Monday, December 15, 2008

Doubt (2008)

3 out of 5 Stars.
I saw this on Broadway in 2004 and I'm still 'doubting' that of all of Shanley's amazing work, this should be his pulitzer winner. In many ways I got more from the film than I did from the play (although the metaphor of 'wind' and 'change' was a bit over the top). I thought that Phil Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis gave great performances. Meryl Streep, on the other hand, seemed to be starring in a completely different film. I thought her portrayal of Sister Aloysius was over the top -- Streep seemed to be reverting to her Mamma Mia! - esque over dramatization and while perhaps on stage that could have worked, in this film it was out of place with the rest of the subtle and nuanced acting. One of my problems with the play is that none of the characters are sympathetic. I felt very detached from the story and (even in the play) I tend to be annoyed by Sister Aloysius's very brief character reversal. She has doubts? Well of course. Doubts about the way the Catholic Church is male dominated, doubts about progressive learning versus the old way, doubts about change. Her character is just so unlikeable that the final scene makes me roll my eyes.
Still, I give this film 3 stars for an overall very well written script. Amy Adams needs to be in more movies.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mamma Mia!

2.5 out of 5 Stars
This is one of those films that goes so far beyond the trappings of 'bad', 'cringe inducing', and 'embarrassing', that it actually had moments of being pants-peeingly funny. I think the fact that I saw it on an airplane and had drunk a vodka cranberry made the musical numbers all the more humorous. The entire movie is one big exclamation mark (Mamma Mia! Greece! Meryl Streep! Who's the Daddy!) -- it is Hollywood's very own version of Bollywood (though not as well done). The plot is simple, the songs are Abba!, the cast is packed with talent who oddly enough take their roles very seriously. It's worth watching on DVD with some friends and some fruity cocktails.