1. Orphan - So, with the marketing around this film focusing on "There is something wrong with Esther" I spent the entire film trying to figure it out - only to be shocked at what is actually "wrong" with her. I have to admit it was definitely a twist ending that I could have never guessed, which is quite an impressive feat. However, it didn't make the movie good. It has been compared to The Good Son, which is a great film about an evil child, but I don't feel like it was quite as intense. It was a decent horror film, it had all of the right creepy elements - yet somehow never reached "horror" status and it was a little slow moving. The acting was superb as I expected, especially Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther (it was a very difficult role to play). The biggest thing that I didn't like was Peter Sarsgaards character - he was very linear and one-sided and frankly- an idiot.
2. Whatever Works - This is the Woody Allen that I remember. This is his pretentious and unamusing 90's work that I found irritating and overbearing. This is the Woody Allen that I can't stand. I hope that this Woody Allen disappears from film making forever! I have also never been a Larry David fan (although I have never seen Curb Your Enthusiasm, I have watched plenty of Seinfeld episodes to know that I am not a fan). Right from the beginning I knew I was going to hate this film, with Larry David talking into the camera with his pretentious curmudgeon shtick. Then the film got even worse when Evan Rachel Wood appears as a naive vagrant with an awful southern accent. The film is not a love story, instead it is a story of an old man (a native New Yorker) emotionally abusing a vapid, bright-eyed girl new to the city. It stereotypes New Yorkers as superior and corrupting, while southerners are ignorant and uncultured (and apparently love to wear scrunchies). What decade is Allen living in? The film could have easily been about 2 complicated people divided by culture, age and status finding love in the uncommon - instead it was a complete mess of a film. There are so many things wrong with this film, but I will narrow it down to three: 1. It wasn't remotely funny. 2. It lacked any sort of chemistry between the two main characters. 3. It didn't even feel like it was set in NY, it was all too "staged".
3. The Merry Gentleman - I enjoyed this film, although a little slow moving - I think it was a great character study about two very emotionally guarded people. I am impressed with Michael Keatons directorial debut - he did a great job at creating a film about complicated and realistic relationships. The story revolves around an abused woman who decides to flee her life and start over. She struggles with keeping her past behind her while avoiding drama and keeping to herself especially when she is witness to a murder. She connects with a hit-man who is also struggling (with the fact that he kills people for a living...). Kelly Macdonald continues to be delightful and I hate seeing Bobby Cannavale as a bad guy (only because he did it too well...). The only thing that I didn't like about the film is that it pretty much sends the message that you shouldn't trust men (the three men that she involves herself with -her abusive boyfriend, a cop and a hit man are all liars). I think it sends the wrong message to women who are in abusive relationships.
4. The Soloist - Robert Downey Jr. has been one of my favorite actors ever since I was 12 and Hearts and Souls was released. I have never seen him in a bad performance and he continues to shine in this film. I am not so impressed with Director Joe Wright's body of work (Atonement was absolutely perfect for the first hour, but then it lost its steam and became almost unbearable to watch - saved by James McAvoy). I found The Soloist to be very pompous really - does Wright think he is enlightening his simple-minded audience about the plight of the homeless population of L.A? Because that is exactly what it felt like. I hated Downey's inner monologue and found it distracting and the story could be a little more cohesive. It is a shame that this film had no real emotional depth because the trailer was incredibly affecting - I almost teared up the first time I saw it. On a side note - I don't really like Jamie Foxx, although I have no particular reason that I can think of.
5. Obsessed - Dear Beyonce, Please stop pretending that you are an actress. You are an incredible singer/dancer/performer - lets just keep it at that. I can't really say I am a fan of this film. It was exactly what I was expecting, except I think it could have been more thrilling and suspenseful. I don't tend to like films that portray women as jealous, male-obsessed sociopaths (as both females were portrayed in this film). I do like Idris Elba and am happy that he is finding success in films (was everyone else as sad as I was when Stringer Bell was killed on The Wire?)