LARS AND THE REAL GIRL

Once again this was as film that I had been looking forward to after seeing the trailer on apple months ago. The idea of this young, spunky, blockbuster gold-written-all-over-him male actor continuing to take on various art house roles makes me very happy!!!

 

THE SET UP?  Lars is a shy and reclusive young man who lives in the garage at his brother (Gus) and sister-in-law (Caron)’s  house in a small town somewhere in middle america. He pulls away from social interaction where it can be avoided. But a few months later all this changes when Lars brings over a lady-friend (Bianca) he met online to his brother’s house for dinner – oh yes she doesn’t speak much English (only Spanish), she is relatively wheelchair bound and all her luggage got stolen at the airport so she’ll need to borrow some of Caron’s clothes. Gus and Caron are very supportive and excited until it is revealed that Bianca is a lifesize doll – a sex doll. 

But sex is the furtherest thing from Lars’ mind – he even insists she stays in the spare room at Gus and Caron’s – Lars just wants a friend. What follows is a delightful exploration of how Lars’ family and community come to terms with his “delusion” and how to (as Gus puts it) “fix him”. 

THE CAST?

Ryan Gosling – embodies Lars. Gosling is SUCH a talented young actor. He is beautiful as Lars, fleshing out all the complexities and eccentricities we discover about Lars as his story unfolds. I’d even go as far to say oscar worthy (or at least nomination-worthy) but the best Gosling got was a Golden Globe nom. 

(I want to put Bianca next, but she’s not given a credit)

Emily Mortimer – Caron. Mortimer continues on her acting journey of “sweet” in this role. I do like her, and its nice to see a different kind of beauty on the screen in this capacity. But I’m yet to see her change her character. 

Paul Schneider – Gus. I’ve had a little crush on this actor ever since the little indie film All the Real Girls (check it out!) so its great to see him continuing to pop up in more films approaching the mainstream. His performance is rather perfect as the concerned brother but also as the male who just wants to “fix” the situation and not spend time exploring why Lars has done this (I hope no males take offense at this comment!).

The ever-lovely Patricia Clarkson is Dr. Dagmar, the family’s GP. Ahhh…. she’s just great.

I will also mention Kelli Garner   who plays one of Lars’ work colleagues, Margo. Its evident from the start she’s got a bit of a thing for Lars so its interesting to see how things evolve when Bianca shows up in town.

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? For a vastly different film experience and one that will make you feel good and marvel at brilliant acting and loving community. The script by Nancy Oliver is a treat, with its twists and turns unexpected and beautifully realised by Aussie ex-pat Craig Gillespie

 

ANY BITS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT? I must PLEAD with you not to let the fact that this story is primary about a young man’s obsession with a sex doll stop you from seeing this film! (I didn’t help myself just there.) This film always stays above the myriad of connotations that would normally be associated with such a subject – the film’s only rated PG here for goodness sake! 

THIS FILM GETS 4 GOLD STARS.

 

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recapping on all the movies I saw and forgot* to review

*Forgot more refers to a lack of time for such activities as writing on goldstars, or a lack of motivation, or a …. wanting to do other things (I’ve kind of hit that wall I usually hit after doing something for a while – the new and exciting thing [goldstars] is losing its shininess and I’m getting a bit bored with it). 

ANYWAY – Here for you are some goldstar mini reviews, I’ll give you the title and one or two noteworthy points, and the gold star rating:

RUN FATBOY RUN (Comedy)Plots along like a typical mid-90’s romantic comedy with the charming and very british humour of Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran. 

THIS FILM GETS 3.25 GOLD STARS.

 Feel free to ask for more… on this or any of the following “mini reviews”

 

 LEONARD COHEN: I’M YOUR MAN  (doco)

A well crafted documentary on one of the greatest song writers of the 20th century.  Though the vision switching in the concert scenes was very amateurish.

THIS FILM GETS 3 GOLD STARS.

 

DEFINITELY, MAYBE (rom-com) 

Adam Brooks tries to do a new take on a well-worn story we all know by heart – he kinda succeeds – at a pinch. A great movie to see to learn how NOT to focus pull (in one scene the focus is pulled correctly to the CHEST area of the female actor framed in a mid shot while her face is left somewhat fuzzy – Marita and I couldn’t stop laughing).

THIS FILM GETS 2.5 GOLD STARS. 

 

DEATH DEFYING ACTS (romance/drama)

I was fortunate enough to see this film with an introduction by its Australian director, Gillian Armstrong.  And I hope I am not tainted by that when I suggest that this film was well acted – Pearce is exceptional – and the narrative is warmly engaging and is nicely reminiscent of Armstrong’s other work.

THIS FILM GETS 3.75 GOLD STARS

 

Science des reves, La (or less fancily) SCIENCE OF SLEEP  (niche comedy)

My favourite director pulls another one out of his hat (of weirdness). Needs a few viewings, but if you’re a fan of Gondry’s other work, especially Eternal Sunshine (…) you’ll fall in love with this vision of obscurity and absurdity in the vein of a classic dream-like trance, as realised as only Gondry could.   

THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS

 

THE BUCKET LIST (comedy)

Hmm… Nicholson shows he’s still got the stuff. But using Freeman as narrator, surely this format is getting a bit weary. Oddly a feel good film despite (spoiler alert!) the death of both characters by the time the credits roll. Though I haven’t done any research to substantiate this claim I would assume that this film will be praised by Christian groups for its moral/family message. 

THIS FILMS GETS 2.25 GOLD STARS

 

VANTAGE POINT (comedy/action)

 I feel director, Pete Travis would be horrified at my classification of his first feature film as comedy but laughter was the predominant reaction in the audience I saw this film with. Certainly a very different cinema experience – and therefore I am reluctant to bag it out – Vantage Point should help you appreciate coverage and the choices of directors, editors and DOPs (director of photography/cinematographer) more. 

THIS FILM GETS 2.75 GOLD STARS.

 

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (period drama)A departure from history for the historically illiterate. Too harsh? Fine acting and a compelling script are this film’s strong points. Bana was slightly disappointing and the framing choices of director Justin Chadwick left me wondering (however they were imaginative). 

THIS FILM GETS 3.75 GOLD STARS. 

 

BE KIND REWIND (comedy)

Gondry’s latest offering was anticipated by yours truly for a good 8 or so months so its final revelation (on my birthday I might add!) was a bit disappointing, however it was rather brilliant. You always expect more from the best. Possibly too much Jack Black but the creativity of Gondry continues to blow me away.  

THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS

 

HORTON HEARS A WHO!(children’s/comedy) 

A highly enjoyable cartoon with great voice talents. The comedy is drawn out of the original story by the Dr. creatively and smartly. The coupling of Carrey and Carell was swell casting. The homage to Japanese anime was a treat!

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS.  

 

SEMI-PRO (comedy – Ferrell comedy) The highly anticipated (and publicised) next comedy from Will Ferrell & co was a disappointment, with the trailer showing its better parts. Not that I’m a swearing-nazi but there was a dramatic increase in the number of “curse words” used in this Ferrell film, and it therefore seemed to lack the creative writing and “wordsmithery” (if you will) of the likes of Anchorman or Talledega Nights 

THIS FILM GETS 2.75 GOLD STARS. 

 

Phew!!! Now I think I’m all up to date. From now on I’ll try and post a more substantial review (without going overboard). If you want additional info on any of the films listed PLEASE ask me.  

JUNO

PosterAs you can probably guess, I loved this movie. Not surprisingly though, I love the director, Jason Reitman, who I was lucky enough to see in 2006 at MIFF when he was touring with his first feature Thank You for Smoking.

As of yesterday, I’ve seen it twice.

So I’ll stop with the prelim ranting and dive straight in.

THE SET UP? Sixteen year-old student, Juno, gets pregnant after her first sexual experience with friend, (Paulie) Bleeker. After sharing the information with her family Juno decides what to do. The film witnesses Juno’s pregnancy and her decisions over her “spawn”.

THE CAST?
Ellen Page is Juno. The only other film I have seen this fine young actress in is X-Men 3 but she is magnificent as the young girl who finds herself pregnant. She plays Juno so entirely you can just tell she’s really into the character. -Although Diablo Cody did write Juno to be excessively alternative-cool.
Michael Cera is Bleeker. I happen to absolutely love Cera, but that goes right back to his days as George Michael on Arrested Development (the smartest American sitcom I have ever seen). Cera seems to play the same slightly awkward character in all his screen outings so far – however in Juno it is clear to me, as a keen Michael Cera watcher, that he has extended himself considerably for this role. He and Page are adorable as Bleeker and Juno and act together sublimely.
Bleeker
The draw-card cast is filled out with:
Jennifer Garner – who is rather great in this. She makes the most of her small role and is really funny in this one scene regarding wall paint colours.
Jason Bateman – is good too. As the protagonist on the above mentioned US sitcom I seem to have an attraction for any film Bateman is in. However (SPOILER ALERT) I didn’t like him playing the bad guy (although that’s personal preference only).
Allison Janney – one word: brilliant.
J.K. Simmons – plays Juno’s dad to perfection. The moments that could be taken as sentimental are handled brilliantly by this funny man. This is the second time Simmons has acted for Reitman.
Olivia Thirlby – never heard of her. But she’s fantastic in Juno as the supportive best friend.
I have to give a mention to Rainn Wilson, who is used so sparingly in Juno but is just too good! – But he’s just basically being Dwight behind a convenience store counter.

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? Its just a great movie. Well written, although a bit Gilmore Girls at times – in that the dialogue can seem too…perfect. But at other times its blissfully fresh and seemingly improvisational. Great directing by Reitman – who has a knack for making films I like, Thank You For Smoking was, yeah, awesome. Ellen Page brings out the big-little guns as one of the greatest film heroines – Juno. She totally earns her Oscar nom!

And one of the things that made the film just sterling was that its not until right at the end do you know the ending! With some films the ending becomes shiningly obvious before the title sequence has finished, and most movies advertise the ending on the movie poster or the trailer. Not Juno. Its way too clever for that. So I must reluctantly give points to Diablo Cody, the exotic dancer turned A-List screenwriter via a blog – why can’t it be that easy for the rest of us budding film makers!

Another thing that was great about Juno is that it seemed crafted to distract the audience from passing harsh judgment on Juno and Bleeker, nor does it glamorize teenage pregnancy. Its like: ‘Well, we’re in this situation, what’s the best outcome, how can we make that happen?’
ultrasound

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? People who enjoy quirky cinema.
(Rant) The first time I saw Juno was the day after it came out. The cinema was packed with a never ending swabble of young adolescents , all revved up for this great-new-comedy after seeing the ads Fox Searchlight’s been shoving down their throats during primetime tv. Mistake. The swabble became bored with the seemingly unfunniness of the movie they paid $11.50 for and began to talk through the entire second half of the film. Grr.
So, yeah, people who actually enjoy quirky cinema. But other than that I can’t see why you can’t take your parents to this one.

ANY BITS YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT? Not really. “The sex” that caused Juno’s pregnancy is visually hinted at through creative cinematography, but not explicit. I’m not heaps prudish about sex scenes in films – especially if you’re watching them on dvd (fast forward hello!) but it was great to see a director being creative about the way they handle it. You get the message without all the awkwardness – for the audience and the actors (when shooting), especially as its regarding teenage sexuality.

I might regret it later but THIS FILM GETS 4.5 GOLD STARS