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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quick Reviews: Identity Amour Beasts

Finally got my last two Oscar Best Picture nominees in the books. So after this post you'll finally get my best/worst of 2012 (only two months late!) and my ranking of the Best Pictures.

I was very disappointed by Identity Thief. The trailer seemed promising but the film didn't live up to expectations. Jason Bateman's character (the identity theft victim) was just too stupid; that was established in the opening scene, which showed how the theft occurred -- basically, he gave it away. And I like Melissa McCarthy, but her character was just a series of weight/looks jokes with motives that were inconsistent. Is she really a bad person or a victim of her childhood? After her star-making turn in "Bridesmaids," she'd better look at her scripts more carefully. My grade: D-plus.

The story in Amour is meant to be heartbreaking. An elderly woman (Emmanuelle Riva) suffers a stroke that leaves her partially paralyzed, and her husband (Jean-Louis Trintignant) takes care of her at their Paris apartment to honor her wish not to go into a hospital or nursing home. He struggles more and more as her condition deteriorates. It's well-acted but takes a jarring and then confusing turn near the end that kind of ruined it a little for me. My grade: B-minus.

I'm still puzzling a little over Beasts of the Southern Wild, to be honest. When I first finished watching it (note: for time-saving purposes I bought it on pay-per-view instead of seeing it in the theater) I was glad it was over, but upon some reflection I find my initial reaction was wrong. At first it reminded me of "Winter's Bone" in that it takes place in a very poor community -- this one's set in a part of the Louisiana bayou called "The Bathtub" that's cut off from everyone else by a levee. However, the fantasy element (the "aurochs," behemoths frozen in the ice caps long ago but freed by global warming) distracted from the story of the little girl (Quvenzhane Wallis), her ailing father, their impoverished but happy and self-sufficient community and the threat of destruction from a coming storm. Perhaps I'm missing the symbolism or something. My grade: B.

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