Kinsey

Whereas biopics can be fawning and dull Kinsey is watchable and entertaining.

What to say about Kinsey? It’s a fascinating and absorbing biopic insight into the man who many feel started the sexual revolution of the modern age. Liam Neeson’s superb, intense depiction of the biologist who studied human sexual behaviour the way he’d studied gall wasps, that’s to say he collected thousands of samples, is brilliant. Laura Linney is brilliant as his wife and it’s the pair’s wedding-night bedroom difficulties that start the research that was to change the way a world thought about sex. Neeson is supported by a great cast including Timothy Hutton, Chris O’Donnell, and Peter Sarsgaard as the researchers who bring extra sexual ambiguity to the piece. It is of course, very much a piece of it’s time. In an age where we now see every variety of sexual shenanigans paraded on our televisions, in magazines and across the web it’s harder to appreciate what impact the work had on the world.

The depiction of Kinsey’s motivations may be challenged and history condensed but it is a great work and some are saying it’s Neeson’s best work to date. Nonetheless, whereas biopics can be fawning and dull Kinsey is watchable and entertaining.

  • The Guardian: Condon takes a sympathetic line, though, in his absorbing cine-biography which promotes the view that however muddled he was, Kinsey was brave to try using scientific methods to explain sex in an age of unreason.
  • The Observer: What is most remarkable perhaps is the film’s mature view of sexual matters, balancing the serious side with its frequently tragic consequences, and the often comical, even absurd aspects.
  • Empire Online: A deftly directed, superbly acted and occasionally witty biopic which is not afraid to engage with the complexities of its central character.

Closer

A mixed film with most cringe-worthy chat room flirtation that I’ve ever seen. Sadly, not recommended.

closer.jpgI thought Closer was a mixed bag of a film. The performances of the four protagonists are not too bad: Jude Law as Dan is convincing as a bit of a self-obsessed wimp; Natalie Portman as Alice isn’t too bad with some interesting character quirks; Clive Owen is the most real as Dr Larry but Julia Roberts is cool (nay, cold) as Anna in a role I was least convinced with.

I haven’t seen the stage play but the sexual intrigue and adulteries of the film lose believability as the film progresses. While it’s both a simple love story told through a complex series of inter-woven relationships and coincidences I still wanted to shout out at the characters for their self-centred stupidity.

I did, however, like the film technically. You have to stay engaged to keep up with the way the story is told. The edits jump (but don’t jar) and you can’t dose. The four players are, more-or-less, the only performers on the screen and, despite what I say above, the intensity of the performances does help keep you engaged and they should all be credited for that.

A mixed film with most cringe-worthy chat room flirtation that I’ve ever seen. Sadly, not recommended.

  • The Guardian: The fizzingly talented Marber may well write a great film soon. But this isn’t it.
  • Empire: frank enough to push back the boundaries of how explicit non-porno film can be about sex but manages to be brutally funny with it
  • BBC: Nichols’ clinical approach fails to elicit deep empathy for any of these characters whose foibles are intended to reflect us all

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was something of a hit and miss film. You learned much about the Greek (lead) character, Toula, and her inter-family relationships. But you learned very little about her love interest, Ian. If the point of the film was to show the development of Toula from the shy woman living life for her father by waiting tables (“seating hostess”) in his restaurant to the confident, beautiful self-styled woman that Ian Miller falls in love with, then, I guess, it succeeded. Sadly, because you know so little about him and his one-dimensional parents, this film feels empty and fails to pull you in.

Reviews will tell how My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes you laugh, cry and feel. I, however, was left wanting more. The large Greek family, played with love and humour, finally come to accept non-Greek Ian into the family. Ian, however, never challenges that their acceptance requires him to turn into them. Far from celebrating diversity, the film fails to show both sides of the tale and we are forced to believe that Ian will do anything, unquestioningly for Toula. I suspect that I am trying to read too much into, what should be, a light Saturday night romantic comedy but as the film played out its story I found myself less and less engaged.

Having said all this, there were some laugh-out-loud moments and some top-class performances. Andrea Martin (Aunt Voula), Michael Constantine (Gus) and Lainie Kazan (Maria) all stood out. The performance of Nia Vardalos (Toula), who also wrote the story, is also worth mentioning as she certainly conveyed Toula’s side of the story. Unfortunately, that’s all I felt I got (Toula’s side) and it could have been so much more.