15 November, 2011

Review Bundle: "Like Crazy" (****), "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (****1/2), "J. Edgar" (***)

Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones star in "Like Crazy"
"Like Crazy" is one of those rare movies where the chemistry between the two leads seemingly forms a separate entity, overshadowing either character by themselves. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones both give up fantastic performances in this Sundance winner. Considering several scenes were improvised, the chemistry is all the more impressive when you see how it carries them without any scripted lines. Jennifer Lawrence (my soulmate) is a breath of fresh air even when the air is still very fresh. "Like Crazy" is a lively, realistic portrayal of a difficult love. 4 out of 5 stars.

"Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "J. Edgar" after the jump. 

Elizabeth Olsen stars in "Martha Marcy May Marlene"
"Martha Marcy May Marlene" was the most buzzed film out of this years Sundance Film Festival, despite losing the Grand Jury prize to "Like Crazy." It did win the directing award for Sean Durkin, however. Elizabeth Olsen is killer as the title character (yes, with all those names) who gets caught up in an upstate New York cult. After escaping and moving in with her sister and brother-in-law (Sarah Paulson and Hugh Dancy), her condition only seems to worsen as she falls deeper into paranoia. Glimpses of her time in the cult are seamlessly tied together with the present and tension is steadily accumulated throughout the whole piece. John Hawkes plays the mysterious cult leader, Patrick. The film, the cast, the screenplay, the editing, the cinematography; all of it is stellar. Olsen deserves to be a shoo-in for a Best Actress nomination with more consideration for the supporting cast. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer star in "J. Edgar" 
"J. Edgar" is the latest offering from prolific jack-of-all-trades Clint Eastwood. I have always been a fan of Eastwood's meticulous approach to filmmaking. Pretty much every film he puts out is very polished, regardless of occasional problems within the narrative. The man has an eye for details and "J. Edgar" is no different. There is little excitement to be found in the film; however, solid performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer and Judi Dench make it more worth your time. Naomi Watts is absolutely fine in her role as Hoover's long-time personal secretary, but she is hardly given anything to do or say. A few Oscar nods for acting (particularly DiCaprio and Hammer), makeup and art direction could be in order. 3 out of 5 stars.

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