22 February 2019.
THE WIFE ***1/2
Glenn Close is excellent (received the Golden Globe for best actress) as a loving wife to a famous author, played by a superb Jonathan Pryce, who is traveling to Sweden to pick up his Nobel prize for literature. As they travel together to Stockholm, their many years of life together come surging back, culminating in a mountain of hidden resentments and held back emotions.
This is the Swedish director Bjorn Runge’s first film in English and is amazingly successful in portraying the many layers of relationships and the mood of the moment. The steady buildup to the film’s crescendo is powerful – bouleversant, as the French say.
Despite the outstanding acting of Christian Bale, who gained over twenty kilos for the role of former vice-president Dick Cheney, along with the amusing, spot-on portrayal of Bush by Sam Rockwell, and a strong supporting cast, this bio-pic about one of the most influential and reviled men in recent American politics (depending on your politics, of course), somehow lacks the cohesion necessary to fully portray this most ambitious and manipulative of men.
But since Cheney was such a mysterious figure, it could not have been easy for writer/director Adam McKay to unveil the full scope of the man’s character (and that of his very strong, devoted wife played by Amy Adams) while also showing the eight tumultuous years in which he was often the puppeteer to the president.
During the run of the George Bush administration from 2001 to 2009, it was common knowledge that Cheney was the brains behind many of the decisions made in the Oval Office, especially the disastrous Iraq war initiated under blatantly false pretenses, which may have changed the course of history and the balance of geopolitical power. The hatred born from the unjustified and costly invasion (both human and financial) of that country, the permission given to full-blown torture and the outrages committed in Guantanamo surely sowed the seeds of an east/west clash and the devastating rise of ISIS.
To show all that history, as well as personal and family moments, to make it accurate and also entertaining as a film is obviously not the easiest of tasks. One must give credit to McKay (of “The Big Short”) for trying his best, and kudos to the brilliant make-up artists. And then there is that moment that parallels Macbeth and his conniving Lady. All this has been crowned with nominations in many categories. But its convoluted narrative and uneven editing bog down the film. Something feels amiss, or maybe because it’s all about a man who emanates that very feeling…
ALITA – Battle Angel ***
I am not a huge fan of action/fantasy blockbusters, but I must say I was fascinated by this one from the very beginning. First of all because of Christoph Waltz, who fully incorporates any character he portrays and makes us care about it from the get-go. We are in a devastated future, after the fall of the world as we know it.
Waltz plays a surgeon specializing in cyborg repair. The story starts in a garbage dump where he finds the inanimate head of our cyborg character, played by Rosa Salazar. After he reconstructs her body, he christens her Alita, and though she remembers nothing of her past, she turns out to be quite the charmer, both feminine and powerful.
There is action, a cute human (Keean Johnson) who falls for Alita, Oscar-winners Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali as evil adversaries, and twists and turns galore, for we’re in a Robert Rodriguez film, so expect maximum excitement. And the script was co-written by James Cameron, of “Titanic” and “Avatar” fame. This is what I would call a quality popcorn flick. And it will continue…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.