The Under-Ranked: Sucker Punch
This week, director Zack Snyder releases his fifth film, Sucker Punch. This film marks Snyder’s first wholly original work, after 2004’s Dawn of the Dead and his adaptations of the famous graphic novels 300 and Watchmen and the children’s book, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. In Sucker Punch, Baby Doll, played by Emily Browning is left in a mental institution where she will receive a lobotomy in five days. Along with four other inmates, Baby Doll uses her imagination to create worlds that will help her and her other captives escape. But before going to see Sucker Punch this weekend, check out some of these under-ranked films from the film’s stars.
Along with Browning’s Baby Doll, Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie, and Jamie Chung’s Amber are Jena Malone and Abbie Cornish as Rocket and Sweet Pea, respectively. Both actresses have done some great independent features that are worthwhile to check out.
Malone has a small, yet memorable part in 2009’s The Messenger (available on NetFlix Instant), about young soldier Will Montgomery straight from the war, played by Ben Foster, who is given the job of casualty notification to the loved ones of fallen soldiers. Foster is teamed with Woody Harrelson’s Captain Tony Stone who is an old pro at the job and takes Foster’s character under his wing. The two take radical approaches make the men clash at their job. Montgomery attempts a more humanistic approach, where as Stone takes a calculated, time-proven mechanical way of giving the news. Foster and Harrelson, who was Oscar nominated for his performance, play great off each other when there is conflict, yet even better when they find common ground. The Messenger is a beautiful look at the way we deal with grief and one of 2009’s best films.
Cornish showed her great talents in Bright Star (also on NetFlix Instant), about the romance between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. The film, directed by The Piano’s Jane Campion, shows the struggle for the two to be together and the longing and pain that can go into such feelings. Cornish leads the film as the love and muse of Keats, who fights through each day she is not with him, and Cornish sells it. The script is pieced together with help from the poems of Keats and of love letters the two actually wrote to each other. Whishaw as Keats is also proving himself to be an interesting young actor after this and his role as one of the many Bob Dylans in I’m Not There and the always-great Paul Schneider is fantastic as Keats confidant Mr. Brown. The film’s costumes, which were also Oscar nominated, are gorgeous and the film’s cinematography by Grieg Fraser is soft and breathtaking. Bright Star is a gorgeous look at one of the world’s greatest poets and his life and love.
While the five girls are trying to escape, there are also the people trying to keep them inside their own personal hells. Along with Carla Gugino as Dr. Vera Gorski and Oscar Isaac as Blue Jones is Jon Hamm, known as High Roller. Hamm has made a name for himself as the iconic Don Draper on AMC’s “Mad Men”, but is gaining quite a film career as well. In last year’s Howl, about the understanding and controversy behind the infamous book from Allen Ginsberg, portrayed in yet another great performance by James Franco. Hamm plays Jake Ehrlich, Ginsberg’s lawyer who is defending him in his obscenity trial due to the book. Pitted against Ehrlich and Ginsberg is David Strathairn, who is trying to get Howl banned. However the film is not a courtroom procedural. Howl uses animated vignettes to visualize the poems told in Howl, while also showing the life of Ginsberg himself. Directed by Rob Epstein, who made the infamous The Times of Harvey Milk documentary, and fellow documentarian Jeffrey Friedman, the film is a unique look at the writing of Ginsberg and how what we perceive and what we understand through art can be an incredibly powerful thing.