Tag Archives: Emily Watson

Monster Family

Emma (Emily Watson) is a hard-working mom who wishes her family had more time to do fun things together. It’s been a while since they were all happy. In an effort to reconnect, Emma plans a fun Halloween night out but the party is a bust and instead of growing closer, they get cursed by a witch, who turns them into the monsters inspired by their costumes – Emma into a vampire, husband Frank (Nick Frost) into Frankenstein’s monster, daughter Fay (Jessica Brown Findlay) into a mummy and son Max (Ethan Rouse) into a little werewofie.

Being turned into monsters is an inconvenience, certainly, but not without its upside as well: little Max uses his fearsome fangs to confront his bullies. Fay tests her boyfriend’s superficiality. Frank, well Frank has so little personality he just continues to fart a lot.

This is a kids’ movie, so there’s a lesson to be learned about making time for what’s important (and secondarily, weirdly, that our abusers were perhaps abused themselves). There’s some sympathy for the Yoda-speaking witch, though less for her boss, the creepy incel Dracula (Jason Isaacs). Mostly there’s just a very confused plot, the result of a screenplay that’s just not concerned with giving good story. I think you’d get more satisfaction from the story arc in the lyrics to monster mash than you do in this movie which pays lip service to family bonding while utterly boring us to tears.

Kids might like the bat sidekicks and the hazy green fart jokes, but there’s so little in between that attentions will wander. The lips don’t even match the voice work, if you can even call it that when poor Nick Frost is relegated to grunts. I mean, he’s probably pretty expensive for grunt work. You might have gone with no-name grunts and saved yourself a pretty penny, which then could have been invested in better writing or more compelling animation. Too late now – the movie is what it is, and what it is is entirely missable.

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On Chesil Beach

Two young people are trying to have sex, apparently on their wedding night, which is important to note because they’re old-timey virgins who are nervous and awkward and don’t really know where things go or for how long or how hard.

Somewhere between toes and tits, Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) reminisce about their entire relationship, through flashbacks. Spoiler alert: MV5BMmFlOTkyYjQtYWQyYS00ZDY3LWE3ZjktZDE4Y2Y5M2EyMzQwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,666,1000_AL_they have a history! Their courtship was often influenced (often negatively) by their pasts, by their families, by what they know and what they don’t. Sound familiar? That’s probably because it’s true of absolutely every human who has ever lived. So how did this movie get made?

Well, Ian McEwan wrote a wonderfully descriptive book, as he does. The kind of book that languishes and meanders around in a poetic bath of language. On film, oh gosh, it’s beautiful, and Saoirse Ronan is luminous and wonderful, but there’s not a whole lot of action. Haha, even saying the word action in this context feels bizarre. I mean, on their hottest date, Edward chastises Flo for her lukewarm bird watching.

Anyway, if you find it hard to imagine what sex was even like in 1962, before the sexual revolution had really…revolved…well, consider yourself lucky. On Chesil Beach gives you an eyeful in all its pasty glory, which doesn’t actually involve any nudity because this is the generation that has never seen their partners naked. Anyway, the fumbling is real. Activities are prematurely aborted, or, well, not quite. Things are said. Things like: that’s revolting, which is hard to recover from. It begs the question: does sex just sometimes…not happen? ‘Frigid’ is another word you don’t recover from.

Anyway, the whole thing feels rather minor, and that’s not a comment on poor Eddie’s manhood. It’s just very introspective, and perhaps a visual medium is not quite the best path for this story. And the movie just stretches on and on, beyond what feels right or makes sense. Certainly beyond my patience, and beyond the tether of my empathy for these people. The film fails its characters and fails the audience by not having much of a bigger picture. At least with a book you can hurl it across the room – hell, I’m sure I’ve even broken a window or two launching a stupid book right through it, but a movie? Those faces loom so large and yet I cannot reach out and slap them, and that is the greatest travesty of all.

Oranges and Sunshine

In the 1980s, British social worker Margaret Humphreys uncovered a secret. Her government had sent hundreds of children to Australia. Supposedly orphaned, these kids were sent to be adopted by Australian parents, though some wound up in orphanages instead. Turns out, the kids weren’t necessarily orphans. If their parents turned up to reclaim them, they were told their kids had already been adopted. In fact they’d vanished into a child migration scheme that was kept quiet for decades. Humphreys set out to reunite these displaced children,  scattered across Australia over decades, with parents who might still be living in Britain. Neither country wanted to take any responsibility, of course.

Margaret Humphreys is a real woman who took this on herself because she saw the MV5BNTk2MzYyMDA2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTAxMjg0NA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,740_AL_injustice, and people’s pain, and she decided to do something about it. She was threatened and abused because she was exposing some very dirty secrets covered up by some very powerful people. The only help she ever got was from the adoptees themselves, all of them different shades of broken, harbouring the wounded children within. The real Margaret was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1993, and Commander of the British Empire in 2011 for her work, but as this film can attest, life was not made easy for her.

I believe that we can’t start healing from a trauma until the truth of the injury is admitted. This story was quite shameful on Australian and Britain, but they’re not the only ones with blemishes. Here in Canada we have our own sorrow. We call it the 60s scoop though it’s much broader than that. It refers to the over-eager removal of Aboriginal children from their homes. In some cases removal may have been appropriate, but others not, and in any case, the children weren’t just taken from their parents, but from the culture. They were raised off-reserve, losing their language and their identity, breaking social and familial bonds. Although not deported, these kids also lost more than just their parents.

In Oranges and Sunshine, Emily Watson plays Margaret Humphreys, and she does the formidable woman justice. Watson always does, doesn’t she? Hugo Weaving plays Jack, the adoptee through whom we experience the grief and loss of the process. Seeing it from both their perspectives keeps the film balanced; this is not merely an interesting case, but a personal and painful journey that doesn’t guarantee a happy ending for everyone. It’s not a flashy movie. It’s mostly fact-based. But it is sincere and at times quite powerful.

Punch-Drunk Love

Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) leads a solitary existence in order to hide his self-hatred, and his violent outbursts. Constantly harangued by his 7 sisters and too insecure to ever stand up for himself, Barry has no coping mechanisms PDL_BAM.jpgand no healthy relationships. But then he starts collecting pudding. It’s only half as strange as it sounds: he discovers a contest loophole where if he buys an enormous amount of pudding, he gets to fly for free. This is the only bright spot in his world of self-loathing until two people pull his life in different directions.

The first is Lena (Emily Watson), a quiet but sweet woman who seems to genuinely like him despite his obliviousness, and let’s be honest, his weirdness. Her tenacity entices him outside of his shell and things are actually  looking up until “Georgia”, a phone sex operator, begins extorting him for all he’s worth.

When Paul Thomas Anderson announced that his follow-up to Magnolia would be “an Adam Sandler comedy”, it was greeted with laughter. When Punch-Drunk Love premiered at Cannes, however, Anderson won the Palm d’Or for imagesr0pkepkodirecting, and Sandler would go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe. Anderson had become somewhat known for his multi-character films and wanted his next work to subvert expectations, and boy did he. He was the first director to cast Adam Sandler and expect great things from him. He gave him real material to work with and Sandler rose to the occasion.

Punch-Drunk Love is a strange little film, even among PTA cannon. It’s gorgeous to look at, completely saturated in brilliant colour schemes emphasized by director of photography Robert Elswit’s use of film stock that allowed him to shoot in underexposed conditions, giving greater depth to the film’s shadowy look.

The sound of the film is distinguished too: Jon Brian composed the music Punch Drunk Love handshake.pngduring the film’s music. The score’s unusual tones and sounds would then be played on set, influencing the atmospheric tone of the film. Anderson brought it Gary Rydstrom on sound mixing, an atypical move as Rydstrom, the chief sound editor for Pixar, normally works on big special effects movies, like Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan. All of these abnormal pieces form a whole that’s off-kilter and intoxicating.

And while I could go on all day about my love for PTA, you’ve probably noticed by now that this series is about one thing: Hawaii. Sean and I are in Hawaii, so I’m writing about movies who shot there, and earlier when I said that Barry punch-drunklove_bestbought a lot of pudding in order to see the world? The first place he goes is to Hawaii. His Hawaiian trip, inspired by love, is the first self-actualized thing he does for himself. The framing and composition open up as Barry steps outside of his comfort zone, and the confines of his loneliness. Barry is often shown wearing blue, a blue boy wearing his depression, but in Hawaii, pink becomes the colour of prominence, the colour of sweetness, empowerment, and romance. It literally chases the blues away. Although, to be fair, I think Hawaii has the tendency to do that for everyone.

The Bling Ring

In this week’s edition of stupid criminals: teenagers who take selfies of themselves committing crimes, at the scene of the crime, during the crime itself. The balls though. The fucking balls.

You may know that Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring is based on a real-life band of teenaged criminals who robbed celebrities blind. Although, considering the type of criminal, let’s qualify the type of celebrity: mostly reality stars like Paris Hilton and Audrina Patridge. And while most of us have trouble feeling sympathy for the Haves having a little less, the kids aren’t exactly Have Nots. Of course, you can always Have More. The crazy thing is, they’re just stealing because they can, because it’s there and they’re entitled, and they don’t give a fuck. They want for nothing…except maybe a good lawyer.

Most criminals are eventually caught. All stupid, blatant, idiotic criminals are caught. But even a brush with the law, strike that, several brushes with the law, doesn’t humbleMV5BZGQ5MzIxMTgtNmM3Yi00YmQxLWI1OWMtMWNmM2YwOGQ0Y2QzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ4ODE4MzQ@._V1_ them. The more, More, MORE monster must be fed and soon our band of merry robbers are graduating to the likes of Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, and Orlando Bloom. The gossip magazine lets them know when someone’s away, and Google offers up their address. The drugs and their hubris make them sloppy. Their egos make them indiscreet. It’s not so much that they wanted to be caught, but that they genuinely thought they were invulnerable. And for a time they were.

This film is beautifully shot. A stand-out for me is a particular robbery of a glass-walled house in the hills. The camera is set far back, and we’re observing the house from some distance. We witness the intruders moving from room to room, turning on lights one at a time. It’s a beautiful, well-plotted scene. And like all Coppola films, this one maybe more than most, the sound track boasts a lot of great songs.

However, not unlike its protagonists, The Bling Ring ends up being kind of superficial. I get that production probably spent a pretty penny recreating Paris Hilton’s boudoir. But scene after scene of theft that looks like Christmas morning should not come at the expense of motivation. Who the fuck are these kids? Who gave them such a sense of entitlement? These perpetrators are so self-absorbed that they gave interviews on how hard it was to do prison time with one of their victims – Lindsay Lohan. How hard it was to stay strong in the face of her tears. It’s hard, as a viewer, not to feel the bile rise. And while I don’t want to glorify these terrifyingly stupid, self-centered criminals, I’m not sure what good this movie is if it doesn’t offer up insight.