Monday, April 5, 2010

March Highlights - film-wise

Well March has well and truly gone and without a single entry on this blog. So to kind of make up for lost time, I bring forth mini-reviews of some interesting films I saw last month.

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) - I've been on a mini Sissy Spacek spree lately and by that I mean this film and 3 Women. And I quite adore her. I mean, she has a bit of a spooky, misfit onscreen persona about her, and she looks eternally adolescent even past her 20s - I mean this all in an endearing way.

But onto this film, I thought Sissy Spacek deserved her Oscar. She certainly fleshed out her character of real country singer Loretta Lynn, from her small town upbringing to making the big time and all the pressures that mounted in between. Plus, she sang the songs herself and thus, really owned the character. As for Tommy Lee Jones as her husband, he was nothing short of swoon-worthy. But moving on from the aesthetics, he also put in great work, trying to drive his wife's career, but at the same time having a bit of resentment of it. All in all a nice, moving biopic.

A Wedding (1978) - Ah, the frenzy of being at a wedding. Something always goes wrong and the strangest of encounters can occur. The great thing about this film is the way that the ensemble casting just works. It can be hard I imagine to focus on multiple characters and get a good story from each, but Robert Altman seems to do it with ease. There are so many interesting actors on board, and for me it was three of the actresses in particular that stood out - Carol Burnett, who is just great as the sexually repressed mother of the bride; Geraldine Chaplin as the wedding planner who lives for weddings; and Mia Farrow as the muted sister of the bride with strange revelations of her own. Quite a funny and entertaining film.

The Shining (1980) - In addition to my Sissy Spacek kick, I've had a growing interest in Shelley Duvall. I thought her performance in 3 Women was so fascinating. There's something raw and untrained about her acting. And at the same time she's so quirky and offbeat. And so she was my prime reason for finally relenting to The Shining. Otherwise, a film that also includes Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson gets my intrigue.

Well, the film wasn't exactly the typical slasher horror film. Yes there's blood, there's suspense and there's supernatural elements, but they don't exactly 'scare' you. But haunt you, the images and the music certainly does, and linger with you after the end credits. And personally that's a much more satisfying experience.

I've heard a bit of criticism and poking fun of Shelley's performance, and everyone has probably heard of the 100+ takes Kubrick required for one scene. But I just think that if Shelley didn't act the way she did - where she's simultaneously weary, scared and just stunned at what's happening - I can't see how else it would have been. I mean there's no 'perfect' way to react to these kinds of situations, the reactions themselves need to be flawed and bizarre, and that adds to the surrealism of the film.

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