Thursday, May 04, 2006

Great British Actors with Big Noses

I was asked to group the reviews into themes a while ago, so I guess this might do....

Snow Cake

Directed by
Marc Evans

Just because something is obviously Oscar®-bait doesn't mean it has to suck. Sigourney Weaver hasn't been nominated for one since she got two noms way back in 1989, to be perfectly frank, she could use one. So, since playing disabled people is generally considered a call for help by respected actors who want kudos, this film is on the very early lists.

It may actually deserve to be.

We don't really know who Vivienne Freeman (Emily Hampshire) is when we first see her on the screen. We know she's a neo-hippie, and she's looking for someone special, and she settles on Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman), who's looking depressed although we learn soon enough is a manslaughterer just out of prison. He doesn't like her, but the force of Viv's personality forces him to relent, and soon enough they're on the road headed west, where he's to drop her off at her home town.

That's when the unexpected truck plows into the car, and the person who we think is going to be the main character gets killed.
I include this spoiler here because we're only about fifteen minutes into the film and the rest is about what happens later.

Viv's mom Linda(Weaver) is disabled. She's a highly-verbal autistic person who can take care of herself to some extent, but still acts like she's about five. [That's the Oscar®-bait part. Apparently, the voters are supposed to love that sort of thing.] Alex comes over to pay a condolence visit and winds up spending the better part of the week there. There's a funeral to organize and Linda's parents are off somewhere having fun.

So we have two great actors doing what they do best, and having a wonderful time not grieving. There's even a chance for romance between Alex and Linda's next door neighbor Maggie(Carrie-Anne Moss), who's a bit of a slut and is a glutton for grownup conversation. That balances off the bizarre goings on at Linda's.

The best thing about this is the fact that script is so smart and fresh, scribe Angela Pell has crafted a really funny and touching script. It should be seen.

Land of the Blind

Written and Directed
by Robert Edwards

A political allegory shouldn't actually be as predictable as this. That is unless you've read the book first. But this isn't based on a book.

What we've got here is a political fantasy reaching for great truths and falling flat after proclaiming them. This is a comedy of government and it's been done before, many times in many places, most recently in “V for Vendetta,” which at least had some nifty explosions.

We're somewhere sideways in time. The leader of this unnamed nation is Maximilian II(Tom Hollander), President for life and failed movie director, who's turned his country into a cesspool while he lives it up in a palace with his wife Josephine(Lara Flynn Boyle).

Since this is a fascist dictatorship, the political prisoners are in a hellish prison. Their leader a certain Mr. Thorne(Donald Sutherland), refuses to wear regular prison clothes and writes slogans in his own shit on the walls of the cell. Watching this is our hero Joe(Ralph Fiennes), who's a prison guard. When he isn't serving lunch or watching his first sergeant beat(Don Warrington) the crap out of Thorne and others.

But despite the happy face TV news reports, where everything is a commercial, all is not well, and President Max's top advisors (Jonathan Hyde and Robert Daws) get their fearless leader to cave in bit by bit. IN the meantime, Joe becomes enthralled to Thorne's philosophy and charisma.

Of course, when the revolution comes, Throne proves to be even worse than Max was. We could see that coming a mile away. It's all very “1984.” We've seen this before and seen it much better. Still it's worth a look for the weirdness.

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