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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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Movie Reviews: Tomboy, Melancholia, Muppets

Posted by gck Sunday, January 8, 2012


Two great movies opening at SIFF, work kicking me out of my office at 3pm for a move… my Friday evening plan was obvious. I took the untolled I-90 bridge over to Seattle before most of the traffic hit and met up with my movie-loving friend Alexis. Her movie-loving friend David joined us for the films as well. The back-to-back films felt a lot like the film festival, except the theaters were mostly empty!

France, 2011
Watched: in theater, SIFF
Rating: **** (out of 5)

SIFF continues to have technical glitches. This film started with no sound and David had to run out and tell someone to turn it on. At least with subtitles we didn’t miss too much. This is a slow, charming coming-of-age story about a girl named Laure who pretends to be a boy named Mikael when her family moves to a new place. She is accepted as a boy into the group of kids in their residential area and forms a particular bond with the girl in the group. The children play their parts so perfectly in this film, particularly Laure (Zoé Héran) and her sister, Jeanne (Malonn Lévana). It’s a subtle exploration of adolescent acceptance/rejection and gender identity.

France, 2011
Watched: in theater, SIFF
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

Ah yes, I finally got to see the film that Lars von Trier was screening at Cannes when he made his controversial Hitler remarks and got thrown out of the festival. I’m thinking he’s not completely right in the head. Melancholia confirms this, as the main character Justine is definitely mentally unstable and her character is supposed to be a lot like him. This is not your typical end of the world movie. The end of the world isn’t the main focus of the film, it’s the characters and their reactions to it as it plays out. The idea for the whole thing is “that depressive people tend to act more calmly than others under heavy pressure, because they already expect bad things to happen.” The first half of the film (titled “Justine”) sets up the depressive character, showing her very abnormal actions and moods during her wedding. The second half of the film (titled “Claire”) shows Justine’s calmness as her normally stable sister freaks out about the whole Earth blowing up thing.

The good things about this film would give Melancholia a solid 5 star rating. It is an absolutely gorgeous film. The beginning overture shows random scenes from the rest of the film in slow motion interspersed with shots of the planet Melancholia moving closer to Earth, set to dramatic classical music. Then Earth blows up and the rest of the movie starts. (Another SIFF tech screw-up, there was something covering a small bit of the projector in the top left corner at the beginning, which was distracting. Then someone’s fingers eventually moved it away midway through the overture.) Acting is great, and the characters are memorable. Justine’s wedding is such a disaster that you can’t help but cringe. The end of the film, when Earth blows up fo’ realz, has so much tension that it really feels like a huge loss when it happens. You’re left with… melancholia. =P

The bad? Well, I feel like there should have been more of a point. There are so many strong emotional experiences in the film, but they culminate in any sort of revelation. “Depressed people deal better with crisis” is not enough of a point for me. But most of the bad is the shaky camera work. The big screen is awesome for all the slow, dramatic shots, but watching all of the real life stuff gave me motion sickness-like nausea. Alexis got headaches. It would probably be easier to deal with on a small screen, but then you miss out on the power of the beauty.

The Muppets
USA, 2011
Watched: in theater, Regal Cinemas at the Landing
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

I had some discount tickets to use and there weren’t a lot of compelling options in mainstream cinema, so I dragged my brother to go see The Muppets. I don’t think either of us are huge Muppets fans, but we were both curious why it was getting such high ratings. Having seen it, I don’t think I loved it as much as everyone else did (I’m sure I missed a lot of the old references), but I do understand the likeability. The beginning had me worried at first… it was cheesy and not funny. But it got better and funnier, and you can’t really hate a movie that’s as genuinely feel-good as this one was. Lots of celeb cameos. Favorite part was the song “Man or Muppet?” That’s pure genius.


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