PFR is marking the 500th post by putting up a bunch of DVD extras this week. This review is from Susannah at Not Really Working, a site that discusses everything from The Apprentice and Twitter to books and the Premiership!
Trishna: If the idea of Michael Winterbottom directing another Thomas Hardy adaptation fills you with fear and loathing, you should probably give Trishna a wide berth. This loose update of Hardy’s Tess of d’Urbervilles, transplants the action to modern-day India, and stars Freida Pinto as a beautiful young woman with lousy taste in men. When hotelier’s son Jay (Riz Ahmed) offers Trishna a job, a rosy future beckons, with financial security for her impoverished family. But the reality turns out to be utterly bleak and – at times – hard to watch. The first half of the film is light on action but filled with stunning photography, as Marcel Zyskind captures the glories of India‘s architecture and landscape as well as the teeming streets of Mumbai. When things go sour between Trishna and the bastard Jay, you’re reminded of other abusive relationships so graphically depicted in Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me. I’m not convinced that Pinto has the acting skills to match her spectacular looks, so I became frustrated both by Trishna’s passivity and the deterministic nature of Hardy’s doom-laden story. For a good time, I’d suggest booking a holiday in India, avoiding this film and not packing a copy of Jude the Obscure in your luggage.
Score: 4/10 (2 stars)
Immortals: King Hyperion will stop at nothing to obtain the Epirus Bow, but he faces an unlikely challenge from a peasant trained by Zeus himself. Directed by Tarsem – as you’d expect the clothes, masks, set designs and attention to detail is immaculate. It’s also technically impressive, well shot, and a good blend of CGI and real images that other directors would shun away from. Tarsem has some moments of intense vivid uber imagery (what he does best) however, the producers have clearly forced in as many ‘300’ similarities that the contract would support: plastic skies, million-man armies, traitors, rippling abs, oracles, boring grey colour pallets, scrolling one-on-twenty fight scenes… which everyone’s seen before, loads. The story is put to the front and played out well, although there are times when you think ‘less talk, more rock please’. It’s well cast, with Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto and John Hurt standing atop a mountain of decent performances; for a stylised Greek Myth! While it’s very watchable and a decent film, The Immortals and the Fall perfectly illustrate the differences between such an imaginative and unique director doing a stunning self-financed film, and a studio-backed blockbuster with some shining moments.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: shows two married couples and what happens when infidelity and ‘real life’ takes over. It’s starting to feel a bit like Woody Allen only has one story, and he just changes the
locations, names and occupations of his characters. Once again, the focus is on some ridiculously beautiful, artistic, troubled and self-obsessed middle class people that are quite hard to empathise with. This one struggles, trying to juggle far too many characters and flesh out each of their stories: the divorced female wreck, mid-life crisis pensioner, wife seeking family, disillusioned writer, art gallery owner, exotic love interest, blonde bimbo… As we expect from Allen, there’s some sporadic narration by the most Jewish voice ever, a really adorable ragtime old-fashioned score, and a whimsical / romanticised vibe – although I spent over half of the time shouting in my head “THIS IS NOT LONDON!!” There are some really nice touches; great lines hidden among the script, proper belly laughs and the odd comedy character – like the charlatan. It is enjoyable, but not much more. Don’t get me wrong, I like Allen but he’s been doing this schtick for far too long now.
Slumdog Millionaire: modern twist on the rags to riches tale as an Indian kid from the slums lands up on a game-show. There’s a lot of stock themes throughout the film; good cop / bad cop, sensible sibling / criminal sibling, life-long obsession with girl etc. Despite this Slumdog’s an entertaining story – handling and highlighting some of the best and worst aspects of growing up in India effectively. The characters are all quite memorable and it although it gets a bit far-fetched in parts it still works pretty well. For me, the growing-up section of the film was great to watch (the child actors were fantastic), but the latter part – love story – was insipid and seemed to take forever to finish. Somehow everyone looks cross-eyed, the English-Indian accents were bizarre and I couldn’t believe I made it through an Indian film without a ridiculous dance scene – never mind. Secretly wished it would have been an ‘Unusual Suspects’ ending, and he was cheating all along… no such luck. Decent film, but don’t believe the rave reviews, or that this is the ‘real’ Mumbai. Escapism!