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Tag Archives: dir Jason Reitman

Labor Day

Labor Day film posterSynopsis

Kate Winslet is a lone mother with her son.  She seems to be suffering from agrophobia, she can’t get out of the house confidently.  Her son Henry (Gattlin Griffin) takes her to the supermarket where Josh Brolin (playing Frank) kidnaps the pair and force them to take him home.  He’s a fugitive from jail and they must harbour him.  Eventually Winslet and Brolin build up trust then love, but they must leave so as to get away from neighbours and police.  They pack up for Canada, will they get away?

Review

The critics have been dismissive about this and one can see why, it’s all rather hokey and unrealistic.  This guy is too good to be true, he fixes things around the house, he is a good nurse to a visiting disabled boy.  In one scene it’s all hilariously reminiscent of that clay pot making episode with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost.  This time Brolin teaches Winslet how to make a peach pie, and what he does with the peaches is as ambitiously sensual as what Swayze did with the clay.  Okay, so it’s all what might be some women’s fantasy: the strong capable guy around the house.  There are erotic nuances except the business of masterfully doing what needs to be done.  The boy is initially hostile but is won over by their domestic bliss.  In spite of this, I did quite like the film because it’s closer to the spirit of David Janssen’s Fugitive TV series from the 60s, than the Harrison Ford Fugitive film is.  I’m a fan of Janssen’s fugitive who was essentially a Christlike figure: wrongfully accused of murdering his wife and leading often corrupt and wicked ‘law abiding’ folk on the right path.  In each episode the innocent Richard Kimble is on the run and has to  battle betrayal to the pursuing law enforcer Gerard.  Brolin’s fugitive is similarly a strong decent guy whose misfortunes expose the shortcomings of others.  His behaviour has the tense rationality of the cornered decency.  There is nothing superfluous in the plot and Winslet is good at tightly controlling the emotional turmoil, she could have been hammy but she isn’t.  Hers and Brolin’s is a happy partnership, unlike her disastrous marriage with Leonardro di Caprio in Revolutionary Road.  It’s the unpromising start that blossoms into love.  Sentimental but quite watchable..

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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in At the cinema, Film Reviews

 

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Young Adult

Young Adult posterSynopsis

This film, produced by Juno director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, stars Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary who was a prom queen at her school in Mercury, Minnesota.  Twenty years on she is a writer of children’s books.  She is a divorcee, an alcoholic, and she pulls hair out of her head.  She meets up with a former student, Matt Freehauf played by Patton Oswalt, who’d been beaten up on the mistaken assumption that he was gay.  He is the plump nerd who worships the prom queen.  Theron’s scheme is to win back her former boyfriend Buddy, played by Patrick Wilson.  He is happily married and has a child.  Theron causes embarrassment at the christening…

Criticism

This is about the potentially hazardous business of the nostalgic return to earlier life.  Theron is dissatisfied with her situation and she wants a triumph, to snatch her ex-boyfriend from his wife.  She is so confident of her ability to do that, one is persuaded that arrogance and vanity are beside the point, it’s something that has to happen.  Theron’s cheekbones don’t seem that high, so it’s the nose and eyes, right?  She treats (plump nerd) with polite disdain, then a sort of friendliness as she learns what happened to him.  This film spurns the chance to be a direct comedy of manners, it lacks wit and perception.  Theron should be the charismatic gang leader and trend setter who everybody wants to be with, the sort of superbitch whose jokes everyone laughs at, and whose cruelty everyone wants to preen themselves on her reflected glory, but here she’s a psychological accident zone and ends up looking petulantly sad.  Apart from the amiable Patrick Wilson, you wouldn’t want to spend too much time with any of these people, they are stuck in a provincial rut and don’t care to leave it.  Minneapolis is the big city they dream of.

When a person returns to their alma mater, what can happen is either embarrassment, revenge, expiation, or appeasement.  Ironically, the embarrassment comes from the ex-prom queen but the characters whose lives are mundane, see no reason to apologise for anything.  Revenge is a non starter since no-one has done her any harm.  Expiation is not in order, though Theron should apologise for her behaviour.  Appeasement is unnecessary since there are no outstanding concerns.  Theron presumably blames Wilson for not guaranteeing her present happiness, but was he expected to wait?  There don’t seem to be any Sliding Door moments in this film, no painful entering into a fateful decision.  It’s all well enough acted but there’s the feeling of a missed opportunity.

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in At the cinema, Film Reviews

 

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