REVIEW: Somewhere

Somewhere
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Written by: Sofia Coppola (screenplay)
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius, and Michelle Monaghan

The Coppola pop cultural dynasty is an interesting and often overlooked member of the pop culture framework.  It has produced the immortal in Francis Ford Coppola, who directed masterpieces both well-known (The Godfather Trilogy, Apocalypse Now) and forgotten (The Conversation, Tetro).  Other members include Nicolas Cage, who changed his name to forge an identity away from the family name, and Sophia Coppola, who is the most interesting by far.

This Coppola is also a director, though she tried acting to universal disgust in The Godfather Part III.  Behind the camera, though, she is somewhat of a master.  Her latest, vaguely titled Somewhere, is the kind of film nobody really knows what to do with.  It stars nobody in particular and is about nothing in particular.  She is the only selling point because of the critical triumph of her 2003 feature Lost in Translation.

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REVIEW: For Colored Girls

For Colored Girls
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Written by: Tyler Perry (screenplay), Ntozake Shange (play)
Starring: Janet Jackson, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, and Kerry Washington

It was hard watching the latest film from the controversial and wildly successful Tyler Perry without the expectation that at any moment Madea, an old black woman that Perry performs as in drag, would interrupt the tension by bursting through the wall like  Kool-Aid Man.  That character, the subject of backlash from other modern black filmmakers like Spike Lee who say it recalls early stereotypes of blacks on screen, often struts into Perry films with attitude and comedy to break the melodramatic tension.

There is no Madea in For Colored Girls.  In fact, there is very little at all to break apart the tension created by the struggling lives of these 9 African American women, who deal with everything from rape, abortion, and infidelity over the course of the film’s two-plus hours.  Perry’s adaptation is drawn from an award-winning play by Ntozake Shange and is structured around poetic recitations of these horrific events.

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REVIEW: Let Me In

Let Me In
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Written by: Matt Reeves (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist (book)
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, and Elias Koteas

Cinema purists (this one included) were dreading the inevitable day they would have to sit through an American remake to the beloved Swedish film Let the Right One In. It was the vampire movie that didn’t suck, and we’d be damned if Hollywood was going to take that away from us with a big budget redo with A-list stars. Some watchers would never let this one in; never consider the possibility that it could be good.  They’d be missing out.

As it turns out, Let Me In is a surprisingly competent remake of the excellent Swedish version.  Like so many other films, this one originated in literature, though the films are more widely known.  Matt Reeves, known mostly for Cloverfield, takes the story from Sweden to Reagan-era New Mexico.  A seemingly odd choice, but setting it in a desert during winter effectively recreates the barren Swedish landscape so vital to the mood of the original.

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REVIEW: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go
Directed by: Mark Romanek
Written by: Alex Garland (screenplay), Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, and Sally Hawkins

Imagine as a child that your head is filled with ideas of life; of the aspirations and dreams of what it is meant to live it.  Your eyes light up at the prospect of being a doctor, a teacher, or anything else but a kid.  At that age, you’re ready to move on.

It’s not so hard to imagine those notions, because in one way or another we’ve all lived them, and it’s exactly that point that Never Let Me Go wants to hit home.  Though it takes place in an alternate reality where some people are raised to donate their organs to others, these are still people in every sense of the word.  They are allowed to live life, if on a much smaller time line.

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