Coming to Video on Demand with a speed which shows just how seriously the form is being taken, less than a year after its theatrical release comes one of the most acclaimed films of 2011, at least on the blogosphere, as a nicely cast ensemble come together for a based on true life story of dealing with cancer with an emphasis on extracting humour from a dark situation.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who replaced James McAvoy fairly let on in pre-production, fits into the role very nicely, taking on the mantle of a man who discovers he’s gravely ill while feeling absolutely fine, before going down into the depths which come with the territory as he battles the fact that he could well die far before his time. It’s not all “Beaches” like material though as writer Will Reiser also bravely plays up the unexpected comedy of the situation, mainly through Seth Rogen’s best friend character who while trying to comfort, also uses the situation to his advantage, be it in an effort to pick up girls or to try and get his friend to see the light and dump the not right for him at all girlfriend played with an admirable lack of empathy (though also under-served by the screenplay in fairness) Bryce Dallas Howard.
Along with Anna Kendrick as a new love interest, Phillip Baker Hall, Angelica Houston and many others, it’s a film which uses actors perfectly well suited to a film which works incredibly well as a “dramedy” which by the end of the film takes the situation more than seriously enough to not appear frivolous. After All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and The Wackness, it’s another solid entry in the work of director Levine and is a very solid recommend.
After making one of the more controversial films of the last few years, 2009′s Antichrist, a film which made the UK Top Ten in its first week believe it or not, Von Trier doesn’t bring us more cutting of certain areas of the human body but instead destroys the planet in a film which starts off with the end of the world, and doesn’t get much cheerier after that.
A film split in two halves, the first dealing with a disastrous wedding as Kirsten Dunst plays a depressed bride who’s not into the idea of marrying Alexander Skarsgard (my wife would happily take her place if he’s reading this..) but goes through the motions in a vain attempt to find inner peace, before moving onto a focus on the sister of Dunst’s character played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who starts to worry that the planet Melancholia instead of moving past Earth will instead smash into it.
These two stories may sound incredibly disparate but as well as the same location and some of the same cast members, the film as a whole has a sense of woe to it which is rarely captured on screen. The smiles and pleasantries on the surface of the wedding party all seems to be hiding resentment and bitterness from virtually everyone on screen, they all seem to have problems with each other but with the exception of Charlotte Rampling’s wonderfully forthright mother character, they all instead seem to sink into a collective malaise, led by Dunst’s rather obviously depressed character who may come across as spoiled at times but certainly takes part in profoundly shot imagery which adds as much to her character as the dialogue does.
The second half which ties into the ending of the Earth far more directly is interesting for the way Dunst’s character moves on while Gainsbourg’s sinks as the ex-bride realises the world is ending, and is rather happy about it, while the denial and mock-happiness in Gainsbourg melts away with panic setting in instead. Along with Keifer Sutherland walking round literally owning the place, but with a quiet terror taking hold too, its more intimate than the first half, and less funny in all truth, but is certainly powerful.
As I’m sure you can tell, this isn’t a film for those wanting a light wedding rom-com but it’s one of the most interesting films from last year and is more than worth a watch by those wanting beautiful imagery along with their angst.