Much as it is a pleasure to see Chloe Moretz back on the big screen without the comic book Hit Girl outfit, the question is: Do we really need a remake of Carrie? The film that virtually created the subgenre of teen horror. Most everybody knows the story, and from the start it is clear that director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) has nailed most of the main elements. But her control of tone is a little suspect, but with Moretz supported by Julianne Moore, an actress who has a line on crazy that few can match, it remains interesting to see how Carrie has been updated. The psychology of the relationship between mother and daughter is well captured, but the school scenes sometimes look just a bit too High School Musical to feel quite right. Peirce does not break any new ground, and has smoothed off some rough edges from the Brian De Palma original. Oddly, this manages only to highlight how we might miss the occasional weirdness of the original.
The Fifth Estate
The fallout of Wikileaks is still falling but already the drama based on actual events is ready to hit the big screen. The film cannot help but be topical, and there is an outstanding performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, but in its headlong rush to cover all the contextual bases, The Fifth Estate burdens itself with a load of exposition under the weight of which the film is constantly in danger of sinking. Director Bill Condon is at pains to show that the Brave New World of technology we live in is like nothing else that has gone before, but unlike The Social Network, The Fifth Estate does not manage to remind us how new, and life-changing, all this techno whizz-bang really is. Condon seems content to let the mechanics of the political intrigue movie take over, and while the film gallops head-on, content with itself, it follows a groove that is a little too worn.
Another action-packed Jason Statham cops and bad-guys flick that manages to tick most of the boxes for action fans but is not likely to stay in the memory for very long. The fact that Homefront was penned by Sylvester Stallone, putting it firmly in the screenwriting tradition of Rocky, Rambo and The Expendables, might give potential viewers some pause, but to give Stallone his due, the dialogue is far from being the worst you can find in this very high-paced, not to say, expendable, genre. Statham plays a DEA agent who finds his retirement disrupted when his identity is rumbled by the local meth chef in the small town he has retired to with his family. Bad things inevitably happen and Statham has plenty of opportunities to make the bad guys pay. James Franco makes for a sinister villain, adding a bit of luster to the movie.
Camille Claudel, 1915
Juliette Binoche plays sculptress and lover of Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel, in a mini-biopic that focuses on a short period at the end of her life when she is virtually abandoned in an asylum by her family. A powerful, committed performance by Binoche provides a harrowing portrayal of the final days of a deeply troubled life, but the film’s sparse setting and grim emotions can be off-putting. Directed by Bruno Dumont, Camille Claudel, 1915 continues a body of work that has never been anything other than controversial, the film’s close and unblinking look at incipient madness and the final horrors of mental dissolution does not make for easy watching. The trade magazine Variety, not usually given to hyperbole, describes Binoche’s performance as “mesmerizing,” but the pace and the focus on abstract mental states, and the total absence of beautiful art and glamorous people mark Camille Claudel, 1915 out from the mainstream of artistic biopics.
Slow-paced movies about the elderly facing the prospects of physical and mental deterioration are not a rarity on the big screen any more, and they have provided a showcase for many fine actors no longer in their first youth. It has been proved over and over again that the concerns of seniors looking back over life and forward to dissolution can be powerfully affecting, and Still Mine, a film written and directed by Canadian director Michael McGowan and starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, does not disappoint. Cromwell and Bujold are both veterans who have both versatility and power. They are beautifully cast as an octogenarian couple living in rural New Brunswick who are not only coping with the threats of dementia, but also with a bureaucratic structure that is not sympathetic to their aim to live out their lives in the way they want. In an age of super-heroes, Still Mine is determined to be a big picture about ordinary people, and it captures the mix of innocence and pride of its determinedly self-sufficient couple who want nothing else from the world but each other.