Friday, November 5, 2010

Never Let Me Go (and more Giants)

More Giants fun:
1 - One of my favorite tweets of the night; "@K: Prediction: San Francisco baby boom in July 2011"
2 - This NYTimes article on Lincecum.
3 - PGA Caddies rock
4 - There's that Obama phone call I was mentioning
5 - Lincecum on Market
6 - Journey on Polk Street
7 - The Hall of Fame artifacts
8 - Yes, our 'riots' had tightrope walkers
9 - Clips
10- San Fugcisco Giants/Wilsonly Played, Brian Wilson

And Wilson on the Tonight show. I love these two photos.

And yes the parade was insane. BART broke all rider records, over 1 million people showed up, and it was the largest parade in city history.

Oh, and did the official shirt need to be all Ed Hardy-esque? What is that?

And in the interest of remembering that this blog is supposed to be devoted to movies, not baseball (quick! Cast the inevitable underdog movie! Reeve Carney as Lincecum! Kyle Gallner as Bumgarner! Chris Meloni as Brian Wilson!), I went to go see Never Let Me Go about a week ago. I mostly enjoyed it. Hmmm... enjoyed? Okay - I was mostly devastated by it. But in a good way.

The film is based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is about three childhood friends at an isolated English boarding school for special children. While they navigate growing up and their relationships, it becomes rapidly apparent that being special children may not be a good thing, and the lives that they are destined to lead will not be easy.

The film is directed by Mark Romanek, who is a fabulous music video director (not quite Samuel Bayer, but really good). (Probably his most famous is Closer by NIN, which is now part of the permanent collection at the MOMA, but he also did Criminal by Fiona Apple, The Perfect Drug by NIN (Edward Gorey!), Hella Good by No Doubt, Got Till It's Gone - Janet Jackson, Devil's Haircut by Beck and my favorite RHCP video ever: Can't Stop).

Anyways, his background shines through in Never Let Me Go, which is visually beautiful and stunningly shot. The plot itself is a bit dystopian sci-fi by way of English country romance. The leads are fantastic. Carey Mulligan continues her streak of honest, searing portrayals, Kiera Knightley is bracing and unglamorous, and Andrew Garfield continues his ascent as the best new actor out there. (Please don't derail on Spiderman. Please.)

However well done most of the film was, though, I had two problems with it. The first stems from a very abrupt second to third act shift. The first two sections of the film had been developing the love triangle between the friends. Then, with hardly any warning, all the characters fall away from each other. It is incredibly quick and definitely pulled me out of the story. I couldn't quite figure out what had just happened to them or why they had all left each other.

The other issue actually grew out of Andrew Garfield's performance. He is so committed to the character, Tommy, who has grown up in this completely socially isolated situation. It's an incredible physical performance. He walks awkwardly, but without any concern for how he is being perceived by the world at large. He's both gawky and at ease in his own skin. It totally works, given the strange upbringing Tommy had.

The problem comes from the two actresses. They both give great performances, too. Kiera makes her character, who could come off as one-note and wildly selfish, very empathetic and understandable. Carey Mulligan breaks your heart with her arc and the ways her character grows and matures. But aside from one scene in the middle of the film, when the three of them all order lunch awkwardly, being unused to the world at large, by the time the three reconnect, both women come off as self-assured and integrated into normal society. It's jarring next to Tommy, who still comes off as being part of the fringes.

However, the third section of the film is such a wrenching, gut punch of an emotional arc that film comes close to overcoming those flaws and becoming truly great. It's an amazing human drama.

4/5 stars

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