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130. (ii) Mary and Max (#177)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Andy Hazel, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max.

Mary Daisy Dinkle is a precocious eight-year-old growing up in the suburbs of Waverley outside Melbourne. One day, on the spur of the moment, she picks a name at random out of a phone book and decides to write to Max Jerry Horovitz, an atheist Jew living in New York City. The two strike up an unlikely friendship that crosses decades, navigating their interwoven lives separated by half the world.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 177th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Miss You Already

It is very difficult to produce a film about cancer that does not seem cloying or cynical. As a narrative device, cancer can often feel like a conscious attempt to manipulate the audience’s sentiment. It is an illness which means a lot to a lot of people, and which prompts a whole host of strong feelings among those who have lived with it and those who have known those close to them who lived with it. It is very difficult to properly calibrate a film about cancer so that it doesn’t feel like a short cut to audience empathy and sympathy.

Miss You Already walks a very fine line. It trips across that line on more than a few occasions, tripping over into the stock clichés of the “life-affirming cancer film.” There are emotional montages that capture and contrast the reality of life with and without cancer; there are familiar pop songs laid over sequences of characters coping with tremendous personal stress; there is the concious self-aware manipulation of footage in such a way as to visually underscore the passage of precious time or the pace of life.

missyoualready5a

There are some storytelling decisions that do feel a little too clever and a little too shrewd, a very obvious attempt to provide optimistic symmetry to the mortality that nestles at the heart of the film. Miss You Already feels almost too conscious of itself at certain points, too aware of the audience to which it plays. The film works best when it ignores the familiar structuring, when it avoids trying to offset the morbid material with something a little lighter. Although occasionally smothered by familiar story beats, there are moments of humanity here.

It is to the credit of the two lead performers that those moments of humanity still shine through. Drew Barrymore is charming and charismatic in the role of narrator and witness, but the film belongs to Toni Collette. Collette anchors the film, proving a weight and emotional centre that is occasionally obscured by its recognisable structure. Miss You Already doesn’t quite work, but Collette’s performance gets it a lot closer than it might otherwise.

missyoualready

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Non-Review Review: Enough Said

Enough Said is a charming little romantic comedy starring Julia Louise-Dreyfuss as Eva. Eva is a divorced parent who finds herself in the relationship with another charming divorcée, navigating the difficulties of dating-after-marriage and trying to come to terms with her daughter’s impending departure to attend college. Through what another character describes as “an unbelievable coincidence”, our protagonist finds herself in a delightfully awkward romantic situation, trapped between two people very close to her.

Enough Said owes a debt to the classic romantic farce – the comedy of errors and manners – but the humour here is a lot more focused and character-driven. Once the plot becomes clear, it seems like Enough Said might devolve into a slapstick comedy about timing and awkward double entendres, but it’s to the credit of writer and director Nicole Holofcener that the film instead remains tightly focused on Eva and the people around her.

Stepping up...

Stepping up…

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Non-Review Review: Fright Night

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, the rather wonderful film festival organised by Vincent and everybody else over at movies.ie. It was well worth attending, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Good job all.

Fright Night is great fun. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s one that’s produced with enough skill and charm that it feels well worth your time. A superb cast and confident direction make the film feel like a breeze, even with a slightly muddled middle section and some strange plotting and pacing. It’s also one of the best uses of 3D I’ve seen since Tron: Legacy, and I genuinely don’t say that lightly. All of adds up to a movie well worth sinking your teeth into.

Put the Fright one on...

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Non-Review Review: Little Miss Sunshine

I think everyone has family issues. They’re a bunch of people in your life who you never chose to be close to you. And you’re stuck with them, for better or worse. I think that’s why Little Miss Sunshine strikes the chord it does. That, and it’s an astonishingly good film.

"Everyone pretend to be normal."

"Everyone pretend to be normal."

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