I had surgery on Friday so I've been recuperating the last couple days. I haven't been able to see many films this year since I've been busy working on my own projects, so I thought this could afford me the perfect opportunity to play a little catch up.
The first on my list was Danny Boyle's Trance
, which I thought was a wonderfully trippy movie. This seemed like a slight departure from Danny Boyle, who recently directed two heavyweight films in Slumdog Millionaire
and 127 Hours
, so I'm sure it was nice to do a lighter film. Trance
is a really psychedelic movie, filled with Boyle's signature visual style and kinetic pacing. It's actually strange because it shares some similarities with a film I just did, so that was interesting to see.
The next film I saw was The Place Beyond The Pines
, which was a very ambitious crime drama from the director of Blue Valentine
. Starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, I had no idea the film spanned twenty years, and the previews made it look like Gosling was the star, even though he is a part of a fantastic ensemble which includes Eva Mendes, Rose Bryne, Ray Liotta and Dane DeHaan. The film is slightly too ambitious for its own good, but I appreciated that even with its epic scope the storytelling and characterization is still fairly intimate. Perhaps not as affecting or successful as Blue Valentine
, the movie is still an impressive achievement.
After that, I decided to watch another Ryan Gosling movie: Only God Forgives
, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. I'm a big fan of Refn, and I loved both his previous directorial efforts (Bronson
). As a matter of fact, Drive
was probably one of my favorite films of 2011, so I was really looking forward to this. Suffice to say, I was very disappointed in this film. I will give Refn credit where credit is due... the movie is visually stylish and has some hypnotic visuals. Refn describes it as a "fairy tale", and I totally get that. However, everything that made Drive
so artful, intense and engaging completely falls flat here. None of the characters feel like actual people, or are likable at all. They are ciphers, and thus entirely impossible to relate to or care about. The story - well, let's face it, there's barely a story at all - is completely vapid and perfunctory. I really like Refn, and I will still happily look forward to whatever he does next, but this is a real clunker and probably his least successful film.
The last film I saw was Stoker
, written by Wentworth Miller and directed by Chan-wook Park. This film is devilishly stylish, with impeccable transitions and some of the most gorgeously lush cinematography I've seen in a while. Unfortunately, the script is a little pedestrian and not as strong as the visuals might suggest. It's still a really entertaining and engrossing movie. The leads, played by Matthew Goode (who really should have been Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel
sequel) and Mia Wasikowska, sort of steal the movie and elevate the material. The chemistry between Goode and Wasikowska is pretty great and Wasikowska is a very talented actress with a bright future ahead of her. It's just a shame the script doesn't quite have the gravitas or depth the performances and visuals so rightly deserved.