2 In 1: Miss Potter and Finding Neverland.

This 2 In 1 focuses on movies based on two famous children’s authors with even more famous works of literature. Both movies also tend to have a bit of magical realism played into it, for better or worse.

Miss Potter.

This film is based on Beatrix Potter, famous for writing and illustrating the children’s story The Tale of Peter Rabbit. But the movie, really, isn’t about that. However, it’s hard to pinpoint what the movie is about. It really isn’t a story about her rise from nothing to fame, because she starts off rich and gets published in the first scene of the movie and then begins to gain fame within the first 30 minutes. It’s more of a love story between Beatrix (Renee Zellweger) and her publisher, Norman (Ewan McGregor), as well as her friendship with Norman’s sister, Millie (Emily Watson)… as well as her relationships with her parents. So if I were to be asked what this movie is about, I’d answer ‘the many relationships of Beatrix Potter.’

Obviously one of the major faults of the movie, to me, is that it has no clear purpose. The movie moves as an almost breakneck speed, leaving no room for plot, character development, or chemistry. It moves from scene to scene adding more tidbits on the life of Beatrix Potter without really extending on any given moment besides its importance on the surface level. There was no real chemistry between Zellweger and McGregor. There was only a marginal bit of chemistry between Zellweger and Watson. But none of the characters really grew. They all stayed exactly the same, including Beatrix. Sure, she moves on with life and eventually stands up for herself… but she did that numerous times in other different ways as shown in the movie. There needed to be a lot more to the movie, especially on the character of William Heelis, who has all of 4 or 5 scenes in the entire movie, but turns out to be highly important in Beatrix’s life. His complete lack of screen time gives the audience no ability to attach to him or actually care about what the heck happens (much like with any character in the movie). And then within the last 15-20 minutes of the movie, it continues to go in a completely unimportant direction before abruptly ending. There’s no real conflict or climax to the movie. It’s just like “moments in the life of Beatrix Potter.”

As for acting, I felt Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson did the best job. Renee Zellweger, though I’m not sure why, got on my nerves. Something about the way she acted the part was just irritating. Not to mention she came off as clinically insane for most of the movie. It was interesting, at the least, how her pictures kept coming to life via her imagination, but they really didn’t make too much use of the idea (except in one scene to show a mental breakdown, though, as I said, she was arguably already mentally unstable anyway).

I usually talk about a movie more than this, but I honestly don’t know what else to say about it. The movie was at least somewhat entertaining for the most part, though it had a lot of flaws to me, and the last 20 minutes or so was pointless and needed a lot more meat to it. The best visual is toward the beginning when the young Beatrix is picturing her parents getting into a pumpkin-carriage being led by giant rabbits (and driven by a mouse, if I remember correctly). I really didn’t care for Renee’s acting in the part, and the movie could have just used more of a plot in general. That’s about all I can say on that.

Feed Me, Seymour!

Finding Neverland.

How is it that this movie only won a single Oscar again (and only for Original Score, at that)? J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) is a failing playwright, much to the chagrin of his producer (Dustin Hoffman), with a failing marriage with his wife, Mary (Radha Mitchell). But when he happens across a family headed by widow Sylvia Davies (Kate Winslet), with four boys including the much-troubled Peter (Freddie Highmore), both his life and his imagination find a sudden spark. Even against the wishes of Sylvia’s strict mother (Julie Christie), and through all the slanderous rumors against Barrie’s true purposes with the family, the friendships strive on as Mr. Barrie creates his masterpiece, Peter Pan.

There’s so many wonderful things about this movie. The acting is magnificent, from Johnny Depp all the way down to Freddie Highmore (I would argue that this and August Rush are his two best films). Johnny Depp is great and diverse as usual, as well. The only slight buggy bit was when he kind of dropped the accent to do a pirate accent at one point, which made it more reminiscent of Captain Jack than of a proper Scotsman. The actress that catches my attention the most, though, is Radha Mitchell, who really seems to be one heck of a diverse actress. I mean, she’s played a troubled, badass ship pilot in the Sci-Fi/Horror flick Pitch Black, she’s played the worried mother in the Horror film Silent Hill, and now here she is playing the snotty English woman. It’s just fun to see the range she can take and still do well in (we all know Johnny Depp is pretty much the same, but I’m talking in the terms of actresses here. There aren’t many actresses out there who can do these vastly different roles and pull them all off well).

The sense of imagination/magical realism in the film is handled very nicely, as well. It isn’t played up like J.M. Barrie is insane or whatnot, but simply opening his imagination and inviting everybody else to join him in doing so. My favorite bit, which really shows the contrast between characters, is when Barrie and his wife are going to bed in their separate rooms. Mary opens her door, which is just to a dark bedroom, while J.M. opens his door to a bright, flowery meadow. There’s quite a bit of symbolism between reality and the imagination imagery, which is handled nicely (especially toward the end when Kate Winslet ‘Finds Neverland’, so to speak).

The music was beautiful, obviously, since it won an Oscar for it. This is really a short review, as well, because there’s not much more to talk about. The movie was handled very well on all fronts, and it’s a shame that it was relatively ignored. It’s just a beautiful film overall.

Royale With Cheese

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