Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
January 7, 2013
Kim Hollis: What movies have you seen lately and what are your thoughts on them?
Edwin Davies: I've been watching some of the heavy hitters that have just started appearing in theaters and catching up on ones that I missed earlier, including:
Arbitrage - Very solidly made thriller that I knew next to nothing about, and as such was pleasantly surprised by. Richard Gere is great as a hedge fund manager who spends the entire film desperately trying to keep his various misdeeds hidden, and the strength of the story lies in the way in which it slowly tightens the rope around Gere's neck whilst always giving him that brief glimpse of hope. By no means groundbreaking, but it's a good story told well.
The Sessions - Admirable for its frankness regarding sex and boasting two very engaging leads, but it's ultimately quite dull. It's pretty much formless from a narrative perspective, which means that it relies too heavily on its leads to make up what is lacking in the writing and directing. It also looks like a made-for-TV movie, which doesn't help. The adulation for it has me perplexed, to say the least.
Samsara - Non-narrative documentary by Ron Fricke, who was one of the key figures behind Koyaanisqatsi, which should tell you more or less everything you need to know. Constructed from footage shot over five years and in locations across the road, Fricke combines images of animals and humanity, life and death, technology and nature in ways which are surprising and often amazing. It's a 90 minute montage of sights and sounds that is hypnotic and engrossing, and like Koyaanisqatsi it manages to be both visually dazzling and meditative without being just eye candy or impenetrable. Really wonderful.
Flight - A very good drama elevated by a stunning opening sequence and a great performance by Denzel Washington that nicely plays on his natural charisma whilst pushing its limits. I think his performance will be remembered as one of the great depictions of alcoholism, even if the rest of the film isn't quite up to the quality of his central turn.
Lincoln - Admittedly I am very much a Spielberg devotee - heck, I loved War Horse - but I thought this was pretty wonderful. Funny, insightful, really well written and engaging without ever feeling self-important. I really admired its keen focus on just the last four months of Lincoln's life, using his greatest political triumph as a way to illuminate what he was like as a leader and as a person. Daniel Day-Lewis is the main talking point when it comes to the performances, but it's got such a deep bench of great, great actors that it doesn't fall into the trap of being a showcase. Even at two and a half hours, I wanted more. The only quibble I had with it was the slight treatment of the relationship between Lincoln and his son, Robert. It felt a little perfunctory, like it had been included less for historical or dramatic reasons than because Spielberg loves his father-son dynamics. Other than that, though, I thought it was great.