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Greetings, weary travellers. Why don't you take a break from the road and listen to our thoughts on Flight, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Mama and Cloud Atlas?
After a decade of fannying about in the uncanny valley with performance-capture and turning Ebenezer Scrooge into an action hero, Robert Zemeckis returns to live action cinema and directing living, breathing actors in Flight, a drama which, despite its name, isn't about the fact that Denzel Washington's pilot impossibly lands a seemingly doomed airliner but the fact he did so while drunk, and his subsequent confrontation of his alcoholism. Washington is, to the surprise of none, excellent, and his portrayal of an alcoholic in denial is compelling. He's given great support from a strong cast, notably Kelly Reilly as a recovering heroin addict and a drug-dealing John Goodman. An excellent character piece and highly recommended.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film which all of us at theOneliner managed to miss last year but were all eager to catch up on. Set in the fictional Louisiana bayou community of The Bathtub, this mixture of fantasy and reality follows the trials of 6 year-old Hushpuppy and the Bathtub's other residents in the aftermath of a post-hurricane flood. Naturalistic performances from a largely untrained cast, led by the outstanding Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy, are very strong, but it'll possibly be the tone and atmosphere that leave the lasting impact, rather than the acting. Beasts isn't the easiest viewing, and it requires an effort from its audience, but it's an effort well-spent as the film is ultimately very rewarding and will likely benefit from repeat viewing. It's definitely not for everyone, but for those prepared to put in some work for their appreciation of the art of cinema it's one to check out.
To our great surprise there have been a couple of non-terrible horror films in the past two years, and it's this unexpected cause for optimism, as well as the fact it stars Jessica Chastain, that persuaded us that watching Mama might be a good idea. Saved from being murdered by their father by a mysterious benefactor, two young girls are looked after by this unknown person in a shack in the woods for 5 years until found by their uncle. The children then move in with the uncle and his girlfriend, but their former guardian is unwilling to relinquish their role. Really, we should have known better. While the acting is better than might be expected for the genre, and, on a technical level, it's well put together, the story is astonishingly predictable. Worse, it's not scary. Not even a tiny bit. At least one of us contends that there very possibly has never been a scary horror film, and while you may disagree with that, Mama isn't the film to change this point of view. We urge you to avoid.
Based on David Mitchell's 'unfilmable' (an epithet treated with great scorn around these parts) novel of the same name, Cloud Atlas is an ambitious film which tells a number of different tales, in a number of different styles, in a number of different time periods. What unites these disparate stories is the re-use of the same actors in each, but often as different genders or ethnicities. The constant tonal and narrative shifts, the nearly 3-hour running time and inconsistency in the quality of the make-up, amongst other things, could easily conspire to make Cloud Atlas a train-wreck, but as a whole the film works far, far better than it has any right to, and is to be commended for trying something so different and with such ambition and scope in today's depressingly homogeneous cinematic landscape. So what we're saying is that, while it's not flawless, we were entertained by it more often than we weren't. Give it a look.
Well, travellers, hope you're suitably rested for your return to the road. If you've any comments you'd like to make, please do so either by emailing email@example.com or hollering @theoneliner on Twitter. As always we'd appreciate you taking a few minutes to rate and review us on iTunes, or wherever better podcasts are served.
Well, uh, hope you folks enjoyed yourselves. Catch ya further on down the trail.