I realize that the nature of my blogging -- lifestyle, shall we say -- this year has made it difficult to offer the same amount of full length reviews I have in years past. As a result, a few titles have slipped through the cracks and I haven't allowed some sort of space to give my thoughts on a number of the year's offerings. So I thought I'd offer up a few brief opinions to those films before plowing ahead into December.
Strange that I've gone the whole season and not mentioned an opinion on the perceived Oscar frontrunner, despite having screened it twice and liking it very much. "Atonement" is a much smaller film than it's being depicted as, but it is very tight and a huge step up for Joe Wright, who already had fans in the wake of 2005's "Pride & Prejudice." His work here deserves every awards mention it receives, but high marks have to go to performers James McAvoy and Romola Garai, not to mention textured, beautiful cinematography from Seamus Mcgarvey and a Dario Marianelli score that raises the bar for the trade.
I was with "Enchanted" until a rather creatively vacant third act took the film down the tubes. Everything leading up to that moment, however, was sheer delight as Bill Kelly's fresh screenplay was a cheeky and at times outright hilarious take on Disney's run-of-the-mill princess tales. And, of course, Amy Adams' star-making turn deserves all the praise it has received.
"Lars and the Real Girl (**)
I didn't go for this flick the way a lot of the movie-going community did. There was something incomplete about the tale and the tone, something unassured in the filmmaking, I couldn't put my finger on it. Ryan Gosling's performance is a diamond in the rough here, but I feel as though the rather intriguing Nancy Oliver story would have been better served by another, more creatively interesting director.
"Margot at the Wedding" (1/2*)
One of the worst films of the year. And beware of anyone who tells you "I know people like that." No one knows people like that.
Easily one of the year's best, I thank the movie gods year in and year out for films like "Persepolis." Kudos to France for entering this animated gem as their foreign film contender. Marjane Satrapi's poignant adaptation of her own graphic novel should be required viewing for anyone ignorant enough to paint an entire culture with the broad brush of prejudice.