Friday, 2 January 2015

Mini film reviews

The Descendants (2011) ***** stars George Clooney, as a rather ordinary workaholic Hawaian-based attorney confronted with the coma (and living Will) of a wife about whom he starts to have conflicted feelings. At the same time, he is trying to be a decent parent to two daughters and sell an ancestral bay as real estate which will make him exceedingly rich. My own understanding of the main aim of the director is examining the role that a family member may have on others, through frailties and temptations, in seriously fracturing a family unit. This aim is well achieved and enhanced by a fine performance by Clooney, who plays the part of the father and husband, not as a suave heart throb, but as a real man suffering, struggling to be reasonable and decent, when faced with unpleasant truths, close at home. This film is worth seeing.

Love in the Time of Cholera ***** (2007) in English by Mike Newell who directed some of the Harry Potter films. Based on a story by the great Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who died in April 2014), it examines solitude (Marquez's favourite theme) such as that caused by love being unrequited for almost one's whole life and being lonely in an apparently happy marriage with problems. It asks "Can one love someone from a distance for one's whole life?" and "What else is important, apart from staying true to true love?" Exotic and funny. This film is well worth savouring.

Hitchcock** (2012) stars Anthony Hopkins, completely unrecognisable as himself (which is deeply disturbing) and Helen Mirren (Alma Revel/Hitchcock). She is the hidden talent in this masterful directing duo. Alma Revel was once Hitchcock's boss at the early Paramount Studios and after they married, they became the creative force, together, of many of 'his' films. She was scriptwriter for many of his early movies. At the start of this movie, Hitchcock ever fascinated by murder is bored, and though habituated to fame and money sees a daring, creative moment in "Psycho" which the studio and censor do not want produced. He drives it forward by remortgaging their house. He still needs Alma's hand to produce the final chilling product, including the music.

This film suffers from an ongoing comparison with those of the Hitchcocks. My guess is that Helen Mirren was attracted to Alma's part for one reason - to show that behind every great man there is likely to be a great woman. Yet in spite of this, it was only when I googled that I realised how much Alma's had achieved, herself. As a result of sticking it out to the end, I discovered on You Tube Alma Revel's many early film scripts and will be watching her films. What the director was trying in this film I simply do not know: he may be saying that although Hitchcock is famous for fantasizing about and "tormenting" blondes, he really loved his very clever wife?

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