Tag Archives: Gemma Arterton

Tamara Drewe

9 Nov

Title: Tamara Drewe
Year:
2010
Director:
Stephen Frears
Writer:
Moira Buffini, based on the comic strip by Posy Simmonds
Starring:
Gemma Arterton, Dominic Cooper, Luke Evans, Roger Allam, Bill Camp, Tamsin Greig, Jessica Barden
MPAA Rating:
R, language and some sexuality
Runtime:
111 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.8
Rotten Tomatoes:
73%

 

I am a big big fan of director Stephen Frears. Whether it’s High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things, The Grifters or The Queen the guy has an amazing eye, and can navigate many different tonalities and genres with the same amazing effects, with the last two of the films I named even getting him Best Director Oscar nominations. So yes, I’m a fan of his work, and so I was intrigued to see Tamara Drewe, his latest project, a nice little British comedy about a journalist who returns to the little village she grew up in to sell dead mother’s home.

In that little village there is a house where writers go to to finish off their stories. That retreat is run by a couple, the husband being a writer himself, of crime novels, and also being a cheating husband every time gets. The wife is a saint, running the retreat splendidly, and, at the end of the day, still loving her husband who ultimately always comes back to her.

Gemma Arterton plays the titular character, who went to London as a little girl with a big nose and journalistic aspirations and comes back after a plastic surgeon made her nose regular again and with a full-fleged career in motion. Everyone in town loves how Tamara looks now, whether it’s the new nose or the new more revealing outfits, and we also get to meet one of the few people who loved how she looked back in day, Andy, who still lives in the village doing odd jobs here and there.

Tamara Drewe is at turns really amusing, because Mr. Frears tangles up the lives of everyone to quite funny results. Tamara and the crime novelist go at it, but then comes Dominic Cooper’s character into town, a rock and roll star from London, and she gets it on with him instead, all the while she still flirts with Andy. And we also have Jody and Casey, the village’s two meddlesome teenage girls who have a huge celebrity crush on Ben and spy on everyone and start interfering with Tamara’s live to rather entertaining results.

This is a film that works because of Mr. Frears, he knows how to handle this group of people, who all live in a village in which they all know each other and all have something to do with each other’s lives. And he crafts a nice tale, one in which the people are dumb at times because they need to be to follow their hearts, and a tale in which they all get what they had coming to them. And, what’s best, is that all the characters are very human, very normal, and it’s true, they all have real aspirations, real desires, and they feel real to us, which makes us enjoy this one even more.

Tamara has those three suitors, the childhood acquaintance with back luck, the adulterous crime novelist and the vain rock star. So yes, there is a bit of sexy comedy here, and it works, and there is also a bit of very real human melodrama, too. And there are those two teenagers, bored with their own existence in a dull little town who then resort to manipulate the fates of the adults who live in them for their own amusement, and for ours, too.

This is a nice little British comedy, I also liked the subplot in which the crime novelist’s wife meets an American academic and they hit it off as the two disappointed-in-love literature-lovers they are. Now, while the story is carried off very nicely by Mr. Frears, who handles the many love stories and even the one rather violent death later on in the film quite well, the characters I felt were what ultimately weighted this film down. Tamara herself for instance, felt really really one-dimensional at times, and considering her name is the title of the film that’s rather unacceptable.

The other thing I didn’t like at times was the tone of it all. Yes, it’s funny and cheerful most of the times, but at times it stumbles upon topics that would really benefit from a temporary change of attitude. This is still much better and much more honest than the majority of the Hollywood romantic comedies we see by the dozens every year, mostly because Hollywood studios wouldn’t let their heroine bed three men. But that’s something we would have expected from Mr. Frears anyways, so it doesn’t cut it here. Go see his 1987 film Prick Up Your Ears and you’ll know how this one would have benefitted from a similar sort of hand by him, but still, even though by his standards this one may be below par, it’s still a quite commendable little film.

Grade: B

Advertisements

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

19 Jul

Title: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Year: 2010
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard based on the screen story and video game series by Jordan Mechner
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action
Runtime: 116 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%

This is a film with no substance, but then again that’s something one has come to expect from most of Jerry Bruckheimer’s offerings, what one has also come to expect from them is that they know just how dumb they are, and because of that edge that they have from many other films who are dumb and don’t realize it this one can be just a fun summer action film, not a great one, but one that makes bank, where this one is above average is when it comes to judging videogames adaptations which have been decidedly horrible while this one is bearable. Oh, and David Belle, the parkour expert they used in this film, is the one to be credited for most of  the funner stuff.

And the talent pool doesn’t stop with Mr. Belle, we have Jake Gyllenhaal and Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina in big roles, that’s an Oscar nominee, an Oscar winner and a guy who for some reason hasn’t been nominated yet, though in my mind he should have been last year for An Education, and maybe a few years earlier for Frida, but anyways, what I mean is, there’s talent here, even the cinematographer, John Seale, is an Oscar winner and has three other nominations. But, to me, it just wasn’t there, maybe it’s the fact that the story enables us to rewind time and try stuff again, maybe it was the writing, I don’t know, it just wasn’t there for me.

Dastan, the Jake Gyllenhaal character, was raised by the King of Persia after being seen by him as a kid defending another boy and speeding through rooftops (that’s where David Belle’s stamp is at), so he grows up as son to the King, with two brothers and with an uncle, who’s the Ben Kingsley character and who will turn out to be the villain, and under this guy’s command the Persian army invades a neighboring city in the quest for weapons of mass destruction (yay for contemporary political commentary in the Persian empire fifteen-hundred years ago), and there Dastan meets Princess Tamina, who’s played by Gemma Arterton, just as an anecdote I’ll say that I was actually the only one at my theater not completely drooling over her, but yeah, she’s pretty enough to fulfill this role.

She’s the one with the Dagger of Time which can do the aforementioned time-jumping thingie that makes the “sands of time” run out if it is used too long, the king’s evil brother evidently just wanted to get into the city with any excuse so that he himself could get the Dagger which is the actual weapon (yeah, political commentary here, too) and, to avoid this from happening, Dastan and Tamina flee, which paves the way for a helluva lot of CGI-heavy action sequences, but then again this is a Bruckheimer film so you know that pointless digital stuff will be happening in excessive amounts at some point during the ride, seriously, all of his films follow the same formula, and yet people always go into them as though they were something new, and yeah, it’s nice light entertainment, but it’s been a while since a Bruckheimer flick has offered something more substantial than that, I’m talking seven years ago with the first Pirates of the Caribbean, four years ago if you really digged Deja Vu.

Mike Newell the director has also done some cool stuff before, but like Bruckheimer it’s been a while, I’m talking 1997 when he did Donnie Brasco, since then he has done the very so-so Mona Lisa Smile, the disappointing Love in the Time of Cholera, and the franchise-worst Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so yeah, what we have here is a producer and a director who have delivered some great stuff, but that haven’t done it again for years, I’m talking critically obviously, not commercially, and unfortunately for them this won’t break their streak, this movie not only is based on a videogame, but feels like one, too, and yeah it’s above par when it comes to these adaptations, but that’s not saying much at all.

But let’s be honest, this is a painless film, and it’s not as though anyone could have been expecting anything more than this, people will eat their popcorn, men will drool over Ms. Arterton, women will drool over Mr. Gyllenhaal, and Bruckheimer will collect his paycheck from box-office receipts, though I’m guessing that won’t be as fat as it was some years ago.

Grade: C+

Clash of the Titans

11 Apr

Title: Clash of the Titans
Year: 2010
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, adapting from the script of the original 1981 film by Beverly Cross
Starring: Sam Worthington, Mads Mikkelsen, Alexa Davalos, Danny Huston, Gemma Arterton, Pete Postelthwaite, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Polly Walker, Kaya Scodelario, Nicholas Hoult, Agyness Deyn, Natalia Vodianova
MPAA Rating: PG-13, fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality
Runtime: 106 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%

Clash of the Titans is a nice remake, it’s not a good one, but when seeing it you know that Leterrier has seen the original 1981 film and loves it and wanted to do it right, in that sense he does, because you do sense it’s an affectionate remake, but it’s not, however, a good film.

The mortal people of Argos have had it with the gods up there in Olympus and have recruited Perseus, played by Sam Worthington, a demi-god son of Zeus and a human woman, they have recruited him to start a revolt against the gods, which the gods will obviously try to put down.

Clash of the Titans is obviously not as much about the story as it is about being the action blockbuster that is, as its the standard for these films nowadays, also available in 3D. The thing is, this film wasn’t shot in 3D, it was converted to it later in post-production, and if you know me you’ll know I’m not huge on 3D in most cases, and in this case I hated it because it wasn’t even meant to be shown in 3D, it was an afterthought from a studio that wanted to make more money.

But nevertheless, the action sequences in 2D are technically outstanding and the kraken was beautifully done, and I’m a fashion junkie, so seeing Natalia Vodianova and Agyness Deyn show up for small roles was an extra treat.

I could go on telling you about the plot, but it’s irrelevant, this is all about the action scenes, it’s all about the craftsmanship of it all, how convincing they can make the kraken and Andromeda and everything else in between, and to be fair they do make them quite nicely, but the film itself is entirely silly, the acting is completely stale even if they do have Neeson and Fiennes on board, but who cares, nobody will go to a film called Clash of the Titans to see Oscar-worthy interactions between Hades and Zeus. So yeah, I do kind of recommend it if you like this sort of stuff, just do yourself a favor, don’t pay the extra $5 for the 3D.

Grade: C-