Stoker (2013)

stoker_1Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, David Alford, Matthew Goode, Peg Allen, Lauren E. Roman, Phyllis Somerville, Harmony Korine, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Dominick ‘Dino’ Howard, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney

Directed by Park Chan-Wook

Expectations: High. Really looking forward to this despite knowing almost nothing about it.

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Sometimes waiting to see a movie makes for a better experience. If I had seen Stoker when it was released in theaters, I would have liked it but I would have been missing a key component to understanding it. Fortuitously and completely unbeknownst to me, Stoker is something of a re-imagined Shadow of a Doubt, so it was quite interesting to see this one after finally seeing that film for the first time just a couple of weeks ago.

The initial premise of Stoker is similar to that of the classic Hitchcock film, but it kind of flips everything on its head. Stoker begins with the funeral of Richard Stoker, father to India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) and husband to Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman). Out of the blue, Richard’s long-lost brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) returns from traveling Europe and stays with the girls to help them in their time of mourning. India has no idea that she even had an uncle, so the event is one that raises her suspicions and interest in the mysterious and fetching Uncle Charlie.

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

SilverLiningsPlaybookAKA Happiness Therapy

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Dash Mihok

Directed by David O. Russell

Expectations: High.

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I almost didn’t see David O. Russel’s previous film, The Fighter, because I thought I didn’t need to see another boxing movie. I was wrong. Even with this in mind, I wasn’t all that fired up when I first heard about Silver Linings Playbook, Russell’s latest film. Over time, the hype machine built it up enough so I felt like I had to see it, and I’m glad I did, as I enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook quite a lot. My girlfriend seemed less than impressed, remarking that the song over the end credits “is upbeat to make you think it was a great movie,” and I don’t necessarily disagree. While Silver Linings Playbook is easily one of the best films of 2012, I don’t think it’s one that will stand out as a classic as the years roll on.

The film is a very interesting mix of mental illness and “boy meets girl,” making the film transcend its romantic roots and feel like more of a quirky indie drama than a romantic film. The romantic angle is always there, though, brewing under the surface in the electric, honest scenes between Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper). But by the time the film reaches its climax it can’t hold itself back any longer, embracing its true nature and delivering an ending that is nice, while clichéd and obvious. I guess there’s only so many ways for a romantic story to end.

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