The Reel Deal


Quick Takes on Three Films

Film Insight by Tyler Malone

May 2011


Reel Rating: 3 out of 5

What to do with a character like Thor? He works fine in the comic books (though he isn’t even one of Marvel’s most interesting superheros there), but he is the kind of character that doesn’t translate easily to film (especially when the people behind the franchise are trying to make the movie blend and fit in with the more “realistic” characters in the Marvel Universe whose stories they’re attempting to fuse together for the upcoming Avengers movie). Alien Norse gods are inherently a bit cheesier than a guy who builds a super suit, or even a guy who takes some super soldier serum. I must start by commending Kenneth Branagh and the rest of the cast and crew for attempting to walk that dangerous tightrope between realism and camp, between seriousness and silliness, between Shakespeare and Stan Lee, and coming out somewhat successful in a handful of scenes. The problem is that more often than not, the cheesiness takes over, and the film suffers for it. I think most of the fault lies in the script, which feels completely disjointed. Haven’t we learned that superhero movies don’t have to be littered with cringe-inducing lines and superfluous side characters? I still have no clue why the character played by Kat Dennings was included. I obviously understand why Jeremy Renner makes a cameo as Hawkeye (but just because I get that they’re trying to tie in all the Avengers, doesn’t mean I think it was worthwhile or served any purpose). And it saddens me to see fine actors like Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård and Natalie Portman stuck in a land called one-dimensional-character-ville. That said, I did have some fun watching Thor, which is why I couldn’t give it worse than 3 reels. Also, I kept saying to myself: What did you expect them to do? Could you imagine even the greatest of filmmakers able to pull off a 4.5 or 5 reel version of Thor? No, so I’ll give ‘em the benefit of the doubt. I guess they did what they could, and it didn’t turn out bad, just not very remarkable either. And not memorable at all.


Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I am currently embroiled in bachelor-party-planning turmoil as the best man of a wedding so when Kristen Wiig has her tantrum, goes ape-shit and throws a giant cookie to the ground, I understand the sentiment. I think anyone who has been involved in a wedding–either themselves married or just being a part of a wedding party–can find the humor in this film’s set-up. Weddings lend themselves well to comedy because there’s so much that goes into one, so much that can go wrong, and so much riding on it going right. And the film succeeds at being quite funny. The reason being: Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are two of the funniest women working today. Where the film suffers is its inability to find its tone: it sort of fluctuates between gross-out Hangover-style buddy comedy and run-of-the-mill chick-flick sentimentality. Going into the film, I didn’t even know that there was a Kristen Wiig love-story subplot (they trick you with the trailer by barely even showing her love interest though he turns out to be quite a major character). Apparently, they wanted guys to see the trailer and think they were going to watch the female-version of The Hangover. I didn’t so much mind the chick-flick subplot, it just felt somewhat separate from the rest of the film. It’s not that the two plots don’t intertwine, they do to a degree, it is more just the tonality of the two different plots feel like two completely separate movies. On their own, these two movies, the gross-out buddy comedy and the cutesy romantic comedy, are decent films, but there isn’t a real benefit of mashing them together. All in all though, the wannabe-Hangover bits work well enough to get most open-minded viewers to laugh out loud enough to make it worth the price of admission, and the rom-com half of the movie may be a bit cheesy, but even if you extricated it from the really funny bits it would still be much better than your average chick-flick.


Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Marcel Proust, who as Yves Saint-Laurent’s apparent patron saint becomes a sort of ghostly presence throughout L’amour Fou, once wrote in his Remembrance of Things Past: “He marvelled at the terrible recreative power of his memory.” L’amour Fou is a documentary which allows us to marvel at the terrible recreative power of Pierre Bergé’s memory. Though the documentary’s focus is the famed fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, it is his partner in love and business, Bergé, who anchors the film. Rather than go the normal route of fashion/entertainment documentaries and fill the credits with the names of the countless celebrities who would no doubt line up to praise the man whose impact on the fashion world could not possibly be overstated, director Pierre Thoretton instead chooses to focus almost exclusively on the memories of Bergé. Rather than merely a look back at an icon, the film becomes a bittersweet portrait of the colliding conflicts of human life: love, depression, age, death, work, art, success, expectation, excess. And memory. The auction of the couple’s art collection, which acts primarily as the frame story for the tale of Saint-Laurent’s life, also works as the perfect metaphor for the way we value and devalue everything in our lives. This film, though meticulously well-constructed, feels as effortless as a memory, as chaotic as a memory, as haunting as a memory. It refuses to let you off the hook. I wholeheartedly recommend you see it in order to marvel at the terrible recreative power of memory, and to explore not just the life of the great Yves Saint-Laurent but everything that makes us human, everything that connects us all.

Thor is a film directed by Kenneth Branagh, and written by Ashley Miller, Zach Stentz, Don Payne, J. Michael Straczynski & Mark Protosevich, based on Marvel Comic characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby. It stars Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman. The powerful but arrogant warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

Bridesmaids is a film directed by Paul Feig and written by Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo. It stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph & Rose Byrne. Competition between the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, over who is the bride’s best friend, threatens to upend the life of an out-of-work pastry chef.

L’amour Fou is a film directed by Pierre Thoretton. It stars Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint-Laurent. A documentary on the relationship between fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and his lover, Pierre Berge.

Written by Tyler Malone

Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Design by Jillian Mercado

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