Four Films I Have Seen Recently

Andrew Stephens, Tuesday the 13th of November, 2012

Posters for Hugo, Safety Not Guaranteed, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Man on a Ledge
Posters for Hugo, Safety Not Guaranteed, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Man on a Ledge

Safety Not Guaranteed

Three journalists travel to a backwoods town to interview a man who placed a classified ad wanting a partner to travel back in time. Based on a "true" story (someone did place such an ad as a joke), this sets the tone dial for quirky early on and leaves it there. The bickering reporters contrast well with the paranoid would-be chononaut, and it turns out that more than one person is trying to (metaphorically) turn the clock back.

A nice little film, Safety Not Guaranteed suffers from some serious plot holes but the acting is great and the various subplots are nicely handled. It kind of loses it towards the end, but it is at least five sixths a good film.

Hugo

A young homeless boy has a series of adventures, discovering the truth about his deceased father.

I saw this on a plane, which is not the ideal viewing conditions, but even so I was disappointed. The film has a sort of aggressive charm, trying so very hard to be a magical experience that it feels forced, like a theme park with the cheery muzak turned up too loud. It is watchable thanks to the impressive visual style, but derivative and empty.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

A disgraced journalist is hired to investigate a decades-old mystery in a tight-knit family. He is paired with an research assistant who is as enigmatic as she is eponymous.

I also saw this on a plane, which was a mistake since it is quite brutal in places and grim throughout. It is also very well made and stylish in a non-intrusive way. The actual mystery story is in many ways secondary to the character study of the "girl", and I liked the relatively slow pace although the ending seemed a bit contrived. Still highly recommended though.

Man on a Ledge

A ex-cop escapes from prison and ends up on a high ledge proclaiming his innocence and his willingness to jump. But is it all part of an elaborate scheme to clear his name?

I think it is pretty clear that the answer is yes. I like heist films, and this is solid if uninspired. There is nothing really wrong with Man on a Ledge except the premise makes no sense, the scheme is moronic (basically committing the crime for which the cop went to jail in the first place), the ending predictable, and Sam Worthington's accent jumps hemispheres between scenes. Apart from these minor quibbles, the cast is great and the brain-dead story moves along at a good pace. Man on a Ledge is an acceptable DVD rental.