Yes, after an extended time away the monthly feature Red Band Redux is back! Not to much to report back from last month as we went on a little hiatus of sorts. That was probably for the best as the early months of the year are a dumping ground for the big studios. Here’s a look back at the few flicks we did catch in February . . .
Every time a Soderbergh film comes out you kind of have to take notice as the man is such a prolific filmmaker and always seems to explore something different in each film. Whether it’s subject matter, the way he tells a story, or the technical elements of a film; Soderbergh always manages to find some interesting way or thing to show us in his films.
How does this play into Side Effects? As much as I’d like to tell you about how good this film really is, a lot of it revolves around spoilers that come late in the film. The one thing I will say is that the film is not what you think its about. This fact alone is what had me at the end as well as had me perk up when things started to turn half way through the film.
Soderbergh brings back two of his former star for this go around; Catherine Zeta-Jones (Traffic, Ocean’s Tweleve) and the ubiquitous Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, Haywire) who are pretty solid in their supporting performances in this film. The star and lead though is Rooney Mara who plays a depressed, manic, and prescription drug obsessive woman oh so well. There’s no experimentation or crazy camera shots going on in this film . . . Soderbergh is mainly focused on crafting this story about a woman trying to combat depression and the effects of prescription drugs. Is he going for a social commentary on prescription medication? I’ll let you decide. What I will say is that Side Effects is thoroughly entertaining and definitely not what you would expect.
3.5/5 stars (Definitely worth checking out or Redboxing when it hits Blu/DVD)
Maybe as a book series Beautiful Creatures might be engrossing and enrapturing, but as a movie, it was just kind of “meh.” I think the biggest thing that sidelined this film was the two romantic leads . . . they just didn’t have enough charisma and heft of any kind to be convincing or emotional in their roles. This entire film hinges on the relationship of these two characters and I just didn’t believe the chemistry or feel the urgency that I felt they needed to bring. As a result you get a decent amount of flash, but not nearly enough substance.
In a move that I think was supposed to help the film but ultimately didn’t, a number of great actors filled many of the supporting roles in the film: Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum. With such heavy hitters in supporting roles, I thought they actually compounded the problem of not having similarly strong actors in the lead roles and not necessarily stole the show, but definitely brought more emotion and feeling to their roles than the leads did.
As for the story itself, we’ve seen doomed/forbidden romances done before and without great believability from the leads . . . it’s hard to care for the story.
1.5/5 stars (Unless you’re a fan of this book series, it’s really not worth watching)
I Give It A Year
I was pleasantly surprised by I Give It A Year since we all know how rom-coms have kind of been on a downward slide in the past five years or so. This film bucks that trend by doing something that I think more rom-coms need to do . . . become unconventional. This film does that by starting off where a lot of rom-coms finish: with marriage.
The couple in question gets married at the beginning of the film and we follow them throughout the course of their first year of marriage as they struggle to deal with being and living with one another after a short courtship. Obviously hijinks ensue, but the comedic situations both husband and wife find themselves were so awkward and were incredibly laugh out loud funny. One of the highlights of the film was when the couple gets a digital picture frame for Christmas from the parents of the bride and they decide to hook it up right away to show off photos from their honeymoon. At first the frame displays seemingly innocuous photos from their honeymoon, but as the sequence goes on, racy photos randomly start showing up and well, you can guess what happens after that. I haven’t laughed so hard at a rom-com in a long time.
Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall are pretty good as the somewhat mismatched newlywed couple. The chemistry of their characters provide a number of conflicts for them to overcome; but yet you’re sympathetic to both characters. Showing up in supporting roles are Simon Baker (The Mentalist) and Anna Faris (House Bunny) as people who provide potential alternate matches for the hard working couple.
Overall I Give It A Year breaks the mold a little in terms of the predictable setup of most rom-coms by starting our characters off in a place that’s different (different starting point means different journey). As such I didn’t exactly know where the film was heading till the last 20 minutes or so. Combine that with a ton of great jokes and you have a romantic comedy that’s a breath of fresh air.
3.5/5 stars (Has not been released yet in the US. Definitely check it out once it does hit US shores)
Also reviewed last month: Warm Bodies.