Sunday, February 19, 2012
IRON LADY YOUNG ADULT WAR HORSE
Up in The Berkshires for the three day weekend trying to catch up on the discs I get sent during movie awards seasons before the Oscars. So did a mini-marathon with these three flicks that have been getting a lot of attention.
IRON LADY turned out to be pretty much what most of the critics said it was, an amazing performance, possibly Meryl Streep's greatest, as the older Margaret Thatcher. But the writing is pretty bad.
Concentrating on Thatcher when she was old and becoming it seems senile and flashing back on her earlier life gave the whole thing a fragmented dreary predictable hodgepodge of highlights and lowlights, the low ones predominating and making the whole thing drag.
But Streep definitely deserves an award for technical achievement at least. It's an impressive bit of shape shifting worthy of the all the accolades it's been getting.
As for YOUNG ADULT, Charlize Theron's bid for another partially against type performance award, it is a total drag. I have only walked out of two films in my life, as I remember. I feel compelled to give the filmmakers a chance and see their work through to the end. But watching this on my laptop made it easier to concede that YOUNG ADULT was making me nothing but painfully uncomfortable from the start.
Maybe it had a point at the end that would redeem the anti-human slant of the story and her character, but it's like our society's periodic fascination with serial killers, or people who become obsessed with Hitler and Nazi paraphernalia, it's just too creepy for my romantic Irish soul. (Not that Theron's character was on that level of psychotic, but it had that kind of vibe.)
So I watched it past the halfway point and not finding anything redeeming in it almost at all (and I was hanging in because I know some of the actors and wanted to see them work) I realized I was feeling so uncomfortable I dreaded watching one more scene. So I didn't.
WAR HORSE is the best of these three films for sure. A classic Hollywood style for-the-love-of-an-animal film, Spielberg uses all his experience and talent to create an epic with touches of LASSIE COME HOME to GONE WITH THE WIND (matching the final scene of the latter even in the tint of the sky behind the human silhouettes).
It's so well done it's difficult to resist, so I didn't. It was the perfect antidote to YOUNG ADULT. Both were distorted perspectives of reality, but WAR HORSE actually had more reality to it for my taste and perspective than YOUNG ADULT which pretends to be the more realistic in that too often cynical indie way (why are the more positive human emotions and actions often dismissed by critics as too sentimental or romantic when portrayed in the arts but the more viciously mean and selfish etc. is seen as somehow more realistic? That's always bothered me.)
So, it was almost worth watching THE IRON LADY for Streep's performance (and others as well, like the younger Thatcher played by Alexandra Roach). YOUNG ADULT wasn't worth the trouble, the exact opposite actually. But WAR HORSE is an entertaining old Hollywood family film that has enough touching successful moments to make all the technical skill involved worth experiencing.