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Jan 18, 2010

Fletch's Mini-Film Review: A Single Man and Invictus

Because I'm way behind and my memory of these flicks isn't going to get any better...

A Single Man
The worst thing that could possibly happen with director Tom Ford's A Single Man happened: he made a pretty good movie. See, in case you're not privy, Ford is, or at least was, known for being a fashion designer. The critical success of this film could have a disastrous consequence: other designers thinking that they can make films, too, and ones as good or better than this. I don't know about you, but I don't think the world is prepared for an Isaac Mizrahi picture or something from the Tommy Hilfiger collection. Then again, Sean Puffy Puff Daddy Diddy Combs has dabbled in movies and he's technically a designer, too, and the world hasn't ended, so perhaps I'm overreacting.

Even moreso than with Jeff Bridges' two-tone performance in Crazy Heart, I'm a bit baffled by the showering of love for star Colin Firth. He's most certainly not bad, but I have a hard time recalling an actor having to do so little for so much praise: Firth is stuck in one emotion (wistful melancholy) for the lion's share of the run time, and though the few outbursts are good, they're not that good.

Yet despite Man's shortcomings - and there are plenty, from a horrid ending to an over-the-top Julianne Moore to a sparse story - it remains an important film, if for no other reason than for it's portrayal of homosexuality in the early 60s. It's both a blessing and a curse that this can't be just considered a love story - that it has to be a "gay love story," but that's what happens when there are so few pieces in which to compare it to.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"Darn tootin!"
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs


Invictus
Speaking of important, imperfect films...

Director Clint Eastwood does himself at least one better than his previous outing, Gran Torino, by hiring two no less than professional actor for roles in this dramatization of the events that led up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Of course, he still couldn't help but cast one son in a pivotal role (with another contributing some terrible songs to the film's soundtrack) and filling out the cast with local South Africans (who are tenfold the caliber of actors that the local Minnesotans in Torino were - or maybe their exotic accents are just tricking me).

Most likely due to my own ignorance (of rugby, South African history and Mandela in general, probably in that order), I fell somewhat for Invictus. Despite its myriad shortcomings - amongst them, those aformentioned awful songs, a draaaaawwwwwnnn out third act and some slippery storytelling - it remains an inspiring story that actually inspires: if you can watch the minor miracles that Mandela is portrayed to have accomplished and not feel like a slacker, then my congratulations (or condolences) go out to you: you've either gone from prison to presidency as well or you're delusional.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"Darn tootin!"
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs


8 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Mini-Film Review: A Single Man and Invictus"

Books and an espresso cup... said...

Bonjour! Fletch,
Wow...What an interesting review...short, brutally honest, and to the point!
Merci de partager!
DeeDee ;-D

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

As a Detroiter, I'm gravely offended that you think Gran Torino was shot in Minnesota.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Also, Firth was really good, I thought. He, like Sean Penn in Milk, was actually believable as a gay man, which isn't particularly common. Also, considering that the movie takes place over two or three days, it makes sense that he wouldn't come out of his depression but for a few brief moments. Agreed on Moore. I love her, but she was very disappointing.

The poor ending should probably be blamed on the source material.

Fletch said...

DeeDee - which one?

Paul - my mistake: it was supposed to be set in Minnesota and heavily involved them. It's been awhile, but Daniel's many posts at the time (http://getafilm.blogspot.com/2008/12/movie-news-you-need-to-know-hmong.html, http://getafilm.blogspot.com/2009/01/taking-it-home-gran-torino.html) kept me up-to-date on all the Minnesota-ness of it all. Time warped my memory. My bad.

You're right that the emotion(s) Firth displayed were in fitting with the character, but that still doesn't explain the need for vast praise. He's certainly good - and I thought the phone call scene was great - but there wasn't enough of an array of emotions for me to feel that his performance was enough to be so singled out.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Gah! He called it "the Michigan debacle!"

If this were 2008, or even early 2009, we'd be rumbling about this. That and Robocop are all we've got to hang our collective hats on! And Robocop was filmed in Houston!

Who Is Tim Burton? said...

Fletch said,"DeeDee - which one?"
Oops! I'am so sorry, about not being specific-
The latter film...Eastwood's Invictus.

DeeDee ;-D

Daniel Getahun said...

Sigh. Yes, feelings are still sore here in Minnesota about Gran Torino. To clarify, it was filmed in Paul's neighborhood, but written by a local guy here and starred mostly local people from here. A friend of mine was the cultural consultant and she was not too fond of all the traveling everybody had to do just so Eastwood could get a tax break. It wasn't a debacle that it was filmed there - just that the MN tax board didn't make it easier to film here.

ANYWAY, I know we have our issues with GT, Fletch, but I still contend that Eastwood should be blamed more than the actors, most of whom were not, in fact, actors. But then, Hmong actors are so few in number that he had to decide whether to use authentic amateurs or inauthentic professionals. Obviously he opted for the former in GT and the latter in Invictus. Either way what the guy really needs is patience, instead of the one-take and done method.

Also, I was trying to figure out - was his son the kicker on the rugby team?

Fletch said...

"Either way what the guy really needs is patience, instead of the one-take and done method."

Bingo. You've more or less perfectly quoted one of my post-review comments from GT. I don't think it was necessarily a bad idea to cast authentic amateurs, but them combined with Eastwood's slapdash directorial style was a bad recipe for good acting. Eastwood, of course, came out looking fine, but even John Carroll Lynch couldn't escape the effects.

And yep - that was one of his sons in that pivotal role. Which is fine and all, but should still be pointed out.