A Variety article announces that Dreamworks is remaking Rebecca. There have been many adaptations of the Daphne DuMaurier novel, the most famous of course being Reese Witherspoon’s favourite movie directed by her favourite director Alfred Hitchcock. If you don’t get the Resse reference, it’s because you weren’t stupid enough to have seen This Means War. This re-adaptation also means that this is the girliest thing Steven Spileberg has ever touched second to “Smash.” Anyway, and despite my questions about such a homophobic movie being remade, or how Walter Hollman has had farts better than my casting posts, let’s begin!
MAXIM DE WINTER – Originally played by Sir Laurence Olivier. My Choice: Michael Fassbender. What? I just want the Jane Eyre crew together. I’d even want Judi Dench to play the Florence Bates role. My second choice would be Orlando Bloom who theoretically would bring in the young female fan base. But seriously Bloom has turned down so many roles from the Dominic Cooper Role in An Education to the Aaron Johnston role in Albert Nobbs. And I know this is just a fantasy list but I still want someone who will actually show up.
THE SECOND MRS. DE WINTER – I mean we’re never going to find someone as glowingly beautiful as Joan Fontaine. Stars before her looked like Betty Boop and the ones after her, even ones more elegant like Grace Kelly, were sun-kissed girls. She hasn’t come out in public since the 80’s but during Rebecca she was blond and alabaster. Infuriatingly lily white yet incomparable. Without considering tanned beach regulars of contemporary Hollywood, my main choice is either ones who look too mousy or one who might grow up too fast (and yes, I resent this girl for being just six months older than me and I know someone who knows something about her that’s not embarrassing yet I can’t print here). I choose beauty over age. I choose Sarah Gadon.
MRS. DANVERS – Originally played by: Dame Judith Anderson. A picture is worth a thousand words. My ‘research’ has already shown me that more American actresses – of difference races to boot – can do this faster than their British or Australian counterparts do. I can also just put up Helena Bonham Carter or Charlotte Gainsbourg who has proven themselves to be able to play matronly. But of course this exercise is about new perspectives so let’s give Olivia Williams, still beautiful yet still beautifully evil in The Ghost Writer, this chance.
JACK FAVELL – Originally played by: George Sanders. British actors of the late 1930’s had smarmy gravitas in their early thirties while actors of the same age these days still look like they came out of a dorm room’s uterus. I almost put Fassbender to fill Favell’s shoes so that someone like, as I previously said, Bloom or pretty boys like Cillian Murphy to take the de Winter role. But then I remembered a man who has given us four and a half years of creepy hot yet play the most human role Sanders has ever played: Benedict Cumberbatch.
MRS. EDYTHE VAN HOPPER – Originally played by Florence Bates. But can she be funny? It’s really the only requirement, as the role and the actress who plays her are somewhat on lower billing. She’s a memorable Hitchcockian caricature like all Hitch caricatures are. But how about actresses today. How about someone humble enough to play bit parts yet have won an Oscar for playing someone who talks too loud in restaurants and make a really bad first impression as well as receive bad first impressions of others? My Choice: Emma Thompson.
This is a blog post equivalent of Febulights, where I talk about a movie about the emotionally draining festival weeks after the fact. And this isn’t even about Christmas or a non-Christian holiday that also coincides with it. Why can’t the channel I tuned into broadcast one about the Maccabean revolt? I’m sure there’s many of those. Instead, we get the pre-Shrek Dreamworks offering called The Prince of Egypt. It’s a curious title that also hints at the complexities within the Biblical hero, Moses (Val Kilmer) who also happens to be the adopted brother of slave driving Pharaoh Ramses II (Ralph Fiennes). Fiennes lends his voice to a villain contending against the laws of nature, the latter of which is a force powered by good. Ramses also wears a lot of make-up and campy costumes and is sexually and species ambiguous like every other Fiennes character. Anyway, they still have contend with their relationship despite of the ethnic division wedged between them. Ramses is still in close contact with Moses, allowing the latter in his son’s wake, a sign of compassion from both ends. But Moses’ presence is still a reminder of the transaction that must take place in order for his kind of racist God to stop ravaging Ramses’ country.
There are some conventionally sub par parts in the animation like how hair, as beautiful as it looks, is fashioned in clumps as opposed to of strands. How gold looks more yellow. When light or fire comes out of the sky, which looks awesome yet artificial. Speaking of artificial, how about when it’s trying to replicate camera movement? The same artificiality also affects the scene with the parting of the Red Sea, looking like a tenth grade computer assignment. However, that part redeems itself when we see silhouettes of a whale trapped in the water while the Israelites pass through, showing us what they would have seen in this moment. It doesn’t distinguish itself from Disney although Disney movies will almost never have a predominantly dark-skinned characters and will never have Jewish protagonists. There are some new touches like recognizing Orion or how objects touch light or vice versa. But I mainly like how old school the movie looks, where the rocks or buildings are rugged on the foreground but looking painterly as they recede. Or during the Exodus when the Israelites, their carts and tents placed within the picture through brushstrokes. This movie also features the greatest looking eyes ever.
I will always remember this movie for how Moses has more sexual chemistry with his sister Mariam (Sandra Bullock) than with his taller and skinnier wife Tzipporah (Michelle Pfeiffer). The way their big eyes look at each other with the almost sighing expression, different from my experiences of friendly enmity that I see in other siblings. They are estranged and there have been other examples in other movies where people in that situation have the same reaction towards each other or more. Although personally I like the simpler looking Mariam better, Tzipporah looking too glamorous for me, even though her jewellery is a sign of class division within the enslaved Israelites. I don’t know what that says about my preferences about but enough about that.
And because this is an animated musical, Moses and the crew sing a song after being victorious against Ramses. Mariam and Tzipporah sing ‘When You Believe, made more famous by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, who are not the singing voices in the movie. The real character voices sing an octave higher than, what I imagine, the A-list actors would sound like. It’s not necessarily frustration and animation companies, under the veil of their drawn creations as opposed to real actors and sets, can hire as many people as they like to play a character. At the same, I never bought the ‘we chose a different singing voice to fit the character’ argument, even when MGM musicals of yore used the same justification. If they could express emotion through speaking, they can and should be able to do the same in music, and vice versa. I still want to know what Bullock and Pfeiffer’s voices sound like.
The movie ends with Moses with the Ten Commandments, bypassing the Golden Calf section because that scene would have soured the movie’s mood.
I’m not even properly doing this list, while just writing about the first ten awesome films off the top of my head. [ETA: Because of distribution randomness, movies like The Conspirator won’t come out so I can’t really make a proper list until April this year. Nonetheless, here I am.]
I wanna commend the naturalism of Noah Baumbach‘s latest film Greenberg. I’m not sure if I can really call this mumblecore because I feel the emotions are just as explosive as it would in a typical drama. The characters of this film underact their deliveries of empty threats and misunderstandings, but they have to come back together eventually.
It wasn’t until now that I realized that I am Love echoes Hitchcock in portraying quiet eroticism, obsession and guilt within the elegant trophy wife Emma Recchi (Tilda Swinton). The editing is snappy yet buttery from, for example, close-ups of nature scenes to close-ups of Emma’s body perfectly captures the impressionistic waves of her emotions.
The obligatory animated film spot goes to How to Train Your Dragon, again, with its rousing music score that helps portray the fantasy within Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) as he befriends a slick dragon. It’s interesting to see an animated film convey such human intimacy and freedom, its modest ambitions captivating its audiences.
A tidbit in this month’s GQ described Inception as a heist version of an Alain Resnais film, and my love for this film makes sense by reading that. The film’s intricate structure messes with your head without seeming deranged. It’s an enveloping experience combining narrative, visuals and sound. Most importantly, it’s got style.
Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a marvelous achievement in editing that translates the comic book into film. I really felt like I was flipping through the book itself. The eye-popping graphics are also lovely, making the film an esoteric experience, going hand in hand with Scott Pilgrim’s (Michael Cera)’s energy level, kicking ass.
I’ve referred to the influences that Meek’s Cutoff, illuminating its audiences with colour while presenting the Oregon Trail’s dangers in quietness. Director Kelly Reichardt shows how much she’s mastered the art of composition, where every skirted, persevering woman or tree or rock looks like artwork. I can’t wait to get the film’s DVD to screencap it.
As I’ve said in my review of this film, I’ve given mercy fives but the one movie that truly blew me away this TIFF is Confessions, which, as I’ve said earlier, is a mixture of elegy and revenge as a genre. It also exposes a society where children do the unthinkable. people don’t stop learning but don’t evolve as mature human beings neither.
Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone takes us with the tough Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) go head to head with her enemies who just happen to be on her extended family, like her uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes) and the matriarch (Dale Dickey). Despite the survivalist and drug-addled reputation it may give, this haunting tale put the Ozarks on the map.
I probably like The King’s Speech mostly for the quotes. Does anyone else think that the future King George VI’s (Colin Firth) words as adorable? Obviously the story about him and his unlikely mirror, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), both of whom show their inadequacies and hurdles. People who call this ‘Oscar bait’ are amateurs.
Another Oscar bait ‘guilty pleasure’ is The Fighter, a movie capturing the rustic, rupturing cadence of a working class family in Lowell Massachusets as they stick to their own mythologies through boxer and comeback hero Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). This movie has a male protagonist surrounded by strong women and is the definition of the ensemble cast.
- Top Ten Movies of 2010 — Aaron Peck Edition (seattlepi.com)
The first time I realized I was watching a great movie in “How To Train Your Dragon” is when Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) finally finds his captive dragon, Toothless, for the first time. Toothless is a Night Fury with sleek black surface like a car, puppy cute with large eyes, but skinny little Hiccup is afraid nonetheless. The film shows the dragon up close, its scales individually glinting from some imagined light source. The animators at Dreamworks really got texture and put that into the movie, specifically in the way it worked on the design of the anthropomorphic dragon as well as the fur and the hair that the Viking characters were wearing. To remind you guys, this is in 2D and is just as effective. If only they got fire and clouds and human skin just as perfectly, but you know, uncanny valley.
This ‘close-up’ of the dragon makes it seem like the movie uses not animation but a camera. The first scene breezily floats towards Berk, finds Hiccup, follows him until he runs into the muscular Stoick (Gerard Butler), whom we’ll find out as Hiccup’s father. Then we’re back at learning Hiccup trying to get away from his boss, Gobber (Craig Ferguson). He does and unintentionally makes more trouble for the small town. The films needles in and out of the town in sweeping strokes, in sync with the action happening onscreen. I tried to keep telling myself that it’s only animation, but it makes the audience feel like an expensive epic battle scene with ambitious long takes. The scene is a study of colour too, the peaceful blues of the evening sky and the ocean being fought off by the orange-coloured fire and the brown fur vests and hair.
It also has one of the most rousing musical scores I’ve heard in a while. The funny thing is that the music is a bit militaristic (thankfully with full violins, flutes and some choral work and minimal drums and percussion. I’m thinking I heard bagpipes too, but it might just be because of the distracting Scottish accents). John Powell (Shrek, The Bourne Series) uses the militaristic music in depicting a child, playing with pet dragon, feeling free, discovering something new and human within Toothless. The feelings that the score evokes, the turning point when both Hiccup and Toothless turn doubt into trust. It’s infectious.
Gerry Butler’s also good in this movie too. It’s like Clooney in “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Butler immerses himself into the character and his looks don’t get into the way. I can’t wait for time to pass by and for him to get away from hot shitty romantic comedies and get more into parental roles. Baruchel’s voice needs to be less monotone monotone voice, but that’s a little gripe compared to the wonders of the rest of the movie.
And if Stoick asked for the well-being of his son instead of being mad at him for causing trouble and unintentionally releasing all the captive dragons. But not all movie parents are perfect, and letting the dragons go with the village’s food is a pretty bad thing to do. But at least it’s more succinct and more effective than “Avatar.”
p.s. I saw Martina. This is her review that actually explains the plot better than mine.