Category Archives: Movie Review
I’ve signed up for the See Film First system, where you get special offers to see upcoming movies for free. The catch is that they are often shown at inopportune times or places. But for us, that’s not a big deal, since we enjoy travelling around and we’re not super picky about seeing a flick on a Friday night. So last week when I was offered tickets to go see Unstoppable, the new Denzel Washington movie, on a Sunday morning at 11am in Reading, I jumped on it. We’ve been wanted to go to Reading for a while now, and this seemed like a good opportunity.
So, first: a brief review of the film. It was pretty good! I was surprised, since The Taking of Pelham 123, by the same team of Tony Scott & Denzel Washington, was so horrible. But Unstoppable had a more exciting premise, and was executed better. The whole film had a gritty feel that worked quite well with the working class aspect of the characters. Most of it was shot around Pittsburgh, and so looked very familiar to me. I think they did a really good job of portraying the towns and people of Western Pennsylvania. Even though you know how the film ends (obviously, since it was based on a true story and I don’t recall hearing about an entire town vaporized by toxic chemicals), there is still a great deal of tension. And that tension is managed quite well, never really overwhelming you but never leaving you bored. The only part that felt manufactured to me were some of the personal details: like Denzel’s character’s wife dying of cancer, or the love-twist with the other main character. My last point will be quite succinct: Chris Pine is really, really REALLY hot. End of story.
So! After the movie we took the train two more stops into downtown Reading. (Note, if you’re reading this, the town name is NOT pronounced that way. It’s RED-ing, and god help you if you forget it!) As the largest urban area in England that is NOT technically a city, I didn’t have high hopes for Reading, but I was pleasantly surprised. I think the town planners have done a really nice job of integrating the older market-town aspects with the newer office-developments.
Unfortunately it was typical English weather (rainy and cold and miserable), so we didn’t explore too much. But the High Street was quite nice (and very broad!), and there are some lovely ruins of the old Reading Abbey. It seems that they have a bit of a problem with falling mortar, so some of the ruins are currently fenced off. And Forbury Park is a really nice space, with a lovely – if anatomically incorrect – bronzed lion, the largest of its kind. With the winter weather it was getting dark shortly after, and we decided to head home, but we’ll definitely be going back to Reading to explore more of the town!
I know this movie first came out in the US around Christmas, and I’d wanted to see it for a while, but we just now got a chance Friday night. In looking for a showing, I found it only at a small pseudo-art-house kind of place in Bermondsey Square, about 1/2 mile south of Tower Bridge. The cinema (where, like others in the UK, you can take a glass of beer to your seat) turned out to be a) intimate (50 nice and cushy seats only) and b) only £6/person, compared to £9 or £10 at the regular places. Although I knew I wanted to see the movie, it was a very pleasant surprise – I highly recommend it!
Let me see if I can explain why I liked it. Up in the Air truly feels real (capturing some of what you get in Office Space, although perhaps even more real thanks to showing real places and real brands like American Airlines, Hilton Hotels, and Hertz Rent-a-Car). It is funny throughout, although in such a way that is respectful of the rather serious themes (people losing their jobs, lonliness, human connctions, etc.), and in a way that is smart and engaging as opposed to hitting viewers over the head. The more dramatic aspects of the film, especially the romantic angle, was developed nicely, and – not to give anything away – does not end in picture-perfect happiness, which I almost always prefer to some fakely oversweet, unrealistic neat-and-tidy outcome.
In addition, the dramatic side of the film is developed with a family story. Although the story is fairly standard and obvious, it is painted in a way that is clear and simple and powerful. Let me say a few words, too, about the stars. I think George Clooney is one of the best of our time. I didn’t say best actor, because, to be fair, he does often seem to be playing George Clooney, and you do often find him in roles that require his patent slick-and-suave persona. Given that, he is perfect for this role, and very enjoyable on screen. Vera Farmiga actually has a harder job, I think, and is brillant as not just his female interest but also, ultimately, a character with a lot going on herself. Finally, the score is quite pleasing, and sets a nice tone for the film.
Overall, this was an incredibly enjoyable and thought-provoking film, combining a good sense of reality with both comedy and drama. Now I’m anxious to read the book that inspired the film, a 2001 novel which is quite different but clearly from the same lineage. If any of you have seen the movie and have an opinion, I’d certainly like to hear it!
Just a quick post tonight…
We saw the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart tonight. It’s totally made me homesick for Colorado. The wide open spaces, the country music, the big sky…. I miss the mountains! And those western style shirts with the silver buttons down the front.
Although I never really was a “country girl” — I think (especially living here in London, where the differences are so pronounced) that anyone growing up in the West absorbs so much of the country lifestyle without even realizing it.
The story in the movie is such a simple tale, without many of the expected tropes of a love story/alcoholic redemption combo. And the ending just breaks your heart, while at the same time you’re left full of hope. It’s a very “real” movie, and Jeff Bridges was totally amazing in it. If you haven’t seen it, you definitely should.
Ok. We’re off to bed. Our furniture is coming tomorrow (yay!), so we can stop using our one single table for everything. Oh, and we got an air mattress — so y’all can come stay anytime you like.