The Morning After: Oct. 13, 2014

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Emma


Gwyneth Paltrow found her niche in British costume dramas before making the big time with David Fincher’s Seven in 1995. From there, she went on to headline Douglas McGrath’s adaptation of Jane Austen classic Emma. Better than her Oscar winning work in Shakespeare in Love, Paltrow seems most at home in a corset, giving the title character charm and wit with a dollop of insecurity, her stock in trade.

The story revolves around a carefree matchmaker whose believes her ability to perfectly assign future couples meets a stumbling block with the local vicar’s (Alan Cumming) designs on a new young lass in town (Toni Collette) leads to confusion and ultimately disappointment while her best friend and brother-like confidant (Jeremy Northam) watches from the sidelines forecasting every issue and failure she’s about to commit.

Northam and Paltrow work very well together and Cumming is at the top of his game. However, it’s Collette, who has since taken on some very strong and potent roles as an actress, who shines in the film. Her quiet, embarrassed charm effortlessly leads the moderately domineering Emma to work so hard to accomplish so little. McGrath’s direction is akin to James Ivory’s superior work in nearly every way, but never develops the passion for life Ivory was always able to present. There’s little depth or purpose to the film which exists for itself and is delightful for that duration, but is too easily forgotten a short time later.

Daylight


After Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Rambo franchises began to peter out, he briefly delved into comedy before finding more success as a ersatz action star in the mid-1990’s. One of his final roles that managed some box office clout was in Daylight, a derivative disaster flick that has few actual thrills.

The resemblances to The Poseidon Adventure are many, down to the requisite underwater swimming scenes, the explosive destruction and the slowly incremental body count, television director Rob Cohen’s third feature film of the 1990’s cannot find a rhythm that delivers true excitement. Every death is expected and every tragedy is predictably staged. This is the perfect example of a paint-by-numbers feature that borrows heavily from everything that’s gone before it without infusing the narrative, dialogue, characters or situations with any measure of originality.

Stallone works his magic as only he can. He’s neither accomplished, nor embarrassing, which helps keep the film from feeling overwhelmingly awful. Instead, it’s just a bland, rote excursion into generic theatrics. The actors are set up with lengthy introductions that aren’t particularly memorable, the actors are given characters with no distinctiveness or personality, making the eventual deaths less concerning. The musical score is overwrought and tedious while the closing credits song is the carbon copy of every forgettable 1980’s film ballad. Daylight ends precisely when it expects to and not before or after. The timing is almost admirably precise, the best that can be said about it.

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