Monday, November 7, 2011

Short Takes: "Hanna", "In Time" and "Attack the Block".

Hanna should be required viewing for all women going through the child to adolescent transition, given that- for lack of bullshit-ery - it's essentially a metaphor about how it all goes to hell after your first period. Saoirse Rona, plays the title character, a young girl who has always lived in the forest with her dad (Bana), a CIA agent gone rogue, who one day decides she wants to face her destiny and go to the big world. Trained in all of the deadly arts, Hanna is aware that to lead a normal life she must first destroy Marissa (Blanchett in a delicious star turn) a wicked agent responsible for her mom's death. Highly influenced by Tom Tykwer and, by Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter , the versatile Joe Wright delivers a thrilling spectacle that more than makes up for the story's lack of originality. Ronan is reliably perfect, combining child-like awe with chilling heartlessness and Bana once again proves he's one of the most underrated working actors. Wright's combination of fairy tales with biological conundrums feels a bit too stale at times and he can't seem to decide if he's in the mood for some well told Gothic action piece or a green-friendly, almost reactionary, invitation to have everyone move to the mountains and disregard the modern world. For what it matters, the film fares much better and what could've been a weird hybrid of Nell and The Bourne Identity comes off looking as a kick-ass allegory for the pains of growing up.  Grade: ***

Andrew Niccol delivered one of the most fascinating sci-fi movies in contemporary cinema with his remarkable Gattaca. Sadly, now he comes back with a piece of "social" fluff disguised as a dystopia in the making. In a world where time has become the official currency and people stop aging at age 25, it's up to none other than Justin Timberlake to show people how immoral they are. JT plays a Dickensian character who gets thrown into a whirlwind of chaos after he "inherits" more time than he can deal with. When authorities become suspicious about his background, he recruits a wealthy socialite (Seyfried) to steal from the rich and give back to the poor. At the film's center there is a fascinating conundrum to explore: should people live long and prosper or is there an element of truth to eugenics? Of course, Niccol doesn't have time to dwell on this as he has his heroes reenact perfume ads during the entire movie. It's a shame, cause In Time often brims with promise which then turns upon itself in such unexpected ways. You end up rooting for the villains, it makes you think that JT and Seyfried are unsexy (they have such little chemistry that it often feels like you're watching audition tapes),  and for all its talk about social injustice, its own brand of Bonnie and Clyde by way of Dolce & Gabbana feels so preposterous that you only thing you want to protest against, are lazy Hollywood flicks. Grade: *

Aliens invade London. Group of thugs saves the day. The biggest problem with Attack the Block is that it's never truly able to overcome two major flaws. On the one hand, its very own kind of British humor is practically impenetrable, making it a dragging experience for worldwide audiences (something that comedies like Hot Fuzz and The Full Monty had no trouble doing), then, the movie is so in love with its low budget concept that it ends up becoming obnoxiously dull. Grade: **

1 comment:

Rodney said...

Attack the Block was obnoxiously dull?? Man, what film were you watching? I thought it was awesome!!!

Still, the thick accents and slang used throughout the film was always going to alienate a certain segment of the audience... But it was an AWESOME film!!!

Hanna was another one - I'd heard good things, and the film actually surprised me by living up to them.