Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Coming and Going: Ginger & Rosa and Upside Down

I don't know if Ginger & Rosa will actually be sliding into the same screen at Kendall Square that Upside Down currently occupies, but that's the way they're rotating things at that theater this Friday. One movie where Timothy Spall serves as the cast's secret weapon out, one in.

Kind of wish I'd managed to get to Upside Down during the weekend; it's surprisingly fun even if it's bonkers. The funny thing is, nearly everybody I've heard from seems to have pretty much that reaction - it's ridiculous, but just look at it. I wonder if it's playing in 3D anywhere; the Blu-ray appears to have a 3D version, but I don't remember ever seeing that on a poster. It would have looked pretty impressive; there were a lot of shots that even in 2D seemed to be setting up multiple clear planes.

Thing I just realized: The Talk Cinema series that included Ginger & Rosa also had The Oranges last year, which went "father takes up with best friend's daughter" rather than "father takes up with daughter's best friend". That other movie seemed to find the pairing more sympathetic, which may have something to do with the girl being some five years older.

Anyway, both pretty good movies. Worth a look, either before they leave or when they arrive.

Ginger & Rosa

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 17 March 2013 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #2 (Talk Cinema, Blu-ray)

Sally Potter has spent her career making movies that ranged from the experimental to the eccentric and back again, but Ginger & Rosa is not one of them; it's a coming-of-age story with settings and certain details reminiscent of her own formative years. Not exactly an uncommon thing, but it's not always done this well, and certainly not always so blessed in terms of the performance by its young lead actress.

The two title characters were born at the same moment during the final days of World War II - Ginger (Elle Fanning) to former painter Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and academic Roland (Alessandro Nivola); Rosa (Alice Englert) to working-class Anoushka (Jodhi May) and a man who leaves well before 1962, when the girls are sixteen or seventeen. Ginger is becoming quite aware and frightened of the possibility of nuclear annihilation even as her parents' marriage is falling apart, while Rosa's attention is mostly focused on boys, though she'll be looking to move on to men soon enough.

The Cold War era is maybe not uniquely suited to this sort of story - I'm sure that kids who reached their teens near the start of the millennium will have apt terrorism metaphors for their tortured adolescence. It can actually seem kind of quaint for the next generation, but in a way, that's what makes paralleling that sort of real-world event work; the world does not actually end, although there's no way for a teenager to know that. The potential for an apocalypse on a personal level, at least, is never in doubt.

Full review on eFilmCritic.

Upside Down

* * * (out of four)
Seen 18 March 2013 in Landmark Kendall Square #4 (first-run, DCP)

I admit, you can't honestly look at Juan Solanas's Upside Down and call the writing much other than a mess - there really isn't one thing in this movie that makes sense. But, on the other hand, I can't help but admire the fact that Solanas actually got enough people to give him money to put his elaborate, beyond-quirky fantasy on screen. Just look at this thing - it's so weird and beautiful as to be worth at least one big-screen viewing.

Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) quite literally live on different worlds, although at their closest point these planets nearly touch, and each planet's gravity only affects its own matter. They met as kids when climbing to the top of mountains, but Adam thought Eden was killed when the border patrol caught them as teenagers. Ten years later, though, he finds out otherwise, and takes a job at Transworld Industries, whose massive skyscraper headquarters connects the two worlds, with the intent of seeing her again - with a little help from Bob (Timothy Spall), who has the cubicle on his ceiling.

I honestly tried not to be the left-brained guy who can't enjoy something because of bad science, so let me get this out of the way: That's not how gravity works! What about tidal forces? My brain hurts just thinking about how these planets rotate to have day and night without that building being shredded! And while I sort of get "inverse matter heats and burns when in contact for too long" in a metaphorical sense, does this not apply to air? We see characters drink upside-down cocktails, which is a nifty visual, until you think of what kind of choking hazard it must be, let alone the danger of one's insides catching on fire!

Thank you for putting up with that. I feel better having let it out.

Full review on eFilmCritic.

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