Part documentary and part film essay, this movie mixes fact and fiction to explore the concept of the teenager, which didn't exist before World War II. It's fascinating to learn how the idea emerged, and how understanding it has fundamentally changed society. But the film remains resolutely superficial in its approach to history, only briefly dipping beneath the surface right at the very end.
Up until the early 20th century, Western society was made up of adults and children, with nothing in between. But child labour laws changed that, giving young people a taste of freedom and responsibility that became even more important during two world wars and the Great Depression. Rebellious attitudes surged in swing music, and even though adults balked at the idea of giving teens any real independence, the New York Times made it official in 1945 with the publication of a Teen-age Bill of Rights.
All of this is informative and interesting, but filmmaker Wolf interweaves the archival movies with footage he has created in a vintage style. And we can tell something isn't quite right: the character profiles are clearly fictionalised, which makes us wonder how much of the movie we can believe. It certainly doesn't help that these fake young people are token figures: a partying British socialite, a young black American, a member of the Hitler Youth. No matter how much they tell us about the times and places, they remain purely artificial creations.
Continue reading: Teenage Review
Jasmine is an aristocratic New York housewife whose luxurious lifestyle and marriage to the wealthy Hal has been snatched away from her leaving her with quite literally nothing but the clothes on her back. She is forced to fly to San Francisco to move in with her sister Ginger whose apartment is well below her usual standards, as is her boyfriend Chili who is equally as resentful of Jasmine. It doesn't take long before Jasmine starts to plummet emotionally and mentally and only just manages to keep herself sane with several handfuls of anti-depressants a day. In a bid to get her life back on track, she takes a job as a dental receptionist while pursuing a career in interior design. Suffering from a serious breakdown, things are looking dark for Jasmine's future, but do things begin to look up when she meets the sophisticated Dwight?
Continue: Blue Jasmine Trailer
You could argue that this film is all lurid style over substance, but there's actually a lot going on behind the stunningly gorgeous imagery. Korean director Park (Oldboy) beings his lavish visual approach to this Hitchcockian story about a family infiltrated by a predator. Packed with references to iconic movies and books, the film is heightened and deranged, and its intense moodiness gets under the skin.
It centres on 18-year-old India Stoker (Wasikowska), distraught after the death of her beloved father (Mulroney). Without him to soften her, she's also even angrier than usual at her needy mother Evie (Kidman). Then the charming, handsome Uncle Charlie (Goode) turns up at the funeral and moves in to help them grieve. Actually he seems to be trying to seduce Evie, who is flattered by his attention. But the housekeeper (Somerville) and an auntie (Weaver) don't stick around long enough to see what's really going on, and it becomes clear that Charlie actually has his sights set on India.
Both the script and the direction continually echo familiar literary and cinematic icons, from the family's name to the Shakespearean family plot to the prowling interloper (see Robert Mitchum in the 1950s classic The Night of the Hunter). Director Park's camera prowls through the house like a ghost, catching tiny details in every lushly designed scene while finding all kinds of shadings in the performances. Wasikowska is terrific as the sensitive, rather cruel young woman at the centre of the storm, while Kidman steals her scenes with a haunted, conflicted performance. Between them, Goode is almost painfully seductive. And clearly dangerous.
Continue reading: Stoker Review
While this package has all of the key marketing elements to reach the Twilight audience, the film itself is rather a lot more fun, made with some wit and intelligence, plus a cast that's happy to chomp on the scenery. Based on a four-novel series, this film actually has more in common with True Blood than Twilight, with its Deep South setting and the clash between religious fundamentalism and supernatural beings.
At the centre is Ethan (Ehrehreich), a 16-year-old who is bristling against the isolation of his small South Carolina town. His recently deceased mother instilled in him a love of books banned by the town's hyper-religious leaders, and the local librarian Amma (Davis) helps keep his interest alive. As a result, he's more open than the other teens when Lena (Englert) arrives at school. But she's shunned because her Uncle Macon (Irons) is the town's pariah, a landowner whom everyone thinks is a devil worshipper. Actually, the whole family are casters, people with special powers that are designated good or evil on their 16th birthday.
The plot stirs up some suspense as Lena's big day of reckoning approaches. She's terrified that she'll go over to the dark side like her man-eating cousin (Rossum) or, worse still, her spectral mother, who does her mischief by inhabiting the body of the town's most pious housewife Mrs Lincoln (Thompson). This of course gives Thompson two insane characters to play at the same time, and she has a ball with it. As does Irons with the shadowy, snaky Macon. And at the centre, Ehrenreich and Englert both show considerable promise, with their strikingly non-Hollywood good looks and a depth of character that makes the film more engaging than we expect.
Continue reading: Beautiful Creatures Review
The Oscar race was thrown into a spin last weekend by two guilds, professional groups that make movies and vote for the Academy Awards. First, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) gave its Best Picture award to Ben Affleck's Argo, a surprise because Affleck isn't even nominated for a directing Oscar. Then the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) named Argo for Best Ensemble, which is considered their Best Picture prize. Films only rarely win the Best Picture Oscar if their director isn't nominated. But Affleck is nominated for a Directors Guild of America (DGA) award on Saturday, which will no doubt further muddy the waters leading to Bafta night February 10th and the Oscars two weeks later.
Meanwhile, Oscar contenders dominate the box office, with Les Miserables, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty in the Top 10 both in America and Britain. In addition, Life of Pi and Lincoln are in the UK chart, while Silver Linings Playbook is holding firm in the US. These are the most money-making Best Picture nominees in years.
Actor Zoey Deutch, Alden Ehrenreich, Author Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - Actor Zoey Deutch, Alden Ehrenreich, Author Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Saturday 17th November 2012 attend the signing of 'Beautiful Creatures' at the 2012 Miami Book Fair International at Miami Dade College Wolfson campus