Thursday, September 4, 2008

New York Times Says Hello to Mister Foe, and then there's a Parade with Jamie Bell

For as long as I can remember, Ive loved to read, and read newspapers too. There is even an early photo of me at the orphanage at an age where I surely was unable to begin to read, holding a copy of the wall street journal of all things (guess the nuns were big on those bull markets or something) Anyway, Ive been waiting and hoping that the New York Times, which I still hold in reluctant highest regard, would review Mister Foe, and that has now come past.

A.O. Scott, author of some previously beautifully written movie reviews in the past, took a turn at the film and has posted a review of Mister Foe which is now online via this link. While I am not altogether sure if its a positive outlook-I think it is sorta maybe yes?, it was clear there are some praises bestowed on both Jamie and David, with kudos to other cast members ie Ciaran Hinds gets several lines, which is a big deal when column space is seriously limited. Highlights of note as follows:

Hallam (played by the excellent Jamie Bell, who has gained some skill and shed a bit of cuteness since “Billy Elliot”) would no doubt benefit from some counseling, and the melodramatic twists of the plot ultimately serve as a kind of substitute therapy. It’s certainly more entertaining to watch a confused young man work out his issues through kinky sex and daredevil wall-climbing than to be a fly on the wall as he talks things out with a shrink. And if the extremity of Hallam’s temperament tests the limits of our sympathy as well as our credulity, Mr. Bell’s ability to seem by turns sweet and scary prevents us from losing interest entirely.

So does Mr. Mackenzie’s success in translating Mr. Jinks’s prose into an atmosphere that is both gritty and picturesque. He infuses the examination of Hallam’s emotional disorder with enough macabre and comical touches to prevent “Mister Foe” from sliding into the clinical sensationalism of the case study. That is more or less what it turns out to be in the end, but the film is also a nimble, acrobatic tour of Edinburgh, traipsing through narrow alleyways, up drainpipes and across gables and gutters as it follows Hallam on his pathological way.

Kate’s insistence, late in the movie, that she is just that is both superfluous and unconvincing. In her loneliness, her toughness, her perfect mix of maternal warmth and sexual adventurousness, she is at heart a literary conceit, an inhabitant of that realm of the male imagination where lust and sentimentality meet and mingle. But Ms. Myles inhabits the role with such crisp and understated wit that she manages to hold such doubts at bay. Common sense might suggest that a woman in Kate’s position should change her locks, call the police or move to another town when a guy like Hallam shows up, but somehow she never seems more sensible than when she does the opposite of what prudence might dictate.

The smaller performances are nearly as strong as Ms. Myles’s and Mr. Bell’s, even when the characters are a bit too broadly drawn, like Ms. Forlani’s gold-digger or a philandering brute played by Jamie Sives. Ciaran Hinds, a welcome presence wherever he goes — from “Munich” to “Miami Vice” to “Margot at the Wedding” — strikes the right notes of obliviousness and paternal worry as Hallam’s father, vexed and concerned about his son even as he is unable to see how much of the boy’s waywardness is his fault.

To the rest of us it’s pretty clear from the start. And the main problem with “Mister Foe” is that Hallam’s strangeness is a puzzle only to him and those around him. He’s more of a mystification than a mystery, and never quite creepy enough to risk our not liking him."


In pale pale comparison, Parade now has their interview online with Jamie Bell. Surprisingly, they avoid (for the most part) asking the usual twee questions, with Jamie elaborating on his character of Hallam Foe:

We hear 'peeping Tom' and we think 'weirdo' but your character, Hallam Foe, is just a curious boy.

A: I think it was definitely a fine line. My character has an obsession with voyeurism, of observing people in various different forms of activity. And it was a tightrope walk to make sure that you don’t cross a line to portray him as a pervert because that's something that he definitely isn't. He’s very far removed from what voyeurism actually is. If anything, he’s observing people to learn about life, to learn things that maybe his mother would have taught him had she been around.

Q: His cleverness and his desperation can be funny too.

A: I feel like the loss of his mother made him very introverted. He went back inside of himself and removed himself from the world, really. And his only outlet is by observing people. So although the film does touch on many dark levels and many dark themes, I think that there's still definitely a lightness and a humor to everything that happens in the film.

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