Monday, January 3, 2011

❦ Remember Me (2010)

This film has the most beautiful score, I can’t praise it enough! It brilliantly accents each scene, subliminally telling the story, and makes them memorable. The overall tone and atmosphere are rich. I can almost smell the NYC breezes in many of the outdoor scenes.

Robert Pattinson seems to die into the character of Tyler Hawkins. I’m totally thinking of him as Tyler throughout the movie—my litmus test for superb acting.

There’s good chemistry among the cast. I get a good sense of the blended family; Mom’s remarried to Les, but the loss of Michael keeps Dad in the picture and they’re able to spend time together, civilly, in his memory. It’s very sweet, touching and poignant. We see that Dad’s work kept him away too much, and eventually broke up the family. There’s lots of pain in this history, and I feel the off-screen back-story very strongly.

Again, the score completely grips my heart, and opens me up to this family, the characters, the circumstances.

Tyler and Caroline’s relationship? Adorable. It’s sweet how important Caroline is to Tyler; and he takes very good care of his precocious little sister, even though he’s now out living on his own. He picks her up from school; he’s always looking out for her. Very nice.

The relationship between Ally and her father is also very well established. He’s excessively protective, post her mom’s awful murder. He’s lost his wife, and his daughter’s all he’s got left. He’s a cop, and feels he should be able to protect his own. I like the nice banter between them about seeing Erin Brochovich twice and dad crying. They love each other, but it’s clear 21-year-old Ally has outgrown this protective nest.

For a girl from Queens, Ally doesn’t have much of a New York accent, does she?

Good background songs, they compliment the scenes very nicely.

Tyler and Ally goofing off in the tub. How disgusting is that shower?? Clean much, bachelors? LOL

About the scene when Ally gets home after spending the night out…I feel instead of her saying, “You strangle me ‘cause you couldn’t save mom--” she should’ve said something like, “You suffocate me because we lost mom…” or “How long are you going to suffocate me because we lost mom?” That would’ve made the scene even stronger, and tightened up the emotional delivery. It feels like a missed opportunity to strengthen the emotional potency of the film.

Great love scene sequence between Tyler and Ally! The Sigur Rós song is pitch perfect, and I love how it carries right over into Ty’s coffee shop visit the following morning.

Now. When he gets back from journaling at the coffee shop, and he and Ally talk in his bedroom, I can feel how this was the perfect time for him to tell Ally about her dad arresting him and Aiden. But, of course, Tyler, now falling in love with Ally, is too afraid of what will happen when she finds this out; he’s too afraid of losing her. I feel sorry for Ty…because Ally is opening up so beautifully in this scene; she's letting him in, sharing the most personal thing about the complicated relationship with her father. How could he know it was the perfect time to tell her? Sigh.

The dinner scene. Feels a little smash cut. Ally confides she was with her mom when she was killed, and Charles just says, “And here you are.” This feels like a missed opportunity to enhance the film’s immediate emotional impact. I would’ve liked to hear him gently ask about how the loss has affected her, if at all, or something along those lines. We need a little more light shed on how the murder affected her life. We know how it’s affected her dad, but we’re never really shown how it affected Ally, the female lead, witnessing the loss of her mother at such a young age, and in such a violent way! She doesn't take the subway and has her dessert first, but did she need therapy? Did she have any mother figures? Is it possible that Mrs. Lipman, mentioned early on as a ride to school, played some role in Ally’s life after the murder?

That shooting was prominently featured, as the opening scene for the entire story. We definitely needed more of Ally’s reaction to it. I feel it would’ve made the film stronger, much more electric at box office time.

I’m touched when we see Ally’s dad playing his daughter’s message a second time. You can just feel how he’s going to listen to it over and over, right? You can feel how much he loves his daughter, and still mourns the loss of her mother, his wife. The score is so lovely throughout this sequence.

OK. The “Leo, you’re off duty” insert? Total fail. It doesn’t work at all and it takes a few watches to figure out whether he was following her or just happened to see her on the train. In the end, we’re still not really sure! This part needed to be explained somewhere later on in the script.

When Aiden goes over to Ally’s house and tries to talk her into forgiving Tyler, there was another missed opportunity. Ally needed to say, “He used me. Big time.” vs. “He lied to me.” In this context, ‘used’ is more emotionally accurate than 'lied,' and much more appropriate for the circumstance. This would've given the movie a stronger emotional impact, as well.

Tyler bringing Caroline to school after the hair-hacking incident; it’s so sweet how concerned and attentive he is, picking up her pencil and asking if she’s okay after she takes her seat. I can feel the love and protectiveness of an older brother for his little sister.

I love Tyler discovering and watching the screen saver collage in his dad’s office. Very nicely done. Sweet, with absolutely lovely scoring.

Now, my thoughts on the ending. In the interest of illustrating the tragedy of 9/11/01, it’s totally OK that Tyler’s the one who tragically dies in place of his father in the Trade Center - BUT - in order for us to swallow losing our narrator like that, we needed to see Ally boarding that subway with a baby bump, or with a toddler – with Tyler’s child. She’s taking him/her to visit Tyler’s family. The end.

The blow of Tyler’s death would’ve been far less bitter for the audience. But capping the film showing that Ally is now able to take the subway? So what? It feels extremely haphazard and disjointed, in view of my earlier thought that we don’t really get much of the affect her mom’s death had on her as a young woman…So Tyler died and she’s now taking the subway? Who cares? Where’s the connection? We needed this tied together. Why? Because you shockingly and abruptly killed off our narrator! We need some major soothing after that. If Ally had been pregnant when he died and was now taking the subway with a baby bump or with their child…well, now you’ve got a brilliant story, touching and poignant. And most of all, soothing. We can now leave the theater feeling very satisfied about the story we were just told, despite the awful blow at the end. There will be an urge to encourage others to go and see it. Instead, you leave thinking, “Wow. He died. And she started riding the subway.”

And then people have to ask you how the movie was. There’s zero spark for word-spreading. The ending could've served the film as a whole so much better. We know loss happens in real life, but as an author, I've learned that the key to storytelling is making the audience feel satisfied in the end. Alas, no one asked me what I thought before the final cut of this film! LOL

Anyway, I do have the score on CD. It is so beautiful! One of the best I’ve ever heard.

The things I love about this movie override its flaws. But if it weren’t for the points I mentioned above, I think it could’ve been a huge word-of-mouth hit at the box office. I really wish more people had seen this film!

Remember Me is a film about grief, grief, and more grief. But it’s also equally a film about value, good memories, good families and friends, and about finding love and living life. It's a good one.

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch...”

❦ Sabrina (1995)

(I saw the original 1954 Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn years ago, but don't remember enough to make any comparisons, so my thoughts on the 1995 remake aren't in any way comparative.)

I love the opening sequence of this movie. The piano melody under Sabrina’s voice makes me feel tranquil, ready to be swept up into the story. It makes the opening memorable; and it’s pleasantly familiar each time I see the film.

Sabrina’s transformation is brilliant. I think it’s amazing that Julia Ormond was able to play both the pre- and post-Paris Sabrina—she looks so incredibly different! She very convincingly goes from young girl, to grown woman. She even seems taller when she gets back from Paris, although it’s unclear in the film just how long she was away. Kudos to the costume designers—they made excellent choices for creating the illusion of a growth spurt: the long loose-fitting clothes pre-Paris made her appear shorter.

I love the relationship between Sabrina and her dad.

Although as a whole, the film fails to make an emotional connection, I really connect with the emotion of many scenes in the film, and I suspect this is a credit to the actors. I can feel Sabrina’s infatuation with David, how he’s her entire world until she grows up a bit.

In Paris, I enjoy Sabrina’s friendship with Irene, and what she says about Sabrina seeming to be embarrassed by loneliness—it’s just a place to start. Such a lovely scene. And the cutaway is too abrupt. It needed a few more seconds, to serve the film as a whole.

Absolutely love the kitchen staff scenes - Rosa is hilarious! However, the cutaways from these scenes are much too jarring, too abrupt. Needed a few more seconds before the cut.

I love Sabrina and Louis dancing in the club in Paris! Great song and great scene! So happy to see Sabrina making friends and beginning to bloom. ☺

Good chemistry between Linus and David. And Linus and their mother, Maude. Enjoy those scenes.

Sabrina looked so beautiful for the Larrabee party. I love that dress! It seems perfect on her, like lovely and unpretentious haute couture.

I get a very classic, old-Hollywood feel as I watch David and Sabrina dancing together at the party. Very classy and quaint. Lovely music from the orchestra, compliments the scene well.

Lovely poem about how Sabrina got her name, and I like how it ties into her relationship with Linus.

Sabrina really does save Linus. She shows him a whole new dimension to life and living. He had no idea. As he said, he did what his dad did; who did was his dad did. And Sabrina saying: “But that’s work. Where do you live, Linus?” Brilliant.

Nice development of Linus' and Sabrina's falling in love.

I especially like the scene when Linus and Sabrina return from dinner in the city to find David waiting in the driveway. It's clear that Sabrina is now falling in love with Linus, and that the David fantasy has finally been cracked.

The film has a lovely score - it just needed more of it in some of the key scenes!

Which leads to one of my biggest disappointments with this movie…Sabrina’s second visit to Linus’ office is so wonderfully acted, but this is an instance where score is sorely missed. Their words drop like dead weight without it. The inclusion of the score would’ve lifted the rich emotions of this scene right into my heart. Instead, it seems as if it doesn’t even belong in the movie! The scene is left bare, dry and very boring. It stops the pace dead. Why, oh why, was this entire sequence not scored? Who made this decision? Big, big mistake. Huge. I would venture to say this is what killed this movie’s chance for word-of-mouth buzz at box office time. It’s that important.

Scoring would’ve even made their first kiss much more emotional, more exciting.

In general, the cutaways in this film are too abrupt and jarring; they don’t allow for seamless viewing, and I think this is one of the main reasons this movie requires multiple views before it can make its way into your heart. The editor is in the way.

Cute seeing the basketball goal in David’s office. Like “The Rons.” And Patrick Tyson is hilarious.

It’s nice to see that David was capable of stepping up to the company plate in the end, taking over for Linus.

And I like how Sabrina’s little speech, meant for David in the beginning of the film, was, by the end, meant for Linus. I can actually imagine their life together in Paris: lovely, passionate, happy.

“Save me, Sabrina Fair.”