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The Woman in Black (2012) review
02/03/12 at 11:45 AM by EvilButters
At the tail end of the 19th century, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) still feels like the wound is still fresh when it comes to his wife who died four years ago after giving birth to their son. Arthur is drowning in a depressive state that even his son notices. As a lawyer, Arthur is forced to travel to a secluded town to take care of the work of the now deceased Alice Drablow as a last ditch effort to save his job. Arthur is expecting to be buried in paperwork until the weekend, but the odd occurrences that transpire are a bit out of left field. Everyone in town practically begs for Arthur to return to London immediately as children continue to die gruesome deaths left and right. Ignoring their pleas, Arthur decides to confront the problem head on and stay at the Drablow's menacing house where his constant run-ins with the supernatural eventually take its toll on him.

The Woman in Black is a horror film that I wanted to be good. It's Daniel Radcliffe's first movie outside of the Harry Potter franchise and he's been pretty enthusiastic about it in interviews, but every bit of promotional material seemed to point at the movie being your everyday, generic, run of the mill, "scary" movie. The Woman in Black does provoke your interest at first. The strange opening is a little hokey, but kind of intrigues you at the same time. The atmosphere the movie tries to setup is its strongest asset though. The heavy use of fog and old fashioned feel of the town does make the town feel like it existed in the late 1800s and the ominous score does its best to try and bring you to the edge of your seat. The Drablow house is the key to that atmosphere as itís absolutely gorgeous in this hideously grotesque kind of way. Everything is so dusty and creepy while the Victorian design only adds to that uneasy feeling the movie tries to stir up in the pit of your stomach.

In the meantime though, everything else in the movie is working against it. It's extremely uneventful. Daniel Radcliffe reads papers, walks through a house, holds a candle, and gets a little dirty. That's the entire movie in one sentence. The Woman in Black also resorts to relying on nothing more than jump scares to try and scare its audience. There are four in the first twenty minutes; two from the same sequence and there are at least ten throughout the entire movie. Jump scares can be fantastic in small portions, but come off as incredibly weak when you can see them coming a mile away and are strung together haphazardly for a cheap effect. There isn't much dialogue while Arthur is in the Drablow house either, which is practically the entire movie. This was probably done to try and make the audience more absorbed with what was taking place on screen, but seems like a bit of a copout overall. Radcliffe has proven that he is an extremely talented actor, but he's pretty bland here. He mostly wanders around in a daze with a frazzled look on his face the entire time. His hosting gig on Saturday Night Live was more impressive in comparison.

The Woman in Black will still be a very successful film as nearly everyone who was or still is a Harry Potter fan will be lining up around every street corner just to be able to see this movie, but the fact of the matter is that it just isn't a great movie. Its representation of the late 19th century is pretty good, but the writing, the "scares," and (most of all) the entire conclusion are all just extremely disappointing. The Woman in Black is a watered down version of last year's Insidious that will more than likely gain a lot of praise it doesn't deserve.

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Tags: The Woman in Black, review, movies, horror, thriller, Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer
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Albert Nobbs (2011) review
12/30/11 at 02:48 PM by EvilButters
Albert Nobbs is the type of film I knew nothing about going in. I hadn't seen trailers or any sort of promotional materials beforehand, but everything can be summed up in one simple sentence: Glenn Close is portraying a man. That's pretty much the entire film in a nutshell. In the early 1900s, Albert Nobbs (Close) disguises herself as a man to be a butler in Dublin at a rather extravagant hotel. She has been hoarding her money like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter and she has some rather elaborate plans for her money; plans that would be a bit more difficult for a woman to pull off. Nobbs is completely content with her facade until she crosses paths with a painter named Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) and eventually craves more of a normal life because of their encounter. Nobbs is in love with Helen (Mia Wasikowska) some of the hotel help, but Helen is in love with Joe (Aaron Johnson) who dreams of taking Helen back to America. Nobbs must choose to either go all in and go for her dreams or continue living a half-hearted existence.

Glenn Close is obviously the heart and soul of the film. The message the film delivers becomes its main objective, but Close helps hand-deliver that message straight to each and every individual in the audience. Her performance is brilliant. Nobbs is a completely reserved individual who's almost completely devoid of emotion; not because she's incapable of feeling but because it's been a part of her charade for so long that it's kind of become habitual and it's almost as if she's forgotten how to feel. Nobbs spends the majority of the film talking to herself and thinking out loud. She is absolutely driven by this dream of hers. Janet McTeer comes along to kind of add a glimmer of hope to Nobbs and her quest; not to mention more than a little mutual understanding. I hadn't seen Mia Wasikowska in anything other than Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, but this was such a departure from that role. Helen is very outspoken, coldhearted, and completely blinded by love. Aaron Johnson took a rather obscure detour from Kick-Ass, as well. Joe wants nothing more than to get to America that when other obstacles present themselves he basically flips out in frustration. He seems more than willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, but also isn't afraid to beat any man or woman that gets in his way either.

With the majority of the story focusing on women in drag trying to find a wife, it's kind of a chore to try and mention anything else positive about the film in comparison because where do you go from there? Most of the film is very charming. Just about anything with Page and Nobbs gives you something to smile about, but the film's awkwardness becomes kind of charming as well. Nobbs eventually comes back around to her natural roots for one scene in the film and while it should be something to celebrate it's obviously very weird and unusual for the characters. It's kind of funny, but Glenn Close has a striking resemblance to Robin Williams in this film. It becomes almost uncanny by the time the film reaches its peak.

As one final note, the set pieces are absolutely fantastic. The atmosphere of the late 19th century is captured to perfection. The film also has some of the most effective use of snow in recent memory. Any scene featuring snow is something you should take note of.

Albert Nobbs is kind of incredible on one hand. The entire cast is filled with nothing but stellar performances, the set pieces are extraordinary, and the story is at the very least rather interesting. Trying to delve further into the film is a bit difficult though. I can guarantee I never would've seen this film if I hadn't been invited to a screening and while I don't regret attending I feel like a film like this isn't the reason why I go to the theater. Maybe it's because it's about women trying to be independent in the late 19th century, but it just isn't my type of movie. It's easy to admire the film's several strong points such as Glenn Close's amazing portrayal of Albert Nobbs and the solid script, but at the end of the day it just doesn't speak to me the way that it should. That doesn't necessarily mean that either side is to blame just that all films can't cater to everyone's tastes all the time; no matter how good or bad they may be.


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Tags: Albert Nobbs, review, drama, Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson
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Last Updated: 02/18/12 (19,378 Views)
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