I Give it a Year
This was a film about how two people of different classes somehow got together and had a big wedding and then realised they were not suited. Given that Rafe Spall is possibly the most unattractive man in cinema today it was hard to accept the basic premise that Rose Byrne would allow him to come within five yards of her in the first place - equally implausible was the idea that anyone would spend even a tiny amount of time with the character played by Stephen Marchant, let alone be such good friends with him as to invite him to be their best man. To hide the fact that the whole thing was basically about snobbery the people who Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne eventually ended up with were both cast as Americans. The concept was an age-old mismatched lovers scenario but, instead of wit or even farce, we got to see lots of pictures of Rafe Spall's penis, all of which I dearly wish I could unsee. The final shot looked like something from a Mozart opera and made me wish I'd stayed home and watched a recording of Cosi Fan' Tutte on the telly instead. Witless, graceless, vulgar, all round ghastly. Apart from what I have to concede was a mildly amusing scene at a marriage counsellor, ugh, ugh, ugh.
Fun, brightly coloured and really enjoyable. Nicole Kidman brilliantly hilarious, Zac Efron almost as handsome as early James Dean (although I suppose there isn't any other kind of James Dean, now I come to think of it), Matthew MacConaghey (spelling?) v good too and Macy Grey wonderfully endearing. Underlying themes of race relations, if one wants to get serious, but really just a big vivid movie to entertain you on a Saturday night. A couple of gory scenes and a bit of fairly unsavoury sex but plenty of advance warning so you can quickly hide your eyes.
Performance/A Late Quartet
Unspeakably ponderous attempt to portray the life of a string quartet, a subject much better covered by various documentaries about real string quartets. Several (well four, mainly, funnily enough) well-known actors pretend to be musicians and, perhaps distracted by the effort of having to manipulate their unfamiliar instruments, provide uniformly wooden performances. Of course their lines don't help: oddly, given the subject matter, the entire script is completely lacking in any kind of music, (I mean verbal music as opposed to the ever-present soundtrack, which treacles its way through any crevice in the relentlessly dreary back and forth between the protagonists).
Clunk, clunk, clunk, each slab of high-minded, portentous dialogue assaults our ears with the dreadful toneless quality of the genuinely banal and, as a result, when the protagonists erupt into violent conflict and/or sudden passion, I have no idea why I'm supposed to care. The worst of them is Philip Seymour Hoffman - who runs Rafe Spall a close second for most unappetising male lead in current cinema, even if he is, as everybody insists, a marvellous actor (I'll have to take their word for it as it doesn't strike me right between the eyes). He blunders about Central Park looking unfit and palely hairy in a tracksuit, yet ends up in bed with a sultry flamenco dancer, in a development that is a) pure male fantasy and b) one of the most stomach-turning sex scenes I've seen in years, (but then the sight of Philip Seymour Hoffman with his shirt off is enough to make me queasy).
The major aspect of interest for me in the film was the furniture in Christopher Walken's apartment. Once they started smashing that, I left. If you are after a film about music, take my advice and give this one the flick; get out a DVD of Fellini's Prova d'Orchestra instead.