Thursday, February 21, 2013

2012 Catch Up (End of Watch / The Sessions)

End of Watch (2012)

Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick

This is one of those times when a single facet of a film is able to carry the rest of the project. Because, if I'm totally honest, while I've got a hell of a lot of complaints about the movie, I still had fun watching. So, let's start with the bad: found footage - why introduce this element? It leads to nonsense like having a gang film its own drive-by shooting and they use plenty of unexplained camera angles anyway, so what's the point? Speaking of the gangs, the scenes that focus on them are cringe-worthy - I'd call them cartoonishly evil, but I've yet to see a cartoon where over half the dialogue is expletives. Add these things to the fact that the story is nothing to speak of and you appear to have a recipe for disaster. But this is where our leads come in; despite the unbelievable situations and weak narrative, the performances by Gyllenhaal and Pe
a are superb and the chemistry between them as real as it gets. They make you care about the characters and thus draw you into these intense situations, even when your suspension of disbelief is strained to the breaking point. Exciting and touching, despite its many flaws.

Score: 6 / 10

The Sessions (2012)

Director: Ben Lewin
Writers: Ben Lewin (screenplay), Mark O'Brien (article)
Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

"The Sessions" doesn't seem to be sure whether it wants to be heartwarming, heartbreaking or hilarious. I'm certainly not saying that you can't do all of the above, but here the combination just seems too diluted. Jokes are cracked just as things are about to get "too serious" and when things seem to be staying light-hearted we get a dose of melodrama. Shifting tones like this requires time to explore each of these areas, as well as a deft hand from its screenwriter. At a mere 95 minutes, this film touches on a lot of subjects but lacks depth when it come to most of these themes. Therefore, even when emotional punches do actually land, there seems to be very little weight behind them. The film is certainly not bad, with Hawkes, Macy and Hunt all turning in Oscar-caliber performances. They are able to carry this material a long way and make you care for these people, even where the script seems like it could have used a bit more fleshing-out.

Score: 5 / 10

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