Monday, February 7, 2011

Widescreen Awards: Original Screenplay

Bong Joon-ho and Park Eun-kyo’s Mother is full of the kind of rich characterizations and subtly humorous dialogue that transcends language barriers. Even through the warped perception of subtitles, the film translates as a quietly human drama with the promise of new discoveries upon future viewings.

Originally penned by an Australian, Max Mannix, and reworked by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Sachiko Tanaka, Tokyo Sonata never feels like cinema-by-committee. It tells a familiar story — fired businessman fakes employment — with novel specificity. The characters come fully formed, their actions — even one incredible final-act aberration — springing organically from their situation.

Every word and action in David Michôd’s (pictured) crime saga Animal Kingdom amplifies and contorts the conventions of the genre. The viewer gradually forms a picture of this crime family that is not only unglamorous, but downright ugly. Everyone, including the outwardly unfazed matriarch, is just running scared.

Splice is a nifty take on the “Frankenstein” mythos, with Adrien Brody taking the part of a complicit Elizabeth, the unwilling participant-turned-victim. Even if it takes a frighteningly negative position on the role of science, the screenplay — by director Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor — makes entertaining and provocative film fodder.

In revisiting the characters from 1998’s “Happiness,” Life During Wartime writer-director Todd Solondz has crafted a poignant rumination on forgiveness. Its characters veer around the blind curves of grief and shame with reckless abandon and a dry wit that’s as refreshing as it is heartbreaking.

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