This week I have spent plenty of time at the theater and gaming (Rage FYI), but I managed to fit some movie rentals in this weekend so that I would have thoughts to share with you guys (yes I do realize how narcissistic that sounds). This week we’ve got two films with Natalie Portman, The Other Woman and The Professional, as well as Skateland. Enjoy!
Not to be confused with Natalie Portman’s other film, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Other Woman stars this actress as a woman who loses a child. Switching up the timeline a little as the film progresses, we find out that she moved in on a married man and is now dealing with the ex-wife and stepson, but the story is completely marred from moving forward by the previously mentioned loss.
The loss of a child is not new to the world of film, but The Other Woman’s attempt fails to live up to films like Rabbit Hole in its attempt to show the affects of a tragedy like this on a family. Instead, in this case it often feels like a crutch for drama, bringing about argument after argument involving, if not brought on by mention of this. I cannot fathom how horrible this is, yet even reminding oneself of this while watching, Portman’s character often ends up being annoying rather than a sympathetic character. What’s worse is that this repetition ends up making the film feel far too simplistic as it continues to be stuck in the rut it dug itself.
With that said, there are still some highlights, largely revolving around Portman’s interactions with the stepson, played by Charlie Tahan. Bringing back memories of the relationship between Jason Bateman and Thomas Robinson in The Switch (though far less adorable), Portman becomes something more than this one note character. Occasionally she reverts back to the suffering mother as she often gets annoyed with a boy simply being a child, but occasionally she does at least attempt to be a decent person to him, speaking with him in quite a sarcastic manner that gives the film a percentage of the dose of heart it needs.
Final Grade: C+
Oh roller-skating… Other than when we had our roller-skating units in PE at school, I have to say that I was way too cool for them. That’s right, I had rollerblades (brushes shoulder off). With that said, I can still relate to the skate rink being the place to be to hang out on Friday nights. Granted it was also the 6th grade. Point is, I had birthday parties there, I said my first cuss word there (don’t tell my parents), so the film didn’t have to reach far to get the feeling of nostalgia building in this viewer.
Similar to Adventureland in more than title, Skateland is set in the 1980s with a decent chunk of characters unwilling to accept that they have to move on from the past and grow up sometime. It also has the main character in a relationship with a girl from the Twilight franchise (Ashley Greene here), though I have to admit that the relationship here bounces back from good to bad more than I would like to admit. With their could be more than friends potential, in the end I think she should have stuck more as a catalyzing force for the main character, as his sister is. But instead we get a relationship that awkwardly advances with a major push out of nowhere to make them something more than just friends, no matter how obvious the potential was from the start.
In the end, Skateland really doesn’t do anything new, so I will continue to stick to spending my time in Adventureland, though Zombieland takes precedence over that (in desire to watch it, not desire to visit).
Final Grade: C
Zac’s Homework Assignments: I have a confession to make. Though I love films with all my might, I have an embarrassingly lack of knowledge when it comes to older films. Something that Zac seems to be disgusted by considering the times I have had to respond to his references with “I haven’t seen that” (See the comments on my review of Real Steel for an example). Which has brought about his need for me to widen my viewing choices. And though I am still waiting for an email of the complete list (I am expecting hundreds of films in all honesty), I will be starting with The Professional since I already had the DVD from Netflix.
Apparently I decided to make this a Natalie Portman weekend. In The Professional, Portman plays a little girl who is taken in by her neighbor following the brutal attack on her family by a man with a love for drugs, who just so happens to be an officer of the law as well. This is quite a different officer than Batman’s Jim Gordon for Gary Oldman, but he creates this animated character whose level of corruption equals the amount of morals he is missing, easily stealing the film from two other amazing actors. Portman makes it pretty clear in her role as Mathilda (what is it with little, unloved girls being named Mathilda?) that she was born to act as she follows Léon (Jean Reno) around in the hopes that she will be the Robin to his Batman.
Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention that Léon is a hit man, and a skilled one at that. Living the life of a solitary individual, he quickly reveals that the eyes behind those Harry Potter sunglasses aren’t as cold as one would think. Though he more than hesitates at first, he lives by a “no women, no children” code, making it a little easier for Portman to bring out a new side of Léon. Not saying he goes all mushy or anything, but his desire to protect her does bring out a cute relationship between the two, and though he acts as a mentor of sorts as he trains her in the ways of cleaning, I seriously doubt he would be able to go so far as to create a killer child like in Hanna. A desire for a connection is all, creating a great dynamic between the two as they deal with the death of her family together.
Final Grade: B Follow @BewareOfTrees