Sometimes it surprises me just how much I love film. I love it so much I even used to go to bed and enter a video rental store, get handed a VHS (it’s been a while since my dreams began this way) and enter my dream within a dream*. That’s crazy love.
The best kind of ways this love just keeps me wanting more is when I am surprisingly charmed by a film. Let me break it down: For all the blockbusters, rave reviews and special effects, cinema can all become a bit jaded; ironically sometimes all you can see is the money that was and purposefully wasn’t, pumped into these movies and sometimes I just do NOT care; I just want to let the film wash over me; but everything is extremely loud and incredibly close and though I love it all, I sometimes find it a little exhausting.
Scouring over my DVD library one day I looked at the pile of films that were within reach. These were the films i had dipped into on a regular basis. The others I always had to ‘prepare’ myself to watch. Looking at the small pile I did always turn to, I have come to the conclusion that more often than not all I want is to I watch the ‘middle’ movies. The safe, entertaining, sweet centred middle ground movies with a top class cast and an unapologetic lack or want of trying attract your attention. Almost always these types of middle films are the directors chance to pay respect to a genre or style that has done it better before. But its charm lays in the fact that whatever they may sometimes lack in story – they more than make up for with a great set design, great casts and memorable soundtracks. It’s like they’re saying ‘Hey – I’m just trying to tell a story without offending anyone’.
Often the resulting product has the opposite effect; the films are critiqued as ‘disappointing’, ‘lack-lustre’, ‘predictable’ or ‘boring’. Yet these are the films that I can bring myself to watch whenever they come on TV, to buy on DVD because I know I’m going to get the same middle of the road satisfaction I got when I paid to see it on the big screen. I know I can stick it on and just be, I can even recite the lines, memorise sequences and already know I’m going to want to do it all again the weekend after. Middle movies.
Believe it or not, as much as I am a fan of Depp, he’s not really a deal breaker for me when it comes to going to the cinema unless it’s a blockbuster (Pirates franchise, say) that I just have to see. Angelina, I couldn’t have cared less. I could count on one hand the movies I’ve seen her in, so my expectations on this spontaneous jaunt to the cinema were – tepid. Imagine my surprise then at just how much I kept thinking about it long after I’d left the cinema.
- It’s a decent homage to the Hitchcock-ian era of film with romance, style, danger and mystery.
- The music is composed by James Newton Howard; its like a Disney composed soundtrack – seriously fairytale like stuff. SOLD.
- The dialogue isn’t oscar winning amongst today’s contenders, but that’s not the point. Considering Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck won acclaim for his oscar winning The lives of Others, I kind of got the sense he just wanted to have fun with this movie. It’s light-hearted, charming and just pleasing to the eye.
- If the Director enjoys it, I think it shines through – I also got the sense the actors, all in various stages in their careers but having dealt with a few hard hitting demanding roles around the same time this film came out, wanted to do something fun and easy and even a little challenging by just kicking back enjoying it. You can see it, they’re all so relaxed in the roles. Maybe they didn’t have to really dig deep into their characters’ psyche but again, It wasn’t the point the movie.
- It has two of Hollywood’s arguably best known, most versatile and probably most lusted after stars in what feels like the beginning of a long road of more mature roles that these versatile ageing actors have ahead of them.
- The long stares between them is wonderful. Although, I’ll admit – Angelina’s eyes…she has Disney eyes. What a siren.
- Its old glamour through and through. Why don’t stars dress this well all the time?
- Its set in Venice – WIN. Which means wonderful scenic routes aboard a boat, luxurious balls and beautiful dresses and handsome Italians.
- Johnny Depp brings the laughs as expected, however he is showcasing some serious mature looks in this movie. The first time in a long while you’ll actually feel like he may be the lesser man to the absent and much talked about Alexander, Elise’s (Jolie) fugitive lover, whom everyone in the film is trying to track down.
- Depp is actually stepped it up and added another notch to his acting belt with this film, it’s not easy to share the screen with someone who is equally if not more beguiling on camera than you are and actually make the film look and feel like a collaborative effort.
- Timothy Dalton is one cool ageing man. I have only ever really saw and liked Dalton in one thing – when he played Lord Asriel in the stage adaptation of His Dark Materials at the National Theatre …and now this small but very stealth chief Agent role.
NEXT on Films that I like that you don’t like | Meet Joe Black.
*true, my dreams used to begin like this when I was younger and no one believes me.