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Review: The Simpsons Movie, The Banquet, Angel and Georgia Rule

By August 1, 2007December 31st, 2013No Comments

The Simpsons Movie teaser posterIt’s an awfully long time since I have watched a com­plete epis­ode of The Simpsons so I was­n’t 100% con­fid­ent that I would be happy sit­ting through an exten­ded ver­sion of the legendary hyper­act­ive car­toon. I need­n’t have wor­ried. The Simpsons Movie is one of the most purely enter­tain­ing movies of the year, with all the stops pulled out by an army of tal­en­ted writers and anim­at­ors determ­ined that the grand leg­acy be con­firmed on the big screen.

And they have done it by not mess­ing with the for­mula. The film is essen­tially an 85 minute epis­ode of the series with the only visu­al con­ces­sions being an abund­ance of detail for the obsess­ives and an enriched col­our palette. Plus, the exten­ded dur­a­tion gives the writers a chance to take some time to really give the film some heart.

The plot is an envir­on­ment­al one but the themes are all about fam­ily: Homer’s selfish­ness causes the entire town of Springfield to turn on them and Marge to doubt her com­mit­ment to the big yel­low lump beside her. Meanwhile Bart is won­der­ing wheth­er it might not be more fun liv­ing next door with the pious but lov­ing Flanders clan.

The screen­ing I was at was only spoiled by the couple sit­ting next to me who insisted on nar­rat­ing every incid­ent and read­ing out loud every sign and t‑shirt on the screen: curse you and your unadul­ter­ated enthu­si­asm and enjoyment.

The Banquet posterThe Banquet from China is all about the visu­als, des­pite being based (like The Lion King) on Hamlet. In 10th cen­tury China the Emperor has died sud­denly and his pos­i­tion usurped by his broth­er, who has also taken the Emperor’s wid­ow as his own wife. Crown Prince Wu Luan has been away study­ing to be an act­or but returns to try and find out the truth.

Like The Curse of the Golden Flower earli­er in the year, The Banquet is a an art and cos­tume depart­ment tri­umph though I was left cold by the slow pacing and long run­ning time.

Angel posterFrench dir­ect­or François Ozon does­n’t hang about. Since Water Drops on Burning Rocks in 2000 he has delivered sev­en films in sev­en years and his last fea­ture, Time to Leave, played at the World Cinema Showcase only a few months ago. Angel is his first film in English (des­pite being a French pro­duc­tion) and is the melo­dra­mat­ic story of insuf­fer­able Edwardian school­girl Angel Deverell (Romola Garai) whose naïve dreams of becom­ing a great nov­el­ist come true but, of course, the hap­pi­ness can­not last.

Ozon is pay­ing homage to the great women’s flicks of the last cen­tury, the kind that might have starred Bette Davis or Joan Crawford, but his com­mand of the style is far from com­plete and the dia­logue often sounds like sub­titles read aloud.

Georgia Rule posterAlso insuf­fer­able, but for dif­fer­ent reas­ons, is Lindsay Lohan in Georgia Rule. She plays wil­ful teen Rachel Wilcox sent to her grand­moth­er (Jane Fonda) in Idaho in the hope that small town, mid-western, magic will cure her of her obnox­ious­ness. This is anoth­er film being sold to female audi­ences but there is enough atten­tion focused on Ms Lohan’s rack to keep the rest of the audi­ence inter­ested. Personally, I found the cas­u­al treat­ment of gross sexu­al abuse and alco­hol­ism to be totally offens­ive in a film this shallow.

Printed (in some­what edited fash­ion this week) in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday, 1 August, 2007.