Friday, July 8, 2011

From the archives: March 2008

This was when I knew that Amy Adams would be a major, major star.

I missed her Academy Award-nominated performance in 2005's Junebug the first time around; the film simply didn't get much distribution. Nor, through any fault of her own, was she able to stand out among the lesser ensemble in her pair of 2006 comedies, The Ex and Talladega Night: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Ah, but 2007's Enchanted was something else again.

That entire film was a tightrope act, and a single misstep would have destroyed the credibility of its premise: that classic Disney-esque fairy tale characters had invaded our real world. But Adams held that film together like a pro, and she made the magic work.

Okay, fair enough; now she was somebody to watch.

Then came Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Goodness, what a charmer.

And that word can be applied to both Adams' performance, and the film as a whole. Hollywood frequently tries to recapture the saucy energy of 1940s comedies, with little success; this one's a winner in every respect. Indeed, it also channels the mildly naughty pre-Code 1930s flicks that found inventive methods of dealing with male/female sexual dynamics: scandalous at the time, deliciously quaint from this great remove. Miss Pettigrew nails every come-hither gaze, every innocent innuendo. The result is wonderfully beguiling, thanks also to a great cast led by Adams and Frances McDormand. This is a film for the ages.

This month also brought us (finally!) The Band's Visit, Israel's submission for the previous year's Foreign Film Academy Award. Whimsical and wise by turns, Eran Kolirin's engaging little drama suggests that many of the world's problems might vanish, if only we could come together through music. Not a novel concept, to be sure, but it's well utilized here.

Dr. Seuss was well served by Blue Sky Studios' big-screen adaptation of Horton Hears a Who: no surprise, I guess, considering that we're talking about the talented crew behind the Ice Age franchise. This one benefits from great voice casting, a droll script and a richly colored canvas that feels like a Dr. Seuss book brought to life. Fun for all ages.

As for the rest of the month ... not such a much. Will Ferrell unleashed one of his worst efforts yet (and mind you, that's saying quite a lot), and not even grand special effects could save a pallid prehistoric saga that desperately needed a dinosaur or two. A fascinating real-world Las Vegas card-counting saga turned into a silly melodrama, and the genuine tragedy of today's U.S. military personnel forced to re-enlist beyond their anticipated terms of service was trivialized by a bone-stupid farce that appeared to have been directed by MTV rock video impresarios.

Heck, even the new IMAX documentary was too preachy to be entertaining.

Step into the Wayback Machine, and check 'em out:

The Band's Visit

Grand Canyon

Horton Hears a Who

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day


Stop Loss

10,000 B.C.


No comments:

Post a Comment