I saw a few movies over the Christmas New Year time. I've been meaning to do justice to them but in the end have failed. I don't want to forget about them entirely though, so here are some bare notes, to jog my memory one day:
The Dressmaker - To start with I was entranced by an impression that the film captured a mood that was rural Australia and could not be anywhere else. Then I became interested in the garments being made andirons also became reasonably absorbed or amused by the grotesque characters. Unfortunately, about halfway through there is a peculiar gear shift and the film stops being a sort of sub-Baz Luhrman vividly coloured entertaining pantomime and takes on a Grand Guignol tone that I couldn't get used to, particularly as there seemed to be a shift in how we were supposed to regard certain characters, without any explanation about how they had transformed from fairly sympathetic to hostile. Kate Winslett is good. I thought Judy Davis over played her hand and sort of played someone self-consciously playing slapstick rather than really inhabiting the role. If I'd walked out before the silo came into the picture, I'd have liked the thing better. Anyone who remembers Charlie Cousins in Bellbird will know that no good can come from the appearance of a silo in an Australian work of fiction, but the plot twist this one brought was more than I could bear.
Joy - many very funny moments, (I especially loved Isabella Rosellini) but far too long
The Gift - lots of points in the plot you could pick apart but quite a nice little thriller. Rebecca Hall better than I've ever seen her. Worrying treatment of the female as vulnerable object, I thought
The Visit - not bad if you like M Night Shyamalan's particular way of building up a mystery, which I do even when his plots are s weak you ca see what's going on within ten minutes of the film's start. In that respect, this is better than the last couple of his that I've seen and a fairly terrifying oncept tht resonates laer.. I particularly like the child actor who played the little boy who likes doing rather bad rap
Youth - intriguing but the character who was a director who couldn't think of an ending for his film may have been too close to the character of the director himself, as the film fizzles out quite badly. Also not sure a practitioner of one art form should include someone supposedly successful in another art form if he doesn't know about that other art form - the music Michael Caine'a composer character composes sounded pretty second rate to me and yet he is supposedly splendidly successful. All the same, lots of wonderful images. Intriguing that this is another film set in an old Austro Hungarian hotel now rather faded in its splendour. Must watch 8&1/2 Weeks again as supposedly this film is some kind of homage to it. Certainly it had the attractive dream quality of a Fellini film and lots of nice images, but it rambled and didn't leave me entranced. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing it again - or I wouldn't if I could cut off about the last half hour.
Also noted - Cold Souls, which unfortunately expired on Mubi before I finished it - but what a funny and strange film. I must try to find a copy somewhere else. It is very intriguing