REVIEW: Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak 5

Crimson Peak
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam

Warning: Spoilers throughout

Don’t worry, it’s just clay.  Red clay.  Seeping up through the ground.  They’re trying to mine it for some reason, this tall, pale, handsome man and his quiet, pale, sharp sister.  Almost as quickly as Edith (Mia Wasikowska) arrives at their English estate, before she can grow accustomed to their decaying mansion and its many time-frozen rooms, winter comes.  All of the sudden there is snow everywhere, outside and coming in through a hole in the ceiling and collecting by the main staircase. The red clay keeps seeping and mixing with it.  There’s a morbid sight outside now, probably the best way imaginable to keep kids off your lawn.

Edith goes there out of love and desperation. She’s whisked away from America by Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) almost immediately after her father’s murder.  She gets upset when a doctor friend (Charlie Hunnam) tries to examine her dad’s caved in skull for signs of foul play.  She’ll be thankful for his inquisitiveness later, but during her father’s funeral she all but ignores him, staring into the distance with her head pressed into Sharpe’s chest.  His sister is already back in England, waiting for them.

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REVIEW: Maps to the Stars

Maps_To_The_Stars_Film_still

Maps to the Stars
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: Bruce Wagner
Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack and Evan Bird

Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg’s latest nightmare, is an emotionally violent, incestuous drama staged in the Hollywood Hills.  Like Paul Schrader’s recent The Canyons, this film’s Los Angeles has a radioactive glow; its bleached-out skies make it impossible to see where the sun is during the day, and neon colors pop during the few night scenes.  Its characters are an equally disturbed group of frigid psychopaths and tortured narcissists.  Some are both.

For how often the movie is dominated by daylight, many of the characters look (and behave) like vampires trapped in the sun, or ants being fried by a magnifying glass.  One of them, Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), even has visible burn marks on her neck and the left side of her face.  Her brother, troubled teen star Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird), is the only noticeably tan one, and he’s also the most well-adjusted to the movie’s world of tormented excess.

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BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Written by: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska

You usually watch a movie about the inner workings of the suburban American family expecting to see it deconstructed, but sitting through Lisa Cholodenko’s bracing, hilarious The Kids Are All Right you watch something strange: it being rebuilt.  Following an economic crisis and subsequent rethinking of what it means to be American, Kids comes at the perfect time.  It rethinks the nuclear family on the silver screen by doing the most daring thing: not mentioning it.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), the two moms at the center of the film, were each impregnated by the same sperm donor.  Now that their daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has turned 18, her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) pressures her to contact the donor (Mark Ruffalo).  They do, it’s awkward, and it almost tears the happy family apart.

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REVIEW: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Written by: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
Starring: Annette Bening, Juliane Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska

You usually watch a movie about the inner workings of the suburban American family expecting to see it deconstructed, but sitting through Lisa Cholodenko’s bracing, hilarious The Kids Are All Right you watch something strange: it being rebuilt.  Following an economic crisis and subsequent rethinking of what it means to be American, Kids comes at the perfect time.  It rethinks the nuclear family on the silver screen by doing the most daring thing: not mentioning it.

Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Juliane Moore), the two moms at the center of the film, were each impregnated by the same sperm donor.  Now that their daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has turned 18, her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) pressures her to contact the donor (Mark Ruffalo).  They do, it’s awkward, and it almost tears the happy family apart.

Continue reading