Someone’s been paying me to review movies again. W00t!
Okay, they’re not paying me very much, but still it’s enough to justify declaring myself self-employed and deducting from my taxes movie tickets, cable TV, and my Entertainment Weekly subscription. Among other things.
Anyway, I’ve muttered a few things here and there on the social media sites about this, but I haven’t — as promised — been posting on the Giddy Bib about it. So here it is: I’m the movie critic for LGBT Weekly, a new weekly news magazine for San Diego queer community run by Stampp Corbin. I’ve been doing it since January, and I now have enough reviews under my belt to apply for membership to the San Diego Film Critics Society. I’ve always wanted to be a member of one of those organizations that doles out year-end awards, and if I can get more folks caring about the Golden Teddy Awards, maybe I’ll get them written up on time. (BTW: I’m almost done with those. I hope I can finish before the last of the previous year’s awards, the Pulitzers, come out.)
So far, I’ve reviewed Somewhere (loved), The Green Hornet (meh), No String Attached (I laughed), The King’s Speech (yawn), The Roommate (awful), Cedar Rapids (hilarious), Kaboom (whatevs), Heartbeats (amazing), Jane Eyre (gorgeous), Happythankyoumoreplease (inoffensive), Win Win (sigh), and Source Code (just fine). I’ve also been writing sidebars on DVDs to rent and movies to DVR.
This week, I reviewed the best movie I’ve seen this year that came out this year (since I saw a lot of movies that came out last year this year because of the whole released-for-Oscar-consideration thing). My published review of Hanna is here, but the last few paragraphs got cut for space (grrr!) so, I’m going to post my writer’s cut here:
Directed by Joe Wright
Written by Seth Lochhead and David Farr
Starring Saoirse Rowan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana
At your local multiplex
About two-thirds of the way through Hanna, Marissa, the CIA agent hunting the film’s title character, says, “Sometimes children are bad people, too.”
You already know that Hanna isn’t bad, just badass – a 13-year-old superhuman fighting machine Marissa created and now wants to kill. You feel for the naïve Hanna and hate the sociopathic Marissa, but Cate Blanchett delivers Marissa’s line with such southern-accented smarm that you have to giggle while loathing her.
These juxtaposing emotions continue throughout watching Hanna. You’ll love Hanna’s naiveté and genius, but you’ll be shocked and scared by her violence. You’ll be thrilled by the fast-paced chase scenes and beautifully choreographed fights, but you’ll wish you could watch it all in slow motion because the cinematography, art direction and lighting are all so crazy beautiful. You’ll want Erik, Hanna’s father played by Eric Bana, to hurry it up and save his daughter or kill Marissa, but you’ll also want to him to stand still in wet underwear a little longer, because, damn, Eric Bana has a hot body.
Hanna, the best movie I’ve seen this year, is a big surprise. Joe Wright made his name directing two excellent period dramas, Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Both are smart, beautiful literary adaptations about British domestic drama, so Wright is not the person probably anyone would think about first when looking for a director for a movie about a teenage super soldier on a mission to kill the woman who killed her mother after experimenting on her embryo. It turns out that Wright may be as versatile as fellow Englishman Danny Boyle, who transitions easily from epic to intimate, whose visual and sonic style Wright’s Hanna most closely resembles.
Wright’s bold and beautiful colors (reds, blues, whites and greens in particular), his unexpected camera angles, and a pulsing techno soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers all reminded me, at times, of Boyle’s work on Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire.
But Boyle never had Saoirse Ronan or Cate Blanchett to work with. Wright used the almost translucently pale Ronan with skill in Atonement; her character’s childish ignorance costs her sister everything, and Ronan was brilliantly believable as the jealous and confused girl.
In Hanna, Ronan is a full-fledged teenager. Hanna has until now been living in the woods with her father, and she knows nothing of music or television until she decides to go after Marissa. Hanna is growing up, discovering the violence of herself in the violence of the world, and discovering secrets, veering towards an early adulthood.
In order to do that, she must destroy the malicious woman who loomed over her childhood. She must kill Marissa, who is a combination of the Queen in Snow White and the Wolf in Red Riding Hood. Fairy tale symbolism is central to the film’s imagery, and Blanchett’s regal beauty and effortless, efficient communication of evil (with a dash of angst) make Marissa more than just an archetype. While the psychological damage that caused her evil is only hinted at, Blanchett makes the most of it, creating a character and a performance that makes me hope she’ll be cast as another villain sometime very soon.
Anyhoo, that’s that. Visit the site, link to my reviews, and comment on them. Yay.