Posts Tagged Freddie Highmore

TV review: BATES MOTEL

bates motel

“My mom’s just a little bit impulsive. She has these ideas about things and then we move and start over.”

Six months after his father’s death, Norman Bates [Freddie Highmore] and his mother Norma [Vera Farmiga] move from Arizona to a valley town with plans to run a motel. Norma Bates bought the motel on foreclosure and wants to start over. Yet what is she starting over from? The death of her husband or something darker than that? In the opening scene when Norman finds his father and runs to get his mother she doesn’t seem at all shocked that her husband’s dead. Creepy moment number one.

Bates Motel serves as a precursor to PSYCHO yet it’s updated. The brilliant aspect to this is that the motel setting remains dated. The music that play, how his mom dresses and acts and treats Norman all seems terribly old-fashioned. When Norman goes to school everything’s fresh with cool music. Interestingly only girls befriend Norman—a popular group headed by Bradley [Nicola Peltz] and the chronically ill, geeky Emma [Olivia Cooke], who tells him “You’re kind weird. Weird good.”

At school in his language arts class (what kind of subject is that by the way?) his teacher asks Norman if he plans to become involved in some extracurricular activities. She suggests he try out for track. When Norman arrives home his mother’s waiting for him like a stereotypical, bitter 60s housewife. Creepy moment number two. The table set, candles lit, wine poured. Immediately she starts attacking Norman and guilt-tripping him [an ongoing thing] about why he’s late and that she’s been working on dinner all day long. He explains he be involved in school. We just bought a motel? How can I do this myself? she demands then exclaims she’s lost her appetite.

The show’s filled with creepy moments, unsettling moments and also touching moments between mother and son. The true bonding moment between mother and son– after Norma bludgeons her rapist and her son helps her clean up the kitchen– she says, “Go wash up a little. Put your bloody clothes in the trash bag.”

bm_10022012_jl_0091

A supremely talented actress, Farmiga [Up in the Air, The Departed] convincingly portrays a range of emotions as Norma. Highmore is great at being awkward and insular. See Toast, Finding Netherland.

Norman: “It’s you and me. It’s always been you and me.”

Monday, March 18 at 10 pm. on A&E

, , ,

Leave a comment

August Rush: DVD review

“Where I’ve grown up, they try to keep me from hearing the music but when I’m alone it builds up inside me.”

Once I got over the clichéd, unbelievable romantic encounter of cellist Lyla [Keri Russell] and rocker Lewis [Jonathan Rhys-Myers]—the love-at-first-sight and then girl gets pregnant thing– I settled in with the complete fairytale of August Rush despite some ridiculous moments.

August Rush has all the elements one seeks in a fairytale: the princess [Lyla], the prince [Lewis], the evil guardsman [her father], the tower [her father’s protectiveness], the lost love, lost dreams and the chance for reunion and redemption.

While performing in New York, Lyla hooks up with the lead singer in a band on the roof of a party. Apparently, the evening is completely memorable and life changing for both parties. Lyla’s overprotective father keeps her from meeting her paramour the next day. Lewis quits his band. All are haunted by the past. Lewis is obsessed with memories of Lyla and that one night so long ago. Lyla thought her baby died. She was so young her father made a choice regarding her musical career.

11 years later: everything’s magical.

The boy literally hears music in everything and is, quite predictably, a child prodigy like his mother. Meanwhile in Chicago, Lyla, as her friend ironically states, is a “music teacher who doesn’t play music anymore.” In San Francisco, Lewis works in finance and is no longer in a band. Lyla’s father confesses what he did. Lyla goes on a frantic search for her son.

Suddenly both parents want to play music again. Lyla picks up her cello; Lewis contacts his band, winning them over with his Lyla-influenced love song. Lyla decides to play a concert in Central Park, while Lewis and the band book a gig at Irving Plaza in Manhattan. And he happens to be getting ready for his concert debut. In Central Park. And we all know that New York is the ultimate destination for dreams to come true.

“I believe in music the way some people believe in fairytales.”

There are many Dickensian elements in August Rush. Shades of Oliver Twist. August [Freddie Highmore] has been languishing at a boy’s school for the unwanted. [There is nothing wrong with him and he would have been adopted as a baby or small infant, surely. But I let that go.] He runs away to Times Square amidst the symphony of musical city sounds. The cacophony of millions of people, clashes, grinding, and motors aplenty makes the music for him. After coming under the spells of an Artful Dodger –type [in the form of a cute street musician], August meets a Fagin-type known as Wizard [Robin Williams channeling Bono’s performance and look from Across the Universe]. Wizard gets possessive, violent and sees cash in the boy. Wizard tricks August into thinking that no one else will treat him any better. But, August wises up and escapes to a church; sneaks around and plays the organ. Of course his talents cannot be kept hidden and he soon is at Julliard being properly taught.

Highmore [Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] takes a soft-spoken, serious approach which suits this type of film perfectly. The kid must be really centered, having appeared in so many fantastical films. He vacillates from dismal moments with pooled tears in his eyes to complete bright-eyed excitement. Russell excels at red-eyed crying, anguish and disgust all wrapped in one. She also marvelously and expresses the yearning she has for what is lost [both physically and emotionally]. She needs to find her son and reclaim her music for her own well-being. It shows in every expression. Russell is a superb talent as evidence by her turn in this summer’s sweet, charming Waitress, in her small role in The Upside of Anger, as well as her years on Felicity. This film must have been cast for eyes—all piercing, emotive, beautiful eyes. Gentle, lovely Terrence Howard plays a caring child services representative.

August Rush has a dreamy, ethereal feel. Director Kirsten Sheridan [daughter of acclaimed director Jim Sheridan] deftly creates this magical atmosphere which takes viewers on an improbable journey. The film connects a series of fortunate circumstances and chance encounters. August Rush is sweet and hopeful in its overtones; I fell for it, at least for one night.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: