I've got a feeling...
30 Rock and The American Office have been two of the most successful, creative US comedies of recent years. They've deservedly made household names of their two stars: Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. So when I saw them on the poster for Date Night, my immediate reaction was: why hasn't anyone thought of this before?
This 'natural pairing' translates very well onto the screen as Fey and Carrell are asked to portray The Fosters, a married couple whose busy working/family lives mean they no longer have the energy to put effort into their relationship
The opening scenes to the movie almost come from another film, as the Fosters find out two of their best friends are getting divorced. Why? "They're just roommates. Really good roommates".
In an effort to spice things up a little, the Fosters decide to go to Manhattan for a night out. What follows is a case of mistaken identity which results in 'wacky shenanigans' for the next hour or so.
The film's strengths lie in the central relationship between Fey's and Carrell's respective characters. It shines when they're not figuring out where it is they need to be next, and instead just talking... (Yes talking, because if Annie Hall has taught us anything it's that a movie with people just... you know... talking can actually be entertaining). This 'talking' really felt like the kind of unique, smart comedy the two stars are known for.
To put it another way, I guess it's kind of like going to see a stand-up and instead of doing comedy, they decide to spend the hour juggling. It's not that their juggling is bad... I mean they had knives and flames and stuff... it's just that they're comedians... I wanted some funny.
So it is with Fey and Carrell, they're smart comedians, where's the smart comedy? Instead we got car chases, Tina Fey bumping into things, and pole dancing...
Despite all these set-backs, I was still entertained. It's easy to be won over by these two stars and the excellent supporting cast. I just wish the journey could have been as interesting as the company...
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Alice, Alice, Where the *bleep* is Alice?
There aren't many films that can sustain an interesting story with just three characters. Rear Window comes to mind as the type of movie that used just a few speaking characters to create over two hours of almost faultless suspense.
The first fifteen minutes of The Disappearance of Alice Creed would have you believing this movie is more of the torture-porn genre (e.g. Saw, Hostel) than the suspenseful thriller it later becomes.
In it, we see the two kidnappers, one in his forties, the other in their twenties meticulously set-up the flat they wish to keep Alice locked in. They sound-proof the walls, build the bed, and get all the supplies they'll need to carry out the crime. All without speaking. We then get a fairly disturbing piece of cinema, as Alice is captured, tied to the bed, stripped naked and photographed.
What follows, without giving anything away about the actual plot, is entirely different in tone. The movie chooses to concentrate on the characters, and the relationships that develop between the three of them. As a result it is much more like the tense and suspenseful Rear Window than the gory and disturbing Saw.
For a movie to work with just three characters, you need an excellent script and excellent actors. The movie has both. And although not perfect (perhaps the last act could have given us a little more), it's a very rewarding and exciting film to watch. It has a purity and innocence to its story that is very refreshing.
Unlike Date Night, which clearly had three or four creative forces all wanting different things, Alice Creed feels like one man's creative vision perfectly realised on the screen. Thoroughly recommended.