In my quest to review all of the Best Picture nominees at a rate of one film per week starting with the beginning of the semester and leading to the Academy Awards, I neglected one fact: The date of the Oscars. Unfortunately, as I recently realized, I am now out of time to write and publish the remaining few reviews in such a time span. As such, this article will cover three of the remaining nominees, excluding one which is the presumptive winner and another which is an optimistic hedge (you may guess which is which). Those articles should be coming next week, and if neither film ends up as the actual best picture winner, I apologize.
Triangle of Sadness
There was a period of time (somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s or so) when European anti-capitalist satires were some of the best in film. I refer mostly to the brilliant exploits of Luis Buñuel, but also to a more general satirical inventiveness, even including such terrifying classics as Salò.
There is no reason that Passengers had to be a mediocre film, and it is just that — mediocre. Though I certainly enjoyed parts of the film, there’s no chance I remember this movie next holiday season. That’s a shame because director Morten Tyldum’s film had a 110 million dollar budget and a star-studded cast. Passengers is the tale of Jim Preston, played by Chris Pratt, a traveler on the Starship Avalon, which is voyaging from an overpopulated Earth to a budding colony world. When a collision with a large asteroid causes Jim’s hibernation pod to malfunction, he finds himself alone aboard a ship nearly 90 years from its destination — doomed to never see the Avalon’s destination.
Keira Knightley stars in the The Duchess, which has as much depth and intellect as 90210, but without the flair. The Duchess, a semi-non-fictional film about the 18th century Duchess of Devonshire rides high on fluff and drama but has no voice or message. While TV shows like 90210 and Gossip Girl makes the petty intrigues and romances of young people glamorous and sparkling, The Duchess revels in unsympathetic, disingenuous characters. The Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley), could have been a rich life for investigation considering her political persona, her flair for fashion and social life. The film however, shows her over and over again as a victim of the era she lived in. Even Knightley’s usual spunk is dampened by the perpetual dullness of this film.
Teen comedies seemed so hit-or-miss only a few years ago. The dialogue was unrealistic, forcedly profane and the only thing that seemed to advance the ludicrous plots. High schoolers were portrayed by mid-20-somethings, and the cheap fart humor was as unsubtle and intermittent as … well, farts.