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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: Trishna, Payback, The Color Wheel

Posted by gck Friday, October 19, 2012

Still super behind on my blog posts! I’ve got book and movie reviews to write and hike reports to post. But now that our Seattle weather has turned sour, hopefully I’ll have more time to update. These are movies I saw during the summer. Funny enough, all of the films in this list were free. Trishna was a free advance screening, I used volunteer vouchers for the two at SIFF, and the Color Wheel was a free ticket that came with my NWFF membership.

UK, 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance
Watched: in theater, Pacific Place
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

When I originally saw the film list for SIFF 2012, Trishna was one of the films I was most excited to see. An interpretation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles set in Rajasthan – sounded beautifully tragic, right up my alley. I was out of town the first weekend of the festival, and all of the screenings fell during that time. I knew it would come back to the theaters, so I waited patiently and read the reviews coming in. I was happy to get a free pass to an advance screening over the summer, but I had also lowered my expectations for the film, which was a good thing. I haven’t read Tess of the d’Urbervilles so I didn’t need it to be faithful to the book, but I did not like how the character of Jay was interpreted, something of a cross between Angel Clare and Alec. He is portrayed as a somewhat sympathetic character in the beginning but quickly morphs into someone who makes Trishna’s life miserable. Her metamorphosis from being naïve and happy to being bitter and sad happens just as quickly, so when the end events occur, it is jarring and incomprehensible. The reactions in the audience that day indicated that I wasn’t the only person who was surprised. Still, this is a visually gorgeous movie. Rich colors, beautiful scenery, all living up to my expectations. I just wanted a bit more out of the story.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
UK, 2012
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Watched: in theater, SIFF Uptown
Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

After seeing one of the Slumdog Millionaire stars quietly suffering in a luxurious Indian hotel, I went mainstream and watched the other Slumdog Millionaire star luring British retirees to stay at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, where everything was great! Or was planned to become great… soon. This is a pleasant, feel-good movie with a stellar cast and lovely shots to introduce the viewer to India. No huge surprises or revelations, but it was an enjoyable film to watch.

Canada, 2012
Genre: Documentary
Watched: in theater, SIFF Film Center
Rating: **** (out of 5)

My friend Alexis was interested in this film, and I was glad she mentioned it to me because I would have ignored it completely. Payback is a documentary version of Margaret Atwood’s book by the same name, and it interweaves a handful of stories with Atwood’s readings, all focused around the idea of payback. The biggest criticism of this film seems to be that it isn’t focused towards one solid conclusion, but I found that this actually left a lot to talk about after the film, which is what films like this should seek to do. There was a story about a man who had the right to kill another man if he or his family ever set foot off of his property, bringing up topics of revenge and forgiveness. There was a story about the migrant workers who grow and harvest the tomatoes that America is dependent on, bringing up the idea that we owe a debt to these workers that is far more than what they are paid. And there was a story about the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, powerful images that I had all but forgotten as the years passed, about the debt that we are racking up against nature. There’s one about prisoners and the idea of the debt against society. Definitely recommended. Watch it with friends and have a chat afterwards.

The Color Wheel
USA, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Watched: in theater, Northwest Film Forum
Rating: **** (out of 5)

Another Alexis recommendation, this time a strong one – this was one of her two favorite films of 2011, back for a reprise at the Northwest Film Forum. I agreed that this film was a hidden gem and exactly what a successful independent film should be. It was quirky and not at all mainstream in the sense that when I laughed, it was at things that were surprising and nonformulaic. The two main characters are siblings with a can’t-believe-it’s-actually-functional relationship, and the female deals with the aftermath of a dysfunctional romantic relationship with an older man. When the siblings attend a party, it turns into a social misfits vs. “mean people who are still mean” encounter, sort of like a high school reunion nightmare. All of these relationships are easy to relate to in some way. Ultimately, it’s hard to sum up why movies like this are great, so this is as good as it’s going to get.


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