Saturday, August 20, 2011

JANE EYRE (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2011)

**½
USA
For some reason it's never been more acceptable to poke fun at the very Hollywoodised and rather fabulous 1944 Fontaine-Welles version and its arch theatrics. But Brontë's gothic romance needs theatrics - it needs to be moody, tempestuous, pompous, passionate to an excess. Because when you tackle a plot this foggy with dialogue this mannered, you need to accept that you are dealing in fantasy.

In theory this 'gen-Y' update's handheld camerawork and murky, strictly motivated lighting are irreproachable. In theory so is the attempt at age-appropriate casting and semi-naturalistic acting. But for all their repressed hysterics and clipped line readings, Wasikowska and Fassbender don't muster up a trace of chemistry or any coherent emotional throughline.

The 1944 version was shrill and faintly tacky, but it had force, it had conviction, it was transporting. This 2011 edition is by comparison wan, unconvincing. Bloodless.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (Don Siegel, 1956)

****
USA
One of those classics I feel warmly towards but can't fully get behind.

As much as I appreciate a tight, economical set-up, the plot turns and revelations here pile up without concern for even B-grade-sci-fi-level coherence. And the script gives Kevin McCarthy far too much dialogue. The best sequences have none. Or they feel like they have none.

Santa Mira is the film's great asset. It's actually more vivid and palatable than any other Hollywood 50s small-town recreation.

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