Tag Archives: Mia Wasikowska

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

With ambitious technique and a feverish pace, The Raid: Redemption will stay in your head long after it’s done. Centering on an Indonesian swat team attempting to arrest the big boss of a criminal slum in Jakarta, Writer/Director Gareth Evans uses action set pieces and fight choreography the way Woody Allen uses dialogue: as a series of pivots the film hinges upon. Evan’s muse is Iko Uwais, a fresh-faced practitioner of the Indonesian martial art pencak silat, and the film’s protagonist–Rama. Uwais isn’t a terribly engaging presence when The Raid goes quiet, but in the midst of a fight he is simply remarkable, and he’s not alone. Donny Alamsyah plays Andi, Rama’s estranged, gangster brother, and Yayan Ruhian is Mad Dog, the big boss’s right hand man. In a scene as entrancing as it is exhausting, Rama and Andi battle the indomitable Mad Dog, and at well over five minutes of essentially non-stop brawling, it could have ended up feeling tedious. What keeps you in the action is Evans’ moving camera. All the action sequences are handheld, but more than that, the camera movements are often choreographed with the action, making for an utterly immersive experience.

The Raid: Redemption injects a lot of crime movie tropes, with plenty of double crossing and substantive revelations, but this mostly tends to get in the way. The reality is that The Raid doesn’t need to worry much about its plot, as it is so thoroughly founded in action. With such an abundance of breathtaking choreography and camera work, the rest is ornamental.

Jane Eyre (2011)

60 Second Reviews

2011 is unarguably the year of Michael Fassbender. Magneto in X-Men: First Class, Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, a sex addict in Shame, and here, the moody, haunted Fairfax Rochester in Jane Eyre. Having seen two of his four performances, it’s assured that Fassbender will be around for the long haul. As Rochester, he is in flux; a vacillating romantic unable to have the thing most important to him.

The story of Jane Eyre is familiar to anyone who took high school English: a young woman (Mia Wasikowska) with a bleak past is hired as a governess to the ward of Mr. Fairfax Rochester (Fassbender), a man twice her age. Though she is well beneath his class, the two share an undeniable connection. But Mr. Rochester harbors a secret which keeps the young woman at arm’s length, and eventually drives her away. In this gothic romance, Director Cary Fukunaga has raised the stakes, creating an environment so bleak, love seems to be the only path to unqualified contentment.

There are essentially three elements that matter in this iteration of Jane Eyre: the performance of Fassbender, the performance of Wasikowska, and the atmosphere created by Fukunaga. The two leads spend much of the film sizing each other up, their ornamental dialogue a sort of sparring. These scene towards the beginning of their relationship are arresting, if for no other reason than Fassbender and Wasikowska have a true chemistry. The brooding Rochester is intimidating, but also apparently a bleeding heart. And Jane Eyre has an elegant toughness that evolves the novel’s proto-feminism for a more contemporary time. Her quick tongue offers up some of the best lines in the film, and Rochester is never shy with an equally clever rebuttal. Fukunaga’s setting meanwhile is mostly bleak and tawny; a style that compliments the story and characters profoundly. This world is dark, and one must find their joys wherever they can. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester are characters who understand this completely, and their love for one another is sustained by a desperation that sits at the heart of this timeworn romance.

Jane Eyre is an effective and affecting love story that utilizes two of the most talented performers working right now, and reminds its viewers of a time when the problems of love were greater, and love was stronger for it.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

It’s a fucking marathon,” says Julianne Moore‘s Jules of marriage in The Kids Are All Right. You stop seeing the other person. You just see weird projections of your own junk.” This is nothing new, this stripped down reveal of the intimacies of marriage. If anything, the big screen is prime real estate for bared souls and uncomfortable break downs. Though Kids centers on a lesbian couple, the big picture problems of this marriage are no different then any other. Nor are the struggles with raising children ultimately any stranger. No, what makes Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko‘s film worth watching is the monkey wrench of a sperm donor and the complexity of a family making room for one more.

Continue reading