hoping to do a full length review on this one, but I kinda thought that since I’m incredibly late to the party and most people have seen it,  I won’t bother. I can’t really add much to what everyone else has said about the film over the past 12 years. I loved this movie. The performances, the script, the direction, everything. It just felt so real. Some people have pointed out that this film has aged so quickly since it was very ‘in the moment’ when it was released, but I didn’t have a problem with that. Sure, a few things have changed, but this film still captures the world of suburban boredom and discontent so well, and it does still seem quite relevant. Kevin Spacey was positively spectacular in the lead role, with his sarcastic and cynical outlook on life. Watching him with drama queen Annette Bening was great too, they really played the part of an unhappy marriage quite well. Thora Birch was also a believable teen, and one which I felt compelled to relate to in so many instances. Mena Suvari did a brilliant job as the popular dream girl, and I felt so happy once we found out the truth about this girl, because I know there are a lot of people like her. Alan Ball did a wonderful job with the script, using every trick in the book to convey a believable world. From this to the wonderful True Blood, I think he might just be my favourite person right now. Sam Mendes, too, did an exceptional job of directing, considering he made this so early in his career. This really hit the heights of modern film-making.

What I hoped for:

What I got:

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

2010 was really the year to release movies with minimal sets. Like Devil, 127 Hours and Buried. The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a British kidnapping thrilled set almost entirely in a run-down house, is every bit as good as the other movies. Sure, the film may go astray a few times, and it really loses some ground as the movie goes on, but I found it simply reeling with intensity. As the film goes on, it gets increasingly hard to watch, as it really throws you in the position of Alice in a small way. The dynamic between she, Vic and Danny was also very interesting, even though I felt that we found out the truth way to soon, leaving little to be desired for the rest of the film. In saying that, I was completely and utterly entertained throughout the whole thing, and despite it's many flaws, I just kept going with the flow happily. From start to finish, it was an enjoyable thrill ride with a truly haunting end. By far the greatest thing about the film was seeing Gemma Arterton finally in a role worthy of her talents. After seeing her dabble in that blockbuster business (Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia), she gets down and dirty and seems to be at home when she is just being natural. I can't wait to see future projects with her in it similar to this one, though if a few people in high places see this, hopefully she'll get a bigger break.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


I admit, I need to watch this one again. While I liked it, and thought it was quite funny, everyone in Dannevirke has been going absolutely nutters for it. And fair enough, I think this is just a little too high above my age group, since it's all about old peeps with their guns. But hey, Helen Mirren, shooting people? Now that makes for a good movie! I swear that woman can do anything! And when Helen Mirren is in a film, you know the class level goes up a bit. Though you could say that this movie is pretty classy, as it has one of the better casts of recent history. You take Bruce Willis, you give him a little bit to do, some downright cool action scenes and tell him to smile a few times. Then you get John Malkovich to play a complete nutso. And along comes Morgan Freeman, taking a break from being God or narrator in Alec Baldwin's dreams to kick some ass. Mary Louise Parker also comes for the ride as the confused girlfriend of old Willis, and she's fun, too. Oh, and Kiwi man Karl Urban continues his Hollywood rise being a guy who always looks angry. The cast do lift this a hell of a lot, and it's a really fun ride. If only more Hollywood action comedies could be a bit more like this.

What I hoped for:

What I got:

The American

I do like slow movies. As long as I have the willpower to really get into them and dissect all the hidden themes . Which usually takes me a couple of watches. The American is a damn slow movie. Yet, in all it's slowness, in all the minimal things that happen, you really get to just bask in the glory of beautiful cinematography. Jaw droppingly beautiful cinematography. And then you get to bask in the glory of a mostly silent, completely charmless George Clooney. It's hard, but there it is. The story is quite interesting, as it unfolds slowly. The set pieces and the various beautiful women are great to look at. Yeah, this movie is all about the aesthetics. If aesthetics are enough, then there is a 75% chance you'll love this movie. The ending is absolutely haunting. However, I do admit to succumbing to boredom while watching this movie, and definitely wasn't wowed by it at all. It wasn't anything special, it was just an incredibly stylish and stunning piece of cinema. It's not a movie, it's cinema. Which will be a little too hard for the mainstream audiences to grasp, but that's just the way it rolls, Holmes.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. I would love to read your Thor review because I'm still hesitating: either to go and see it in cinema or to wait until the DVD release.

    Yes, American Beauty is a great piece of filmmaking, and for me as well its topicality doesn't seem old.

  2. American Beauty is a film that has a lot of moments I love, but a lot of moment I hate. Still, I get why so many people dig it.

    The American is the kind of slow film I love, so I thought it was fantastic. But I get how people hoping for a more action oriented movie would have been annoyed. Still, I think it's fantastic at what it is trying to do.

  3. AMERICAN BEAUTY is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. So unforgettable.

    I haven't watched ALICE CREED yet, I'm not a big fan of Gemma Arteron. Maybe I'll check it out some time, though...

    RED was humorous, but I found it to be a bit boring.

    Haven't watched THE AMERICAN yet, because I have a feeling it's going to be incredibly slow.

    Looks like you're keeping yourself busy, for sure!

  4. Ah, cannot wait for the review of Thor. I have heard great things about it, which is making me somewhat interested, but originally I thought it looked terrible, so i'm not sure what to think about it. I unfortunately have not seen American Beauty, but it looks like a brilliant film. Great post!

  5. What the hell is Morgan Freeman wearing in that shot ?

    Anyway, I haven't seen any of these, even though I know I should watch American Beauty sometime, but despite all the praise, it's never really interested me...

    Nice reviews!

  6. Lesya - Thor is definitely a cinema sort of movie. I must start writing the review soon!
    I don't see how people see American Beauty as being old and dated, it is still very relevant!

    James - The American was a movie that was fantastic with what it was trying to do, but unfortunately I just didn't dig it. Maybe on a second watch, I might like it a little more.

    Rachel - I'll never be able to forget American Beauty! It was so great!
    Alice Creed showcases Gemma Arterton's talent. And I liked how real she looked, too, compared to all the other stick thin actresses out there.
    Yeah, I found Red a but boring too.
    The American is incredibly slow, but it's a pretty alright movie.
    Ah yes, I've been a little too busy!

    Matt - I had no interest in Thor, which probably helped me like the film even more. It's not fantastic, but it is a fun time! Anyway, in the meantime, check out American Beauty!

    Jack - Ahhhh...good question. That is a very blue suit. Very blue.
    American Beauty is a great slice of American cinema!


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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