Film ratings [11]

“Men like you are the reason I left Finland.”
Rebecca Bloomwood

Isla Fisher’s not a bad actress, just not the right actress for Confessions of a Shopaholic. I bet a lot of the people involved in this film aren’t bad at their job, it’s just that they messed up when it came to this particular film. With a little more substance, a lot less fluff, Shopaholic could have been more than just your average chick flick.

It’s fun and entertaining to see Fisher on screen; she has a special kind of twinkle in her eyes and in her step. You almost believe that she’s as airheaded as the director wants her character to be — almost, because it’s evident that she’s playing a character, instead of being the character. It’s not Fisher’s fault, I think, because every actor in this film breathes “acting!”, but perhaps it is the casting department’s glitch. A different actress, one with more dramatic experience, and perhaps the film would’ve been better. False hope, I know, as both the screenplay and the art setting seem a bit silly and unsuited for excellence to me.

On to Studio Ghibli, the second-best animation studio of all-time. Ever since I saw Spirited Away (I’m still not certain whether I saw Howl’s Moving Castle first, but it doesn’t really matter; both are superb), I have been in love and addicted to Ghibli’s masterpieces. Especially Princess Mononoke deserves the monicker “masterpiece” — every element in the film oozes excellence, imagination, enchantment.

It’s quite a different film from My Neighbours the Yamadas (playful and jolly) and My Neighbour Tortoro (youthful and spirited), but they all share a similar characteristic: Ghibli films go beyond what is fantasy, beyond imaginativeness. They let you move to another world, one that is magical yet thrilling, loving yet terrifying, emotionally-scorching yet tender and sweet. Every extreme is stuffed into the Ghibli imagination; the vision they share is that of a child’s: limitless and beyond our mortal world.

Then you have a contrasting film like Jim Carrey’s Yes Man. Made up out of a storyline that consists of a one-liner. I want to want to still like Carrey; meaning that I don’t care about him, but I wish I wanted to, I really do. There’s no comedy left in him, just witty remarks recycled from his previous lives. Unfortunate, but also inevitable. Just look at Eddie Murphy.

I’m going to end with another “comedy film”: How to Steal a Million. It’s not a good film, not incredibly funny or witty, has a lot of flaws (including the infamous French-who-speak-English-shortcoming), and needed a bit more direction. So, why does Million get an 8.5, while Yes Man gets a 7.5? Is it just the fact that Audrey Hepburn and Hugh Griffith are awesome? Is it because this classic film’s cinematography makes everything look better? Maybe it’s all that, but on top of that it’s the fact that the story deserves to be more. Yes Man‘s storyline doesn’t deserve anything, just to be forgotten.

Film ratings
Film Studio Grade Stars
Sixty Six Universal Studios
3 stars
My Neighbour Totoro Studio Ghibli
5 stars
Princess Mononoke Studio Ghibli
5 stars
My Neighbours the Yamadas Studio Ghibli
4.5 stars
A Streetcar Named Desire Warner Bros.
4.5 stars
Confessions of a Shopaholic Touchstone Pictures
1 star
Yes Man Warner Bros.
2 stars
How to Steal a Million 20th Century Fox
4 stars
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Focus Features
3 stars
Anastasia 20th Century Fox
4 stars

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