Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York. (Paul Gallagher) ■ General release from Fri 28 Jan. FANTASY/DRAMA HEREAFTER (12A) 129min ●●●●●
Matt Damon brings his earnest charm to bear as George Lonegan, a shy medium whose gift for contacting the dead destroys any chance of romance. After his relationship flops with Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) and he’s made redundant from his job as a fork-lift truck driver, Lonegan heads to London to indulge his love of Charles Dickens, but a chance encounter at a Derek Jacobi book signing provides him with a reason to use his special powers. Directed by Clint Eastwood and
written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Damned United), Hereafter intertwines Lonegan’s quest for love with two other stories. One is about a tough French TV journalist (Cecile De France) who, since surviving a tsunami, has an interest in the afterlife. The other is about a British schoolboy (Frankie McLaren) whose recently deceased twin brother steps in to save him from a tube bombing. The utilisation of real-life catastrophes in Peter Morgan’s script sits uneasily with the soppy moonbeams of the central theme, which is treated with surprisingly wide-eyed seriousness by Eastwood. Damon’s nicely understated performance is Hereafter’s only strength, otherwise it’s just a load of sentimental hogwash. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release, Fri 28 Jan.
Film REVIEWS DRAMA BARNEY’S VERSION (15) 133min ●●●●●
Memory is a tricky thing, and that appears to be the main point of this rambling, unfocused but still enjoyable comedy-drama. Paul Giamatti plays Barney Panofsky, a slightly nastier version of the cynical schlub that’s become his stock-in-trade. He’s an ageing TV producer who is prompted to look back over his life, three failed marriages and all, when a book is published revisiting an unsolved 30- year old murder case involving Barney. Adapted from Mordecai Richler’s
novel and directed by Richard J Lewis, the film is essentially Barney’s case for the defence, and Lewis attempts to gradually shift the film’s tone from broad comedy to serious drama. Unfortunately, television director Lewis lacks the grace to pull it off effectively. The film begins as a comic murder- mystery, but that aspect of the story fizzles as it shifts into Woody Allen- esque relationship drama. This central section is where he is most successful, achieving an effective balance of observational character comedy and poignant drama, and getting brilliant performances from Giamatti and Rosamund Pike. But in its final third Lewis suddenly steers the film into tearjerker territory, undoing much of the actors’ good work by drawing more overtly heartstring- tugging performances from them. The film is very well cast though, and
Dustin Hoffman is particularly entertaining as Barney’s mischievous father, but the story’s central theme – memory and perspective – has been much more insightfully investigated by Charlie Kaufman in both Eternal
42 THE LIST 20 Jan–3 Feb 2011
DOCUMENTARY GENIUS WITHIN: THE INNER LIFE OF GLENN GOULD (U) 108min ●●●●●
What a deliriously nutty double bill this film would make alongside Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould, François Girard’s schematic but pleasingly conceptual project completed in 1993. Michèle Hozer and Peter Raymont’s feature documentary is a different beast to Girard’s film, even if its aim to reappraise is as true. Utilising never-before seen footage, photographs, home recordings and
diary entries, Genius Within is a largely successful attempt to untangle the many myths that surround the life, talent and mental health of brilliant Canadian pianist and enigmatic musical poet Glenn Gould.
Hozer and Raymont, whose previous work together includes the
remarkable genocide massacre documentary Shake Hands with the Devil and Triage, do not take the easy option. The trajectory of the young Gould’s rise to god-like piano genius whose live Bach recitals on both sides of the Iron Curtain and in North America seemed to stop the world briefly in the late 1950s, was so swift it would have been easy to gloss over it. These filmmakers get stuck right in: they talk to old girlfriends and fellow students, use footage of his mentor and teacher Alberto Guerrero and slowly pull together a portrait of musical monoclinism born of superior genes and endless trance-like practice.
Out of the other end of this section emerges Gould the classical music superstar of the late 1950s/early 1960s. Part Marlon Brando, part Theodor Adorno. A sense of rarefaction, need for solitude and an obsession with both arcane and progressive sound technology eventually took Gould out of the public eye, but it is from this period of self-imposed exile that these filmmakers bring to bear the weight of their research and new found material. We find Gould in love, emotionally exposed; Gould the hypochondriac; and ultimately, Gould the man in need of registering the aging process with a revisit to arguably his greatest achievement, his 1956 recording of the Goldberg Variations. And then to his early death and the mass grieving at the funeral (3000 people attended). Hozer and Raymont’s film is a hymn to Gould’s gift of clarity and communion. (Paul Dale) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 21–Thu 27 Jan.
COMEDY/ROMANCE MORNING GLORY (12A) 107min ●●●●●
A few years ago it looked like Harrison Ford had resigned from movie stardom, but putting Indiana Jones’s fedora back on in 2008 seems to have refocused the old curmudgeon. This summer he’s headlining insane sci-fi western Cowboys and Aliens, but first we have Morning Glory, in which, as TV news reporter and reputed ‘third worst person in the world’ Mike Pomeroy, Ford has more fun onscreen than we’ve seen from him in decades. Roger Notting Hill Michell’s lightweight comedy centres on a determined young
TV producer (Rachel McAdams) tasked with salvaging the ratings of moribund breakfast news programme Daybreak. She recruits investigative reporter Pomeroy, despite his disdain for the show, after discovering he is contractually bound to the station. Co-host Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton) is unimpressed, and it doesn’t take long for their mutual hatred to spill over onto live TV.
The script from The Devil Wears Prada screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna is as
formulaic as they come, and a subplot featuring Patrick Wilson as McAdams’ love interest is completely dispensable, but Morning Glory is still fun. Ford and Keaton deliver their spiteful barbs with relish, but it’s the fiery chemistry between Ford and McAdams that is most effective, as these two talented comic performers get a rare opportunity to cut loose. (Paul Gallagher) ■ General release, Fri 21 Jan.