The autumn of 2009 was a very troubling time.  If you can’t summon up the memories from so long ago, fear not, for I will helpfully recap.  As the world geared up for yet another Oscar season, a small film by Lone Scherfig was garnering the kind of awards hype you couldn’t ignore if you tried.  Touting an original screenplay by Nick Hornby, An Education was meant to be a smart, sensitive coming-of-age story featuring a breakout performance by a relative unknown and would, at the very least, herald the beginning of an exciting few months for smart, worthy filmgoers.  Of course, anyone who knows just how awful these ‘award seasons’ are will greet the hype with a sense of knowing, slightly smug dread.  Still, this was hardly a Ron Howard movie, and its smallish, festival roots gave some small amount of hope.  On top of that, any Doctor Who fan worth their salt would never turn down the chance to watch that breakout star, Carey Mulligan, for a few hours.  As it turned out, it was one of the worst seasons for award-bait in a while, and An Education was predictably over praised and now, aside from Mulligan, doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning anything of much significance (offense intended, BAFTA). Read the rest of this entry »

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Sherlock Holmes

January 6, 2010

The miserable career of Guy Ritchie since his two early successes (though it was really just the one repeated, albeit well) in shallow, gangland-pop entertainments is well documented.  Flop after flop of misguided, kaballah-drenched soggy retreads had given the once British wonder boy the air of a has-been one-trick pony, like a novelty pop star desperate to follow up the original success by aping it.  One imagines Warner Brothers decided to resurrect one of the most famous literary characters in the world with the directorial equivalent of the Crazy Frog for at least two reasons:  1.) Recent career woes meant he was cheap and malleable and 2.) Holmes is apparently based in London, and Ritchie did those films that were set in London but were flashy and cool and maybe he could do that here, yeah? Read the rest of this entry »

As the year draws to a close, the last great blockbuster of a particularly good decade of them is unleashed upon us all.  It’s a convenient, albeit entirely constructed, narrative that the greatest single advance in cinematic technology heralds the end of one digit and welcomes the change to another.  Like The Matrix back in 1999, there is little doubt that James Cameron’s Avatar heralds the future of overblown, over budgeted, and overwrought spectacles of the 2010s. Read the rest of this entry »