Archive for August, 2009

The Savages

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

thesavagesFollowing on from Tamara Jenkins’ ascerbic directorial debut Slums of Beverly Hills, The Savages takes the theme of the dysfunctional family and applies it to the older generation.

Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Jon Savage, a shabby academic who spends his days agonising over a book on Berthold Brecht that he is writing. His neurotic younger sister Wendy, played by Laura Linney, is an aspiring but unsuccessful New York playwright who makes ends meet by temping. They are not particularly close, but enjoy banter about Sam Shepherd and the theatre of the absurd, none of which comes in very useful when they receive a call about their ailing father who has started plastering the walls with his own excrement.


17 Again

Friday, August 21st, 2009

17 AgainUpdating the body-swap genre for a teenage audience, 17 Again stars young heartthrob Zac Efron as a failed sports star who is given another chance at life.

Forty-something Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) can only be described as a loser. Unemployed and on the brink of a divorce, he dreams of the days when he excelled on the school basketball team and dated the prettiest girl in the class, little knowing her pregnancy would mean the end of his dreams of sports-stardom and a prestigious college scholarship. Then one day during a nostalgia trip to his old school he meets a mysterious, twinkly-eyed caretaker and falls into a Twilight Zone vortex to emerge as a muscle-bound Zac Efron, aka Mike aged 17. His body may have regressed 20 years, but his surroundings are very much as they left him: same wife, same kids, same problems.



Thursday, August 20th, 2009

capoteOn 16th November, 1859, the flamboyant American author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, reads an article about four members of a well-respected Kansas family who were brutally murdered one night. The notion of two very different worlds colliding – the protective unit of Clutter family and the rootless, amoral sphere inhabited by their killers – enthralls him, and Capote phones up William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker, to ask if he would be interested in a magazine article examining the effect of the murders on the local community. Shawn gives him the nod of approval and Capote leaves for the wind-swept plains of the Mid-West along with his childhood friend Harper Lee.

Speaking to an agent from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Capote admits that he is not bothered whether the murderers are caught or not – he is satisfied that the subject matter will play to his ambitions of producing writing that combines the emotional intensity of fiction with the raw urgency of hard facts. But when two young vagabonds, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, are arrested and charged with the crime, Capote realises their stories could bring him the wealth and acclaim he so craves. Six years later he would publish In Cold Blood, a “nonfiction novel” that made him the most famous writer in America, a millionaire, and destroyed him from the core.


The Reader

Monday, August 17th, 2009

the-readerAdapted from Bernhard Schlink’s bestseller and starring Kate Winslet as a former SS officer and David Kross as her schoolboy lover, The Reader throws up difficult questions about the nature of culpability in the Holocaust.

Ralph Feinnes plays Michael Burg, an uptight German lawyer who is first seen in his sleek, minimalist apartment preparing an orderly breakfast for his bedfellow before bidding her an awkward goodbye – director Stephen Daldry does not shy away from stereotypes of standoffish Germans. The film then flashes back to the late 50s to when Michael (now played by Kross) was 15.Not yet out of school, he begins an illicit and passionate affair with a 34-year-old tram-conductor named Hanna (Kate Winslet), who first encountered him on the street when he was suffering from a painful bout of scarlet fever. She enjoys listening to him read to her, and lust soon blossoms into love, until one day Hanna disappears without trace.


My Life as a Dog (Mitt liv som hund)

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

packshotMy Life as a Dog is an astute, sensitive portrayal of the turbulence of childhood, and won Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström world renown when the film was first released in 1985, before he went on to produce schmaltzy blockbusters such as Chocolat and The Cider House Rules.

Eleven-year old Ingemar, played by Anton Glanzelius in one of his only major roles, is a sweet, spirited young boy whose mischievous exploits drive his frail and ailing mother to despair. In order to bring her some respite, Ingemar is sent to stay with his maternal uncle and wonderfully forbearing aunt in a small Swedish village, away from his churlish elder brother and beloved puppy. The village is home to a collection of eccentrics, including a football-playing tomboy who worries about her burgeoning breasts, a maverick sculptor who adds erotic touches to his creations at the local glass factory, a buxom blonde who poses naked for said sculptor, and a bedridden old man who likes to hear Ingemar read to him out of a lingerie catalogue. Ingemar himself has an eccentric side, and fits well into village life: he is unable to drink out of a glass without spilling its contents all over himself, and has a tendency to get down on all fours and bark manically when overexcited. It’s a harmless, playful gesture but also provides a way for Ingemar to hide feelings of guilt over his mother’s death.