On Saturday I woke up with a yen to see Stoker, the new fantasy/suspense film from director Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance). I have never seen his films, but the trailer looked great, so I was all in. I read a few reviews, trying to figure out what to expect, but no one really seemed to agree on what the film was about, or even if it was good. The one thing everyone agreed on wast that it was visually challenging.
The first scene, a girl crossing a road in high heels, walking away from a lit up police car, is intriguing. We go back in time to find that this girl, India Stoker (Mia Wasichowska), has just turned 18 and that she's lived a sheltered and pampered life. She's a cross between Darlene from Roseanne, Daria, and Wednesday Adams in terms of teenage gothy-angst. Her dark hair hangs around her face like a screen and all of her clothing has a prim, repressed look. Silky fabrics, some sheer blouses- but at all times she is covered up and virginal. Her mother, Evelyn,played by Nicole Kidman, is a lush fiery femmebot who looks to seduce the gorgeous younger brother of her recently deceased husband (Dermot Mulrooney).
The story sort of meanders along, with Charlie (Matthew Goode) acting as a catalyst for India's sexual awakening. India is an introvert with psychotic tendencies and from the beginning Charlie hones in on that and looks to turn her toward acts of violence. The relationship between mother, daughter, and uncle make Stoker a triangular film with flickering glances, repeated scenes that shift their meaning, and an electrically funny performance by Kidman. The film has a dreamy quality, that leaves you sort of drugged but restless as scene after scene builds toward an unfathomable climax.
On Sunday, I woke up early to go worship at the altar of Les Miserables. Considering the message of Christian forgiveness and unconditional love, it was definitely the right thing to do. We first meet protagonist Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) as a slave p[ulling a massive ship into harbor. His antagonistic relationship with Officer Javert (played by Russell Crowe) is established, and his character as a thief and a criminal is set.
Out on parole, Valjean stumbles upon a convent where he steals a bag of silver plate. The Monsignor absolves Valjean of any blame when the police bring him back and creates a new man from the old, scarred one. Valjean goes on to become a pillar of his community, under another name and redeems himself. His interaction with former employee Fantin (played heartbreakingly by Anne Hathaway) gives him a child, as Fantin's daughter Cosette passes into his care. Through her he knows the joy of fatherhood, and the pain of true love.
I can't lie, I cried several times through the movie. Big fat tears cascaded down my face, and I loved every minute of it. I like opera, and this has all the drama of a Rigolletto or Carmen. I loved the story of redemption and perseverance, I loved how characters grew and developed relationships. Most of all I loved the fact that the last two words that you hear are 'Tomorrow comes', because that's the simplest truth that there is in life. No matter what you've done, no matter where you end up- tomorrow will always come.
Some trailers I saw this weekend:
Oblivion- Tom Cruise as Space Cowboy *possible
Evil Dead- remake, looked super scarey, *not by myself
Disconnect: people/computers/trouble/bullying/privacy issues *possible
The East: American Terrorists striking at the American rich *probably not
The Place Beyond the Pines: RYAN GOSLING and eva mendes... *maybe
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