25 November, 2012

Savannah review bundle: "Violet & Daisy" (**½), "On the Road" (***), "Hyde Park on Hudson" (***)

Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan star in "Violet & Daisy"

"Violet & Daisy" is the directorial debut from screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher. Fletcher burst onto the scene in 2009 with his Oscar-winning screenplay for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." "Violet & Daisy" is a pulpy and cute assassin flick, as weird as that may seem. With leads like Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan, 'cute' has to be included in the description somewhere. Despite the film being a little uneven as a whole, fine performances from the two young actresses, as well as co-star James Gandolfini, push the film along. Unfortunately, all of the texture is stripped out of New York City, a setting that usually carries a huge presence in any film. "Violet & Daisy" comes with the intention to knock you off your seat, but is a little too light to get the job done. Gandolfini was in attendance alongside Fletcher, who picked up the Cinevation Award at the Savannah Film Festival. Fletcher manages to show some promise and diversity as a filmmaker, as this is about as far from "Precious" as you can get, but might still be a bit of a tenderfoot. Not quite as radical as it wants to be, "Violet & Daisy" is a trifle, albeit a cute one. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

"On the Road" and "Hyde Park on Hudson" after the jump.

Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund star in "On the Road"

"On the Road" found a director in Walter Salles after Francis Ford Coppola, who has held the rights to the film since 1979, saw "The Motorcycle Diaries" and deemed Salles a perfect fit. It's an easy connection to make, as both movies feature the road as the headlining star and the actors as secondary supporters. There is certainly no shortage of actors in "On the Road." Leads Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart are all very good. Riley sure convinces you to like him, but fails to make you remember him when he's not there, despite his constant presence as the narrator. Hedlund, as the magnetic Dean Moriarty, is as charismatic as he needs to be. Stewart might be best in show, with her highlights bright and her signature brooding kept to a minimum, but it's hard to say for sure. Her screentime is somewhat limited, but I found myself wanting her to pop up again in each next scene. Overflowing with famous faces in bit parts and cameos, we see the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi, Alice Braga and Elisabeth Moss float on by with a scene or two each. Despite a veritable cornucopia of great actors in good roles, the film lacks focus. Traveling across America and Mexico makes for great scenery, but the cinematography fails to fully utilize the views. A good half-hour edited out would make for a much smoother ride. "On the Road" offers up plenty to see, but winds up as exhausting as a reality of life on the road. 3 out of 5 stars.

Olivia Williams, Bill Murray, Olivia Colman and Samuel West star in
"Hyde Park on Hudson"

"Hyde Park on Hudson" was the surprise Director's Choice at this year's Savannah Film Festival.  Roger Michell's film might have been a bit of a let-down to an audience full of people hoping for "Life of Pi," "Lincoln" or "Skyfall," but it was a reasonable choice in line with other festival selections. The film is lightly yellowed, like an aged page in a stamp book, with a sharp production design. From a smoky library to a moonlit porch swing, each frame contains plenty of beauty but the camerawork feels distant and too broad for the audience to really grab hold. Each of the actors are fine, but no one really stands out in the pack. Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Samuel West and Olivia Colman give their best as the world leaders and their wives, but the material limits the performances to little more than impersonations. More of the Olivias would have been welcomed, however, as the two actresses are both capable of much more. Laura Linney is the heart of the film, still, hardly any attachment as forged with her character. "Hyde Park on Hudson" has the proper pedigree, but stops too short to leave a mark. 3 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I see OTR well my comment to Kristen Stewart: shes great as Marylou, almost perfect she take her role very good and i cant imagine OTR witthout Kristen like eat wihout drink..lol