Kristen Stewart

January 13, 2013

Holiday Hangover: Silver Linings Playbook

CRAZY

And I mean that in a good way.  Silver Linings Playbook, besides having one of the strangest titles for a film ever, is probably the CRAZIEST love story I’ve seen since Punch Drunk Love.  From the very beginning, it snatches you up on a manic roller coaster ride of mental disorder, football, ballroom dancing and strangely enough, romance.  And it completely knocked me over.  We’ve had a pretty great year when it comes to great films and great performances.  Silver Linings Playbook has the distinction of possessing both of those traits.

The film is a Matthew Quick novel adaptation from director David O. Russell.  It centers around Bradley Cooper’s character Pat.  A man with a bi-polar disorder who is desperately trying to better himself in order to get back with his estranged wife.  More than that though, it is a film about acceptance.  Whether that be acceptance of one’s fate or acceptance of one’s illness.  Now, this is not slow burn psychological study.  The film is handled much differently.  The pacing of this film is noticeably frenetic.  The veracity really puts you in the head of someone who has bi-polar disorder.  You are immediately thrust into this world with these characters and barely have time to react to each strange fit of rage or absurd situation.  And it is completely captivating to watch.

It must suck to be Bradley Cooper.  Well, not really.  Ladies love him, his films do well, and he seems to be pretty well liked by his peers.  However, he’s just now starting to get recognized and rewarded for his acting ability.  Pretty boy douchebag roles are now being replaced by roles like this on his resume.  He portrays his disorder in such a realistic and grounded way.  A misconception for playing someone with a mental disorder is to do it over the top.  But its actually the subtleties that really sell it.  And while Cooper has his share of over the top outburst, he nails the small moments where his illness tortures him.  For as good as Cooper is, Jennifer Lawrence steals this film from him.  Its a welcome change to see an actress who can do the schlocky youth fueled films like Hunger Games and X-Men, but also have the range to do deeper, meaningful films like this.  YOU HEAR ME KRISTEN STEWART!?!  CLOSE YOUR MOUTH!  Lawrence is amazing, her chemistry with Cooper is magical, and she pretty much eats Robert De Niro’s lunch acting-wise in a climactic scene.  And not a lazy Rocky & Bullwinkle Robert De Niro.  A trying, solid performing Robert De Niro.  I’d hold up the performances by Silver Linings Playbook’s ensemble cast to every film it’ll be nominated against.  Even Django.

David O. Russell is infamous for being a bit of a hard ass to work for.  However, his abilities as a director are unquestionable.  Especially directing films like this.  Films where the main characters are severely flawed.  Realistically flawed.  But still likable characters all the same.  The way he lets his scenes just play out must be catnip for actors.

Silver Linings Playbook might be lost in the CRAZY award season mix because it isn’t as fun or escapist as its competition.  But I think it will stand the test of time because it is well made, well performed and just a feel good movie.  Slap on a DeSean Jackson jersey…put some money on the Eagles…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

September 3, 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman

YAWN

More like SLOW White And The Huntsman…am I right? (Cheap Rimshot)  Sorry.  I’m sorry.  God I really don’t want to lay into this movie.  I really don’t.  The concept, the idea, the attempt to try and make something different inside the cookie cutter constant cliched world of Hollywood should be applauded.  Its hard to find films that have balls anymore.  Films that strive to be unflinchingly different no matter what the studio execs say.  When done right, when left alone, those cojones carrying films shine like a beacon through the forest of monotony.  The reason different, interesting concept films aren’t a plenty in Hollywood is because for every Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, there is a Frank Miller’s The Spirit.  For every Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted there is a Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  Slow…I mean…Snow White And The Huntsman has cojones but just doesn’t know what to do with them.

So what do we got on paper?  Lets take the tale of Snow White and make it a dark and edgy (Sigh…Thanks Nolan) action filled visual masterpiece circa The Lord Of The Rings.  Awesome!  I want to see that.  Lets make it PG-13. Ummm…kinda goes against your desire to make it edgy but…fine.  Lets cast Charlize Theron And Chris Hemsworth in it.  Terrific!  Lets only use them for a tenth of the runtime.  What?  That seems stupid.  You usually want to have your best actors in your movies MORE not less.  Unless you’ve got a really good actress to play Snow White.  Who do you got?  We got Kristen–Bell?  That could be cool.  Veronica Mars.  I like her.  No.  KristenWiig?  She’s a little old for the role.  But at least she’s funny.  No.  Kristen Stewart.  What?  Kristen Stewart.  The Twilight chic?  Yep!  The lip biting Twilight chic?  Yep!  Pumped yet?

I knew all of this going in but still anticipated watching the edgy action filled movie that I was sold on.  And the problem is…the action takes FOREVER to come.  Oh its there, in spurts.  But man, if there weren’t several 25 minutes segments where NOTHING HAPPENS.  A large majority of this film is scenes of Theron gazing into space or Stewart walking through the woods.  If you’re going to promote your film to be this action slash adventure re-imagining, you have to give me some action SLASH adventure.  All that seems to have been accomplished by this re-imagining is making a fairy tale look as dreary as possible.  Its like someone poured black mud over the entire film.  The dreariness seems to bash you over the head to the point where you don’t even recognize ANYTHING that is supposed to be action, adventure, or Snow White.  If that was the point, then the point is stupid.

I only pepped up from my head nodding drowsiness while watching this movie twice. First is when Hemsworth appears.  And that takes a good thirty minutes.  Second was when the dwarves arrive.  Hemsworth and the dwarves are the only source of levity, fun, or entertainment in this entire film.  And as I’ve mentioned before…THEY ARE HARDLY IN IT.  You have the great Ian McShane and Ray Winstone,  the hilarious Nick Frost, the always interesting Toby Jones and the legendary but sadly retired Bob Hoskins and you barely use them?  Instead, you force-feed us Stewart’s STILL NOT CUTE blandness and wooden delivery for two hours.  Stewart’s YAWN inducing acting might have been correctable if the director of the film wasn’t so busy sleeping with her on the set.  Hmmm….Perhaps I’ve gone too far.

Snow White And The Huntsman does have some amazing effects.  The performances from the supporting cast are really good…probably due to the better actors being forced into supporting roles.  Theron does a good wicked queen, which could have been a great wicked queen if the “preoccupied” director asked her to reel it in a little bit.  But at the end of the day, its just boring.  An action film that makes you sleepy IS NOT A GOOD THING.  Snow White And The Huntsman is a swing and a miss that only gives unimaginative Hollywood execs ammunition against films that go against the grain.  And for that, I can not forgive it.  Take a handfull of NoDoze…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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