Since I tend to consistently keep up to date with the latest movies in filmland, I will begin 2012 with weekly movie reviews that will likely be posted every Sunday, usually in the evening. I will not go into any depth for each film, but will just offer my impressions and a traditional rating of up to five stars. I will also offer additional links for each movie for those who may be interested in knowing more about the film, such as the official site, IMDB page and the trailer. Reviewed each week will be those films which I saw over the previous week.
Since writing my post last week for my favorite movies of 2011, I had the opportunity to view two other movies from 2011 that I did not see on time (A Dangerous Method; My Week With Marilyn) and my first look at a film from 2012 (The Devil Inside).
1. A Dangerous Method (2011)
Story: A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.
Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen
Review: This movie captures a brief historical segment of the birth of psychoanalysis in a beautiful way. From what I know it accurately depicts the conflicts between the rigid scientism of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and his student Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) who was more open to the mysticism behind certain human experiences. Added to these tensions is how these men responded to a Russian mental patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), and how she may have influenced the two. In fact, her conception of the sexual drive as containing both an instinct of destruction and an instinct of transformation, presented to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1912, anticipates both Freud's "death drive" and Jung's views on "transformation". In the eve of World War I the world was transforming both intellectually and sexually and this movie captures a glimpse of that story. The acting between the three stars of the film is superb, and as I stated in my reviews of the top ten movies of 2011 elsewhere, Michael Fassbender should get the best male actor of 2011 award for his three great performances. Any movie that makes me want to read more about the subject gets high praise from me.
2. My Week With Marilyn (2011)
Story: Colin Clark, an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier's, documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe during production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
Director: Simon Curtis
Stars: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh
Review: The role of Marilyn Monroe either makes or breaks this dramatic biographical chronicle of one man's week-long love affair with her. I thought Michelle Williams' excellent and convincing portrayal made this film as good as it could be made. The film does portray Monroe a bit superficially, but I think that is the image we all have of Marilyn Monroe. Yet there is enough of the dichotomy between sexual sweetness and emotional pain Monroe is so known for to make this a very good biographical film. But what matters here most is the performance of the role, as you will learn little of anything new about Monroe herself.
4. The Devil Inside (2012)
Story: In Italy, a woman becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms during her mission to discover what happened to her mother, who allegedly murdered three people during her own exorcism.
Director: William Brent Bell
Stars: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth
Review: I really don't know where to begin with this movie. I will first say that I have not seen such excitement for a film people know so little about in a while, especially with such an enticing trailer that gives you the feeling that this movie will deliver on the level of horror that people really are looking for. I met a friend to see this film and we had to go to three theatres to see it because it was sold out everywhere. Even for the 11:00pm showing the theatre was packed. It had an interesting enough opening that you thought it may deliver what you are looking for in a movie like this, but it didn't. The movie is lazy and uncreative and has one of the worst endings in film history. If the director added 15 minutes and gave it a better ending then it may have been redeemed, but he didn't. When the movie was over I thought there may possibly be a riot. People were booing and expressing how much they hated it, some even wanting their money back. The Blair Witch style cinematography is an interesting medium that can be effective if done right (like it was in Cannibal Holocaust, Blair Witch Project, REC, and Paranormal Activity), but movies like this may kill the method altogether. I'm hoping the DVD will have that extra 15 minutes for a better ending, but that's doubtful, despite it being #1 in the box office this weekend with 34.5 million dollars in profits. Despite all this however, it was an interesting movie experience. Spoiler Alert: The ending is ambiguous and leaves you to do your own research by referring you to a website. If a movie is good, it will make you want to do research, otherwise it is just homework.