Today I saw two movies, Brave and Safety Not Guaranteed. I enjoyed both, but unfortunately that seems to be the end of my movie watching for the summer and fall. I've checked the release dates for months ahead and find that there's nothing I am interested in until December with The Hobbit and possibly Django Unchained, if I can stand the violence.
Anyway, back to the pair that I saw today. SPOILERS below.
A charming animated short called La Luna preceded Brave, and it fit nicely, with its theme of family tradition and finding your own new way to do things. Brave's main relationship was that of mother and daughter trying to negotiate personal freedom and tradition. Though I love red-haired heroines, I didn't like Merida's locks being so wild and unruly, and I also feared that I wouldn't be able to understand the Scottish accents without subtitles. I also was spoiled about the plot with Elinor turning into a bear because I read it in a promotional kid's tie-in book. So I was on the fence about seeing this in theaters instead of waiting for DVD, then I learned that Craig Ferguson was in it. It's not a large part, but his enthusiasm was enough to make me think this might be as good and sweet as Winnie the Pooh was. I am happy to say I was not disappointed.
Brave was quite beautiful, and I could understand the accents, save the one character who is meant to be unintelligible. I feared that Merida's younger brothers would have a larger part in the film, with their slapstick antics and pranks, but they weren't used too much, and were mainly a plot device for Merida to escape. Merida's father, whose name I don't recall, didn't even learn of Elinor's transformation until late in the movie, and there wasn't too much time spent on his unknowingly trying to kill his wife. It was Merida's bond with Elinor that was being tested, and that rightly remained the focus of the movie. I thought it was cute how Elinor tried to still act as a human when she was a bear. I did have to suspend my belief in one scene at the castle where Elinor was miming words to Merida, and nobody else saw her gesturing frantically, even though they must have been facing the right direction to see. But overall a great story, with no unnecessary love interests thrown in.
I took more of a risk in seeing Safety Not Guaranteed, since I only saw the trailer some weeks ago and didn't read any reviews beforehand. I wasn't even aware that the newspaper ad was a real ad that had been famous on the internet for a while. I don't know any of the actors from anywhere else, either. But the time-travel premise and "is it real or is he crazy?" question was interesting, so I took the chance. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, as the movie tells us. :) I was worried that the main character Darius would be too sullen and cynical for most of the movie, but she became warmer and nicer as she interacted with Kenneth, the writer of the classified ad. She plays along with him at first, before she starts to really want to believe in him and his mysterious mission. The other characters Jeff and Arneau mostly have their own separate plotline. Jeff wants to reconnect with his high school flame, and also to make Arneau seize the day romantically and not waste his youth on studies. The parallels are sometimes apt, talking about wanting to return to a frame of mind and perfect moment in the past. Also more than one character asks, "are you just making fun of me?" because in this cynical world they can't be sure if anyone is being genuine with them or just sarcastic and smug. It's an offbeat comedy mixed with regrets and heartbreak. I found the central relationship satisfying and convincing, not rushed at all.
Well, as I said, that's probably the last movie I'll see in theaters for months I think. I don't care one bit about the Spiderman, Batman, and certainly not Twilight franchises. If the schedule changes and more interesting indie films come out, then maybe I'll reconsider. But for now I'm staying home until I can see Smaug the dragon as voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.