I've seen some decent and some disappointing movies as of late. Two of these will get some in-depth treatment later on, but for now, here are three quickie movie reviews to keep you satiated.
Rachel Getting Married - The film is less of a surprise and more a shame of under marketed brilliance. Johnathan Demme returns to the narrative form after a long stint of unnecessary remakes ,documentaries and a concert film (which is excellent might I add.) It's good to see him directing a great film again as this defies his usual style for something far more personal and intimate. Anne Hathaway shows she can do more than just rom coms as the destructive Kym, who is released from rehab just in time for her titular sisters wedding. Past traumas are brought to the surface during a time of close quarters with family and friends and tensions mount. The climax is intense and emotional but quickly releases all tension in the form of one of the most beautiful wedding sequences since The Deer Hunter. Beyond Hathaway's nuanced performance and a great supporting cast, one of the elements that really makes the movie come to life is Demme's hand-held directorial style. This brings us literally closer to the family making it almost feel like a home movie, especially since one of the characters constantly has a camera in his hand. Another nice touch was the score of the movie was interior to the movie which made it seem even more like document rather than drama. Kudos, Demme on a tour de force film. You may have the best movie of the year on your hands, but I feel it is getting overlooked due to bloated Hollywood "art films" like Benjamin Button.
Revolutionary Road - Where Rachel Getting Married shines, Revolutionary Road fails to deliver. Minus two good performances from the always stunning Kate Winslet and the better with age Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road suffers from feeling like a movie you've seen done better. Even though the stories novel of the same name was the first of its kind to document the dark side of conformity in 50's suburbia, the movie theme has been done before. Leo and Kate play a young couple who we see mostly in the autumn of their lives together, even though they are both still young and under normal circumstances would have many years ahead of them. Their idealism gets suffucated by the world around them and tensions mount. Sam Mendes' direction is rather pedestrian and very lacking here and the story is filled with predictable moments and dialogue matches that really hit you over the head with why they are having such a terrible time together. Although both leads are convicing, the supporting cast is rife with cliche 50's faces that don't bring anything new to the table. Rather than any kind of realism, we get a melodrama much like we've seen before. If you want to see relationships stretched and strained and the emotional traumas they put on people see Rachel Getting Married and....
The Wreslter - Mickey Rourke was once touted to be the next Brando or next DeNiro. His early career showed much promise in movies like Diner. Yet like many stars, things get in the way. Fame can ruin your life. And that is what happened to Rourke. However, Darren Aranofsky gets a stellar performance from the man in The Wrestler. One that is refreshing, honest and truly astonishing. A very standard story on the surface of a washed-up has-been trying to make due with what he's got left, but inside its about the harsh world many people create for themselves. Alienating those who love you is tough and sometimes the road is permanantly destroyed behind your destructive ways. Much like Rachel Getting Married, Randy "The Ram" has destroyed the relationships with the ones closest to him, but figures out that his family lies with his fans who respect him for his art. They don't know "The Ram" beyond the ring, but to them he is a hero. Even if it means death if we wrestles again, he would rather feel he love he gets from being in the ring then trying and failing those closest to him and conforming to society to make it by. Rourke's loveability that he brings to the character makes it all the more heartbreaking and beautiful. It's truly the best leading male performance I've seen all year and it's definitely worthy of the talk. This is another great small movie that is getting overshadowed by other overrated Hollywood junk.... like Benjamin Button.
My top movies of 2008 list will be made soon. Two of these will make the cut. I still want to see Milk, Che, Waltz With Bashir and The Reader before I finish my list, but overall this past year was lukewarm at best. Here's hoping The Road comes out soon as it stands a chance at being my favorite movie of all time.