The Squid and the Whale


Viewed – 05 August 2020 Blu-ray

I hadn’t heard of this movie up until now and only stumbled across it when browsing ‘The Criterion Collection’ releases. So a complete blind purchase that although I don’t regret, I don’t feel was entirely worth it. This follows the story of two brothers (one played by a young Jesse Eisenberg) who’s parents separate, leading them to have to spend their time living at each parent’s house … whilst also going through the trials of high school, first love and puberty.

trouble with Mom and Dad…

Jeff Daniels plays the Dad, a respected writer and teacher, who has a close bond with his eldest son (Eisenberg), whilst Laura Linney (Ozark) plays the Mom who gets sort of a bad rap due to having had an affair. William Baldwin also turns up as a tennis instructor. This very ‘indie’ drama, in the style of Gus Van Sant is very authentic and occasionally amusing with decent performances and astute observations of its various themes. It occasionally goes down avenues exploring the effect a breakup has on children that takes some weird turns … what with the youngest kid resorting to masturbation of all things, as a way of acting out (er…ok). Eisenberg also comes off as a bit of a brat, who whilst his usual brand of awkward is less likeable than usual.

For this kind of subject, I felt the movie offered very little we hadn’t seen before and didn’t go anywhere particularly interesting or all that optimistic. It also doesn’t really explore why the parent’s relationship hits the skids. A shame as it’s well acted (especially Linney who I’ve always liked) and has some good moments, but is otherwise forgettable.

The Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection has a an adequate image, thats very grainy and a bit lacking in detail, almost like 16mm – but it does create a distinct ‘look’ that suits the movie’s tone. Sound is clear in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and showcases various unusual and obscure music choices. Extras consist of a making of documentary, interviews, audition footage and trailers. We also get a booklet that has an interview and a write up on the movie and it’s production. Not too bad for a movie a little undeserving of such treatment.

Verdict:

(the movie) Poor

(the Blu-ray) Good

The Nanny Diaries


Viewed – 27 February 2008 DVD

Ok, I’ll admit it…I’m biased, Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous! That aside, I enjoy a light and fluffy rom-com as much as the next person, and I’m not partial to Scarlett’s liking for costume dramas…so this modern-day fish out of water comedy still appealed beyond the woof woof-factor.

She plays a college graduate, struggling to make it big in the city, and stumbles (quite literally) on an opportunity to be a nanny to a wealthy, high society couple and their under-appreciated kid. In many ways this film reminded me greatly of Pretty Woman, how Scarlett is out of her depth, from a completely different background and has to adapt to rich society life to fit in – cue romance with the guy next door (Fantastic Four’s Chris Evans), conflicts with a stuck up employer (Laura Linney) and her bastard of a husband (a perfect Paul Giamatti – I like this guy!) and everything just holds your attention throughout. Scarlett Johansson proves herself a capable lead and is charming, pretty, funny and above all else very likeable. Overall, if you want something un-demanding, enjoyable and with plenty of heart – don’t miss this one.

Verdict: 3 /5