Three for the Show: Tintin, Marilyn and Young Adult
The Adventures of Tintin , the first in a proposed big-screen franchise, is also the inaugural big-screen collaboration between director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson (doubling as second unit director).
The motion-capture animation used to depict Tintin’s adventures is more lifelike than in earlier films that used the technology, which sometimes bears an inevitable question: Why not do it live-action? Given the advancements in special effects across the board, it likely wouldn’t be impossible.
Change of format or not, Spielberg has rounded up some of his “usual suspects,” including editor Michael Kahn and composer John Williams, who provides an unexpectedly jaunty, jazzy theme before resorting to his customary bombast in the later scenes.
The story follows the intrepid boy reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) as he gallivants around the globe in search of three scrolls that will lead him to “The Treasure of the Unicorn.” Tintin is joined in his endeavor by his faithful dog Snowy and the boozy Capt. Haddock (Andy Serkis), all the while trying to remain one step ahead of his nemesis, Rackham (Daniel Craig).
For all its high-tech luster, there’s a pleasing quaintness to the proceedings, which are executed in fast-paced comic-book terms. Screenwriters Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have not attempted to update the original setting or attitude of the Tintin stories, hence Capt. Haddock’s incessant thirst for spirits remains a running gag and not a cautionary lesson about the woes of whiskey.
The series of Tintin books by Herge (Georges Prosper Remi), which began in the 1920s, were more popular abroad than in the United States. Whether today’s kids will embrace Tintin as fervently is anybody’s guess, but Spielberg, Jackson and company have done their best to bring his adventures to the screen in colorful, eye-popping fashion.
My Week with Marilyn is a movie for movie lovers. Based on the memoir by Colin Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne), Simon Curtis’ film is awash in nostalgic affection for Hollywood history while tinged with the impending tragedy that would befall legendary screen siren Marilyn Monroe (here essayed by Michelle Williams).
Adrian Hodges’ screenplay dramatizes the production of the 1957 romantic comedy The Prince and the Showgirl, the only onscreen pairing of Marilyn and Lau rence
Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who was also producing and directing the film. Young Colin was a production assistant who became the leading lady’s off-screen friend and confidante.
Given how familiar the image of Marilyn Monroe is, having been parodied and imitated for decades, Williams carries off the role surprisingly well, nicely capturing the insecurity beneath the icon, emphasizing her “little-girllost” quality. As glamorous and famous as she is, Marilyn craves the attention even as it smothers her, an observation noted by her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), who bails early in the production. (Their marriage didn’t last much longer, either.)
Branagh doesn’t necessarily resemble Olivier, but often captures the vocal inflections and mannerisms of the late Lord, and a fine cast also includes Zoe Wanamaker (as Marilyn’s implacable acting coach, Paula Strasberg), Julia Ormond (as Mrs. Olivier, Vivien Leigh), Toby Jones (as agent Arthur P. Jacobs, later the producer of the Planet of the Apes films), Emma Watson, Derek Jacobi, Jim Carter, Michael Kitchen, Dominic Cooper and Judi Dench, who steals every scene she’s in with a warm and wonderful portrayal of Dame Sybil Thorndike.
Young Adult reunites Juno’s Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman with Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, and again they’ve fashioned a sometimes-edgy, sometimes-incisive comedy. The results are uneven in the end, but it’s not for lack of trying.
Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, a divorced and disheveled writer of young-adult novels who impetuously decides to move back to her hometown and win back her high-school beau Buddy (Patrick Wilson), even though he’s married and has recently become a father. Surely he must be itching to escape, Mavis reasons, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Rather unwittingly — and certainly unwillingly, once it starts in earnest — Mavis’’homecoming forces her to confront her past (which wasn’t nearly as ideal as she seems to think it was) and to face up to her future, whatever that may be. This is a coming-of-age tale, with some sting in the tail.
Theron clearly revels in playing so abrasive a character as Mavis, and the frequently underappreciated Wilson is effortlessly appealing as a genuinely good guy (who has grown up). Patton Oswalt also scores too as Matt, a disabled former high-school classmate who acts as the voice of reason in Mavis’ relentless pursuit of Buddy.
There are a few unexpected, and perhaps unnecessary, dramatic twists late in the proceedings, some of which feel extraneous. Young Adult doesn’t quite hold together, but it’s certainly several cuts above the usual dopey Hollywood comedy, and that certainly counts for something.
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