Reviews by Jason Pirodsky
Feature-film version of the beloved and long-running TV show, The Simpsons Movie faithfully recreates typical episode with a flair not seen since the series´ heyday a decade ago. The film isn´t a few episodes strung together and padded out, it´s a single show blown up to feature-length proportions and a genuine movie that makes you wonder why they didn´t do this years ago. It´s good-natured, entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny – fans of The Simpsons will have a lot of fun here, and the movie still remains accessible for others.
NOTE: most cinemas are only screening a Czech-dubbed version of the film. Catch the original English-language version (without Czech subtitles) at Palace Cinemas Slovanský dům or Village Cinemas Anděl‘s Gold Class.
An uneasy mixture of camp satire and lurid melodrama, François Ozon´s Angel remains aloof – just like its lead character – for the duration. Based on the 1957 novel by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress), itself (supposedly) a satire of the Douglas Sirk-esque melodramas of the time, the film mostly plays things deceptively straight; but there´s more here than a first glance indicates. Romola Garai stars as Angel Deverell, an entirely self-absorbed teen who improbably becomes an overnight sensation with the publication of her romance novels. We follow Angel as she purchases Paradise, the estate she dreamed of living in as a child, falls in love with and marries bitter painter Esmé (Michael Fassbender), whose ‘smudge painting´ works couldn’t be different from her fantasy romances, and lives in her own world despite the realities that surround her. She refuses to change a thing in her initial novel (despite clear errors, such as opening champagne with a corkscrew), and refuses to change anything about her self-centered ways, up to the bitter end; Ozon goes out of his way to paint this character as unsympathetic, and challenges us throughout the film to resolve our feelings about her. Garai is remarkable in the lead; while the character is never likable, her spoiled-little-rich-girl Angel is utterly believable. Taken at face-value, the movie is awful; an ironically straight, emotionally empty melodrama that layers on the schmaltz with lush cinematography and overbearing musical crescendos that hammer home every detail (not to mention the dime-store romance plot); but look closer: Ozon has faithfully recreated the kind of fantasy world that Angel has trapped herself in. While at times the satire is obvious (especially during amusingly retro rear-projection honeymoon scenes), the director otherwise downplays everything so much that many will miss the point entirely. A thought-provoking film that knowingly presents itself as empty as its lead character; challenging and rewarding, but less successful as entertainment. The kind of love-it-or-hate-it film that I fully respect but feel strangely indifferent about. An interesting (if more modest and less successful) companion piece to Todd Haynes´ Far From Heaven.