Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe So Double: "Hanna" and "The Other Woman"

It's a double dip for Yes No Maybe So as we're way behind. Can't the movie world just stop for a little bit during the holidays so that we can all enjoy the movies we have right in front of us? Too many things. Too many things. Here's a girlish double and we'll get more manly in the next installment.

Let's start with The Other Woman which used to be called Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (better less generic title) starring the ubiquitous Natalie Portman. And that's ubiquitous with a capital U because, really, she's only going to get more inescapable from here on out.

The Other Woman

First there's this movie, then there's that Ashton Kuchner romcom, then Your Highness, then there's Thor (yes, 4 releases in 2011) plus the next two months of awards shows and then the wedding and the baby and so on. Is she aiming for Jolie/Pitt levels of ├╝ber celebrity status? You won't be able to get away from her. You're going to look in the mirror and see Natalie Portman.

Don Roos's key successes (The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings) were told in a unique voice (always a plus) and revealed a deft hand with actors. His frequent collaborator Lisa Kudrow (yay!) plays the first wife and I think everyone wants to know if Natalie, post-Swan even though this was shot earlier, is going to be able to up her game as she moves into her thirties.

On the other hand this looks soft, overly happy and above all unfocused (child rearing, adultery, infant death, custody battles, family bonds, the kitchen sink). It also displays this other woman and asks you to root for her to win the married man which is...unnngh. Really? But it's a trailer, and maybe this isn't at all easy to summarize. Roos, particularly in Happy Endings, was able to balance a lot of flawed characters and emotional arcs. So maybe the marketing department just doesn't know what to do with it?

Despite what seems like far too many plot points (especially for a trailer) you have to admit there's a certain amount of 'wow... this could go in all sorts of interesting emotional directions.' That is if, and it's a big if, the trailer is a false witness to the actual tone.

It doesn't look promising to me but I am curious. You?

This trailer and discussion has presumed spoilers.


Next we have Saoirse Ronan training for kills in the woods, with the dissonant mix of modern music and fairy tale titles. Little Saoirse's eventual target: Cate Blanchett.

You can't say that Joe Wright skimps on acting talent lining up Queen Blanchett to square off against Eric Bana (daddy?) and Saoirse Ronan (baby girl?). You also can't say that he didn't earn a couple films worth of experimentation and possible failure after his first two terrific pictures (Pride & Prejudice and Atonement).

I know that the deady little girl thing is a rite of passage for all underage startlets (just ask Natalie Portman, Kirsten Dunst, Dakota Fanning and Chloe Moretz and whoever gets cast in Hunger Games) but I can't say that the child soldier thing is for me. Rooting for trained assassins is so ... unpleasant. Child assassins? Even worse. Why is it such a popular genre? And isn't the trailer giving away a huge twist. [SPOILER?] Isn't it basically saying that Saoirse is Cate's daughter and that Cate is the villain rather than the victim/target? [/SPOILER?]

Visually there are a handful of hooky images and many trailers don't succeed at that even though they all try. Maybe Joe Wright and team could provide real chills (acting) and thrills (action).

So I guess that's two Maybe Sos for me. How are you feeling about seeing either of these pictures?

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