January 25th, 2016

In some films you can tell when an actor is “mailing it in” to get a paycheque, like Michael Caine in Jaws 3, or perhaps he just wanted a paid vacation in the Bahamas for a few weeks.   But nevertheless, you realize that they are going through the motions and capable of better work.   In Tomorrowland, George Clooney has such a role.  He plays the adult version of a once positive and enthusiastic young boy, proudly displaying his new Jet Pack at the New York Expo back in 1963.   That was the boy.  The man is left a bitter recluse who is down and not very positive at all.  The story is a mess and jumps all over the place, but ultimately is a social commentary on humanity and our seeming unending appetite for bad news and evidence that the world is a bad place.   What to do?   Well the “smart people” decided to create a utopia with no politics, or greed for money and allowing science and technology to advance the human condition in another dimension.  I was underwhelmed and not convinced.   The robot was interesting for a while and some of the effects but it was too long and did not capture my attention.   In the end I was glad that it was over.

Yesterday I saw The Revenant with Alison’s review dancing in my head as the movie that she liked best this year.  Her review was so glowing that my expectations were high despite my meager understanding of a plot that seemed relatively simple;  Man loses son and seeks revenge in the woods up north.   The cinematography and look and feel of this film is excellent.  One gets a real sense of what living in those times, and in that place, was like.   I don’t want to experience it.  Snow, cold, sleeping outside, small fires and braving the elements made me shiver as I watched.   Then there was the brutality.  Stabbings, shootings, arrows, knives and all manner of violence to a human body.  But the simple story moved along at its own pace.
For me, it was a pace that was a bit too slow.  I was shifting in my seat, and thought I can only see so much of Leo on the frozen ground pulling himself along with his fingers, one painful pull at a time.   I got the point that he had a struggle.  Tom Hardy was very good here, I think likely better than Leo who couldn’t say much other than groan for most of the film.   These are two excellent actors with good direction telling a believable tale.   I saw a lot of Tom Berenger’s performance in Platoon in Hardy.  The guy struggling to survive, disagreeing with authority and making his own rules up as he goes along.   The young solider who stays behind I couldn’t get beyond the spider scene in We’re The Millers out of my head (I chuckled to myself whenever I saw him).   If you haven’t seen it, google it and then try and put the seriousness of The Revenant in context with it (it’s NOT easy)!    Anyway, visually this movie is stunning.  It can also be gross, and make you turn your head to the side.   I am not sure whether I needed a veterinary lesson in anatomy of a horse in a film but basically I got one as Leo does his best Empire Strikes Back Taun-taun impression of Han Solo helping Luke Skywalker.   In the end, revenge is exacted as is to be expected, and everyone in the audience is exhausted from being put through the paces.  This is a physically demanding role and I suspect that Leo won’t personally sign up for another winter outdoor movie for quite some time, if ever.  I can’t blame him when The Beach 2 would be so much easier to make!  Would he EVER feel warm after a day of filming here?   One wonders.   I don’t see this as a Best Actor (sorry Leo) but I do for Tom Hardy.
I was glad to see this, and see it on a big screen.  I just wish it hadn’t been so intense and graphic.

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