Posts Tagged ‘Never Let Me Go’

Top 10 of 2010!

January 5, 2011

 

And here we are again!  Another year down and another slew of movies to comprehend and compare.  Unlike the last few years, 2010 brought a cavalcade of competent cinema that was absolutely unprecedented.  I was fully unprepared for the likes of the last few months and the intense entries into the Oscar season that began to give way as the year came to a close.  Now, as always, I’m certain that this list will be viewed as juvenile and haphazard (story of my life) but these are MY top 10 movies of the year.  I wish I could watch all of these entries over again to more properly gauge my level of enthusiasm and their prowess, however, I will stand by every one of these entries and will fight you to the death for any of them!  (Though I will admit, I give major kudos to originality and ingenuity in form over traditional cinematic bravado)  Let the ranking begin!

10.  127 Hours


Danny Boyle does so much with so very little.  In this masterful retelling of the infamous expedition-gone-wrong of Aron Ralston, Boyle makes the story of a man trapped in the desert for five days into a life-affirming, absurdly inspirational tale.  Boyle deserves immense credit for taking  a cinematically antithetical story and turning it into one of the most captivating of the year.

9.  Never Let Me Go


Mark Romanek made a big splash on the screen this year with this film, which delves into themes of humanity, fate, and despondency at the hands of one’s own demise.  All against the backdrop of a beautifully filmed, beautifully performed script.  Never Let Me Go reaffirmed Andrew Garfield’s, Carey Mulligan’s, and Keira Knightley’s prowess all in one fail swoop.

8.  True Grit


Being the second Coen brothers movie I have ever ACTUALLY enjoyed, True Grit put multiple stereotypes of mine to rest.  I was concerned about ANOTHER overly hyped Coen flick, I was concerned about another update of a classic western, and I was concerned about a story with a cliche, precocious, young female protagonist who comes across as seemingly unflappable.  But when you realize that the Coen’s entire body of work details the lives of larger-than-life characters that are seemingly unflappable, you begin to forgive this mini masterpiece for its very few flaws.

7.  The Kids Are All Right


Easily one of the best pieces of acting this year, the raw talent in this film makes me question how more fuss wasn’t made over it.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are irreplaceable in this comedy about the inner-workings of family and the importance of love, understanding, and functionality in the face of adversity, stress, and life’s constant ambiguity.  Did I mention that the performances are incredible?

 

6.  The Social Network


One of my more traditional choice for the year, Fincher’s techno-epic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is truly as efficient as the hype made it out to be.  With a spot-on score produced by Trent Reznor, and cinematography that would make lawn-mowing a fascinating, IMAX-worthy venture, the film is almost incapable of NOT delighting audiences.

5.  I Love You Phillip Morris

Ironically, this may be the most contested movie on this list, as it does have its fair share of tonal anomalies and inconsistencies, however, Phillip Morris simply cannot be overlooked as one of the most adventurous and insightful picks of the year.  It takes risks and utilizes techniques just as well as 127 Hours and The Social Network, both.  It merely uses them in different regards and for different outcomes.  Not to mention that the performances are absolutely fabulous.

4.  Kick-Ass

Again, this film can be RIDICULOUSLY tonally inconsistent at times.  It can even leave viewers borderline disenchanted and at a loss.  But for fans of the genre, and just movie geeks in general, Kick-Ass lives to deliver both a send-up of the entire superhero canon, as well as overtly-indulgent entry in and of itself.

3.  Toy Story 3

If you would have told me that a three-quel to one of the biggest Disney franchises of all time would make my top 3 of ANY year, I would be forced to furrow my brow at you in extreme doubt, but Toy Story 3 is one of the most adroit offerings that Pixar has put out since…well, I guess since Up.  Still, it speaks incredibly highly of a studio that is capable of making sequels to films without losing any of the magic and without giving in to any sense of pandering or desperation.  Pixar should literally be a class that all film executives at EVERY studio should have to take.

2.  The Fighter

Going into this movie with little to no expectations of what I was about to see gave way to easily one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of this year.  David O. Russell truly knows how to make an incredible film, both critically and for mainstream audiences.  Visually arresting, with performances that are EASILY Oscar-worthy (I’m looking at you, Christian Bale and Amy Adams) this entry came out of nowhere and proved to be my second favorite of the year AS WELL AS my technical #2.  The film simply cannot be denied as a masterpiece on multiple fronts.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

If you ever wanted to confirm my absolute geekiness, look no further than this #1 pick.  Is it a stereotypical selection?  Sure.  Is it a smidge over-praised by moi?  Perhaps.  But I simply don’t care.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World was easily my favorite movie of the year and easily one of my top 10 favorite films of all time, as well, perhaps even top 5 (I told you I was willing to acquiesce that I may be a bit blind to this movie).  Everything about this movie takes the extravagances of previous cinematic treasures and expounds upon them.  I challenge you to find a faster-paced, funnier, better-choreographed film that speaks so directly to an entire culture and properly adapts six graphic novels into a story under two hours long.  Did that sentence just blow your mind?  Well that’s how you feel for the entirety of the movie, even after the tenth viewing.  I know from experience.

P.S. And to be fair, here is a list of the most-talked-abouts that I have yet to see:

_The King’s Speech

_Shutter Island

_Waiting for Superman

_The Town

_Fair Game

_Mother

_Tangled

_Despicable Me

_Catfish

_Blue Valentine

_Animal Kingdom

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Film Reviews!: Never Let Me Go

October 28, 2010

The next time that you find yourself in the middle of a movie, knowing EXACTLY what’s going to happen next and the exact beats that the screenwriter is cultivating to get you there, just take solace in the fact that every so often we are given a movie like Never Let Me Go.  I went into this screening knowing nothing at all about the movie beforehand.  I had abstained from trailers, internet gossip, the whole nine yards.  I knew that the movie was primarily produced in the UK and nothing in this movie relishes in that of standard conventions.

Mark Romanek is given the helm as director and this work marks his third foray into full-length feature films.  The hallmark of Romanek’s work is that it always manages to invoke a sort of gritty, heartless, almost cruel realism that few directors have the capacity to engineer in their productions.  One hour Photo, shot in 2002 and starring Robin Williams, is a perfect example of Romanek’s style and how he manages to make the film’s aesthetics as central to the story as the script itself.  Known primarily for his expansive music video catalog, however, further examples of Romanek’s creative touch as it transcends mood and tone are best referenced in Weezer’s El Scorcho,  Fiona Apple’s Criminal, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt.  His incredible eye for detail and attention to not only the undertones of the story, but the overtones and all the tones in the middle, are what guides the images he captures to broadcast such a heightened sense of understanding.  Romanek truly knows how to tell a story through images and an overall aesthetic, which is exactly how Never Let Me Go manages to accomplish so much with so little in terms of production or back story.

One of the greatest accomplishments of this film (and there are many) is it’s ability to instill an overall sense of dread and hopelessness in the audience. And while many movies have the capacity to instill an audience with the equivalent mood to collaborate with the tone of their film, few flicks do so in such a masterful way as Never Let Me Go.  For it’s not the story that creates such an ethereal sense of abandon in the audience (though the story IS quite bleak), nor the dialogue or the superb writing.  The unending tone of dismay that Never Let Me Go so successfully conveys is explicitly broadcast through the heartlessness and futility found in the day-to-day lives of the movies characters, and of the film’s alternate world’s atmosphere that it has completely fabricated.  Fair warning, a bit of background into the film’s plot and some spoilers will be required to further flesh out my analysis.

Never Let Me Go follows the lives of three clones in an alternate version of Britain in which, as early as the mid-sixties, clones were regularly grown and harvested for their organs.  The story follows this love triangle of clones as they are brought up in an orphanage through their adolescence and  into their adulthood as they begin to be harvested for their organs (clones are kept alive for as many as up to three ‘donations’ on average).  The story isn’t about rebellion.  It’s not even about passive resistance, or really any kind of resistance at all.  The characters make a single attempt at preventing their own demise only to be told calmly, cooly, and in a warm, open environment that there is no such thing as a delay or an extension on life.  Once your number is called, it’s called.  So, while the characters do eventually have a mental break down, they never actually attempt to escape the fate that is bestowed upon them.  This, amongst multiple other tonal impressions, is how the inescapable sense of despairing fate envelopes the entire film and manages to drape itself over the audience, by proxy.

And this overbearing sense of dismal loss and submission does so much more than simply play into the movie’s central theme.  It helps to elaborate on the symbolism and specific messages that the film looks to project in its alternative universe.  For example, despite the fact that the characters in Romanek’s most recent endeavor have roughly half the life-span of most people, they still experience the exact same trials and tribulations, still wrestle with the same concepts of life’s futility, of love lost and unrequited, and dealing with reality as you are confined to it.  The characters in Never Let Me Go blindly accept the life they have been born into with little to no grievances, much as most do.  The story, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, works as a beautiful metaphor for the short lease we all have on life, and the way most of us waste our lives striving for mundane things or blindly accepting our fate.  Had the main characters in the story ever ventured out farther than an occasional trek into town or if they had even questioned things more than once, perhaps they could have escaped the early deaths that awaited them.

Finally, it needs to be noted that the acting and directing in Never Let Me Go help to translate the story beautifully, as well, with Kiera Knightly playing one of the most unlikeable-yet-understandable, conniving characters in recent memory.  Her portrayal of the back-stabbing Ruth rings so true as one of her sole motivations in life is to keep from being lonely.  Andrew Garfield continually reminds me why I am excited for the Spider-Man reboot, with his calm and impassioned portrayal of Tommy.  And Carey Mulligan easily gives the strongest performance of the film as the demure and complacent Kathy.  It’s certainly worth noting, as well, that the child actors in this film put on excellent performances, in addition to the star-power inherent in Mulligan, Garfield, and Knightly.

Never Let Me Go’s expert discussion of some of the most existential, overarching concepts in humanity makes it a textual masterpiece that comes alive through Romanek’s exquisite ability to create an entire universe through tone and atmosphere.  Without wasting a minute of screen time and without adding any superfluous content, which, in effect, usually ends up taking away from the original story, Romanek  and screenwriter Alex Garland paint a beautiful, haunting, and discouraging portrait of how often life is wasted on complacency and fear.

Performances: 92/100

Cinematography/Aesthetics: 85/100

Score: 67/100

Script: 88/100

Final: 81/100