REVIEW: The Giver

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The Giver
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide (screenplay), Lois Lowry
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Odeya Rush and Meryl Streep

The Giver is a bad movie, but it’s not generically bad like many of its other teen dystopia kin.  It tries to recreate the world of Lois Lowry’s middle school reading staple almost too precisely, creating a totalitarian community that feels like a futuristic Pleasantville without any humor or personality.  Color floods the black and white town as Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) experiences more and more new, human things, but the movie’s pulse rarely participates in that awakening.

Unfortunately, The Giver’s script has only a small fraction of Pleasantvilles humor, though it produces many unintentional laughs.  The way the characters talk, like programmed robots taught not to say things like “love,” just doesn’t translate well to the screen.  This is largely a failure of performance, with cast members either going way over the top (Jeff Bridges) or comically flat (Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgaard).  Brenton Thwaites, despite being much older than Jonas is in the book, finds the right tone for his emerging personality even if he feels slightly out of place.

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REVIEW: Melancholia

Melancholia
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier (screenplay)
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland and Alexander Skarsgard

When Lars von Trier announced “No more happy endings,” after the premiere of his last film, Antichrist, people were a little dismayed.  Had any of his movies actually had a happy ending in the traditional sense?  Bjork dangling from a rope at the end of Dancer in the Dark, an entire village (and America by extension) facing a woman scorned at the end of Dogville, a man walking through the woods and then being overcome by persecuted female ghosts (or something like that) in Antichrist- he’s not exactly Disney material.

His latest, Melancholia, certainly contains a grim conclusion whether or not you subscribe to the “more” part of his proclamation.  This is a film in which the world ends and everyone on it perishes, but not before a young woman succumbs to crippling depression during her wedding.

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