127 Hours – Buried
James Franco was incredible in his literal one man show (if we’re to ignore some pretty girls – Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn – in the opening act) in 127 Hours. Here is an extremely practical man, left alone with his inner demons to ponder a mistake he’s made. He talks to his parents through the camera he still has, he talks to himself, and, in spectacularly simplistic final moment, to God, but it’s always a one sided conversation. Ryan Reynolds, in Buried, is confined not by his own mistake, but by a mishap. In many ways, he is the opposite of Franco’s character – not practical in nature, but forced to act in such a manner. Of course, unlike Franco, he has one advantage – a cell phone. In many ways, though he’s in a much tighter spot than the mountain climber, he’s less confined by his trap. Where 127 Hours is a about a man whose only salvation is himself, and the hard decision he needs to make, Buried is about someone whose only salvation lies with others, someone who is just a witness to other people’s decisions.
Black Swan – Splice
In Black Swan, Darren Arronofsky occasionally flirts with the kind of body horror that made David Cronenberg an icon. Unlike the psychological thriller starring a ballerina, Splice is much more literal in its imagery. While one has a young woman turn into a swan, the other has a creature turn into a young woman (and something else later on). To say this is the two movies’ only connection would be to overlook their similar sexual themes. Natalie Portman plays a young repressed young woman, that is just starting to discover and explore her sexuality, much in the way the child like Dren (played by Delphine Chanéac) goes through what seems to be puberty and all the confusion it entails.
The Fighter – The Other Guys
Unlike the rest of this list, these two movies, don’t really feature a similar theme, unless you’re willing to do a parallel between The Fighter’s two brothers and The Other Guys’ cop partners. Both movies share a Mark Wahlberg in need of affirmation, dealing with the drawback that is his closest friend, and in the end, both movies realize that might not be the case. But, the real reason these two go well together is to showcase Wahlberg’s (maybe he’ll win an Oscar in the future, but he’ll still be Marky Mark) range: from a nice guy(that also gets in the ring and throws a few punches) trying to cope with his nutty family, to a lunatic(that also likes to make fun of people by learning the exact thing he’s mocking) who’s trying to cope with his nutty partner.
Inception – Shutter Island
One deals with multiple dream levels and how ideas form in the human mind. The other dabbles in the human psyche and how reality forms in the human mind. Both feature a man unwilling to accept what others are trying to impose on him, and both deal with pseudo realities fashioned from someone’s psyche. Both have, at their center, a tormented man haunted by a past tragedy involving his wife. and, in both cases, that tormented leading man is played by Leonardo DiCaprio, surrounded by a great supporting cast under the helm of a great director.
The Kids Are All Right – Death at a Funeral
Unlike the Oscar nominee’s title would like you to think, both movies are more about family than kids. The Annette Bening – Julianne Moore vehicle shows an unconventional(I wonder if that is still the case) lesbian marriage has the same problems a normal marriage has, and the kids are always the ones that get caught in the middle. The Neil Labute directed remake of a brilliant British comedy from 2007 actually focuses on an almost as unconventional family, one that has to deal with the consequences of the family’s patriarch’s secret life after his death. Both are bittersweet stories about, most of all, unity, and the importance of having a family, regardless of its faults.
The King’s Speech – The American
One is an uplifting period piece about royalty and the other a slow thriller about an assassin. Despite this, both films focus on the main character’s reluctance to follow the role that’s been set for them. Colin Firth’s character does not want to be king, and hides behind his stammer. George Clooney has grown tired of his life as a killer and hides from his employers in Italy. Both encounter someone to guide them and give them the confidence to do what is right. For the future king George VI that man is a speech therapist, while for the “American”, it is a priest.
The Social Network – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I have heard a lot of comments about “The Facebook Movie” being representative for a generation. Other than the fact it is a semi-fictional biography of Facebook’s creator, I find no reason to regard it as such. Facebook itself, yes, it is very much The Thing of this generation, its history, less so. On the other hand, Edgar Wright’s comic book inspired, video game themed comedy/teen romance filled with a slew of star cameos, is exactly a product of this day and age though I’ll admit David Fincher’s film is a superior product. One uses its sharp dialog to shape characters, the other one delivers amazing visuals to detract from its one dimensional characters.
Toy Story 3 – Despicable Me
There is no doubt Toy Story 3 was the best animated movie of the year, and, more so, deserves its spot on the Academy Awards’ Best Picture list of nominees. It delivered an emotional punch in a very neat package. On the other hand, Despicable Me managed to do what a lot of studios producing animated movies have been trying to do for a long time: emulate Pixar’s knack for tugging at the heart strings while delivering an entertaining movie. It may not have been the heartwarming story of Andy leaving behind(but not forgetting) his childhood, but the tale of the eccentric villain whose ways are changed by a trio of orphans was a step in the right direction.
True Grit – Winter’s Bone (or the other way around)
This final one is a bit of a cheat, but as much as I tried, I could not find a better fit for these other than each other. Both focus on a young girl’s hunt for a man, be him her father’s murderer or the deadbeat father himself. Both girls are more mature than their age, mostly due to a bleak world in which the films take place, one where they were forced to grow up faster than they should have. The trek takes them through a sometimes desolate countries and has them meeting a palette of interesting characters that are an inch away from caricatures but somehow avoid it.
Posted on February 6th, 2011 by MrWiseguy
Filed under: Movies