An Education (Scherfig, 2009) – Oscar came calling today, so I had to catch up with this critical darling. Perfectly banal and predictable melodrama with a fine lead performance and little else. The conflict has no edge, no complexity, and leads to the only obvious coming-of-age conclusion. A fine turn by Olivia Williams, who gives the film some life in key scenes, has been predictably overlooked.
Julie and Julia (Ephron, 2009) – Maybe it was my foul mood, but Ephron’s breezy, satisfying slice of culinary whimsey hit the spot. Even though she was nominated for an Oscar, this film proves most critics take Meryl Streep for granted. As Julia Child, she gives just another one of her countless great performances, transcending the mediocre and plodding narrative with a revelatory passion for scene-chewing joy.
The Escapist (Wyatt, 2009) – Potent British grit and grime, with not a single exterior shot to alleviate the cramped, compounding pressure of the story. The fine cast compliments a strange flashback structure, yet the singular trajectory lacks the needed punch and conflict to make this a classic genre film.
Collapse (Smith, 2009) – Purposefully alarming and striking, freely spraying bullets of damning material at countless worthy subjects. But this film’s explosive ordinance only takes us so far, and by the end credits the slew of conspiracy theories and projections dissipative into the either. Philip Glass’ musical stylings seems to have influenced every modern documentary score, and it’s getting old fast.