Showing posts with label Viola Davis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Viola Davis. Show all posts

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Help

It’s rare that I watch a film and want to hurt the cast but I deeply disliked about 60% of the characters in The Help and wanted to punch about 20% of them in the face. The Oscar winning 2011 film tells the story of disenfranchised maids living in early 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Emma Stone) returns from college with the world at her feet but realises that her family and friends expect very specific things of her. She is to act and dress in a certain way, not think too hard and settle down with a husband as soon as possible. Skeeter goes against what is expected and gets a job at the local paper. Desperate for something worthwhile to write about she asks her friend’s maid Aibileen (Viola Davis) if she can write about life from the help’s perspective. Although weary at first, Aibileen soon opens up to Skeeter and soon fellow maid Minny (Octavia Spencer) is telling her story too.

I never saw The Help on its initial release and is in fact a rare example of a recent Best Picture candidate I’ve missed. Something about the movie didn’t appeal to me and my early hatred of the bad guy characters coupled with finding Emma Stone’s character annoying got me off to a bad start. By the end though I was wishing the film wouldn’t end and would have watched another act. I grew to respect and love certain characters but still want to punch others and the story is a remarkable example of bravery, courage and setting right what is wrong.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Well, no, it really isn’t. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is based on the true story of a 16 year old New York teenager who seeks help for his suicidal feelings. He is checked into a mental hospital which he is forced to share with adults due to the teenage facility undergoing renovation. There he impacts on the lives of his fellow inmates and meets the girl of his dreams.

I have two main problems with the film. The first is the main characters name; Craig. While Craig is a fine name, it is the American pronunciation which I cannot stand. It appears the Americans are blind to the letter ‘I’ in the name and instead pronounce it Creg as in Gregg. I find this incredibly annoying so a film with a lead called Craig/Creg has to do a lot to impress me. One scene in which the entire hospital chants ‘Creg, Creg, Creg!’ is infuriating.

My second problem with the film is Craig/Creg’s reasons for being in the hospital in the first place. As far as I can tell he is depressed due to the pressures of being a teenager (getting good grades, impressing girls, being popular etc). While I empathise with this, most teenagers feel this way but he appears to have no reason to. He is worried he isn’t smart and has no talents when he goes to one of the top schools in New York City and is a talented artist and singer. He is in love with his best friend’s girlfriend and doesn’t think he will ever find love but during the course of the film, both the girl he is in love with and another girl throw themselves at him. I just find his reasons for depression to be a bit woolly.

Craig/Creg is played unspectacularly by newcomer Kier Gilchrist while Zach Galifianakis plays Bobby, a fellow patient at the hospital. Galifianakis is well cast and gives a solid performance as Bobby. He is able surprise the audience with his ability to go from stable to unstable and back again and keeps the audience on the edge of its seats as you don’t know when he might ‘lose it’ again. He also plays the role of mentor to Craig/Creg in a believable and loving way. Craig/Creg’s love interest is played by Emma Roberts who is convincing as a depressed and quirky teen. Her reasons for being in the hospital are never really explained.

While the film has some nice moments including a sing-a-long to Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and the ending is typical Hollywood slush but nice the film falls down on its protagonists reasons for being there in the first place. I don’t want to sound as though depression is not an illness as it most definitely is but I just don’t buy into Craig/Creg’s reasons for his depression.