Archive for December 7th, 2007

“The Savages”

December 7, 2007

The Savahes

The film The Savages is smart enough to live in the present, but finds clever ways to give us clues about the characters’ pasts, which is very important, so pay attention. It’s the story about a sister, Wendy, and brother, Jon Savage (Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) who suddenly have their aging father Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) thrust into their lives when he comes down with a case of dementia and his girlfriend dies. It turns out that neither child even knows where he lives. While the film unfolds in the present the character’s are certainly affected by their pasts and all three give performances that radiate emotional history, a plethora of emotional history. These are probably three of the most well crafted and effective performances I’ve seen this year.

The film making is exceptional as well. For awhile the writer/director Tamara Jenkins finds ways to merge the environment with the performances. Wendy stares at her father’s x-rays absently as the hum of the x-ray machine drowns out the sounds around her. Or as Wendy slowly wakes up Lenny’s voice gradually increases in volume. These are subtle tricks but really ground you into the reality of the film, it’s unfortunate that she stops using these storytelling devices about half way through. Thankfully the writing and direction is strong enough that’s its not a necessity.

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“Enchanted”: The Title Appropriate

December 7, 2007

Enchanted

I stopped watching Disney movies a long time ago. And I don’t mean the Bruckheimer or the Pixar films. I still see those. Though I missed Cars. No, what I’m talking about, are the Disney films with talking animals and fluffy songs. I stopped watching those, not because I outgrew them, but because they lost their charm. I missed Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and pretty much everything since which mainly consists of direct-to DVDs. Whatever charm they were missing they got it back in spades with Enchanted, and they really don’t even need a story, all they have to do is keep the camera trained on Amy Adams beatific face and there’s enough charm for 50 movies to come, and lucky for the audience that’s what the director has chosen to do. Her eyes are so big and full of life in this film that one can imagine her as one of those silent film bomb shells, innocent yet someone you can never stop dreaming about. And without the 100% commitment she gives to the role, the film would have been obnoxious as all get out. To be cute for a minute or two, or even a line of dialogue is a tough sell sometimes, but Adams keeps it going and keeps it fresh for two hours. So even parts of the script that could have been stagnant are alive. Slow down Phil, but what is the film about you ask?

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