The Congress

TheCongress2-thumb-630xauto-38500

DIR: Ari Folman  WRI: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman  PRO: Reinhard Brundig, Sébastien Delloye, Piotr Dzieciol, Ari Folman, David Grumbach, Eitan Mansuri, Robin Wright • DOP: Michal Englert  ED:Nili Feller   DES: David Polonsky MUS: Max Richter  CAST: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel

Robin Wright (as herself) is an ageing actress well past the peak of her acting career. Contracted with Miramount, a big budget film company, Wright has been offered one final contract. A contract that will allow her to live on as an actress by a process known as ‘scanning’. This process will see her digitally re-mastered and living on as computer code to appear in films as often as the studio sees fit. There’s only one condition… Robin Wright the living breathing human may never act again.

The premise for Ari Forman’s latest offering is a very interesting one. A struggling actress trying to make ends meet with a son carrying a rare disease must sign a deal to save her family whilst ultimately killing her career.

Wright really is a superb actress and turns in an incredible performance. The scanning sequence is hauntingly beautiful as hundreds of cameras capture every joyful and sorrowful expression of Wright’s various emotions in one of the film’s most poignant scenes.

Folman’s look at modern cinema and how film production may come to pass is a really insightful one and really challenges the question as to how much do big film studios really value their actors and actresses in a money hungry environment.

The film picks up 20 years later and unfortunately here is where the film really loses its way.

Wright is summoned to a gathering with Miramount big-wigs to discuss her contract in what is deemed an “animated zone only” by a security guard to the hotel entrance.

One quick sniff of a hallucinogenic and the audience is greeted to a bizarre animated world of odd creatures and odd people which Wright describes as “an addict on a bad acid trip”.

The film abandons its original look at film production and the idea of actors and actresses becoming obsolete in favour of imagery and how we as people aspire to be others than be true to ourselves.

It is completely off the rails and not in a good way. With all due respect, the animation is incredibly well done and is absolutely breathtaking. However, the story in the second part of the film does not match the initial heights the film sets itself.

It’s not that The Congress is a bad film rather that it’s too imaginative for its own good and herein is the film’s downfall and finds itself down a path that it ultimately can’t get back from.

Shane Saunders

15A (See IFCO for details)
122 mins

The Congress  is released on 15th August 2014

The Congress  – Official Website

Share

Cinema Review: Moonrise Kingdom

DIR: Wes Anderson  WRI: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola  PRO: Scott Rudin, Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales • DOP: Robert Yeoman • ED: Andrew Weisblum • DES: Adam Stockhausen • Cast: Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jared Gilman, Kara Hyward

A filmmaker like Wes Anderson is in a tough position. His visual style and direction is so well-known, so unmistakably his, that for him to try something different would be akin to committing career suicide. He has built up a reputation of making quirky films with colour-drenched scenes and razor-sharp dialogue. Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t break the mould in terms of his previous work. And yet, it is by far his most accessible film to date. The story takes place in the summer of 1965 on New Penzance Island, off the coast of New England. Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman and Kara Hyward) are two odd children who decide to run away together for a period of time. Sam, who is a Khaki Scout and wilderness expert, escapes from his summer camp and meets Suzy. Their plan is to retrace the steps of the local Native American migration. The scout master, Randy Ward (Ed Norton), takes his troop out to locate the runaways – along with the help of local police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).

 

Wes Anderson has crafted a touching film that isn’t bogged down by the usual overbearing dialogue that plagues his other films. The film’s strength lies in both the chemistry between the two runaways and their story. While it is very innocent and eccentric, their story is more based in reality than other films Anderson has made. This doesn’t detract from that other-worldly quality that are his trademark; it means that their story is more easy to relate to. Where the runaways’ story is centred around first love, the relationship between Murray and McDormand is strained and reserved. However, the film cleverly eschews delving into it. Theirs is shown through what the child see and, as such, the true state of their marriage is kept suppressed from Suzy. As well, Sam’s home-life is only brought up later in the film as it doesn’t factor in until it is needed. Anderson’s use of the supporting cast is inspired. No extra screen-time is given to Murray, Norton or Willis needlessly. The film’s central focus is on the runaways and their adventure together – not the search parties that are looking for them.

 

Moonrise Kingdom is a gentle, heartfelt film that never feels like it’s anything but sincere. Willis gives a fantastic performance as the good-natured policeman who only wants to help Sam. As well, Norton excels as the earnest scout master, all salutes and quick-smart marching. Bill Murray is, admittedly, underused as is Frances McDormand. However, a scene featuring the two of them is particularly emotional when, exasperated, the two come face-to-face with the reality that they’re failing as parents. It’s true, Wes Anderson is working with familiar material here. The film has certain echoes of Lord of the Flies and Roald Dahl stories, however Anderson has put his unique stamp on a timeless story that is sure to win over his fans – and may win him some new ones as well.

Brian Lloyd 

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Moonrise Kingdom is released on 25th May 2012

Moonrise Kingdom – Official Website

Share