Posts Tagged ‘Atonement’

The Lovely Bones – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Februar 24th, 2010


A bad story poorly told – and yet not a completely worthless film. Based on the novel by Alice Sebold (which people assure me has a much better story than the film), the film unsuccessfully tries to tell both the story of the murdered girl Suzie Salmon in between heaven and earth and how her family tries to cope with her death. Now, the art direction and the cinematography of the film are great and the actors really try, but the film never finds its footing and has no emotional resonance whatsoever. It’s (rightfully) in love with the perfect visuals, but since those add nothing to the story, they are pointless and ultimately just a distraction. There might have been a good film in there somewhere, but it’s almost impossible to find.

Random Observations:

The Lovely Bones at the IMDb

Stanley Tucci is nominated for an Oscar for his performance as the creepy murderer.

Saoirse Ronan plays the lead role, but never reaches the greatness of her Atonement performance. Mostly, she is simply not given enough to work with.

The plot is riddled with holes and the intent of the story – to show how a family deals with the loss of a child – is completely lost.

The film features extensive voice-over narration that rivals Harrison Ford’s original Blade Runner narration for worst ever. Only not because of the delivery, but because of the content.

If I understand it correctly, most of the scenes with Rachel Weisz as the mother were cut from the finished film, which certainly would explain the disjointed nature of her storyline.

The comedic intermission with grandmother Susan Sarandon doing housework was the most horribly awkward and painfully misplaced scene I have seen in a long time.

Minute Movie Review – No Country for Old Men

Donnerstag, Februar 21st, 2008


Like “There Will Be Blood“, “No Country for Old Men” has been a critical and award favourite – maybe even more so. Unlike “There Will Be Blood”, it actually lives up to the hype. The story of a man who finds two million dollar on a murder scene and subsequently is hunted by several people who don’t think it belongs to him is uncompromisingly realistic. Brilliantly shot, with great acting (especially by “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar nominee Javier Bardem) and a hauntingly sparse score (what a relief!), the movie deviates so far from the typical Hollywood conventions that more than once I felt myself wondering what would be next. In the end, this movie is a true masterpiece, with few discernible flaws and much to teach today’s filmmakers – especially Paul Thomas Anderson.

Random Observations:

No Country for Old Men at

Lucky me got to see this movie in a sneak preview today. Which means that I got to see it before it’s actual German release. Which means that I got to see it before the Oscar ceremony on Sunday. Which means that I am no longer ruling for Atonement to win.

Did I mention that the movie is a true masterpiece?

I had last seen Josh Brolin in “Into the Blue”. Amazing that somebody who was in such a crappy movie actually managed to star in this one. Of course, he needed to convince Robert Rodriguez to shoot an audition tape for him which Quentin Tarantino directed to convince the Coen brothers that he could indeed do it.

The movie actually got a fair number of laughs when I saw it. While not conventionally funny, there are some scenes that are so bitterly realistic yet absurd, that one can do little but laugh.

Golden Globes vergeben

Dienstag, Januar 15th, 2008

Am gestrigen Sonntag wurden in Los Angeles die Golden Globes verliehen. Dieser von der HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) vergebene Preis gilt schon seit einiger Zeit als nahezu bedeutungslos (die HFPA hat gerade mal 100 Mitglieder, ist also keine wirkliche Vertretung der ausländischen Journalisten in Hollywood) und die Zeiten als die Globes als optimale Indikatoren für die Oscars galten sind wohl auch vorbei. Aber dank dem Autorenstreik wurde alles noch ein bisschen unwichtiger: Statt der üblichen dreistündigen Show gab es nur eine halbstündige Pressekonferenz – ohne Stars, ohne Glanz, ohne Glamour.

Das Ergebnis war dann auch nicht sonderlich glamourös – kein Film konnte mehr als zwei Auszeichnungen davon tragen. Gewinner der Auszeichnungen als beste Filme waren “Abbitte” bei Dramen und “Sweeney Todd – Der teuflische Barbier aus der Fleet Street” bei Komödien und Musicals. Dieser gewann auch den Award für den längsten Filmtitel sowie Johnny Depp die Auszeichnung als bester Schauspieler, während bei den Dramen hier Daniel Day-Lewis für “There Will Be Blood” (deutscher Titel noch nicht bekannt?) geehrt wurde. Bei den Damen wurden Julie Christie (“An Ihrer Seite“) sowie Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en rose“) ausgezeichnet. Als bester Animationsfilm wurde unverständlicherweise “Ratatouille” (dafür gibt es noch nicht mal einen Link…) ausgezeichnet, wo doch jeder weiß, dass der Simpsons Film um Längen besser war. Eine vollständige Liste der Gewinner kann beispielsweise hier (auf Englisch) oder hier (auf Deutsch) eingesehen werden.

Neben Auszeichnungen für Filme gibt es auch noch Golden Globes für Fernsehsendungen und -schauspieler, aber wer da gewonnen hat interessiert ja nun wirklich niemanden.

My Top Movies of 2007

Mittwoch, Januar 9th, 2008

For a long time, I have been a reader of the website of the A.V. Club. As far as popular culture is concerned, there is no site on the great world wide interweb that I like more. And now for the third year running, they have asked readers to submit their Top Five Movies of the past year, which I of course dutifully did. I also wrote some short comments about those movies and since I feel disinclined to just let them get lost in the internetz and I also like reusing things to make it appear that I am creative or something like that, they are now also posted here. So here are my personal favourite movies of 2007:

1. Atonement

In a wonderful adaptation of a brilliant novel, Joe Wright almost manages to tell a better story than Ian McEwan. Beautifully shot and excellently acted (especially by Saoirse Ronan), the movie is a true gem. Combined with the great story and the surprisingly fitting soundtrack/score, this is easily the best film I’ve seen in 2007.

2. Gone Baby Gone

Ben Affleck should never have tried acting. He belongs behind the camera and he demonstrates it with his directorial debut. A good movie is made great by the twist at the end that makes a typical thriller into a morality tale, which makes you wonder what you would have done.

3. The Simpsons Movie

After 18 years, the Simpsons moved to the big screen and they did so in a fashion that surprised everybody. For 90 minutes, this movie is just pure brilliant entertainment. Maybe there were more meaningful movies in 2007, but there wasn’t a funnier one.

4. The Darjeeling Limited

Wes Anderson makes another movie that is so typically Wes Anderson that after 10 minutes you start to wonder whether he can only make one kind of movie. But you’ll soon stop, because the typically melodramatic comedy of Anderson, combined with beautiful imagery, great acting and music leaves you wanting more. It’s not The Royal Tenenbaums, but it’s still a brilliant movie.

5. Juno

I haven’t actually seen Juno, because it hasn’t yet been released in the backwater country where I live (it’s called Germany). But what I’ve heard is so great, that I’m sure I will love this movie. People might say that it was Ellen Page’s breakthrough performance, but everybody who has seen her in Hard Candy knows that she knows what she is doing.

I’d love to say something about how great a year 2007 was, but due to the fact that studios insist on releasing movies months later in Germany, I haven’t yet seen many hyped movies, such as There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men. But considering that I can’t remember the last time I was looking forward to movies that are released here in February, 2007 must have been a great year.

Golden Globe Nominierungen bekanntgegeben

Donnerstag, Dezember 13th, 2007

Heute wurden die Nominierungen für die Golden Globe Awards, die Auszeichnungen der Auslandsjournalisten Hollywoods, bekanntgegeben. (Eine schöne Übersicht gibt es beispielsweise hier.) Etwas überraschend konnte dabei vor allem “Abbitte” mit sieben Nominierungen, darunter Bester Film (Drama) sowie Bester Hauptdarsteller (für James McAvoy) und Beste Hauptdarstellerin (für Keira Knightley), sich als großer Favorit hervortun. Die Golden Globes gelten traditionell als gutes Anzeichen für die Nominierungen und Gewinner der Academy Awards (eher bekannt als Oscars). Dabei wird jedoch zwischen Drama und Komödie/Musical unterschieden, was die Anzahl der Auszeichnungen deutlich anwachsen lässt. Hinzu kommen Auszeichnungen für das amerikanische Fernsehen, allerdings fehlen die von der Oscar-Verleihung bekannten “technischen” Auszeichnungen wie Spezialeffekte oder Kostüme. Als beste Filme (Drama) sind diesmal rekordverdächtige sieben Filme nominiert. Wie gesagt, die interessante Gesamtliste sicherlich durch die Bank sehenswerter Filme kann hier eingesehen werden. Und wer es lieber deutsch mag, kann es beim Spiegel nachlesen (FAZ und SZ waren langsamer als ich, da habe ich zuerst geguckt). Übersetzt sind die Titel aber auch da nicht…

Minute Movie Review – Atonement

Montag, November 19th, 2007


The story of Atonement follows the story of the novel by Ian McEwan closely: The thirteen year old Briony witnesses a scene between her older sister Cecilia and the caretaker’s son Robbie, misinterprets it and consequently thinks him a maniac. When she later accuses him of a crime he did not commit, all their lives are changed forever.

The movie is very well made. It accurately tells the story, invoking the feelings necessary to understand the character’s behaviour and dealing with them in an adequate manner. The cinematography is superb, with some of the most beautiful shots I’ve seen recently. The scenes depicting World War II are extremely intense and show the horrors of war both on a personal and on a larger level. This movie is definitely worth seeing, whether one has read the novel or not.

Random Observations:

Atonement at

Keira Knightley was already oscar-nominated for her performance in Pride and Prejudice. Her acting here is superb, but I fear that there will follow no nomination.

While the actress who plays Briony at 13, Saoirse Ronan, performs very convincingly, the acting of Romola Garai, who plays Briony at 18, is very unconvincing and stands out as rather poor compared to the other actors’ performance.

The sound of the typewriters that feature prominently throughout the movie is perfectly incorporated into the movies sound track. Seldom have music and sound effects been combined in such a spectacular way.

Both Romola Garai and James McAvoy, who plays the lead role of Robbie Turner, were also in Inside I’m Dancing, a little known gem of a film. And in both cases I needed IMDB to tell me that, not recognizing either.

Book Review – Atonement

Mittwoch, November 14th, 2007

In the wake of the release of the film adaptation of Atonement (Watch the trailer!), I felt it was about time to polish and hone my “British literature of the late 20th century” knowledge a bit. So for a couple of days, “Atonement” by Ian McEwan was collecting dust on my book shelf while I dreaded actually starting to read it, fearing it would be both dull and lengthy. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Even though it is not a short story, it has many qualities of one, but never gets boring. The novel is divided into three parts plus a sort of epilogue, with the first part easily the longest. But although it lasts for half the book, the first part only deals with the events of one day. The other parts are similar, taking still photographs in a story that lasts from 1935 to 1999.

This means that the writing is very attentive to detail as well as often showcasing the thoughts and memories of the protagonists. The novel starts on a hot summer day in 1935, when the 13-year old Briony witnesses a scene between her older sister Cecilia and the charlady’s son Robbie. As the events of the day slowly unfold, shown from the perspective of several characters, the vivid imagination of the writer-to-be Briony coupled with tragedy create a catastrophe that will change all their lives forever.

The second and third part deal with Robbie’s way in the war and Briony’s atonement respectively, before the epilogue, set in 1999, gives a new spin to the events that makes the story all the more real as well as terrible. The second part, set immediately before and through the British evacuation of continental Europe in 1940, is a haunting war story in its own right. Even though I have read many stories about war as well as seen countless movies dealing with the inhumanity and cruelty of war, McEwan manages to show effectively the horrors of that first year of World War II, both on an individual level and on the greater scale of the millions of people affected. This alone makes the book worthwhile, the backstory of the love between Cecilia and Robbie, of the betrayal of Briony and her atonement for it make this novel truly great. McEwan manages to tell their story with loving detail, yet keeps a certain distance to all characters to allow the reader to see events from several points of view. The only thing that the books suffers from is a certain tendency, especially in the first part, of McEwan to go off on to many tangents and use unnecessarily long sentences. But apart from that I would recommend the book to anyone who is not afraid to be absorbed into the sordid lives of its protagonists.