The Best Picture of the Summer So Far in a not Very Impressive Competition
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Laura Bishop: "Does it concern you that your daughter has just run away from home?"
Walt Bishop: "That's a loaded question."
(Frances McDormand as Laura and Bill Murray as Walt.)
This is the Peter Pan story retold in Wes Anderson's distinctively quirky way. I'm so happy film makers like this are around to tell and retell stories in ways that move and delight. The story revolves around a young boy and girl who run away to be together. The cast is richly populated with names, but - more importantly - with talent and range. Bruce Willis wipes the slate clean with a fresh and unexpected portrayal that I think (ok, as much as I hate awards shows) will have him up for a supporting Oscar next year. Afterwards at dinner (at Amore, north of Eglinton on Yonge), we agreed that the kids were great, and we loved how everyone looked real, as in not particularly good looking. Favourite moment: Bill Murray with his naked tummy hanging over his pyjama bottoms. I just saw him today again in Lost in Translation. What can I say, I sort of fancy him. And for the music lovers out there, Moonrise Kingdom's score relies heavily on Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Its gravitas matches the earnestness of the young would-be lovers perfectly.
The Film Most Likely to Make me Laugh, Then Make me Want to Come Home and Take a Shower
John: "Hello, 911? It's an emergency, my teddy bear's been kidnapped! Hello? Hello?"
(Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett)
Well, you probably already know this is Seth Macfarlane's first film. And, if you know that, you already know that it's incredibly vulgar, and - if you're a fan - very funny. My cheeks are still hurting from laughing. What the story basically comes down to is the difficult feelings we have when our partner has a friend who seems more trouble than they're worth. How do you handle it? What do you do? In Mila Kunis's place, your boyfriend's troublesome friend is his childhood teddy bear who miraculously came to life when the eight-year-old boy wished it. Ted is now a coarse, hooker-picker-upper, pot-smoking, filthy stuffed toy. Awkward to say the least. I spent half the film putting my hand over my mouth thinking, he didn't just say that, and the other half laughing my head off. Sort of like a long Family Guy episode. And it features some really wickedly funny cameos from some real talent.
The Award for Excellence in Giving Arty Movies a Bad Name
The Woman in the Fifth (2011)
What I heard intrigued me. A spiritually broken American professor/writer shows up in Paris looking for his estranged wife and daughter. He ends up living in a dive and living a risky existence. He goes to a literary party and meets a mysterious woman with an exotic accent. He's played by art film hunk, Ethan Hawke, complete with really grubby RayBans (oh, I wanted to clean those glasses), and the mystery woman is played by Kristin Scott Thomas. It's directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy, which is reviewed in this link by the Guardian.
Kristin Scott Thomas starts out doing what she shouldn't: being coy. I wish I knew where this saying came from: "A woman over 30 can never be coy, but she can certainly be arch." The first coy scene was like a spoof of a pretentious European art film. You just can't play this kind of seriousness without eliciting sniggers. Where's the irony? God, I need irony to dilute this sort of thing. Fortunately, after that, she settles down and becomes a sort of Muse, being basically whatever Ethan Hawke's character needs her to be. What a stunner she is. My favourite film of hers is I've Loved you so Long (2008). Try and see it if you can. But regarding The Woman in the Fifth, I won't say any more, in case you go to see it. I'm sure some people loved it. Actually one of my companions after dinner really liked it. I didn't.
Most Recommended for Pyschology Majors
Dark Horse (2011)
I'd have sworn I'd seen a Todd Solondz film before, but I guess I was just familiar with the name. I must have read it somewhere. I visited the TIFF Lightbox, Toronto's cinematheque. It's a fine location to see a film. The screening rooms are comfortable, with very low lighting during screenings and great seating and perfect temperatures. This was an afternoon show and there were only three other people there. Dark Horse is about a big, spoiled man-child with a deeply neurotic sense of entitlement. He takes injustice-collecting to incredible heights. He's awful and hysterical and he's brilliantly played by Jordan Gelber. His parents? Get this casting: Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken (the latter was the reason I decided to see the film). Selma Blair is the "girlfriend," and you'll know why I use the quotation marks if you decide to see the film. The first half was strong and funny. After that you get into some scenes where reality and fantasy or delusion intermingle and I didn't so much get lost as lose why certain delusions were occurring. And whose were they? I'm glad I saw it. It's definitely one for students of human nature.
Most Impressive yet Unarousing Male Bottoms
Magic Mike (2012)
Paige: "I was hoping this was all a joke."
(Cody Horn as Paige)
Believe it or not, I wasn't interested in this film. Male strippers, in this case played by some hot Hollywood bods, are so not my bag, baby. In the pictures I'd seen, the leads look like they were inflated by a bicycle pump. But, then I read that Steven Soderbergh had directed it, and I thought, hold it, this might be interesting... and so I went.
The plot is simple and predictable. I wouldn't want to know any of these people. They live ugly lives and spew ugly thoughts at each other. There is scarcely a moment of honesty, so busy are the men with posing on and off stage. At the end there seemed to come a sort of quasi redemption, but even that gets trampled on. Only to be watched if you need to see ripped men humping furniture and hysterical women. Oh, and you know what? You could just save the money and look for something similar on YouTube.