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Celebrating 200 Years of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice novel...

January 2013 is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE's 200th Anniversary
(January 28, 1813 - January 28, 2013)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anna Karenina US Critics Reviews


Some new positive and rave reviews of Joe Wright's Anna Karenina (starring former Pride & Prejudice stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen) from some US Critics have started to come in as the release date here in the U.S. is fast approaching. So far it's gotten a 67% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (with 33 fresh and 16 rotten reviews) and about 91% audience wants to see this movie!

Anna Karenina opens in select theaters starting this Friday!

Here are some really good Anna Karenina reviews...
Anna Karenina Review (via CinemaBlend)
5 Stars out of 5!

Joe Wright's 2005 directorial debut Pride & Prejudice was more than just a stunning introduction to two formidable new talents (that would be both Wright and his star, Keira Knightley). It was a kind of call to arms for period pieces, a vivid reminder that, beneath even the most familiar and stuffiest of stories, there are the raw human emotions that made these stories universal. Both that film and Atonement established Wright as not just a talented imaginer of the past, but a ferociously confident filmmaker unafraid to transform it.

That confidence took a major leap forward with last year's Hanna, a violent fairy tale set in a kind of timeless modernity that looked nothing like Wright's previous work, but bore the same rigorous excellence combined with occasional breathtaking fragility. Hanna, a sharp left-turn in a career that skidded with The Soloist, seems to have unlocked something in Wright, as his Anna Karenina-- an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's doorstop classic Russian novel-- is likely his best film yet. Rich with emotions and historical texture and exquisite design, Anna Karenina is another lush Wright period film, but shot through with jolts of imagination and filmmaking wizardry that leave you gasping. This is the 12th film adaptation of Tolstoy's novel, but I promise you've never seen it like this.

The film's biggest innovation is to set the entire story within a decaying old theater, a very literal translation of the prying eyes and strict rules of late 19th century Russian high society, where the upper class was so pretentious they spoke French amongst themselves. Wright uses the theater to stage all kinds of improbable scenes-- a horse race, an intimate bedroom encounter-- and occasionally lets us witness the stunning set changes, a choreography of actors and camera that rivals all the celebrated long takes in Wright's previous films. Characters sit among the footlights when they want to be alone, chatter up in the opera boxes to gossip-- but they are always trapped in this dilapidated theater, with no awareness that the world might change around them.

The focus on Levin and Kitty's slow courtship contrasts beautifully with Anna and Vronsky's fevered affair, and though the martial fracture between Oblonsky and Dolly is one of the film's quieter notes, they're played so beautifully by Matthew MacFadyen and Kelly MacDonald that they feel essential as well. Wright is famous for working with the same technical team on every film, and all the elements of production here-- from Dario Marianelli's propulsive score to Jacqueline Durran's bravura costumes to Seamus McGarvey's sharp cinematography-- synch up so perfectly that the movie sweeps you along like the train on one of Anna's immense dresses. Anna Karenina is a massive, boldly imagined work, the rare novel adaptation that's purely, thrillingly cinematic. Read full review here.

Anna Karenina Review (via BoxOffice.com)
4 and 1/2 Stars

A feverishly deft and dazzling feat of adaptation, Joe Wright's Anna Karenina takes Leo Tolstoy's epic tragedy of lust and death during the fall of the Russian oligarchy and crams it into a snowglobe, confining much of the tale to a single soundstage where he visibly shifts the scenery with the fluid logic of a Broadway musical. The result is a masterpiece of moving pieces, a dizzying and obscenely beautiful film that boils down Tolstoy's text to its most basic elements by making literal the theater of high society. Anchored by Keira Knightley's implacable turn as the titular heroine torn between two men, Anna Karenina will draw discerning audiences, and could prove a slow and steady awards season success if viewers can appreciate—and see beyond—its technical genius.

Could 2012 be the year when people finally and forever abandon the notion of the "unfilmable" novel?

 But Joe Wright has built a career on reconfiguring difficult novels for the screen. Pride & Prejudice and Atonement were well received, but Anna Karenina makes them look like trial runs. His genius idea is to go big: it's frenetically maximalist with the sets flagrantly sliding in and out of view with such precision that Tolstoy's Russia is reborn as a Rubik's Cube of opulent design.

Meanwhile, Dario Marianelli's beautiful Slavic score turns the ambient clatter of bureaucrats into a symphonic arrangement, not unlike the way his music lilted out of little Briony's typewriter in Atonement.

Keira Knightley more than meets the challenge of this supremely demanding rolethe actress' fierce loyalty to her character sells Anna's most damningly selfish moments, her resolve allowing the movie to comfortably straddle the line between florid melodrama and Synecdoche, St. Petersburg.

A bold and borderline insane adaptation that anoints Joe Wright as a modern filmmaker who reveres the old guard, Anna Karenina is a bracingly fresh experience.  Read full review here.

Anna Karenina Rolling Stone Review (via Peter Travers)
Outstanding

"The story has been filmed many times, but never with this kind of erotic charge. Keira Knightley is glorious, her eyes blazing with a carnal yearning..." (full review coming soon!)

Anna Karenina Review (via Flick Filosopher)
How do you retell a classic tale that we have been regaled with more than a dozen times in the history of cinema and television and keep it fresh and exciting... particularly when that tale turns on notions of propriety that are so outdated as to be nearly alien to us today?

Like this. Just like this. We may be visiting the rarified realm of late-19th-century Russian aristocrats in Anna Karenina, we may be tourists gawking at a strange kingdom with rigid rules for respectability that are transgressed only with the swiftest and surest of repercussions, but via one simple, brilliant conceit, we understand the artifice of it -- and the necessity of the artifice of it -- in an instant. Because director Joe Wright (Hanna, The Soloist) and screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) -- working, of course, from Leo Tolstoy’s novel [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] -- present much of the action on an approximation of a theatrical stage. Oh no, this is not a movie that pretends to be filming a stage play: it is a film about a honking big audacious visual metaphor for following social rules as akin to performing in a theatrical show in which everyone has a specific part to play, and in which any deviation or improvisation ruins the show for everyone else.

And so we meet, for instance, jolly noble civil servant Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen [The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood], who is thoroughly hilarious here) as he shifts from his daytime office to his nighttime club with the help of “stagehands” who roll out desks and roll in dining tables. We see royal balls as showstopping dance numbers. Characters make quite literal entrances onto this stage, as when handsome young cavalry officer Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson: Kick-Ass, Nowhere Boy) arrives at one of those balls and makes an instant impact on Oblonsky’s sister, Princess Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Never Let Me Go)... who is, alas for them, already married to government official Count Alexei Karenin (Jude Law: 360, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows). Characters change costumes as they walk from set to set, sometimes past rolling flats of scenery. As Anna’s inevitable affair with Vronsky has her ostracized from “proper” society, we often see her looking down on the “scenes” others are “performing” from the stage “rigging” above.

This would be a hugely daring film from anyone, but it’s especially so coming from the team of Wright and Knightley, whose marvelous Pride & Prejudice broke free from the shackles of costume drama by immersing us in grounded, human earthiness. They’ve gone in exactly the opposite direction here, with the overarching metaphor, by its very nature, detracting from the feeling.  Read full review here.

Review: Keira Knightley is electric in bold new take on Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina' (via HitFix)

B+ rating!
Joe Wright's breakthrough film was "Pride and Prejudice," a very well-made and spirited adaptation of the frequently adapted novel by Jane Austen.  While I admired the craftsmanship, I had already reached an oversaturation point with the material itself. It is safe to say that I never need to see another production of "Pride" in any format, or a loose adaptation or a re-imagining or pretty much any version.  It wasn't Wright's problem, but mine.

It should come as no surprise, then, that he has taken one of the great novels of all time, Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and working with one of the great voices in modern theater, Tom Stoppard, come up with something that honors the book but also refigures it in a way that illuminates the material to striking effect.  Wright is once again working with his favorite leading lady, Keira Knightley, and this might be their most stylish, heightened effort yet.  Tolstoy's book dealt with the duties of marriage as defined by Russian culture at a certain point, as well as the way social obligation and personal passion can pull a person apart.  Wright and Stoppard have come up with an immediate way of making the book's themes explicit, and how you respond to the film will depend largely on how you react to the device they've created. Read full review here!

‘Anna Karenina’ Review
(via Screen Crush)
9 out of 10 rating!

In time, though, we’ll recognize Keira Knightley as our sympathetic lead, Anna, a loving mother a off to Moscow from St. Petersburg to try and convince her sister-in-law to forgive her brother. The brother, ya see, has been caught with his hand in the governess’ cookie jar, which is IRONIC because when Anna indulges in the same carnal act all of Russian society acts like it is the worst thing in the world.
The gender inequality is mere table stakes (and surely something we haven’t fully dealt with in 2012) but the more juicy questions arise when Anna and her lover question whether one can fight the cruel fate of finding happiness. Anna and Count Vronsky (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who is either brilliantly or horribly cast, I honestly can’t tell) are fully aware they are walking into ruin when they commence their affair. (She is, you see, married to a government official.) It’ll be worse for her, naturally, but both recognize trying to stop it is like arguing with gravity.

The few glorious, lustful moments are the only ones Wright films in natural light; the proscenium of society is shattered and the doors to the theater are busted open. Knightley, not exactly hard on the eyes, brings a true, artful eroticism to these scenes. Read full review here!

Anna Karenina Review (via http://Hollywood.com)
4 stars out of 5!

Forget that the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's sweeping romance novel comes from the man who brought us the slick-but-stuffy Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Every frame of director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a wonder to behold, overflowing with visual spectacle and roaring performances. Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and the rest of the cast fit perfectly in the high drama epic, but it's really Wright's playground. Following Hanna, an artful spin on the action movie, Wright returns to the period drama, but injects it with dazzling, daring choices. A book like Anna Karenina could once fit in reality, but its larger-than-life legacy precedes it. Wright acknowledges that from frame one, approaching the film like a grand ballet or opera, where grand gestures, broad emotions, and overt theatrics are commonplace. That vision clicks, transforming Anna Karenina into an exhilarating moviegoing experience.

The movie is Wright's third collaboration with Knightley, and easily their most successful. Knightley never struggles to stay on the same page as the heightened material, whether she's nailing a dance sequence or breaking down in a flood of tears. Casting an ensemble around Knightley is no easy task, but Taylor-Johnson gives his best work yet as the debonair love interest, and Macfadyen steals the show with moments of physical comedy. Read full review here!

Read more Anna Karenina reviews in the following links below... 
Anna Karenina, Now With Extra Artifice (The Village Voice)
Anna Karenina Review (The Next Projection)
Review: Anna Karenina (Screen Picks)

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