Archives for posts with tag: emily blunt

The current trend of biography is lengthy and complicated (see “The Crown,” or “Victoria”), which is possibly admirable. If, however, you are looking for the film biography equivalent of a chocolate soufflé, look no further than The Young Victoria.

As the title suggests, this film deals only with the early, Cinderella-type years of Victoria’s life, when she falls in love and is kind of bad at being the queen, and before she gets jowly and depressing. Helpfully, Victoria’s life was peopled with engagingly cartoonish heroes and villains, and they find excellent avatars here. Victoria (Emily Blunt) is so young, and slightly too pretty, and she is liable to listen to Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) because he is handsome and she is frighteningly sheltered. Her mother (Miranda Richardson) and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) would like to control her, and have made a decent go of it for the first 17 years of her life. Sir John is so evil, and so delightful. He wears amazing trousers.

mv5bmtm4mjexmdk3nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtu3otmwmw-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Enter Albert (Rupert Friend), who is also unbelievably young, and unbelievably Romantically German. His hair! His shirtsleeves! His awkward love of Schubert! His hilariously tolerant brother Ernest (Michiel Huisman)! Apparently Ernest was awful in real life, but here he just rolls his eyes when Albert is adorably dumb about Sir Walter Scott.

To be sure, the most interesting thing about Victoria was not her romantic life, but it makes a good feature film. She and Albert are so young, and so silly, and so in love, and so well dressed. They care just enough about the poor and about progress that you aren’t grossed out by their fake problems. You’re sad when they fight and pleased when they make up, and why can’t some dreamy moron come visit me with a pair of giant dogs?

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Rating: PG
Length: 105 minutes
Score: 5/5

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mv5bmtc5otk4mtm3m15bml5banbnxkftztgwodcxnjg3mde-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_In the near-ish future, aliens invade. They seem to be octopus-whirlwinds of metal and energy, and they are unstoppable. It turns out that part of why they are unstoppable is that they can manipulate time, and therefore can restart battles every time they lose. In an unsubtle touch, they landed first in Hamburg, and we see their shadow spread across Europe.

As the film begins, the united armed forces of the rest of the world are preparing for an all-out assault, a landing on the Normandy beaches from flying troop-carriers. A single victory, at Verdun (of course), has given them new confidence. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the Angel of Verdun, is their new hero. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) arrives in London, thinking he will continue his job in military PR. And he will, but while embedded in a unit that storms the beaches. He is…not sold on this.

This is the glory of the film. Cage is handsome, smooth, amoral, and needs a swift kick in the ass. When he wakes up in Dover and Bill Paxton yells at him to join his comrades and not wimp out of something for the first time in his life, you are on Bill Paxton’s side. You’re a little bit sorry for him as he lands in the shallows and struggles onto land, because no one even bothered to tell him how to take the safety off. And then he dies! Both he and Rita have managed to acquire the aliens’ time-shifting ability, and so Cage must figure out how to use this to win the war. Progress is incremental, and painful. Rita trains him painstakingly–his pains. Since time resets when he dies, it makes sense to put him out of his misery any time he is even slightly injured. You get to watch Tom Cruise bite it so many times.

And a lot of those times, Emily Blunt shoots him in the goddamn face. She, too, is amazing in this movie. Rita’s absolutely tough as nails, but there’s never the feeling that the rôle was written for a man, as is often the case in such situations. Since they do not share memories (time-jumping will do that), they both get hideously frustrated and sad about their inability, sometimes, to communicate. It’s surprisingly affecting.

This movie is funny, clever, different, and unexpectedly deep. You should watch it.

(Also, it has a billion minor British actors–Jonas Armstrong, Lara Pulver, Charlotte Riley, Noah Taylor–who are a delight.)

Director: Doug Liman
Rating: PG-13
Length: 113 minutes
Score: 5/5

People didn’t like Into the Woods, and I think I mostly agree with them. Part of this is that Stephen Sondheim isn’t my favorite (I know, I know, you’re definitely supposed to, but I just don’t really get it). But most of it is the Disneyfication. The original musical is unapologetically grown-up. Taking that away does violence to the coherence of the story, and the lame, winking attempts to minimize the problem don’t succeed.

The charm of the show is the interlocking stories:

  • Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) wants to go to the ball to meet the Prince (Chris Pine). I find Kendrick hard to root for, which was a problem, but Pine was enjoyably cheesy as the “charming but not sincere” royal.  Christine Baranski and Lucy Punch are entirely wasted as step-mother and a step-sister (Punch reprising a rôle she played in Ella Enchanted).
  • Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) meets a wolf (Johnny Depp) in the woods. Crawford’s affect was almost unbelievably flat; Depp was atrocious in what I think was a (gratefully) curtailed version of the creepy sex-offender Mr. Wolf.
  • Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) lives in a tower, also has an attendant Prince (Billy Magnussen). Both very good-looking, their love-story is probably the most appealing.
  • Jack (Daniel Huttlestone, yes, Gavroche) sells his cow for giant-beanstalk-growing magic beans. He needs a different haircut. Tracey Ullman is great as his mom, obviously.
  • A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) want a child. They play off each other well, and can both really sing.
  • A witch (Meryl Streep) has put a curse on the baker’s family, and they need to collect something from each of the four first-mentioned characters to break it. She’s Meryl, but with bluer hair.

So it’s mostly fine, but not great. The cinematography does all of that sweeping fake Disney forest nonsense, which is unnecessary and bad. There’s a blue filter most of the time, which is at odds with the general kiddification. The costumes are mostly all right except that everyone wears to the ball a dress with a mullet hemline, which looks really stupid.

I recommend just getting the Bernadette Peters one.

Stray observations:

  • James Corden’s impatience with Red is the best comic moment in the film.
  • Cinderella’s dress looks unfinished, and she wears the same one all three nights. Also the shoes are ugly! No good, guys.
  • Her birds, too, are pretty creepy. You can’t use crow-like birds to be Cinderella’s cute sidekicks, because crows are ominous and scary.

Director: Rob Marshall
Rating: PG
Length: 125 minutes
Score: 3/5