Monday, June 18, 2012

"Everything Must Go" (2010) - Movie Review

There is sadness in every obnoxious comedian. That is the trend that very well existed in the film world when I grew up back in India. It might not necessarily be true but seeing Adam Sandler in “Punchdrunk Love” and now seeing Will Ferrell in “Everything Must Go”, one might begin to believe that because they embody that sadness with a look and form that makes it seem so easy to enact. 

Will Ferrell is Nick Halsey, a successful salesman who has slipped in his sobriety to lose his job and wife on the same day. You know how you talk yourself into things you will regret doing? I think it works terrifically well for alcoholics. Their misery feeds their addiction. We never see his wife and listen to Nick’s voicemails to her. She has been sober we learn and she just cannot move on with Nick’s drunkenness. Sexual encounter with another woman that caused his unemployment does not help in her staying either. As much as we hate her for leaving his stuff on the yard, changing the locks and freezing the bank account, there is a harsh justifications to those actions. May be that is why Nick is not all mad at his wife despite his rock bottom situation.

Nick begins his descent into chain drinking further and his days begin when the sprinklers turn on. Dan Rush’s film is a slow but thorough exercise in a man’s lowest point and it keeps getting lower. The rock bottom is not there when you know you have crossed it. Nick seem to have accepted this and the eventuality is death because there appears to be no turning back. Yet we see hope when the basic human instinct is to communicate and connect. Nick does with two people. One is a young boy Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace) in the neighbourhood who has nothing but time to kill while the other is his new neighbour Samantha (Rebecca Hall).

In between these two Nick develops empathy rather than sympathy. Both of them sees through him yet keeps it cool. Nick has lot to offer. A successful man who made a good life for himself is slowly throwing away those. It is quite tough to do nothing especially when you are exposed like Nick is out in the yard as people watch and wonder. Kenny immediately goes further and enquires. Soon enough both of them begin to have a conversation. Samantha is pregnant and new to the area only to be left aloof by her husband. Nick sees through her which shows his ugly face in the end. Samantha is cautiously compassionate.

Such is most of the characters who wants to be help Nick but knows he is in deep dark place. One such is Delilah (Laura Dern), a high school girl who wrote something nice about Nick when he brushes through his year book. He decides to contact knowing the absurdity of it. She sees him and knows something is odd yet goes forward within the boundaries of her compassion. In the end they both leave with something in their heart.

“Everything Must Go” is the kind of film that does not drench in the sadness of its central character. We feel lightheaded in the despair he carries. We understand him as he understands himself of his situation and consequences of his actions. That is part that makes it a better film and most of all say lot about Ferrell’s ability in acting which is that he knows every step of the way of why he is in a rut. There is a constant acknowledgment in the way Nick presents himself in the few days we observe him after his worst day in his life.

I was reminded of one of my favourite films “The Station Agent” which has a central character living his life in sadness and isolation because of his appearance and of no fault of his. There we see another connection with a cheery guy who cannot leave him alone and a mother in grief needing a shoulder to rest. “Everything Must Go” while in no way is similar to the characters or the story line has the connections in common. It shines on the fundamental fact of humans to connect and move on if they want to by any way they can, even in the most depressing state.

The film meditates on the depression. The mannerisms Ferrell brings forth through Nick though casual and effortless makes not alone to see this man go into spiral but see his life draining in his eyes in giving up. It is a shame when you know the capability of these comedians in delivering impressive performances not completely embrace more than they should. Sandler gave up completely after his “Reigh Over Me” while people like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey went that mile. Now here is Ferrell who is every bit capable to providing serious roles and come out convincingly. His Anchorman 2 would be hilarious and I am sure he enjoys doing those but occasionally I would love to see him in roles like these.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Prometheus" (2012) - Movie Review

My childhood memories of Alien franchise are nothing but horror. I did not care for umpteen ventures and the original in terms of characters, the story and the film itself whatsoever because it caused a permanent scar of scare that ingrained after seeing Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley having a nightmare of an alien coming out from her stomach. Those images are still vivid and visceral which caused me to shun any kind of contact with that franchise. Infact that might very well be the reason for my dislike towards horror genre along with Evil Dead. Now after twenty odd years I am here witnessing “Prometheus”, a supposed prequel to Alien and the best thrill I got from it is a violent, disgusting and horrific scene that involves Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw in a highly technological medical pod that does precise surgeries on her stomach. 

The haunting question of a curious mind is the idea of life, beginning and ending. We understand the science of the beginning and the biological end of it. I personally in my laziness believe in the concept of nothingness. Makes my life real simple but given there is a box full of answers, I might very well tilt towards learning about the secrets. We are indeed curious people. Hence comes “Prometheus” which begins with an abnormally huge and chiseled human like being swallowing a gooey potion with a space vessel above to disintegrate to give the audience up and close DNA development. Director Ridley Scott with his writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof goes for the holy grail of origins, existence and demise of the humankind.

The year is 2089 and Dr. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) with his love interest Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) have long investigated ancient cave drawings of star map. We are not exposed or explained in to that in big deal. We are only made aware that a wealthy man Weyland shares this passion of finding this moon and therein find the “Engineers” they call it who gave birth to us, the humans. Elizabeth strongly believes in that faith of those Engineers creating the man kind. As they sleep in to cryostasis on this journey, Michael Fassbender is David, a perfectly groomed and systematic robot that is human in every way except the so called soul. He takes care of them in their sleep, reading through their memories and dreams, watching Peter O’Toole’s mannerisms in films and learning all the knowledge he could to guess on the possible dialect these Engineers might speak. He does not emote through his face but he has agendas and he executes them mercilessly. He in my opinion has a soul. Charlize Theron is Meredith Vickers, a lead woman who knows the purpose and has the authority over this crew. Idris Elba is the Captain Janek who is as detached and at the same time a logical and compassionate person amongst the crew. They are here to be answered and then fight for their lives.

“Prometheus” apart from having stellar cast is mainly engaging. It has creepy creatures killing people in the darkest of places. It has this new world where they explore only one structure to have all the adventures and chaos they could hope and have got more than they bargained for. It has some breathtaking visual that would keep any audience riveted through the seats. Yet it does not go all the way in explaining itself in detail. While it is foolish to expect a detail thesis on this whole thing, the way they arrived to the conclusion of the star map is nothing but baseless. Nevertheless it creates a terrific thought provoking idea of the origins of life and mainly the characters’ perspective.

A spectacular perspective is that of David, the robot created by humans. He asks Charlie Holloway what is his drive in meeting these Engineers and why was he disappointed on the sight of their absence. Charlie replies that he wants to know why and David responds with why they created robot like him and Charlie says because they could. David’s response would make you wonder on the things of simple acceptance of certain things and make the life easier. It is a philosophical plane wherein Ridley Scott weaves some serious entertainment.

Noomi Rapace is the perfect choice for this role. While she portrayed a rather callous but emotional Lisbeth Salander in the The Girl with Dragon Tattoo trilogy, she brings forth the raw survival skills of that but adds and exhibits deeper emotional compassion and beauty to Elizabeth Shaw. I mentioned about the scene that had the best thrill in the most disgusting and violent nature of it and in that Rapace makes it seamless to work that in its highest degree.

I enjoyed “Prometheus” for its grandeur nature in employing special effects for what it really is. It has thrilling sequences to keep you glued and yes some various natures of reptilian beings sucking the life out of the crews in stomach churning manner. It has few predictable scares as well but the core of the film is the discussion it brings and the boldness in presenting them despite the people’s nature to make it unnecessarily controversial. The film ends with more unanswered questions opening for the inevitable sequel.