Thursday, December 4, 2014

Crisp Criticism - "Serena", "Get on Up", "Why Don’t You Play in Hell?"

Julien Faddoul

Serena *

Set in 1930s North Carolina, a man’s timber empire is in jeopardy when it becomes clear that his wife is as barren as the land he harvests.
Once again, Bier’s blockheaded use of metaphor paralyzes her own drama here, as well as the miscasting of her two leads.

d – Susanne Bier
w – Christopher Kyle   (Based on the Book by Ron Rash)
ph – Morten Søborg
pd – Richard Bridgland
m – Johan Söderqvist
ed – Pernille Bech Christensen, Matthew Newman, Simon Webb
cos – Signe Sejlund

p – Ben Cosgrove, Mark Cuban, Paula Mae Schwartz, Steve Schwartz, Todd Wagner, Nick Wechsler

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, Sean Harris, Sam Reid, Blake Ritson

Get on Up *

The story of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.
Fairly rudimentary biopic told in a haphazard non-linear structure. It is made watchable by its magnetic lead performance.

d – Tate Taylor  
w – Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Steven Baigelman
ph – Stephen Goldblatt
pd – Mark Ricker  
m – Thomas Newman
ed – Michael McCusker  
cos – Sharen Davis

p – Brian Grazer, Erica Huggins, Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Lennie James, Fred Melamed, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer, Josh Hopkins, Brandon Smith, Tika Sumpter

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? ***

A Yakuza boss with a movie star daughter produces a film with an amateur director for her to star in.
A magnificent, complex, bloody paean to the ecstasy of movie-making with its director’s typical mix of the beautiful and the perverse. Even though the film ends in a bloodbath, Sono’s uncanny ability to elucidate humanity is what’s so affecting.

wd – Shion Sono  
ph – Hideo Yamamoto
pd – Hisao Inagaki
m – Shion Sono  
ed – Jun'ichi Itô

p – Takuyuki Matsuno, Tsuyoshi Suzuki

Cast: Jun Kunimura, Fumi Nikaidô, Shin'ichi Tsutsumi, Hiroki Hasegawa, Gen Hoshino, Hashimoto Tomochika, Itsuji Itao, Hiroyuki Onoue, Tak Sakaguchi, Tetsu Watanabe, Tasuku Nagaoka

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