Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Crisp Criticism - "August: Osage County", "Dallas Buyers Club", "Short Term 12", "The Selfish Giant", "Wolf Children"

Julien Faddoul

August: Osage County **

An Oklahoma family comes together for the funeral of their patriarch.
A masterful and inspired work of the stage is turned into a rather lifeless piece of cinema, with a poor sense of space and tone and a cast using their juicy roles to repeatedly trump each other. Despite this, Letts’ brilliant reconnaissance on the disillusionment of life remains intact, even if his humor has been gutted.

d – John Wells
w – Tracy Letts   (Based on the Play by Tracy Letts)
ph – Adriano Goldman
pd – David Gropman
m – Gustavo Santaolallo
ed – Stephen Mirrione
cos – Cindy Evans

p – Harvey Weinstein, George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Jean Dourmanian, Steve Traxler

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham

Dallas Buyers Club **

A homophobic Texan is given 30 days to live after being diagnosed with AIDS.
Plain but absorbing dramatization of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and one of its victims, who rebuffed FDA-approved medicine in favor of his own. Although the film implies certain erroneous details, it is a passionate representation without ever being overwhelming.

d – Jean-Marc Vallee
w – Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
ph – Yves Belanger
pd – John Paino
ed – Martin Pensa, Jean-Marc Vallee
cos – Kurt and Bart

p – Robbie Brenner, Nathan Ross, Rachel Rothman

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn, Denis O'Hare, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne, Kevin Rankin

Short Term **

The goings-on of a Los Angeles foster-care facility and its supervisor, a former abused child.
A distressing, touching and staggeringly well-acted film; but there’s something a tad disingenuous and tidy about Cretton’s script. One can’t quite shake the outlines and rehearsals. Anyhow, the acting is a dream.

wd – Destin Cretton
ph – Brett Pawlak
pd – Rachel Myers
m – Joel P. West
ed – Nat Sanders
cos – Joy Cretton, Mirren Gordon-Crozier

p – Joshua Astrachan, Asher Goldstein, Ron Najor, Maren Olson

Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Rami Malek, Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield, Kevin Hernandez, Melora Walters, Stephanie Beatriz, Lydia Du Veaux, Alex Calloway

The Selfish Giant *

Two teenage boys get caught up in a world of copper theft.
Overrated though tactful and unrelenting British kitchen-sink fable with formidable performances from its cast of non-professionals.

wd – Clio Barnard   (Based on the Short Story by Oscar Wilde)
ph – Mike Eley
pd – Helen Scott
m – Harry Escott
ed – Nick Fenton
cos – Natthew Price

p – Tracy O’Riordan

Cast: Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas, Ralph Ineson, Ian Burfield

Wolf Children ***

A 19-year-old college student has sex with a wolf-man and the couple bears two children with the same affliction.
A disturbing and painful experience: vivid and intricate comprehensiveness by refusing to betray its characters. Hosoda approaches it all with a didactic sledgehammer that, expectedly, leads to over-length and unnecessary narration. Satoshi Kon minus the feeling, if you like.

d – Mamoru Hosoda
w – Mamoru Hosoda, Satoko Okudera
ad – Hiroshi Ohno
m – Masakatsu Takagi
ed – Shigeru Nishiyama

p – Takuya Ito, Yuichiro Sato, Takafumi Watanabe

Cast: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Ohsawa, Haru Kuroki, Yukito Nishii, Momoka Ohno, Amon Kabe, Takuma Hiraoka

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