09 March 2010

Arts Corner: March is film month as well

I know, I know…you spend ages not watching any films, and then a whole load of them come along at once. Not content with the delights of February, this month I’ve been to see a couple of grown-up films.

First of all (courtesy of the lovely people at SeeFilmFirst), I love you Phillip Morris. This is the (true) tale of con-man and four-time prison escapee Steven Russell, who fell in love with his cell mate Phillip Morris.

I can’t quite get my head around this film. There’s something not quite right about it, and for once, it’s not Jim Carrey.

I can’t stand him, normally – The Truman Show is about the only film of his that I’ve ever enjoyed. But in this, he’s excellent as the con-man Steven Russell – most of the Carrey-isms are reined in, and towards the end, he puts in a really powerful acting performance. Top marks (although I could have done with a *lot* less of the naked Jim Carrey…).

The film falls down on three counts, I think. First of all, it can’t quite decide if it wants to be a comedy or a drama – there’s moments of both, but it’s all so jumbled up together that there’s a lack of coherence in the general mood and feel of the film.

Second, Ewan McGregor is woefully miscast as Phillip Morris. His accent wobbles all over the place (mostly via Scotland), and he just comes across as far too wet. Yes, Phillip Morris was a nice guy – but Ewan McGregor never fleshes that out at all – his performance is very two-dimensional.

Thirdly, make that pretty much every performance that’s two-dimensional (apart from the aforementioned Mr Carrey). It might be inevitable in a film that focuses so firmly on the two lead characters, but the rest of the cast are never rounded out as characters, and you care even less about them than the leads.

Sad, really. The subject matter’s great (and I suspect the book is fascinating) – but it’s just not been translated well into a film.

In other news, I've also been to see A Single Man (following on from my Colin Firth spree in Nanny McPhee).

All I can say is: Colin Firth. Julianne Moore. 1960s architect-designed houses in Laurel Canyon. What’s not to like?

This film is fab – a beautiful, moody and very sad depiction of the last day of college professor George Falconer – and has a stunning central performance by Mr Firth. Who also wears some rather good shoes, and manages to look effortlessly cool and nerdy at the same time. College prof-style is obviously the way to go (Orb, take note).

If I had any criticism, it's that the soundtrack is a little bit overbearing at times. There's only so much strings/orchestra tugging at the heart strings that a girl can take.

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