Amelia reviews

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:53 am

Sonic Youth wrote:Swank’s performance is committed, but (...) it starts to come across as one-note,

I'm not that surprised honestly.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:46 am

Amelia
20 October, 2009 | By Brent Simon
Screendaily

Dir: Mira Nair. US. 2009. 111 mins.



Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank can’t give any lift to Amelia, a soggy, un-engaging biopic of Amelia Earhart, the American aviatrix who rose to fame with her transatlantic flights in the 1930s but disappeared in a later attempt to circumnavigate the globe. An attractively packaged but dramatically inert hagiography, the film feels so utterly designed not to offend, shock or confuse any potential age group that it ends up saying nothing of consequence about its subject.

Swank’s status as an Oscar darling could give the movie some inroads with audiences hungry for an adult drama, but apart from 2002’s Insomnia she’s never had a film crack $12.5 million in its first week of wide release. Additionally, lackluster critical response and tepid at best word-of-mouth should consign Amelia to a quick theatrical run and longer life on pay cable and the small screen.

Providing just a pinch of flashback context from her childhood roots in rural Kansas, Amelia mostly centers on Earhart’s passion for flight and the two men in her life: her husband, promoter and publishing magnate George Putnam (Richard Gere), and pilot Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), a longtime friend and, though the movie scarcely acknowledges it, part-time lover.

Charting her first transatlantic flight, her later solo trek and eventual doomed final flight, the movie also touches on Earhart’s place on the lecture circuit, and the hurdles involved in raising enough capital to fund her expeditions.

Amelia’s most comparable forebears are small screen, American cable movies-of-the-week and PBS docs, because its drama feels so staid and safe. Replete with newspaper headline montages that frequently explain the action that has just taken place in the preceding scene, Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan’s screenplay takes an extraordinary life of adventure and celebrity and drains it of excitement. There are no nuances to Earhart’s character, no hint that she might have been complicit in the marketing schemes dreamed up by George.

A meeting with Earhart and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (Cherry Jones), meanwhile, is so poorly set up as to render it a Forrest Gump-style outtake - the accidental meeting of two figures of historical note.

Most problematic, though, is the film’s obsessive preoccupation with attempting to impress a doomed love affair, a la Titanic, onto the narrative. In addition to creating one of the most tepid love triangles in recent movie history, all the time spent dawdling here could have more instructively been used to dig into Earhart’s personality or anchor the many fuzzy details that mar the doomed quest represented in the finale.

Swank’s performance is committed, but her rural accent is distractingly hit-and-miss and, combined with physical signifiers (toothy grins of gumption, furrowed brows of worry), it starts to come across as one-note, and cornpone at that. Gere and McGregor are admittedly given very little on the page with which to work, but each trades in three alternating looks: doleful, vexed or smitten.

Almost across the board, the movie scores high marks technically. Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh crafts some striking work, albeit abetted by visual effects tweaks. The movie’s costumes and production design, though obviously crafted with some financial constraints, are attractive and engaging. The glaring exception: composer Gabriel Yared’s score trades in conventional melodramatic cues.
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Postby Damien » Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:38 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Don't you usually refer to Uma Thurman as a skank among many other choice epithets?

No, Uma's "The Biggest Slut Of All Time." :D




Edited By Damien on 1256002780
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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:54 pm

Don't you usually refer to Uma Thurman as a skank among many other choice epithets?
Wesley Lovell
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Postby Damien » Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:39 pm

Penelope wrote:And as a non-fan of La Skank, I'm literally hoping this one crashes and burns.

Calling a woman a "skank" is appalling and sexist and just one level up from the "c word." :angry: The teacher in The Class nearly lost his job because of it.

And a movie cannot literally crash and burn (unless a print is in a doomed airplane). Or if you meant that you were hoping "literally" (which is how the sentence parses), that's impossible. One either hopes or doesn't -- there iss no literal-ness involved.
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:38 pm

Well, just from the previews alone nominations for cinematography, set, and costumes seem certain. Score seems very likely, and sound and film editing are also possibilities. With a strong performance from Swank as well as the aforementioned possible nominations, Best Picture seems very likely. Mira Nair is as talented a director as Reitman, Marshall, or many of the other names thrown around this year; however, with the expanded Best Picture field I could easily see this one missing out on director/screenplay noms.
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Postby Damien » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:25 pm

I'm looking forward to this because of Hilary the Great, but Mira Nair's not exactly a major filmmaker.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Penelope » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:21 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:
Penelope wrote:
Sonic Youth wrote:Take it out of consideration... no, wait! Don't! (2 reviews, one of them is lying.)

[And the thread title should've read "reviews".

Thread title changed.

Wait... you can do that, Penelope?

Yes, OG gave me editing abilities so that I could help update the tallies for the games.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:16 pm

Penelope wrote:
Sonic Youth wrote:Take it out of consideration... no, wait! Don't! (2 reviews, one of them is lying.)

[And the thread title should've read "reviews".

Thread title changed.

Wait... you can do that, Penelope?
"What the hell?"

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Postby Sabin » Sun Oct 18, 2009 7:04 pm

Man, this looks boring.
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Postby Penelope » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:52 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:Take it out of consideration... no, wait! Don't! (2 reviews, one of them is lying.)

[And the thread title should've read "reviews".

Thread title changed.

And as a non-fan of La Skank, I'm literally hoping this one crashes and burns.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston



"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby Sonic Youth » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:39 pm

Take it out of consideration... no, wait! Don't! (2 reviews, one of them is lying.)

[And the thread title should've read "reviews".

Amelia
By JUSTIN CHANG
Variety


To say that "Amelia" never gets off the ground would be an understatement; it barely makes it out of the hangar. Handsomely mounted yet dismayingly superficial, Mira Nair's film offers snazzy aerial photography and inspirational platitudes in lieu of insight into Amelia Earhart's storied life and high-flying career. Prestigious packaging, led by Hilary Swank's gussied-up performance as the iconic aviatrix, portends friendly commercial skies for the Fox Searchlight release, at least initially. But critical disdain is unlikely to be countered by much audience enthusiasm, even among admirers of this kind of old-fashioned, star-powered bio-mush.

Condensed by Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan from two hefty biographies (Susan Butler's "East to the Dawn" and Mary S. Lovell's "The Sound of Wings"), the 111-minute film unavoidably leaves out enough particulars to bug Earhart experts. But omission matters less than interpretation, and what rankles most about "Amelia" is the timidity and lack of imagination with which Nair approaches one of America's most exceptional and intriguing celebrity life stories.

In focusing on the decade between Earhart's first taste of fame in 1928 and her 1937 disappearance over the South Pacific during an attempt to fly around the world, Nair frames the drama as the tale of a woman who chafed against gender barriers in pursuit of big dreams, and inspired others to do the same. The theme is apparent from the moment Amelia, an eager if inexperienced pilot, meets George Putnam (Richard Gere), the New York publisher who made Charles Lindbergh a bestselling author and hopes to work similar wonders with a femme flyer.

While George warns Amelia not to set her sights too high, her pluck and resolve are such that she becomes the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, albeit as a passenger, making her an instant superstar ("Lady Lindy"). A few listless flashing-headline montages illustrate Amelia's rise to stardom on the lecture circuit and in advertising, which help fund her very expensive first love, flying.

Her second love is George, whose marriage proposal she accepts after some resistance. But their union is strained by Amelia's restlessness, her unhappiness with the distractions of fundraising, and most of all by her growing fondness for pilot and aeronautics professor Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), the father of a very young Gore Vidal (William Cuddy, winning).

Apart from one stolen kiss, the film tiptoes around Butler's assertion that Amelia and Gene were lovers, lest Amelia become too flawed (and thus too interesting) a heroine. But due to the writing and direction of Amelia's romantic interludes with either George or Gene, the half-formed love triangle never seems in danger of catching fire anyway. Not helping matters is the image of Gere playing yet another older man opposite a younger woman (a shot of Amelia and George on the beach looks like something out of "Nights in Rodanthe").

But it's Swank who must shoulder the heaviest thesping burden, and her Amelia remains earthbound. An actress who does her best work in plain-spoken, contempo working-class roles, Swank is a decent physical match for her subject, and her slightly androgynous appearance here underscores Earhart's standing as a woman among men. But the character's passion hasn't been sufficiently dramatized (this Amelia likes to fly planes because the script says so), and every effort to transform Swank -- the close-cropped blonde hair, the '30s costumes designed by Kasia Walicka Maimone, the actress' wobbly Kansas accent -- ends up feeling like one fussy affectation on top of another.

Similarly, Nair, who has made fine films ("Monsoon Wedding," "The Namesake") that stayed close to her Indian roots, seems completely beholden to biopic formulas here. Slathered in banal voiceover narration and Gabriel Yared's hyperactive score, the pic gets a lot of mileage out of Stuart Dryburgh's f/x-enhanced aerial lensing (largely captured over South Africa). But the footage is postcard-pretty without being psychologically revealing; Imax documentaries and theme-park attractions offer comparable pleasures at a fraction of the length. Intermittent black-and-white newsreel footage of Earhart adds some interest but also feels like a nervous bid for authenticity.

Amelia's final flight (snippets of which are intercut with the narrative proper) is handled with tasteful directness, steering clear of the conspiracy theories that have dogged Earhart's legend. But "Amelia" seems uninterested in mining any fresh meaning or mystery from its subject's fate -- which, though tragic, was also instructive, an American spin on the Icarus myth -- and the buoyant, follow-your-dreams note struck at the end only trivializes it.

As Fred Noonan, the often-soused but skillful navigator who vanished along with Earhart, Christopher Eccleston strikes up a prickly chemistry with Swank, while Cherry Jones has her moment in the cockpit as a besotted Eleanor Roosevelt. Excellent period design boasts gleaming re-creations of vintage aircraft, including the twin-engine Lockheed L-10 Electra that Earhart flew to the uncertain end.

----------------------------------------


Amelia -- Film Review
By Ray Bennet
Hollywood Reporter


LONDON -- Freckle-faced, prairie-voiced and fiercely independent, Hilary Swank's depiction of aviator Amelia Earhart in Mira Nair's biographical film "Amelia" is of a high order. It ranks with recent real-life portrayals of Ray Charles by Jamie Foxx and Truman Capote by Philip Seymour Hoffman and could be similarly awards-bound.

The classically structured bio will appeal to grown-ups, history buffs and lovers of aeronautics, but in showing how the flier was one of the most lauded celebrities of her time, it also might appeal to youngsters. Smart marketing will expose the film to students and educators, and Swank's sparkling portrayal could help attract younger women.

Stephanie Carroll's handsome production design re-creates the 1920s and '30s vividly, and Stuart Dryburgh's cinematography captures the wild sensation of being alone high in the sky. Composer Gabriel Yared's orchestral score -- muscular in the aerial scenes, jovial where it needs to be and foreboding in its evocation of Earhart's fate -- ranks with his Academy Award-winning music for "The English Patient."

The screenplay by Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan is based on two books about Earhart -- Susan Butler's "East to the Dawn" and Elgin Long's "Amelia Earhart: The Mystery Solved" -- and is almost old-fashioned in its linear path. It provides as much information as is needed for those not familiar with the character without expositional clutter while taking time to show the woman's no-nonsense approach to intimacy as well as the business of flying.

The script has input from Gore Vidal, who is portrayed as a child in the film by William Cuddy. He became close to Earhart when she had an affair with his father, noted aviation pioneer Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), and there is a charming scene in which she explains to the frightened boy why her bedroom has walls covered in images from the jungle.

The film is framed by Earhart's ill-fated attempt to fly around the world in 1937 with flashbacks to her introduction to flying and her burst into worldwide fame. Richard Gere plays publisher George Putnam -- who promoted her flights and became her very understanding husband -- with much charm and is matched by McGregor as Vidal.

Very much her own woman, Earhart not only paved the way for female aviators but helped drive the development of aviation at large. In the process, she became one of the first celebrities to create a major marketing bandwagon with her name slapped on any number of household products.

The business of flying in those days was fraught with peril, however, and the film does a good job of creating suspense during Earhart's last flight. Christopher Eccleston makes a fine contribution as her navigator.

Most of all, Earhart wanted to be able to fly free as a bird above the clouds, and director Nair and star Swank make her quest not only understandable but truly impressive.




Edited By Sonic Youth on 1255909225
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