July 2, 2012
D: Ridley Scott. DP: Dariusz Wolski. W: Damon Lindelof & Jon Spaihts. Starring: Noomi Raplace/Michael Fassbender/Charlize Theron/Idris Elba/ Guy Pearce/Logan Marshall-Green/Sean Harris/Rafe Spall/Benedict Wong/Kate Dickie.
With a film like this it is hard to know where to begin unpacking. Highly anticiapted and theorized about, Prometheus marks Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien stories. Originally conceptualized as a prequel to his illustrious Alien (1979), with Sigourney Weaver, Prometheus was then reworked as more of an exploratory origin story. If you even can call it that. Rather, I would say, the film attempts to put into perspective questions the previous films brought up. It creates a new story that enlarges the original scope, while closing in on specific themes. Ultimately, the film will remind audiences that oftentimes there aren’t direct answers to the questions we seek to answer…or are there?
Firstly, the film must be applauded for its visual achievements. It was worth wearing the 3D glasses for the opening sequence alone, which not only was pure beauty, but set the tone of how massive a story would be tacked. The beauty is not limited to just the sets, but to the costume and make-up work. Without spoiling anything, it is safe to say audiences will stay impressed throughout the whole film with the level of artistic work put into everything. Prometheus is truly a cinematic experience.
Similar to the previous Alien films, life and society on board the ship is just as integral to the story as what is found off of it. Thankfully this film is well balanced between the two worlds. Although not your typical leading Hollywood lady, Noomi Raplace’s Elizabeth Shaw is believable and memorable. Hailing from the original Swedish versions of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, Raplace is every bit Weaver’s Ripley’s opposite. This works in her advantage as she appears in direct contrast to statuesque ice queen, Charlize Theron, whose company is paying for the expedition. But also, her physicality aids in her character’s determination to explore and discover her own origin as it reflects that of mankind. Michael Fassbender’s robot David nearly steals the show. Which at times truly helps the film as Theron and even Logan Marshall-Green’s Charlie can get a little heavy handed.
What remains heavy handed, in a good way, is Scott’s clear sense of suspense and mood. Prometheus, much like his original Alien, is like one big gear. It needs a certain amount time to heat up and gain momentum, but once its warmed up there’s no stopping it. For someone unfamiliar with these films it might seem slow, but for anyone “in that world” so to speak, it takes off at just the right time. Yet, very similarly to Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), I felt at times I was plopped into the middle of a story that had so many tangents to it, it was hard to stay focused.
Lastly, on a personal note, I did not enter the cinema thinking I’d have all the answers laid out in front of me. But that does not mean there weren’t still moments of frustration. However, overall I feel Prometheus is a platform. The film expects its audience to take a huge leap off into the unknown. So rather then get frustrated, I enjoyed the fall. And quickly went off to chat about all the details I could not write about here, as you should do as well.
December 14, 2011
D: David Cronenberg. DP: Peter Suschitzky. W: Christopher Hampton (Based on his play “The Talking Cure,” which was inspired by John Kerr’s book “A Most Dangerous Method.”) Starring: Kiera Knightley/Michael Fassbender/Viggo Mortensen/Vincent Cassel/Sarah Gadon.
As the race to the Oscars commences film buffs everywhere are grinning ear to ear for their favorite season that is ripe with quality films. It is the season of drama everywhere and first on my list was A Dangerous Method.
Following the relationship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortenson) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) during the development of psychoanalysis, A Dangerous Method is ultimately about Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Spielrein was a patient of Jung’s, the first patient for him to use psychoanalysis with and to garner a good result. It is safe to say that right from the opening Knightley steals the film. Her part is not only the most challenging physically and has her sport a very convincing Russian accent, but the major story arc and character development lies with her. This is her best performance yet and is one of the major reasons to try and see this film.
It is hard to conceive of the film without Mortensen. The original Freud was to be played by Christoph Waltz who is an amazing actor, but quite different in his physicality. Having dropped out to film Water for Elephants, Waltz’s departure allowed Mortensen to step in. Mortensen’s Freud, with his consistent puffs on his cigars and deep voice provide an excellent foil to the excitability and fever of Fassbender’s Jung. Their professional clashes and tensions are chronicled very well, though much of it remains very subtle. Fassbender does well here, but who would expect him not to.
Christopher Hampton, also responsible for writing the 2007 adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement and won an Oscar for 1988′s Dangerous Liaisons, has impressive credits that without having written the original play material would have made a fine screenwriter choice for this project. What Hampton achieves here is a depth of understanding in his material and a devotion to character that thankfully survives in the cinematic form of his work. One of the few problems is the lack of climax of conflict in the film. Since the screenplay is so dense with speech, and it has to be as it is a film about psychoanalysis, sometimes the cinema form is not used to the fullest extent. So although it is beautifully shot by Peter Suschitzky, as an audience member one feels like you are constantly waiting for a larger clash that never comes. What is so dangerous about the psychoanalytical method? For modern audiences that should have been put in a larger social and political context in my opinion.
That being said, director David Cronenberg’s seems to be tackling the diligence in psychiatry and the silence that psychoanalysis attempted to break. The smaller scope of the film allows it to feel more realistic and hopefully with encourage its audience to focus and listen to the film. However, the performances will probably end up being more memorable than the film as a whole. Ultimately my advice for A Dangerous Method is to listen. And listen closely because you just might be reminded how we all could use a little psychoanalysis in our lives.
March 9, 2011
X-Men: First Class