Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Seen in December

Facing the inevitable in Melancholia image via

Set in 16th century Japan, this is the story of a thief who bears an uncanny resemblance to a powerful warlord. Yup. The old swicheroo.

The Hour
BBC drama set in the offices of a fictitious 1953 BBC news program. This six part series has it all. It's a serious drama with occasional light wit but it's also a romance and a thriller. The three leads form the love triangle and primary dynamic; the brilliant intrepid journalist and his longtime unrequited love, Bel as the innovative new program's director and the charming & dashing but slightly less intellectual show host. All three represent some faction of British classes and how these groups clashed or worked together at the time when The British Empire was becoming nothing more than a fancy dress supper club yet still trying to exert some imperial power in the world. It's worth watching the extras on the DVD as the context of world events and Britain's domestic disputes requires some explanation. Imagine a Brit watching a drama about the Canada vs Russia Summit series without knowing who Bobby Orr was and you see what mean.

Is the image of a giant planet named Melancholia smashing into the Earth a subtle analogy for the crushing defeat of depression? No but this is Lars Von Triers. The story is of two sisters, Justine, who is in the darkest depths of depression and Claire, a born worrier. Who is better prepared to meet their maker? Writer David Rakoff has said that we should appreciate the critical mind depression creates. He may then applaud Justine who remains calm when everything goes to hell. This film has all the painful intimacy and cruelty of a Von Triers movie but it has incredible beauty as well. It makes a striking bookend to Malick's Tree of Life.

The Artist
A contemporary silent film set in the era when they called movies Talkies retells the well known tale of A Star is Born yet the style of the film is as much the story as the plot that moves the narrative. This is also the story of a man in crisis whose best relationships are with his employee and his dog and is unable to talk until he has lost everything and allows a woman into his life — whew, talk about your therapist catnip.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Great high octane action flick but don't stop and wonder why the set pieces are so unnecessarily convoluted – the only reason you need is that it will lead to crazy stunts. I'm not even going to wonder why super-spy Ethan Hunt can't beat up an aging nuclear scientist / extremist.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Tis the season for the colon apparently. The punctuation mark not the anatomical part, I mean. I have no idea where the title comes from or even if this story line has anything to do with the books and I don't care. More fun than Tom Cruise and all the tall buildings in Dubai (or where ever) combined.

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