Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New on DVD - 8/19/08


...the stories never really go anywhere, and by the time we get to the end, the movie throws in a gimmicky twist that throws everything off and makes it all even more of a waste so that the more you think about it, the less sense it makes. Some critics have pointed out that it would make a better literary device, which is probably true. But here it feels manipulative and contrived, taking an eye-rolling M. Night Shyamalan "gotcha" path that is neither emotionally honest or satisfying.

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY (***)

It's all utterly charming, and its wonderfully droll British sense of humor never fails to delight. This may not be earth-shattering art by any stretch of the imagination, but this is my version of comfort food. I LOVE movies like this - lighthearted British comedies that wear their heart on their sleeve (a la "Mrs. Henderson Presents"). I feel like I can wrap myself up in them on a dreary day and just be completely happy. Some of the dialogue may falter by the end of the film, but to be honest I was so taken with "Miss Pettigrew" that I really didn't care.

PROM NIGHT (no stars)

Who makes movies like this? And more importantly, who goes to see them? What kind of person goes into a movie like this and says "Wow, that was a great movie?" This is vapid, soulless filmmaking aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator, for people without discerning tastes who don't know they've just been duped into watching a mass-produced marketing tool with no real interest in, you know, actually making a good movie.

QUID PRO QUO (***½)

Without Farmiga, Quid Pro Quo may not have had the same impact that it does, and I want to know why we're not hearing more buzz around her from the critics. This is the kind of film and performance that critics need to be championing to put it on the radar beyond specialty art houses. It was never going to be a mainstream success, it's far too dark and strange for that (it was only in theaters for a week), but I would love to see Farmiga show up on some year end precursor awards to put her in the 2008 Oscar race. She's that good. Her Fiona is tragically lost woman in search of her soul, whose macabre desires are buried in a shadowy past - it's a devastating performance that should not be overlooked come awards time.

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