Fantasy

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Film #19: Midnight in Paris (2011)

Midnight in Paris is, impressively enough, Woody Allen’s 41st film. A three-and-a-half minute opening montage of Paris leads the viewer to believe that this will be a heartfelt dedication to the City of Love, similar to how Allen’s 1979 classic Manhatten was a love letter to New York. Although the film does make a point that Paris is a magical place, and protagonist Gil (played by Owen Wilson as Woody Allen’s proxy) is, indeed, infatuated with the city, Midnight‘s sentimental story has more commentary about nostalgia than anything else, along with Allen’s ever-present self-awareness of art and the artist.

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Hugo (2011)

Film #18: Hugo (2011)

Hugo is unusual fare for director Martin Scorsese, whose films usually revolve around violent crimes or troubled psyches (or, in the case of Cape Fear, both). Instead, Scorsese’s latest work is an about-face, a family mystery film following its 12 year-old title character in 1931 Paris. Hugo lives within the walls of a large railway station, a drab existence resulting from an accident that killed his father (Jude Law) and the negligence of his drunken uncle (Ray Winstone). Before his father, a clockmaker, died, he infected Hugo with the wonders of machinery, especially in the case of an old broken automaton. Hoping to find some sort of message from his late father, Hugo sets to work fixing the machine with the help of Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), the goddaughter of an angry shopkeeper (Ben Kingsley) who resents Hugo for his thievery.

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The Orphanage (2007)

Film #7: The Orphanage (El Orfanato) (2007)

The Orphanage is a 2007 Spanish-Mexican film written by Sergio G. Sánchez and directed by J.A. Bayona, his debut feature film. It’s considered by many a horror film, but it also borrows heavily from the fantasy genre, which isn’t surprising given that it’s co-produced by Guillermo del Toro, director of the fantastically fantastical Pan’s Labyrinth from the previous year. Protagonist Laura (played by Belén Rueda) returns to the orphanage she grew up in with her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and their seven-year-old adopted son, Simón (Roger Príncep). Simón doesn’t know that he’s adopted, or that he has HIV – two secrets that an elderly social worker (Montserrat Carulla) threatens to reveal after she visits Laura one day. Shortly after this encounter, Simón disappears, and Laura is driven to despair.

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Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Alice in Wonderland marks the 7th collaboration between director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp, but it also marks the first foray into 3D for Burton. The film itself has been anticipated for quite some time now, understandable considering its near-150 year old source material. Lewis Carroll’s story has of course been adapted to the big screen many times over, the most famous being the 1951 animated feature by Walt Disney. Burton’s film is not a remake or retelling of that film; instead, like 1991’s Hook, it fashions itself as a sort of grown-up sequel.

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Legion (2010)

Legion was released in January, a month that rarely sees a movie of substance. I knew this going in, but I had seen the trailers some time ago and remembered the creepy old lady in the diner. I thought the film might be entertaining at the least, and maybe even be a bit creepy. What I got was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in quite a while, matching the abominations of Transformers 2 and 2012 while reducing the entertainment and pace. Frankly, I wish I had stayed home.

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