Sunday’s Review 18: The Help

Photo-la-couleur-des-sentiments-the-help-2011-9

Adapting successfully a best-seller that has such an eloquent story is a given and tricky at the same time. Sure the pitch speaks for itself and we’re expecting a hit but the real trick is to make it more than just a novel adaptation. With The Help, Tate Taylor entrusted it to the actors or, shall I say, the actresses.

As a matter of fact, more than four female characters of the film are holding it together and make it a truly good picture. I often say that it doesn’t make just one good thing to have a good pictures; the rest has to stand for this one good thing and there, they do: the filming is good, the photogaphy is nice, the settings are well done.

So, with this handful of good acting, we get a really fine movie. Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard, Olivia Spencer and Viola Davis form a palette of women from the not-yet-freed Mississipi. What’s surprising is that I had to choose, amongst other actresses, witch one were the best. Usually, you have to dig a little to find more than two good characters in a movie. There, the issue is more the struggle of a choice.

I’m not really engaged in any feminist cause but this movie is also made specific by the fact that the men characters are really put aside to let the women rule. That’s how we get the impression of an inside view. We are with the housewives, staying at home and their help. We never step up in the men’s world.

With those two elements (the particularly big number of interesting characters and the fact that they’re all girls), you can get an an idea of what this movie is like and maybe want to see it. I certainly encourage you to.

Advertisements

Baby proofed

Being a parent doesn’t really seem to be something you can learn in books,

There are lots to try-outs in movies and TV series, let’s see how it looks.

I’ve seen so much lamas’ classes sitting on my couch, I basically learned everything there.

I would earn the room with Abby and Billie in Accidentally in Purpose and, if I dare,

I’d fit Vin Diesel’s way-to-big-for-me shoes in the Pacifier.

I now know that a nanny has to be a « her »

A male nanny is always trouble, be it in the Rebound or with Friend’s emotional Sandy.

I’ve seen the best stroller in the Back-up Plan but I know it doesn’t make it all easy.

Finally to get a full view of what it’s like to raise a baby I’ve seen Life as we know it,

Arizona Junior, Shoot ‘Em Up, Motherhood and Raising Helen but I’m waiting for the real hit,

The true reference to all parents, that I’ve seen in so many films, counting would be useless,

The What to expect when you’re expecting movie, everybody has the book in the US.

 

Sunday’s Review 17: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Vicky-cristina-barcelona-vicky-cristina-barcelona-05-09-2008-3-g

I’m heading to Barcelona for 10 days to see my brother’s family. What a good opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite Woody Allen’s movie. Vicky Christina Barcelona could be aimed with a lot of flaws such as the lack of morality in the relationships but I don’t think that what the film is about.

Vicky Christina Barcelona is like an exposé of Woody Allen’s qualities as a director and story teller. First, he has a way to portray a city as a living character which brings Barcelona to the center of the storyline. I first discovered the beautiful city this way and I must say, I’m glad I was able to go for real to step foot in that treasure. All the movie way, we feel the city breathing, moving and taking a huge place in the other characters lives.

This brings me to a second Woody Allen’s greatness shown in this movie: He knows how to get the best from actors and, above all, how to transcend them. I would have never thought I would believe in Javier Bardem’s character here, after seeing him in No Country for old men. And, to be honest, I never thought I would be so impressed with Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall’s acting.

The last big Allen’s talent brought up in Vicky Christina Barcelona is maybe the most specific to this movie. perhaps, nobody feels the same way but, when I watch this movie, it’s like I’m looking at a painting. I get the emotions from the colors, the shapes, the compositions. Sometime, looking at a movie, I suddenly see a shot and say: “wo, this is a beautiful photography” but, there, it’s more than that. It’s like the story is told as much from the pictures as from the voice over narration or the acting.

To put it in a nutshell, I really wonder why Woody Allen is not so much appreciated in the USA.

 

Let’s celebrate

Thanksgiving turkey, Halloween Pumpkin, Christmas Candy Cane,

Super bowl super ads, New Year’s ball drop, spring break party chain…

The other day I realized I’ve seen so much US traditions on the little and big screen

That I could probably give you a full Thanksgiving recipe and 5 ways to use a pumpkin.

As we also have in France Christmas, New Years, parties and big games,

The real new discovery is without a doubt Thanksgiving, so that’s what my post will aim.

I spent thanksgiving with a lot of TV characters, for some, several years in a row.

Starting with Friends first season’s reunion and going on years after years untill now.

From what I’ve seen, it’s supposed to be a family reunion and usually calls for family crisis.

It’s a Holiday about seeing the positive side of life and making peace with your nemesis.

But also about loads of stuffing, a big parade which I can’t figure out for what it stands,

And Pilgrims and Indians sharing the same land from California to the New York Islands.

I learned so much from fiction, is it even necessary to get a version with more truthfulness?

Now that you’ve read this last rhyme in “ess”, you surely want “everybody has one in the US”.


 

Sunday’s Review 16: Gigantic

Gigantic_6676

Whenever I have to start a review, I look for the first impression that the movie gave me. I’ve been standing in front of my computer for 10 minutes now, and I can’t think of anything for Gigantic. I know I put it in the « good film » category but that’s it. The only word I can figure out, in the middle of a blurry mix of ideas, is « Why? »

Why on earth is it called Gigantic? Why a hobo would want to kill the first character (Paul Dano)?  Why is Harriet so lost and ingenuous? Well, that I can answer: it’s because she’s played by Zooey Deschanel who seems to be stuck in that role. Anyway, this movie with a very interesting photography and a queer way of telling a story is puzzling me. Which isn’t a bad thing, per say; I would just like to be able to elucidate something, even if it’s only my own interpretation, but I’m not able to even do that.

If you want to get a glimpse of the atmosphere, here is the storyline: it’s about a 28yrs old guy who’s been dreaming about adopting a Chinese baby for 20 years now. He’s pretty unhappy about his life as a beds and mattresses salesman, at least compared to his two successful older brothers. One day, still waiting to get his baby, he meets Harriet, who doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life and has a conceited as a barber’s cat father (John Goodman).

The movie is filled with incongruous characters which allow it to be an almost-comedy. The pitch doesn’t really apply to the absurd genre but certainly knocks about with it. I’ll let you decide if I’m just not seeing the  point of the film when it’s right in front of me when you will see it; because I highly invite you to watch Gigantic, if not for a quest for meaning at least for the great filming and directing.

The big “job in the US” review:

You know it’s hard to stop rhyming when you’ve been doing it for so long.

When I prepared this post, I just made a chronological list, but it felt wrong.

So, I thought about it and suddenly remembered this song.

As promised, here is a large review of all the topics I’ve tackled so far, just sing along:

Weather man, radio broadcaster, Journalist

Clockmaker, Scientist, Genealogist

Waitress, train driver, Salesman, Cleaning lady, hotel staff, Taxi driver

fashion designer, Writer, Restaurant owner, Cinema worker

Lifeguard, Sport coach, Undertaker, Fireman, Doctor

Teacher, Psychotherapist, School director

Chef cook, Dancer, Singer, musician, Professional sportsman

Hairdresser, Wedding planner, Farmer, vet, Mailman

Pharmaceuticals, Broker, Politician, Lawyer

Soldier, Prisoner, Production line worker

Newsies, “Is it true love for green card?” decider, Product testing executive

Private detective, Policeman, Consultant detective 

In a not random order, these are only the different jobs I talked about.

There is more to come so look out:

I’ve been talking about different types like Cool jobs,

quirky jobs, secret jobs, indefinable jobs, and even maybe boring jobs.

I’ve been mentioning different work people like Stupid, annoying colleague or Genius idea people

And Workaholics, Silly, funny people, Super heroes, French people or Power people.

But, you know, work is not just about the job you do,

It’s about lots of things and I talked about them too:

Type of alarm clock, Sick leave, Type of cars,

Coffee, Complimentary food, Job clothes, Computers,

Night shifts, Emergency measures, Insuppressible accessory,

Endless days, Breaks, Christmas parties, Salary

 Job Change, Fired people’s ritual, The one last little thing

Workplace, Work era, Type of environment, Housewifing

I hope you started singing again with this list,

Which almost closes the whole review but we have a finalist.

We have one last question that, I must say, is the perfect ending for our tunes:

How do they earn money in cartoons?

I also promised you a catchphrase after 90 unsuccessful tryouts. So, be ready…

…, you know, I think “I need a catchphrase, everybody has one in the US” is quite catchy!

 

Sunday’s Review 15: Edward Scissorhands

Edward-scissorhands

 

It’s Easter day  today and, go figure why, this day makes me think of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. This movie has so much to tell that it would be a shame not to listen to its story. Somehow, this scissor-handed boy manages to express a huge tenderness. Both Johnny Depp amazing interpretation and the great designs and photography bring to the film this emotional figure.

On top of it, Tim Burton’s genius mind shows through numbers of brilliant scenes that say a lot with very little. A street with identical houses in various colors, from which identical cars in various colors get out at the same time, gives us right away the atmosphere and lifestyle of the all city. Even the haircuts are meaningful.

It’s something that gives Tim Burton his so special universe. Every single object on his movies is deeply connected to what is going on. Each detail is part of a world, created especially to serve the story. It brings to his work both a kind of craziness and a real dive into the story.

I could tell you about the message of tolerance or about the parallel with the Disney cartoon Dumbo but these are obvious qualities of the movie. What I would like to point out is more the way these aspects are brought to us. If, in twenty years, Edward Scissorhands aged a little bit, it’s techniques in the settings and directing didn’t at all. I think the main reason is that they are part of a truly defined universe so that it can’t be attached to one single period of time. That’s what makes great film-makers.

Now that I declared my love for Tim Burton’s work, here is why Edward Scissorhands is one of my favorites: In this movie, the universe, that Burton created, truly serves the story, not the other way around. I think, at some point, he might have got carried away and put his quirky universe in priority to the story he told. It’s not the case for Edward Scissorhands and that’s why I’d greatly advise you to watch it if it’s not already done.

 

Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

You know, there is actually a movie I saw called Something New,

Another one called Something Borrowed and, I’m sure, one called Something Blue.

But that’s not the point here. Discover what’s going to happen in this posterous below.

I have been talking to you about the working world in the US for quite a time now.

And today, I’m ready to say: it’s time to take it to an other level.

There is going to be a big change-up, Movies and series have so much more to tell.

So, starting next week, you’ll find pieces on tricks I learned from cinema.

Things only a great art could teach us even when one is near a coma.

 I’ll see you for those once a week but before you’ll find an overview of all jobs discovered

Through all the series and movies mentioned in the previous posts I released.

As it’s a really special post, it’s a bit longer than usual but says no less.

I’ll see you next week for a big review and a catchphrase, everybody has those in the US.


 

Be Prepared

A Big change is coming up on my posterous.

Very soon you will experience a whole new adventure; I hope you’ll find it stupendous.

Still entirely dived in movies and series, with some references that might need an update,

This change will be as big as Rachel and Ross first date.

As I like a good suspense, I’m not going to tell you right away what it will be about.

A Fight Club, 6th Sense, Usual Suspect atmosphere will now spread out

As you will have absolutely no clue of what is coming up.

Maybe I’ll stop writing in rhymes, maybe I’ll quit talking about the US and take you to Europe.

Maybe I’ll stop annoying you with complaints on how I would like to do this or that.

Maybe I’ll even have a catchphrase, I’ve been whining so long about it, I sound like a brat.


 

Sunday’s Review 14: Young Adult

Young-adult

Ok. This is the story of a used-to-be prom queen who has Charlize Theron looks and is now really depressed. That’s it. This not original story really disappointed me and, above all, depressed me very much. I don’t think I’ve ever came out of a movie theater this depressed.

I met Jason Reitman, the director, with “Juno”. It was a simple story as well: Just a teen going through a pregnancy. And it worked. It worked thanks to the main character’s quirky personality, the nice soundtrack and the cute way to tell the story. Then there was “Up in the Air” and, once again, a really basic story. Well, there, besides Clooney’s cute little face, there wasn’t much. It sounded a lot like a 1h30 long Nespresso Ad.

I’m being a little harsh right now but I’m kind of angry at the movie. I started off the day in quite a nice mood and, now, all I get from one of my favorite occupation is a really depressing feeling. That’s not very nice. Besides, the trailers misled me and I don’t like that either. I was expecting something funnier where Miss Theron would be really taking her usual self to the opposite; as Brad Pitt and George Clooney did in Coen’s “Burn After Reading”. She is playing finely in the movie and we have no difficulties believing in her character. But the problem is that it’s just it, nothing more. There are no big flaws to point out but just a big lack of qualities to fill the film.

I was hoping this film was the beginning of the return of fine movies in theaters but it looks like I was wrong. Too bad. One good point, though, for the poster above: it’s pretty awesome.