La piel que habito – The Skin I Live In

This is without doubt a Pedro Almodóvar film – it has the recognisable traits of his films (emotionally unstable women, brilliantly atmospheric music, spots of red amid a restrained colour palette), and absolutely attacks the senses.  It will make you laugh, then gasp in amazement in rapid succession.  In other words, if you’re not already an Almodóvar fan, this won’t win you over.

But I am a fan, and I was absolutely enthralled.

The Skin I Live In is nearer in tone to All About My Mother or Broken Embraces than the Women On The Verge of A Nervous Breakdown style of  Almodóvar’s earlier films.  Antonio Banderas, clearly more comfortable and versatile in his native language, is the epitome of reined-in intensity, and should do much more work in Spanish.  He looks darn good, too!

Naturally, there’s a twist in the story, which makes it impossible to really comment on the plot – but it’s a stylish thriller, deftly executed.

One of my top films this year.

Norwegian Wood

Very beautiful, at times achingly sad look at grief, guilt and growing up.

The relatively young cast conveys the rawness of bereavement and the attempt to make sense of loss, and the Japanese setting seemed to complement this with its lush countryside and changeable seasons, and the comparatively colourless images of city life.

You need to be in the mood for this but it’s lovely.

Hereafter

Oh Matt Damon, why do you do this to me?

Every now and again Matt’s artistic judgement seems to completely fail, and this is one of those occasions.

A ridiculous premise (a man has a gift for speaking to dead people) is the first thing wrong.  

Two other storylines don’t weave seamlessly together – the bereaved twin child isn’t cute, engaging or even grieving enough, and the chic French woman isn’t enigmatic but just smug and above all, sulky.  And I mean teenage sulky, not Gallic sulky.

The ending contrives to have them all in the same place at the same time and is insipid, simplistic and pointless.

And shame on you Clint Eastwood for wasting 2 hours of my time.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (pt 2)

In one way I don’t feel like I need to comment on this because Harry Potter is Harry Potter, and you’ll either see this because you’ve seen them all, or you won’t because you’re not bothered.

On the other hand, this is my place for referencing all the films I have seen this year (or at least, since I started the blog) and so it needs a mention.

What I will say is that i enjoyed the film, but I was also left with some unanswered questions at the end, which probably means that I just didn’t understand it (I haven’t read the books).

And although this is the final Potter film, was there just a tiny hint near the end that the war isn’t over?

Beginners

I really wish this film would make its mind up!

One minute Christopher Plummer is embracing life, having come out at the age of 75; the next, Ewan McGregor is wallowing in angst about whether yet another kooky girlfriend will leave him.

Life-affirming stereotypes or emotionless rom-com?

OK, we get it, relationships are risks, you might get hurt, but you’ve got to let people in if you’re not going to die alone.

This was an average film, which would have been so much better if I had actually liked the couple involved.  As it was, I wasn’t bothered about what happened to them.  

In fact the dog, Arthur took no nonsense, had the best lines and stole the show!

Animal Kingdom

If you want to see the on-screen definition of ‘dysfunctional family’, then this will certainly help!

I haven’t seen too many Australian films, but I have yet to see a bad one.  This is another great, tense story, following a young man who is thrust into the criminal activities of his extended family following the death of his mother.

Difficult to comment too much without spoilers, but there were enough unexpected twists and turns to keep me astonished at the thought-processes of the family members.

And as the understated paternalistic cop, Guy Pearce is, as ever, brilliant.