I must point out that this 2012 Best & Blah of the Year…so far post, is based solely on the films I have had the pleasure and misfortune of seeing in the cinema to date this year. Think of this as a mid-term report, a more conclusive list will follow at year’s end.
“Our daughter’s been abducted by one of these beige lunatics!”
Wes Anderson’s seventh feature film – Moonrise Kingdom, is a return to form after the misfires of recent years. Set in 1965 on the idyllic New England island called New Penzance, Anderson, the auteur of the eccentric, gives us the beautifully crafted adolescent love story of Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) and Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilam).
The star crossed lovers; foster child Sam and the misunderstood Suzy (daughter to on-screen parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) go on the run – avoiding family, friends and foe in order to escape a world that doesn’t make sense to them. When news of an impending storm is broken by the amply named “Narrator” (Bob Balaban) – Suzy’s family, along with Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Scout Master Randy Wade (Ed Norton) begin an island-wide hunt for the safe return of young lovers. A superb ensemble cast is finished with pitch-perfect support from Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel.
The usual Anderson traits are here, the beautifully crafted framed sweeping shots, sets that effervesce with the ordinary of the everyday, effortless performances and a delightful soundtrack. Perhaps not Anderson’s very best, some questionable CGI aside, this is his most commendable work in years. Stripped of ego, focusing instead on a few well rounded characters with an elegantly told story, this is what Anderson has become known for. Kara Hayward wonderful debut must surely be worthy of an Oscar nomination for best actress next year. Highly recommended.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
The Avengers (a.k.a Avengers Assemble)
“I think we need to time-out”
Blockbuster season started early this year with the arrival of – The Avengers, which saw the dream team of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans),Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Remer) team up under the leadership of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The film centres around Loki (Tom Hiddleston) the adoptive brother of Thor, who teams up with the Chitauri Army and having retrieved the Tesseract (a powerful source of unknown quantity) plots the invasion of Earth by the Chitauri in order to subjugate the Earth under his leadership. This causes the Avengers to assemble and pursue Loki to prevent Armageddon. What follows is a 143 minute bombardment to the visual and auditory senses consisting of; tiny plot, crash, bang, Iron Man quip, wallop, syrupy American patriotism, crash, another quip, bigger crash, the Hulk looks sad (don’t make him angry) bang, bang, explosion, another quip and more explosions……sigh.
What made Sylvester Stallone’s ensemble adventure The Expendables work (and in saying that I am being very generous) was the assumption of familiarity with all leads and the audience accepting this as a given. With the Avengers, you have to follow (or endure) the individual background stories of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor etc as part of the set up, but when you get past the initial set up (six separate films), it still feels like you are starting at zero. I enjoy a superhero film as much as the next person but this just feels tired and the entire Avengers exercise appears to be more about merchandising than anything else. With its huge success at the box office, $1.5 billion (and counting) sequels will follow, but unlike the S.H.I.E.L.D I will not be returning. Crash, bang, thud, zzz…………….
Rating: 2 / 5
words by david rushe