Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mini-Reviews: Cosmopolis, Frankenweenie, and Oslo, August 31st (2012)

Thoughts after the cut.

Cosmopolis (2012)

Yay! No vampires.

Directed by David Cronenberg
Produced by Paulo Branco and Martin Katz
Written by David Cronenberg (screenplay); Don DeLillo (novel)
Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, K'naan, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, and Paul Giamatti


A twentysomething billionaire (Pattinson) wants a haircut, so he travels in his limo across town in the midst of a chaotic, apocalyptic Manhattan. Over the course of the day, he encounters several people, discussing life, philosophy, economics, and the universe, among other things. 

It's a slick, yet grimy vision full of musings and somewhat witty banter that is sure to bore some viewers. There's a lot of talking in this film, and most of it can seem like empty or heavy-handed garbage. Really, part of me thinks it's just nonsensical ramblings for the sake of sounding intellectual. Apart from the excessive babbling, the performances are, in general, nothing special. However, Robert Pattinson makes the most of his somber Twilight persona in his best performance yet, and the supporting cast of names and unknowns does a decent job. As much as I was disappointed, I can't help but admire the film's gall. I'd even see it again. 

Oscar Potential: None

Frankenweenie (2012)

A gorgeous dud.

Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by Tim Burton and Allison Abbate
Written by John August (screenplay); Tim Burton (idea)
Starring Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tyran, Atticus Shaffer, and Winona Ryder


When Victor's dog Sparky meets an untimely end, the boy resurrects him with lightning, aka Frankenstein-style. Things take a turn for the worse when Victor's classmates learn of his experiment before the upcoming science fair. 

Burton's latest animated feature is a crisp black-and-white horror knockoff. Clearly, Burton was having a blast just getting to make this fun, nostalgic film, yet I was uninterested from the start. Though most of the voice cast consists of noteworthy talent, the largely unrecognizable (to me, at least) voices, thankfully, do not draw attention away from the story. Not surprisingly, Danny Elfman's score is one of the highlights of the film. But that's all the praise I can give. I wanted to be engaged with it, but the film felt like it was on auto-pilot for an hour and a half. For a better Frankenstein send-up, just watch (or rewatch) Young Frankenstein. I'd even recommend Dark Shadows over this one. 

Oscar Potential: Best Original Score, Best Animated Foreign Film

Oslo, August 31st (2012)

Lie gives a fine performance in one of the year's best films.

Directed by Joachim Trier
Produced by Hans-Jørgen Osnes and Yngve Sæther
Written by Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt (screenplay); Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (novel)
Starring Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava, Ystein Rger, Tone B. Mostraum, Kjrasti Ooden Skjeldal, Johanne Kjellevik Ledang, Petter Wioth Kristiansen, Renate Reinsve, and Anders Borchgrevnk


Anders (Lie), a recovering drug addict, gets a one-day leave from his rehabilitation center for a job interview. Being on the outside isn't an easy adjustment, and he struggles to deal with old relationships and, of course, the pain of his addiction. 

In only his fifth credited film appearance, Anders Danielsen Lie delivers a striking portrayal of a sick man fighting himself, as he depicts Anders' inner turmoil in a subtle, authentic performance. The rest of the cast is solid, but can only support the great work by Lie. Addiction is tough to pull off, and a hard sell for me. Last year, raves poured in for a film about sex addiction, but I actually prefer this understated gem. It doesn't need the explicitly stunning visuals of the aforementioned Shame to make the most of its quiet, depressing moments with its tortured protagonist. Although this film hasn't received as much notice, it is one of 2012's finest offerings. 

Oscar Potential: None


  1. I absolutely LOVED Oslo, August 31st. It was stunning! One of my favorites of the year so far, fo sure.

    I haven't seen the other two, but certainly plan to before years end. I was holding out hope that Frankenweenie would be a great return to form for Burton, but what I hear from everyone (including youself) is that it just isn't wonderful.


    1. Glad to hear you loved Oslo. It's only the fifth 2012 film that I'd give 4 stars.

  2. Why is everyone watching movies from my Netflix queue ? It makes me wanna watch them all at the same time. :(
    I have heard a lot about Oslo. I will watch it soon. You seem to like it as well.

    1. Haha. Sorry about that. ;)

      Oslo is in my top 5 of the year so far.

  3. I forgot about Cosmopolis already. Oslo, August 31st sounds really interesting though!

    1. That's understandable. I can't recommend Oslo enough.

  4. Woah, sorry to hear you didn't like Frankenweenie, I really want to see it, but you saying even Dark shadows is better is a huge red flag.

    1. Ha, well, I could at least get into the campy nature of Dark Shadows. I was bored stiff in Frankenweenie.

  5. Really? You'd even recommend Dark Shadows over Frankenweenie? Now that sucks! ;-) I'm disappointed to hear that, because I've been kind of looking forward to it, especially since it seems to have family movie potential. Ah, well.

    I have zero interest in Cosmopolis, but it's good to hear that Pattison is growing as an actor. Not that I'm entitled to put him down, since I haven't been masochistic enough to sit through any part of the Twilight franchise. (Reading the first novel was punishment enough for my teenaged daughter and me.) :-D I've only seen him as Cedric Diggory and a few minutes of that thing where he's caught up in 9/11. Meh.

    I'm thrilled, of course, that you loved Oslo. Top 5 of the year! Woo-hoo! I'm with you on liking it more than Shame.

    1. Well, you might like Frankenweenie more than I did. :)

      Cosmopolis isn't for everyone, and you're not missing anything with Twilight.

      Yay! I even prefer Lie's performance to Fassbender's.

  6. Glad to see an honest review of Frankenweenie. Simply put - it sucked. Boring, dropped sub-plots, lack of main plot, borderline racist, and very messy.

    1. Yep. Didn't care for it. I was even bothered by Victor's hairstyle, which was noticeably similar to Victor's (coincidence?) in Corpse Bride.

  7. Nice mini reviews Josh! I've been curious about Cosmopolis but not sure if it's really my cup of tea. Pattinson is not a bad actor actually, he just needs to choose the material wisely. I'll give the other two a rent for sure.

    1. Thanks Ruth! Cosmopolis is probably more divisive than The Master, so I'm not sure if you'd like it or not. I agree on Pattinson, and I hope you like those films.