Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Age of Adaline

Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman,
Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Kathy Baker

"The World has changed in the Last Century.
Adaline has not."

Through some odd phenomenon, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has remained 29 years old spanning through almost 8 decades. At the turn of the century, this condition occurs after a freak road accident so due to her ageless spirit, she lives a solitary life and has to constantly move to change her identity.

The film starts with a voice over narration which vanishes as the story progresses then re-appears towards the somewhat predictable conclusion. Certain scenes dragged on even as the film skips from present day setting to Adaline's past through seamless precision.

It is still engrossing enough to keep viewers tuned in to her fate and this is brought about mainly because of the charming performance of Blake Lively as Adaline. An actress who although not really pretty is blessed with a charisma that exudes and also masks her average acting skills.

The whole magic realism gave the film a fairy tale tone where you would root for the hapless leading lady to find her prince charming so they could live happily ever after. Yet knowing Adaline's secret, frustration would ensue. Of course, the film is given the Hollywood spin to strike its magic (pun intended) wand and make sure that Adaline does have her happy ending even though she has to face obstacles and struggles before she achieves it. 

"The Age of Adaline" is a type of film that would pique your interest but doesn't really require too much brain function. A good movie that aims to entertain and succeeds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Still Alice

Julianne Moore, Kate Bosworth,
Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart

Alzheimer's Disease is a debilitating condition not only for the victim but I believe more so for their family members whose hearts break as they helplessly watch the lively, bright person slowly fade away.

Julianne Moore manifests these fears and apprehensions in her role as Alice Howland, a brilliant linguistics professor married and with three grown children, who is diagnosed with an early onset of Alzheimer's.  At first, it seemed like a case of being forgetful until she seeks medical help and her doctor gives her the bad news.  

As there is still no cure, Alice must prepare herself as well as her family members for the long term care required as she faces the uncertainty in her frightening journey.

The supporting cast here plays a minor role as Julianne Moore carried the entire weight of the film on her able shoulders. She delivers a fine performance without resorting to hysterical and over dramatic antics just to convey the uneasiness felt by her character. She is mostly calm and composed although her eyes do project the quiet sense of panic that overcomes her as the disease progresses and she is unable to make sense of it.

It is quite poignant as Alice records a video of herself giving instructions on what to do, where to find her medicines as she knows there will come a time when she won't be in total control of her senses.

"Still Alice" could easily have taken the movie-of-the-week approach with melodramatic sequences filled with tears flowing down your cheeks and a heavy heart as you watch the character deteriorate but gratefully it didn't. 

A fine screenplay adapted from a novel and a defining performance from Julianne Moore uplifts this movie which tackled a melancholic, poignantly sensitive topic.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

While We're Young

Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts,
Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver

"Life Never Gets Old"

Noah Baumbach's 2014 offering is a comedy that explores the disconnect between generations. The millenials with their sense of entitlement vs those who are now in their middle age period who had to work hard for everything and didn't just wait for things to be handed down to them.

It is presented through the eyes of a 40 something childless New York married couple Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts). They start hanging out with their new friends, a much younger couple Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). Soon the older couple feel a renewed sense of energy which seemed to have escaped from their marriage, their career and their lives, in general. But thankfully, the older couple come back to their senses and realize with much disgust, the true nature of the hipster couple.

The first part of the movie offers sharp and though provoking observations about aging. How easily it is for couples who have been together for several years to fall into a rut in their lives. The insights are best presented within the scenes and older characters. Ben Stiller is good in these types of characters  - those who somehow through time become complacent yet complain about every single disenchantment that complicates their lives. As Josh, he fits the stereotype and essays his character with aplomb. Naomi Watts who is a steady actress is equally good as his wife Cornelia.

But for me the interesting part occurs once Josh realizes how disarming Jamie and Darby really are. How he tries to extricate himself from his 'newer' self even though it was a more enjoyable and less boring phase for Josh and Cornelia. Their change in attitude is refreshing yet they should also find a way to still remain true to themselves.

"While we're young" is a relatable comedy that should appeal to any generation. Good writing and a reliable cast add a charming touch to an otherwise contrived conclusion. A nice case study to see the distinction and also the similar appeal between these featured generations.

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