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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Suffragette & In the Heart of the Sea

Dearest Blog: yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for a double-feature of Suffragette and In the Heart of the Sea, or, as I like to call it, the Ben Whishaw Film Festival. Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. 
 Yesterday's opening act: Suffragette. The war for equal voting rights has a great personal cost for the women fighting it. Regular reader(s) will be well aware that Suffragette is hardly my kind of movie. 
It's about women. It stars Carey Mulligan, whom I loathe. No cities get crushed by aliens or giant robots...and I don't even know what the filmmakers were thinking there, as surely giant robots could have facilitated voting rights much more quickly than a few rocks through windows! 
At any rate, it's awards season and we all must make sacrifices, so, Suffragette it was. I'm pleased to report I didn't hate it. The bad news is, obviously, Carey Mulligan. If the woman were any more bland she'd be invisible, and, since she's the primary star of the film, it's a little hard to get around that. 
The good news is, she's surrounded by people who do a pretty good job of getting around it, including Helena Bonham-Carter, my beloved Ben Whishaw, the brilliant Brendan Gleeson, Romola Garai, and Meryl Streep, doing her very best impersonation of Mother Nature in A Year Without a Santa Claus. 
All in all, it's pretty easy to forget about Mulligan, which is probably not what the "star" of any movie wants to hear. In typical British fashion, Suffragette understatedly tackles an epic story; no one will be unaware that this fight was eventually won, but the movie plays out the victory sans the fireworks and trumpet fanfare that surely would have concluded an American telling of the tale. 
Finally, though it's mostly talkey rather than actioney, the film moves at a good clip and is smart enough not to bog down and wear out its welcome. Suffragette runs 106 minutes and is rated PG13 for "some intense violence, thematic elements, brief strong language, and partial nudity." 
Suffragette is a well-paced, finely-acted reminder of the cost of standing up for what matters, and why it's worth it. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Suffragette gets five and a half. 
Yesterday's headliner: In the Heart of the Sea. The kinda-sorta true story of the kinda-sorta true story that inspired the classic novel Moby Dick. 
By now anyone reading this likely will have heard that In the Heart of the Sea is being pummeled by critics and sinking at the box office (see what I did there?), the second "serious" project fronted by Chris Hemsworth to achieve these dubious honors. 

Hemsworth isn't a terrible actor, though his accent is all over the place, but I think perception of him is a big part of In the Heart of the Sea's biggest problem, that is: the movie just doesn't know what it's supposed to be. Inspired by a literary legend and dropped smack-dab into the middle of awards season, the supporting cast is littered with some of moviedom's most talented actors, but in the end it can't help itself being a big-budget actioner with a Marvel hero front and center. 
It's a little like that Benghazi trailer, which looks serious as a heart attack until it says "Directed by Michael Bay," and then you chuckle quietly and check your phone one last time before the feature begins. Brendan Gleeson, who deserved an Oscar last year for Calvary (still holding a grudge, thank you), is (again) nothing short of brilliant, as is the always-stellar Cillian Murphy. 
Ben Whishaw is terrific, because Ben Whishaw is always terrific, though this role hardly stretches his abilities. I'm also delighted to see that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which, for the record, I loved) hasn't killed Benjamin Walker's career, though it looks like he's gonna give career-suicide another go with that Nicholas Sparks movie next year. 
*sigh* I saw In the Heart of the Sea in 2D, and, outside of a bit of wonky green screen, it looks great, but I didn't notice anything that would be appreciably better for seeing it in 3D. In the Heart of the Sea isn’t short on superficial assets--great water and disaster effects, nice cinematography, stupidly handsome principals--but under the surface there's little to get or hold your attention. 
The unfortunate truth is the film is rather dull. In the Heart of the Sea clocks in at 121 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense sequences of action and peril, brief startling violence, and thematic material." 
If there's one thing a movie about a boatload of hot dudes getting attacked by a giant whale should never be, it's boring; sadly, that's exactly what In the Heart of the Sea is. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, In the Heart of the Sea gets five. 
Until next time...

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