Putting up two films here in one review as it’s been a month or so since I’ve seen the films and as they are both average films wrapped in fantastic lead performances, I can sum them up rather quickly.
Starting with Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays “Alice Howland” a happily married linguistics professor who suddenly notices while on a run through the UCLA campus while on a trip to LA where during a lecture she was giving, that she is completely lost, can’t remember why she is there and that is just the beginning of when she realizes she is forgetting words, details, appointments etc. As she goes to get a checkup, as she is still young at age 50, for what could be happening to her, she gets the devastating diagnosis of early onset Alsheimers disease. It’s here that Moore’s performance goes into high gear. Along with her husband, “John” (Alec Baldwin) a neurologist, and three grown children, “Anna” (Kate Bosworth), the married one of the bunch who is trying through invitro, to have a child, “Tom” (Hunter Parrish) who is following in his parents footsteps and in medical school, and lastly the black sheep so to speak of the bunch “Lydia” (Kristen Stewart) who is trying to be an actress (note: Kristen Stewart is trying to be an actress here-if only this was real life *insert sarcasm*)
Moore brings the fear, stress and the struggle of a what a woman whose mind is going away too fast especially considering who she was..as her neuroligists says to her at one point that someone who was so actively intelligent as she was, the mind can go even faster. To quote her own words: “I’m learning the art of losing everyday. We become ridiculous, incapable, comic – but this is not us, this is the disease”. The film is moving in the fact that it’s impossible to stay indifferent in face of Alzheimer’s, what it lacks though is that you don’t really develop any particular feelings for Alice or her family, and feel a bit detached from any of them. They don’t explore tears factor here, which is fine because we do understand where it is heading well enough, and though competently done, the film lacks the huge emotional impact to really involve us.
Grade: C – for the film itself; B+ for Moore’s performance
Moving on here to “Mr. Turner” starring Timothy Spall as “J.M.W.Turner” the eccentric, but brilliant painter of the Romanticist era of the 18th/19th Century known mostly for his landscapes and being the “painter of light”
The film starts and focuses on the last quarter century of Turner’s life where we see him being extremely close to his father, “William Turner” (Paul Jesson) and a very odd relationship with their housemaid “Hannah Danby” (Dorothy Atkinson) who has a skin condition that goes from bad to just plain awful during the film. We also take note that Turner really doesn’t have many friends, he suffers from bouts of major depression (something his mother was institutionalized for) and while it doesn’t really show if he was actually married or not, a few times during the film we see “Sarah Danby” (Ruth Sheen) & her two daughters “Evelina” (Sandy Foster) & “Georgiana” (Amy Dawson) visit, make demands of him and make as though they are his daughters though he treats them all rather deplorably.
As we go through the years we see Turner go into the relationship with “Sophia Bush” (Marion Bailey), after her second husband passes, though she seemly doesn’t know who he is for the first few years that he comes to stay at her bed & breakfast spot every summer as ‘Mr. Booth’ and this is how he lives for the next 15+ years until his death.
As I have liked some of Mike Leigh’s films over the years, visually I can say this movie is truly beautiful as we are treated to viewing creation of some of Turner’s best work. Though the film moves slowly, the performance by Spall is quite something to speak of especially after learning that he spent two years being taught how to paint like Turner so as it make the artistry even more realistic. Though at times all the grunting and groaning as his everyday responses to things reminded me of a Women’s tennis match as I’m not someone who can stomach those noises well and let’s just say, I had to set my popcorn down, it still is quite a feat in itself to have done all this.
Grade: C once again for the film..a B for the performance of Timothy Spall.
(See grading scale)