Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Crisp Criticism - "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", "Saving Mr Banks", "All is Lost", "Philomena", "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"

Julien Faddoul

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug *

The Hobbit, the dwarves and the wizard all continue their journey to get their gold back from Smaug the dragon.
Superior to the first film only in detail and window-dressing. Otherwise, it remains, like its predecessor, a padded mess. What’s so frustrating is how easily fixable Jackson’s problem is.

d – Peter Jackson
w – Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro   (Based on the Novel by J.R.R. Tolkien)
ph – Andrew Lesnie
pd – Dan Hennah
m – Howard Shore
ed – Jabez Olssen
cos – Richard Taylor, Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey

p – Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Zane Weiner

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Cate Blanchett, Mikael Persbrandt

Saving Mr Banks *

Author P.L. Travers travels from London to Hollywood as Walt Disney Pictures adapts her novel for the big screen.
As both a representation of The Walt Disney Company and a dissection of an eccentric but brilliant woman, this is beyond bollocks. But as a spoon-full of sugar that helps the medicine go down, this piece of non-cinema is harmless enough.

d – John Lee Hancock
w – Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
ph – John Schwartzman
pd – Michael Corenblith
m – Thomas Newman
ed – Mark Livolsi
cos – Daniel Orlandi

p – Ian Collie, Alison Owen, Philip Steuer

Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Kathy Baker, Rachel Griffiths, Melanie Paxson

All is Lost **

After a collision with a shipping container at sea, an old sailor tries not to die.
Elegiac, committed, near-silent film with a single performer that conditions its audience to interpret it in many ways. As arresting  as it is, it never arrives at the profundity to which it yearns and remains somewhat of a stunt.

wd – J.C. Chandor
ph – Frank G. DeMarco, Peter Zuccarini
pd – John P. Goldsmith
m – Alex Ebert
ed – Pete Beaudreau
cos – Van Broughton Ramsey

p – Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, Justin Nappi, Teddy Schwarzman

Cast: Robert Redford

Philomena **

An Irish woman searches for her adult son who was taken away from her by the Magdalene Asylums.
Tender, tart condemnation of the church, delving into areas of loss and forgiveness, while resting almost entirely on the shoulders of its lead performer.

d – Stephen Frears
w – Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope   (Based on the Book by Martin Sixsmith)
ph – Robbie Ryan
pd – Alan MacDonald
m – Alexandre Desplat
ed – Valerio Bonelli
cos – Consolata Boyle

p – Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Gabrielle Tana

Cast: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Anna Maxwell Martin, Barbara Jefford, Ruth McCabe, Peter Hermann

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

A chronicle of the life of Nelson Mandela.
Peculiarly maladroit biopic that relies on every cliché in the book.

d – Justin Chadwick
w – William Nicholson   (Based on the Autobiography by Nelson Mandela)
ph – Lol Crawley
pd – Johnny Breedt
m – Alex Heffes
ed – Rick Russell
cos – Diana Cilliers, Ruy Filipe

p – Anant Singh

Cast: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Zolani Mkiva, Simo Mogwaza

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