Monday, April 24, 2006

Movie Round-Up

[Now Experiencing] [Film]

Some films seen in the last week:

The Grudge [2004]: If you missed seeing this on the big screen with surround sound, then you missed half the movie. I was deeply impressed by the sound design when I first saw it in the cinema, and the impression has been reinforced by the sheer inadequacy of my home system to convey the claustrophobic audio experience of this remake of the Japanese original. When I originally saw it, I placed it on a par with the remake of The Ring for quality and for creepiness; but upon bringing it home on DVD I'd have to say that it's not a spot on its excellently constructed predecessor.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [2004]: This film is a great advert for why screenwriters should get bigger billing. If I'd known this was a film from the twisted genius of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovic, Adaptation) I'd have rushed to see it at the cinema. Instead, I made do by picking it up on DVD within a week of finding out its pedigree. And if anything it's a better screenplay than either of his previous works, relying less on the quirky premise to establish the essential humanity and meaning of the plot and instead letting the characters do the work for him. Anyone who's seen Jim Carrey in The Truman Show knows that he's capable of serious acting; his performance here is a further step beyond anything you've seen him do before - he manages to actually convince you that he's someone other than Jim Carrey. Co-stars Kate Winslet and Kirsten Dunst aren't quite so fantastic, but they're unobjectionable. The movie follows the story of Joel Barish (Carrey), a typically neurotic Kaufman character, and his relationship with the impulse and insecure Clementine (Winslet). After a serious argument, Clementine takes advantage of a new medical procedure to have all her memories of Joel wiped from her mind; devastated, Joel intends to reciprocate by likewise removing Clementine, but as his memories begin vanishing he realises that he doesn't want to lose his past after all - is it too late to hold onto the good times he has had? A fantastic film, well worth watching.

U-Turn [1997]: This gripping story of damnation by director Oliver Stone (Platoon, Natural Born Killers) has always been a favourite of mine; I watched it last night with my girlfriend and it's still just as good. Absolutely fantastic cinematography, a performance by Jennifer Lopez that's actually halfway decent, and great roles for Sean Penn, Billy Bob Thornton, Nick Nolte, and Claire Danes. Not enough people have seen this; if you can stomach Oliver Stone's over-the-top use of symbolism and relentless sense of pressure you should do yourself a favour and find a copy of this film.

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