November 18th, 2012


Anna Karenina

After a short intermission, in I hobbled to Anna Karenina. Again, brilliantly team assembled. Joe Wright directing a cast that includes Keira Knightly, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly MacDonald, and a screenplay by another playwright Tom Stoppard. Huh, guess this was a theater-ish day for me.

Actually, with this film, the theater goes even further. It was set inside a theater, sorta. I was actually a bit confused about some of that concept since I never quite got my head around exactly what the setting was. Took me a while to figure out that there was no definite answer to that; it was all more of an abstraction. The end result was absolutely gorgeous, even if my logical need-to-know-whats-going-on brain had trouble with the concept. Please, just hand this team the Oscar for art direction now. And while you're at it, might as well give them one for costumes as well because damn. While a lot of settings and boundaries weren't quite defined, it allowed for some gorgeous shots (maybe a nod for cinematography while we're on the subject) and beautifully emotion inducing scenery. Some scenes had brilliant subtle choreography, and others more ellaborate and breathtaking movement. A few scenes had really clever staging with the theater setup, I'm thinking of the horse race in particular. Just such a different spin on a story that's been told so many times.

Not that I'm actually familiar with the story to begin with. It somehow never made my list back when I was reading every piece of classic literature I could get my hands on. Then again, this was prolly too racy to be on a fifth grader's radar. From my understanding of it, the story was stripped down quite a bit to fit into this film, but for whatever my opinion's worth, I think it worked. Yeah, it had that usual glossed over romance that most movies tend to be guilty of, where you don't quite get why these people are so truly madly deeply in love, but they say it so often you just go with it.

I did love the cast. Not sure that anyone's a particular standout from the aforementioned group, but they were all phenomenal. I knew the basics of how the story would play out, but I was still invested in all of them and seeing where they were going. The fact that these were all beautiful faces that fit into the beautiful scenery didn't hurt either.

For me, I think this was a good intro to such a classic. I mean, c'mon, if the world if theater isn't gonna speak to me, there's lil hope anything else would. I am getting that need to grab the book feel that comes with these adaptations, but knowing that the vibe would be waaaaaay different is enough to dissuade me. For now.

Anna Karenina - \m/ \m/ \m/

The Sessions

I resisted going to The Sessions for a while. I liked that it seemed different, but it came off as a bit too sappy for my tastes. But the Oscar buzz for this film has been building, and I am easily swayed by such things. I can see why they're talking it up.

Here we've got the story of a heavily disabled man who is determined to lose his V card with the help of a sex surrogate. Going into the film, I was expecting that a lot of the focus would be on his disability. Mark, played by John Hawkes, is confined to an iron lung for most of the hours of the day, and can't move anything below his neck. But he is one of the most charismatic and sweet and funny characters I've encountered. As the film progresses, and you're drawn into his story, you almost forget that he's differently-abled. When he spends the entire film immobile in bed, that's quite a feat. And for that, Hawkes gets my vote in the Best Actor category, over current front runner Daniel Day-Lewis.

He had a good supporting cast as well. I didn't have the highest hopes for Helen Hunt. She's just never done it for me. But I thought she was incredible. She was the caring and patient therapist, but with very human qualities behind her more clinical game face. However, for me, William H Macy is the one that truly stole the show. He was just such a fun play off against Hawkes. The two showed a strong and supportive friendship, that you just wanted to be a part of.

This film was so special and so sweet, I'm really glad I was finally compelled to go see it. It's so unlike anything else, but it was full of the kind of quirks and fun that I love. Guess you find some of the best characters in the most unexpected places sometimes.

The Sessions - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n