Saturday, April 9, 2011

LES PETIT MOUCHOIRS
(LITTLE WHITE LIES)

Marion Cotillard, Francois Cluzet, Benoit Magimel
Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte
Velerie Bonetton, Pascale Arbillot, Joel Dupuch


With echoes of "The Big Chill", this French comedy-drama explores with raw honesty the relationships between a group of friends in their 30s and 40s.

After their friend Ludo (Dujardin) is severely injured in a horrific motorcycle crash, his friends ponder whether they should carry on with plans for their annual month-long holiday at the seaside. Since he is still recuperating in the ICU, they decide to head off for two weeks. But his absence causes a series of ripples.

The host Max a wealthy restaurateur (Cluzet) is becoming increasingly paranoid due to an uncomfortable revelation made by his best pal Vincent (Magimel), while their wives (Bonneton and Arbillot) have no idea what the problem is. Meanwhile, Marie, Eric and Antoine (Cotillard, Lellouche, Lafitte) are trying to resolve their own romantic issues.

With all of these neurotics thrown together in one house, things are bound to explode -- though it takes a long time for that to happen. In between, the narrative languishes with repeated gags involving boating and water sports, too many musical interludes, and Vincent's and Max's increasingly tense confrontations.

But filmmaker Canet lets us see these people responding to a scary event. It takes a while for the characters to reveal their personalities and complex inter-connections, but as the movie progresses they become remarkably vivid and involving. There are things about each person that we identify with, and the range of interaction is hilarious, edgy and sometimes darkly stirring.

The clever script continually deepens the relationships and heightens the tension. It also offers intensely telling insight into the way people relate to each other, mainly looking at the small lies we tell each other - and ourselves - to get through any potential awkwardness.

Thanks to a sparkling ensemble cast headed by Francois Cluzet and Marion Cotillard, they all deliver wonderful natural performances that add to the film's relaxed tone. But eventually the problem with this film is that it ultimately loses much of spark as it lingers on and on -- eventually passing the two-and-a-half-hour mark. A tighter edit would have helped keep the viewers more invested in the characters' plight.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

SOURCE CODE

Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan
Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright


"Make every second count"


Cinema 8, SM Megamall




8 minutes. That is the very limited time that Air Force Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is given to find out the identity of the bomber of a Chicago bound train. In order to achieve that purpose, he is 'inserted' into the mind of a teacher named Sean Fentress who was a passenger who died on the train. He can only stay for eight minutes at a time, but he can keep returning as often as he needs to find the bomber. This is achieved through a project known as the Source Code, a device developed by the military to analyze terrorist attacks.

While his mind travels to the past, his body is locked in a mysterious pod. He communicates with the other members of the Source Code project through video. During every mission, he is briefed by Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) a woman in military uniform. But most of the communication is practically one-way, as the leader of the project, a certain Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), rarely answers his questions and insists on updates. To make things even more complicated, Capt. Stevens begins to fall for Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) a fellow passenger on that ill fated train.

"The Source Code" is a sci-fi thriller that was constantly moving, constantly generating questions which kept the movie quite interesting. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this movie is the variety of traits the main character shows in the movie who has a strong sense of justice, duty, honor, and love. Another positive quality of this movie, is how each visit in the source code continues to build up to the climax of the movie. The relentless search for new pieces of evidence is also intertwined with constant character development of the protagonist allowing you to get a better attachment to the character.

The editing was seamless even though they had to keeping showing the last 8 minutes before the bomb explodes over and over again. The fast pacing of the movie didn't jar your senses as there were scenes of reflective moments intertwined within for adjustments. The different characters were well developed and you kept discovering new things about them as the story progressed.

The ending though was a bit puzzling and I still can't seem to wrap my head around it until now. But that's only because I refuse to embrace the concept that an alternate parallel universe can exist concurrently with reality. The sci-fi elements notwithstanding, the film did good by being an edge of your seat form of suspenseful entertainment that will capture your attention for 93 minutes.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

THE SWITCH

Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Thomas Robinson
Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson


"The most unexpected comedy ever conceived"




Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) are best friends. One day, Kassie decides she wants to have a baby. Being single and unattached, she resorts to artificial insemination. At her I'm getting pregnant party, Wally who is opposed to the idea and is totally drunk accidentally spills the the cup which contains the 'ingredients' of Roland, (Patrick Wilson) the sperm donor. Out of desperation, Wally replenishes it with his own 'offering'. Then strangely, he completely blocks it out of his memory.

7 years later Kassie moves back to New York with her son, Sebastian (Thomas Robinson) a neurotic little boy who likes to collect picture frames. The thing is he keeps the accompanying pictures inside and pretends they are his relatives. Wally soon recognizes himself in little Sebastian and slowly remembers what he did that particular night.

"The Switch" is surprisingly quite charming in places with its quirkiness. Although the two main characters clearly belong with each other, neither of them is especially sympathetic. You spend the first half of the film begging them to confess their true feelings for each other and the second half in rising exasperation as Wally never quite finds the moment to let Kassie know that he is the real father of her child.

Aniston always delivers in these type of roles. She has warmth and can convey inner thought processes, for a start, and she knows when not to dominate a scene. But it is really Bateman who carries the film, yet even his understated performance is consistently upstaged by the actor who portrays Sebastian. He is adorable in his neurotic sort of way. He also has many of the sharpest lines as some very adult anxieties about life, health and the future of the planet emerge from his lips. He is believable and very cute without being sickening or annoying. Together, Bateman and Robinson have great chemistry as they bond as father and son.

Another bonus is the presence of Jeff Goldblum, who is delightfully idiosyncratic as Wally’s boss and best friend, Leonard. He definitely is a scene stealer. His witty quips in trying to show his support for his bewildered friend is delightful to watch.

Despite its contrived and predictable plot, this romantic comedy was likeable and watchable for its unorthodox view on parenthood and everything else in between.
 

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