Thursday, January 31, 2013

Two Women

For every country in the world, there are several actors and actresses from there deemed sex symbols by fans from all over the world. Spain has Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. France has Marion Cotillard. (And don't even get me started on the United Kingdom.)

This has also pertained to foreign film stars of cinema past. Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni...they were the most popular for both their looks and talent. Another is Sophia Loren, more noted for her curves and age-defying beauty. (Hard to believe she was seventy-five when she made Nine.) Fortunately she's also known for her abilities as an actress as well.

The best proof of Loren's talent is in the form of Vittorio De Sica's Two Women. Playing a woman struggling to survive World War II with her daughter, Loren showcases a nuanced ability that's quite common among most screen beauties. (Another good example is Marilyn Monroe.)

De Sica was essentially immortalized for his neorealism films like The Bicycle Thief and Shoeshine. Two Women shares many elements of those films, but it doesn't feel as emotionally invested as those two. Still, De Sica shows he knows what he's doing.

Two Women may not be the best foreign film but it's certainly a compelling one to watch. Just watching it makes it clear as to how Loren won the Oscar. If you can get a hold of a copy of this, be sure to watch it.

My Rating: ****1/2

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Search

There's that long-running cliche of Hollywood producing a film pertaining to the Holocaust. It's an even bigger cliche that such a film is instant awards bait. (Best proof: Schindler's List, Sophie's Choice, The Reader.) It's almost revolting that one man's suffering is another man's art.

Hell, Hollywood's been making such films ever since the rest of the world found out about the Holocaust. Granted, there weren't as many being made as there are now, but apparently studios and screenwriters found an easy way to make a quick buck. (Sorry if it sounds like I'm ranting. It's just something that's been bugging me as of late.)

One of the early films was Fred Zinnemann's The Search. It's not about the Holocaust itself but rather the aftermath of it as well as the war. And the film isn't tole from an adult's perspective; it's told from the point of view of a child survivor.

The star of The Search isn't Montgomery Clift (in his second film role, not his first as many believe). The star is in fact Ivan Jandl, the young child whose point of view the film is told in. He doesn't say much throughout the film and his expressions speak greater volumes. (Those big, sad eyes of his certainly help in that regard.) Perhaps one of the best child performances film has captured.

Despite what I previously stated, The Search is a great film. Along with the performances from Jandl and Clift, the cinematography by Emil Berna is just stunning. The completely barren ruins of Berlin he captures is something that must be seen. Then again, the whole film is something that must be seen.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Donnie Brasco

Funny, isn't it? Donnie Brasco, one of the best films about the American Mafia, was directed by the British Mike Newell. (Then again, many directors of Hollywood's Golden Age were born in various European countries and could depict American life with no problem.) Anyway, onward with the review.

Starring in the title role is Johnny Depp, who at the time was at the height of his stardom. It's a role like this that prove that Depp is a legit actor, not just a pretty boy movie star. (If only Hollywood itself would pick up on that.) Seriously, someone give him a good script again.

Depp's co-star is Al Pacino who, like Depp, is in dire need of a good script again. I mean, everyone knows he's a great actor. And again, his work in Donnie Brasco proves it. There has to be someone in Hollywood that still has faith in him.

Much like Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way (which also starred Pacino), Newell depicts 1970s New York City with ease. This isn't the world of sharply-dressed gangsters that's mostly associated with the genre. These gangsters are much more...casual.

Anyway, Donnie Brasco is pretty great though not as great as, say, Goodfellas or Once Upon a Time in America. It's mostly because it loses steam towards the end. Still, Depp and Pacino's performances ensure that this is a film very much worth a look.

My Rating: ****1/2

Monday, January 28, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

With all of these post-9/11 war-themed films, there's always a common theme among them. And that is they always brutalize the facts. Those films are usually more interested in bloodshed and a large body count. (Probably just to attract a male audience.)

Kathryn Bigelow proves she's one of the boys with her new film Zero Dark Thirty. She's not here for the carnage. She's here for the facts and boy, does she deliver. (She also shows the balance between story and style with no problem whatsoever.)

Much like her previous film The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty is unbelievably tense. The number of scenes where I felt my heart stop is...actually, I lost count after a while. Anyway, the point is Bigelow really knows how to keep her audience on the edge of their seats.

The star of Zero Dark Thirty is Jessica Chastain, who has definitely made a name for herself these last few years. I've seen a few complaints along the lines of Chastain not doing much here in the way of acting. To which my response is: are you fucking blind? She says so much just in the way she holds herself. To me, that's a legit actress. (That said, she's not my frontrunner for this year but I'll be happy if she wins.)

Zero Dark Thirty is filmmaking at its most determined. Not since Francis Ford Coppola made Apocalypse Now has there been a film willing to venture into material Hollywood so often stays away from. Bravo, Ms. Bigelow. You've showed Hollywood who's boss.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Yards

When we first see Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg) at the beginning of James Gray's The Yards, he's glaring at a police officer on the subway. (We later find out he just got released from prison.) In scenes afterwards, it's clear that he's struggling to re-adjust to everyday life.

His friend Willie Gutierrez (Joaquin Phoenix) suggests he work for Frank Olchin (James Caan), the owner of a railway car repair company (and Leo's uncle). It doesn't take Leo long to discover that the business is a very dirty one, filled with bribery, backstabbing and even murder.

The transformation of Leo throughout the duration of The Yards is something that must be seen to be believed. He goes from a baby-faced kid to a man hardened by the brutality of life. Willie in turn goes from a confident smooth talker to someone who fearfully looks over his shoulder constantly. And Wahlberg and Phoenix are the ideal actors for these roles.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Gray made The Yards with The Godfather in mind. (The most telling suggestion is that Caan is part of the cast.) The work of the recently departed Harris Savides is reminiscent of what Gordon Willis did for Francis Ford Coppola's film. Whether Gray did or not, I still like that little touch.

The Yards essentially confirmed that Gray is now a director I'm keeping an eye on. I didn't love it as much as Two Lovers and We Own the Night, but I did deeply admire it. The cast, which also includes Charlize Theron, Ellen Burstyn and Faye Dunaway, is fantastic. You just don't find films like this nowadays, do you?

My Rating: ****1/2

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Local Hero

You can't help but feel a little sorry for "Mac" MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) at the beginning of Bill Forsyth's Local Hero. He's only been assigned to scout a small town in Scotland because of his Scottish heritage. The only problem is that he isn't Scottish, so he'll basically be a fish out of water.

But Forsyth doesn't make his film the typical "fish out of water" story. Early on, Mac adapts to the lifestyle of the Scottish tow. He doesn't struggle with either their ways of living or their accents. He just sees as down to earth living, a stark contrast of his high-functioning life in the States.

The actors are unique. Not long after his success in Animal House, Riegert shows a calmer side to his acting. He's not swarmed by many big names. (The only actors I recognized were an aged Burt Lancaster and a young Peter Capaldi.) Many of Riegert's co-stars are unknowns, and I think that aides the film a bit. Instead of having numerous actors to keep track of, you have a few recognizable names to remember.

And I have to talk about Chris Menges' cinematography. The way he captures the Scottish landscape is absolutely gorgeous. And his frequent use of silhouetting the actors against the night sky is also very lovely.

I very much enjoyed Local Hero. What sounded like a complex story is actually something quite simple in depiction. This is something I've always said and it's something I'll keep saying: sometimes you just need a good story to make a great film.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Company Men

During the opening credits of John Wells' The Company Men, we get a glimpse into the lives of Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) and Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper). They look pretty well off: big houses, expensive cars, the works. Their lives look solid.

Well...for a while anyway. Later that same day, Bobby becomes one of the company's latest layoff victims. Gene and Phil in turn become worried about the state of their careers. Will they soon become the next targets of layoffs?

Bobby does manage a stable life following getting laid off. (Well, at least in the first few months.) But then the going gets rough for both him and his family. Thanks to both Wells and Affleck, the ordeal Bobby and his family goes through is one of the more mature depictions of harsh reality.

Sure, there have been a number of films about the recession within the last few years with most of them being relatively the same. Granted, The Company Men falls into that territory in a few scenes. So what makes it different? Wells doesn't sugarcoat the details.

All in all, The Company Men is very good but not completely brilliant. In several years' time, I can imagine it being on one of those "films that defined the decade" lists. But for now, I can only see it as merely a well-acted film released at the right time.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One Hour Photo

Every day we carry on a life that looks stable and not out of the ordinary. Those that see us know nothing...unless they really know who you are and what kind of life they lead.

The thought of an outsider knowing everything about your personal is enough to send chills down your spine. Just imagine how the Yorkins feel in Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo. They have absolutely no idea that their lives are being watched. But by who? Sy Parrish (Robin Williams), a photo technician of the local department store.

Sy is the the textbook example of a sociopath. He can appear very friendly to the outside world. But his mind is a much darker place than anyone could imagine. No remorse, no regrets, no nothing. Sy makes Patrick Bateman look like a wimp.

And man, the way Williams plays Sy makes it even more unsettling. This is definitely one of the best examples of a comedian playing it straight. Forget Good Will Hunting. This is the film that should have earned Williams his Oscar.

One Hour Photo definitely shares elements of Psycho and Peeping Tom, but it's really in a class of its own. Of course it's not as great as those two films but it is quite good. It's clearly a reminder that looks can be very deceiving.

My Rating: ****1/2

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I always admire any actor who can deliver every time. The film could fall flat on its face within the first half hour and the actor could still deliver a solid performance. Those are the actors I'll like regardless of what they do.

This is mostly pertaining to actors of Hollywood's Golden Age. One such actor is James Cagney. Whether he's busting jaws in his gangster pictures or doing lighter fare for his contracted studio Warner Bros., he could always be at the top of his game. (Come to think of it, most actors of his era were like that.)

Such an example is shown in Roy Del Ruth's Taxi! Much like what he would do in Lady Killer the following year, Cagney shows a softer sometime comedic performance. (Just don't get on his bad side.)

Cagney's leading lady is Loretta Young and boy, is she an ideal actress. She's practically the kind of actress who can balance off his character's temperament. It also got me curious as to what else she's done. She's good.

Anyway, Taxi! isn't too particularly memorable but it's quite entertaining. Cagney and Young definitely have their moments, especially together. Granted, it's not the best film Hollywood churned out but it's certainly a charming one.

My Rating: ****

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Organizer

When it comes to Italian cinema, the types of films most people think of are the surreal worlds of Federico Fellini or the lush costume dramas of Luchino Visconti. Very rarely does one think of the neorealism films of Italy.

Only the true cinephiles recall the films that immortalized Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini. Alas, those are the only names brought up when neorealism is discussed. (Fellini and Visconti also made films within this genre as well.) A lesser-known name of Italian cinema also contributed to the neorealism genre. His name was Mario Monicelli. The film was The Organizer.

Headlined by Marcello Mastroianni, the film focuses on the factory workers of late 19th century Turin and the impending strike between them and their bosses. Tensions rise as they try to make negotiations. (It's easy to see how this got overlooked; it was released the same year as another film starring Mastroianni. The film? 8 1/2.)

Even though Mastroianni gets top billing, he's not actually the star of The Organizer. (He doesn't show up for some time in the film.) The stars in fact are the workers. (It makes sense when you know the actual title translation.) The unadulterated frustration among them resonates on screen. That said, Mastroianni also delivers a fine performance.

The Organizer may not be the best film to come out of Italy, but it's certainly one worth seeing. I'm usually not much for films on social perspectives, but this was quite good. Now I want to see another film of Monicelli's. Hmm, Big Deal on Madonna Street looks tempting...

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eat Drink Man Woman

It's strange. Even though he won an Oscar for directing Brokeback Mountain (and will hopefully repeat the feat with Life of Pi), Ang Lee is still a relatively underrated name in the industry. I don't understand why that is.

I mean, his films are diverse in both setting and subject matter. He can go from stylized action movie to literary adaptation with ease. Granted, not all of his films are great (Ride with the Devil damn near killed me from sheer boredom), but the right films are the ones nobody forgets.

One such film is his 1994 film Eat Drink Man Woman. Revolving around a widower and his three grown daughters, the film depicts the lives they lead, the daughters striving to find their place in society (and love).

As expected for an Ang Lee film, it's visually stunning. Like what Peter Pau, Rodrigo Prieto and Claudio Miranda respectively did with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Lust, Caution and Life of Pi, Lin Jong makes the imagery come alive. From the various prepared dishes to the various shots of Taipei, the cinematography is as crucial to the story as the characters.

Although I didn't love it as much as Brokeback Mountain or Life of Pi, I did thoroughly enjoy Eat Drink Man Woman. Sometimes you don't need big names in the casts or loads of sex scenes to sell a film. Sometimes all you need is a good story.

My Rating: ****1/2

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Love. We read about it, hear about it and sometimes witness it. But rarely do we actually experience it. The very fortunate get to experience true love at least once in their lifetime.

With Emmi Kurowski (Brigitte Mira) of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, she finds love twice in her life. First with her now-deceased husband, now with a young Moroccan named Ali (El Hedi ben Salem). Of course this new union has caused a bit of an uproar with Emmi's family and friends.

As most people (well, cinephiles) know, a heavy influence for Ali: Fear Eats the Soul was Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows. The premise is similar: a widow starts a relationship with a young man, stunning those closest to her. Granted, Mira and Ben Salem aren't exactly Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson in the way of looks but they definitely make up with talent.

The premise isn't the only shared link between Fassbinder and Sirk's films. Both films are set in a time where acting outside of the social norms will brand you a pariah. (Fassbinder's film is set in socialist Germany; Sirk's in 1950's America.) Like that remotely bothered the leading ladies.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a film that's both familiar yet new to me in the way of its style. (Mind you, this is the first Fassbinder film I've seen.) I have a very strong feeling that more of Fassbinder's work will be in my future. Why? The man knew how to make a film, that's why.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Drunken Angel

A Streetcar Named Desire. La Dolce Vita. Mean Streets. Some Like It Hot. These are the films responsible for starting famed actor/director collaborations. It's hard to say if the world of cinema would've been the same without them.

One such collaboration is Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. The most famous entries of their sixteen film collaborations were those of the samurai genre (Rashomon, Seven Samurai). Those were the films that rightfully earned them (and Japanese cinema in general) worldwide recognition.

Their first film wasn't one in the samurai genre. Instead, it was a crime (or, more accurately, yakuza) film called Drunken Angel. Many themes of Kurosawa's later films, but there's one aspect of Drunken Angel that's very prominent: the way Mifune channels his character's rage.

An amusing note on the characters Matsunaga (Mifune) and Dr. Sanada (Takashi Shimura). Both have their respective vices (Matsunaga living it up, Sanada drinking) yet they have no intentions whatsoever to limit them. Even when Matsunaga is diagnosed with tuberculosis (and Sanada's a doctor, for crying out loud).

Drunken Angel not only shows the beginning brilliance between Kurosawa and Mifune, it also displays to the fullest the backdrop of a recovering Tokyo. That's thanks to Takeo Ito's meticulous eye. If you're a fan of Kurosawa like I am, you'll definitely love Drunken Angel.

My Rating: *****

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Sessions

With all of the bug name studio Hollywood releases focusing on explosions, bad jokes and cheap scares, it's nice to see the smaller independent studios making films about the simplicity (or the complexity) of human nature. I'll take one of those over a Hollywood shoot 'em up any day.

Ben Lewin's The Sessions is one such film. Revolving around Mark O'Brien (John Hawkes), a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) and his priest (William H. Macy), the film provides a mature portrait of disability, sex and love.

I admire the way both Lewin and Hawkes depict O'Brien. They don't depict him as a deformed pariah to society or as a man angst-ridden by his condition. They depict O'Brien as a great mind trapped in a damaged body. It's definitely more tasteful than other depictions of disability (physical or mental) I've seen.

Now onto the two co-stars. Hunt (who looks great for 49, I must admit) provides the spirit of the film with her subtle performance. Macy in turn gives the film its comic relief. The heart of The Sessions, unsurprisingly, is Hawkes. I can see why Hunt was nominated; I don't understand how Hawkes wasn't equally nominated.

The Sessions is a very charming film, but there was something that kept me from loving it. I'm not sure what it was, but I sense I'll pick it up on a re-watch. The scenes between Hawkes and Hunt are quite lovely and very reminiscent of the couples of Hollywood past. This is the kind of film I encourage others to see.

My Rating: ****1/2

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Movie Jail Relay Race

Yes, yes, I'm back. (We'll save all of that for later, okay?) Anyway, Nikhat passed on the baton for this relay race to yours truly. The concept is simple:
It’s time to put some movie people in jail. The object is to give a prosecutor’s argument as to why these movie people belong in “Movie Jail” whether it be for violating the integrity of the content source of one their films, or being a sell-out, just making bad movies overall, getting worse as time goes on or not being in a good movie for many years. 

The baton will be passed to another blogger who will have to do the following: 
In order to free someone from Movie Jail they have to do 2 things 
1 – Give a defense attorney argument defending the plaintiff 
2 – Pay bail: the cost of which is another case for the court and a prosecutor’s argument against the actor/director of their choice that will replace the one set free. 
There must always be 10 people in Movie Jail.
Who's behind bars now?

George Lucas
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Jennifer Aniston
Sam Worthington
Tom Cruise
Adam Sandler
Eddie Murphy
Raja Gosnell
Katherine Heigl
Now which of these convicted criminals is actually wrongfully jailed? A few of them I sympathize for because they have that one film in their resume that could pardon them for any of their flops. I mean, Cruise has Magnolia, Worthington has Last Night, even Sandler has a good title in the form of Punch-Drunk Love. (Maybe working with Paul Thomas Anderson is the solution?) This is what I'm using as my defense for my case: Al Pacino.

Really, Alex? You "jailed" an actor whose resume has films like The Panic in Needle ParkThe Godfather, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Glengarry Glen Ross, Carlito's WayHeat AND The Insider? I mean, yes, his recent career is sloppy but you just can't deny those earlier films of his.

Now who will be occupying Pacino's former cell? It's not easy to come up with a worthy suspect, I'll admit it. But it soon became obviously clear once I thought about it.

Your Honor, I charge Michael Bay for failing to significantly contribute to the world of cinema. (No wonder people think it's dying.) He shows no interest in anything apart from over-sexualizing women and blowing shit up. And his movies are crap. If that doesn't deserve jail time, I don't know what does.

Right, so who did this already?

I'm passing this on to Ruth over at "....let's be splendid about this...". I look forward to her choices.

Friday, January 4, 2013

In Light of Yesterday

To those who paid any attention to my Twitter feed for most of yesterday, you'll know what I'll be talking about. To those who didn't, allow me to get some of my bottled up thoughts out into the open. (It'll make it easier for me.)

(Also, I'm taking the next several days off. The reasons are obvious.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Most Anticipated of 2013

Basically almost every blogger I read has been doing a list like this. So I figured, "What the hell?" and do one for myself as well because I have a few that I want to see (and badly).

  1. Side Effects (February 8) - It sounded a little interesting at first but it was a done deal once I saw that trailer. And considering this may or may not be Steven Soderbergh's final film before his supposed retirement, let's just hope he ends his career with a bang instead of a whimper.
  2. Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17) - Considering the last line of my Star Trek review was "Bring on the sequel!", this was almost a given. And also considering an actor I've taken a shine to within the last year is playing the villain, expect my excitement to build up as the days go by.
  3. Much Ado About Nothing (June 7) - Joss Whedon and Shakespeare seem like an odd mix but after seeing The Avengers and The Cabin in the Woods, I have good faith in this project.
  4. The World's End (October 25) - Yay, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are doing another film! And since I saw Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz last year, I look forward to the finale of their "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy.
  5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13) - If you knew how excited I got from that final shot of the first film, you'll know why this is on here. Hopefully Peter Jackson will deliver once again.
  6. Only Lovers Left Alive (TBA) - A Jim Jarmusch film with Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as vampires? Sounds good to me!
  7. Twelve Years A Slave (TBA) - Let's see...a director whose last two films were amazing, a cast that's both one for the ages and to die for, a plot that sounds truly fascinating...yep, I'm seeing this regardless of where it's playing.
  8. Lowlife (TBA) - Hey, James Gray has a new film! Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Marion Cotillard? Yep, watching this.
  9. August: Osage County (TBA) - Much like Twelve Years A Slave, I'm mostly drawn to that amazing roster of actors. I didn't see it when it was on Broadway, but my interest is still piqued.
  10. I'm So Excited (TBA) - Since seeing a number of his films last year, I look forward to what Pedro Almodovar has to offer with his next film.
And here are the films that just managed to catch my interest, but not entirely. (I still might see them anyway):
  • The Places Beyond the Pines
  • Don Juan's Addiction
  • Labor Day
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
Which films are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Django Unchained

There's some sort of demented genius in the form of Quentin Tarantino. Sure, he depicts violence that rivals Peckinpah and Scorsese (and there's the whole foot fetish thing), but his films are clever, especially when compared to other filmmakers who try to do the same.

His new film Django Unchained, much like Inglourious Basterds, is willing to re-write history. In this case, it's a western. (Or a "southern", as Tarantino calls it.) Tarantino, no stranger to controversy, depicts the horrible side of slavery. (Seems like a strange film to release not long after Lincoln.)

Knowing Tarantino, it comes as no surprise that the expected bloodshed is on full display. But knowing the subject matter, said blood being spilled is somewhat justified. After all, there are many accounts of owners abusing their slaves to a severe degree. (That time period is definitely one of the darkest times in the history of humanity.)

And the actors Tarantino got for this film give their all. Jamie Foxx shows a badass side that I don't think he had shown before. Christoph Waltz, the scene stealer of Inglourious Basterds, also very much holds his own here. (I suspect another collaboration between him and Tarantino is imminent.) And where to begin with Leonardo DiCaprio (who initially seems like an odd choice for a Tarantino film)? Well, for starters, he needs to play evil more often. (Wonder if he'll get that elusive Oscar for this?) Oh, and the various cameos were awesome.

Like the other Tarantino films I saw, Django Unchained was straight up awesome. It may be more violent than his earlier work (I was looking away a few times), but it has even more (albeit dark) humor than said films. ("Did anyone bring any extra bags?") I certainly had fun with it. I'm sure you will too.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BOOK VS MOVIE: Brideshead Revisited

Depictions of high society usually capture the opulent nature of it all. The extravagant decor, jewelry practically dripping off women, plentiful amounts of alcohol and champagne...those are the images usually associated with high society. (Not to mention men in gorgeous tailored suits. Mmm.)

Such depictions rarely capture the people within said society. We never really see what they're like. In public, they practically have a smile frozen on their face. But what are they like behind closed doors? This is something that is explored in Brideshead Revisited.

Evelyn Waugh's novel captures life through the eyes of Charles Ryder as he befriends Sebastian Flyte and becomes accustomed to Sebastian's lavish (if somewhat eccentric) lifestyle. The gorgeously vivid detail Waugh goes into makes the world within Brideshead come alive on the page. It would be almost impossible to capture Waugh's words for the screen.

That didn't stop Julian Jarrold from making an adaptation in 2008 though it does seem a little too lush even by Waugh's descriptions. Matthew Goode plays Charles exactly as how he's described in the novel. I love the little tremor in Ben Whishaw's voice, which denotes the fear and sadness within his Sebastian. And I'm not just saying this for Andrew's sake, but the complete coldness in Emma Thompson's Lady Marchmain must be seen to be believed.

Both Waugh's novel and Jarrold's film basically cover the same subject without any fuss though the film condenses the novel a bit. A few aspects of the novel (more notably the full nature of Charles and Sebastian's relationship) have been altered but not to an extent that could cause an uproar. Though I know which of the two I prefer more.

What's worth checking out?: The book.