Rock biopics seem to have a similar structure, take for example Sid & Nancy or The Doors: we start with the origin story (where the characters start experimenting with drugs), move on to the rise (more drugs are usually included) and finally the movie ends with the inevitable decline/death (drug usage culminates). In that sense, the Runaways doesn't deviate at all from that structure, although the sometimes derivative rock culture is more to blame than the script qualities. The film's strengths come from the performances and the no-holds-barred music style of the music itself. It's actually a pleasure to see Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning performing in a movie that is so much distanced from the Twilight saga in any possible way. An Michael Shannon (who's actually having some sort of career renaissance) is spot-on as the band manager. All in all, nothing truly original, but a decent enough movie that earns points due to its sincere character portrayals. 6/10
Ben Affleck had a career meltdown 2003-2006, but he seems to be back on his feet now, having reinvented himself as a respectable director-writer-actor instead of a generic movie star. After the critically-praised Gone Baby Gone, Affleck returns to his triple-credit duties with The Town, an attempt at a serious crime drama, the sort of which was very prominent in the '70s and '90s, but has since gone downhill. The movie, set in Charlestown, Massachusetts, describes the doings of an Irish-American gang where crime is essentially an art taught by father to son. As a writing style, the film has some resemblances to Heat, albeit from the crime-side only, while the law enforcement side is a bit under-developed. All performers shine in the movie: Afflack, Renner, Hall, Hamm, as well as Postlethwaite and Cooper in smaller roles. The main strength of the movie is actually the restraint in the performances, which adds some realism points, as well as the sincerity of the (possibly cliched) romantic relationship between bank robber Affleck and bank manager Hall. Although the film won't earn any originality marks, the execution itself warrants admission alone. 8/10
Enter the Void
This is the hard part. This long-gestating movie by French cinema enfant terrible Gaspar Noé is one of the most visually striking movies ever produced since the medium's conception. It's also borderline unwatchable, nausea-inducing, and misogynistic. The loose story follows two American-born siblings living in Tokyo; the brother is a small-time drug dealer, while the sister works in a strip joint. After the brother is shot by the police in a sting operation, his spirit/mind hovers above Tokyo, watching over his sister, while remembering the tragic events that lead him to his demise. Or something like that. Although this movie is more than likely to infuriate viewers (many simply left in my showing), it's also certain to stir audience emotions in ways that most movies simply do not - there's no middle ground really. I found myself actually being on the pro-side, although I was outraged by some of his motifs (we witness a 1st-person view car crash maybe 5 times during the film). The performances are very interesting, exhibiting a naturalism that is mostly absent in cinema (the film's rating also informs us that the sex scenes are actually real). But the main protagonist here is the camera itself, with its cyclical movements and hovering, proves that the most impressive movie of the year does not need to cost $300M, but rather just $12M. Enter the void is a painful, scarring experience, that although many will find disgusting, it is recommended viewing. Unratable
With the BFI Film Festival approaching, more reviews will follow soon!