Tuesday, 23 October 2012

That's My Boy (2012)


Sean Anders


David Caspe


Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester

If Adam Sandler was the King of Comedy, then maybe we could excuse him of a bad film once in a while. If he was making blockbusters back-to-back, left, right and centre, then maybe we could forgive him. A terrible joke, a badly timed punch-line… it could all be overlooked if only, if only Adam Sandler didn’t return to our screens every few months, begging on his knees for our giggles and our snorts and only ever getting our sighs and our cringes.

All of this to say – That’s My Boy was an okay (ish) surprise. It would be risky to go as far as to say that Adam Sandler is finally getting closer to the King Of Comedy title (currently held by Ben Stiller in many opinions), but there were more than a few chortles from the audience during the film.
If you ignore the irritatingly raspy growl of Donny Berger (Sandler), then you can sort of get your head around the story. Donny is a burned-out, lowlife of a former reality TV star who nabbed his 15 minutes of fame for impregnating his high school teacher (now serving a 30 year sentence in a women’s prison) at 14 years old. The result of the disturbingly paedophilic, cringe-into-your-hand affair was a son, Hans Solo/Todd (Andy Samberg), who understandably cut off all contact with his incompetent, heavy-drinking, debt-facing, woman-grabbing excuse for a Father and made it on his own - now an engaged millionaire, living with his past behind him. That’s My Boy follows Donny as he is approached with the dilemma of serving a prison sentence or paying a $43,000 bill total, forcing him to get back in touch with his estranged love-child in return for a $50,000 TV endorsement. 

In utter embarrassment, the awkward and endearing Todd (suitably played by the Saturday Night Live star) decides to tell his future family (an uptight fiancé (Leighton Meester), snooty in-laws (Maegen Fay, Blake Clark) and a stern, quick-tempered Marine brother (Milo Ventimiglia)) that Donny is in fact, his “best friend”.  Donny is determined to prove himself as a Father and is eager to rebuild his relationship with his son, but it wouldn’t be a story worth telling if that were all to happen without a series of mishaps and bumps along the way.

Any film done by Adam Sandler’s film company Happy Madison ensures that you the viewer are in for a crude, gasp-worthy yet lengthy cinematic experience, filled with profanity and inappropriate humour (I’m talking incest and Granny-sex). Sandler once again steps into the role of the trash-talking, middle-aged embarrassment figure, as easy as you and I can step into our pants in a morning. Although he was slightlyamusing in parts, watching him take on a character that has the potential to be quite funny and yet ruin it with bad habits, was simply painful. Adam Sandler is nothing more than Adam Sandler to us anymore. He’s had far too many fall-backs (Anger Management aside) for us to accept him as a successful comedic actor, so now his films seem too cliché and too samey to be considered anything other than average.  The chemistry between Sandler and Samberg lacks sincerity and fails to interest, however it is a Vanilla Ice cameo and smaller roles (Will Forte, Peggy Stewart, Susan Sarandon, James Caan) that add the infinite hilarity that That’s My Boy needs.

It can be argued that the only humour depicted in the film is a result of a snappy script and way-with-the-camera, or it could be suggested that it was in fact the 80s-esque soundtrack that distracted us from all the bad parts… whatever we do say, That’s My Boy does not succeed because of an original plot or a flawless cast (although avid Sandler fans may be able to tolerate it a little more). That’s My Boy does not succeed because of a deeper hidden meaning, or even a single hilarious one-liner. That’s My Boy doesn’t succeed because of any of that stuff. That’s My Boy, simply, just doesn’t succeed. At all.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Marc Webb
Screenplay: James VanderbiltGenre: Action/Adventure/DramaStarring:
Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifans

How can one justify a remake – or retelling – of a blockbuster movie only ten years prior to the original? Surely that’s not leaving enough time for minds to be cleansed and bodies to be prepared?
Exiting the theatre, something dawned on me – no body is ever prepared enough for Andrew Garfield in spandex.
The Amazing Spider-Man has pinged us back to the beginning, with a tidier, smarter and cooler leading man to make his own spin on the newer, more epic storyline.  The plot remains faithful to the trusty comics – seeing bullied geek Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) adopt ass-kicking, stomach lurching and ball-busting superpowers following a nasty bite of a – you guessed it – spider. 2012’s Spider-Man is a science geek, and the lead up to his transformation is well explained and more developed than before. We are not supposed to just believe that a bite from a spider can turn us into a hero - a safer, cleverer plan, because now the kids won’t be pestering for pet tarantulas anytime soon – we now understand the science behind the transformation and can therefore grow to love fellow Science geek, Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) even more.
Redhead Stone went blonde for her role as Gwen to mark the clear contrast between new damsel in distress Gwen and old news Mary-Jane. However, unlike the original Spider-Man film, this lady is less of a girl waiting to be saved and more of an accessory in Spider-Man’s adventures against creepy, lizard villain, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans).
The special effects are debatably “special” however Marc Webb’s direction is incredible, with slick and unique camera shots and angles that really put the audience inside the film - 3D or no 3D.
The Amazing Spider-Man is not just a film about a teenager-turned-superhero that can save the world in a spin of a finger – it is a movie that can bring out the superhero in all of us. Andrew Garfield is terrifically awkward and relatable – like most teenagers – and doesn’t lose sight of himself despite his new abilities. His endearing relationship with on-and-off-screen lover Emma Stone brings the element of romance and drama to the flick and, teamed with a dry, witty script from James Vanderbilt, creates a movie for everybody.

It is inevitable that The Amazing Spider-Man will be compared with the old movies. And that’s what they feel like after this – old. True, there are similarities, but the similarities have been improved. The death of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), the absence of Peter’s parents, the tricks, the quips, the falls and the soars… they’re all much better, therefore making The Amazing Spider-Man a fantastically modernised, Marvel-ous  cinematic experience.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman (2012)

Rating: 12A
Rupert Sanders
Screenplay: Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini. Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama Starring: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin

Once upon a time, a young British commercial director Rupert Sanders grabbed a camera and made a rushed clip of what he envisioned the truth behind Snow White’s story to be. His vision was one of beauty; where light can overcome the dark and magic is something you can not only see, but something you can feel. Where empowerment and empathy make you the fairest, and where beauty only exists if you have the strength of heart to back it up. Snow White and The Huntsman is an enthralling and thought-provoking take on this timeless fairytale.  Unlike few modern attempts to re-create the classic fairytales (ie. Sleeping Beauty starring Emily Browning – a strange and haywire take on the original story), Sanders remains truthful and traditional, taking the tale back to its Grimm roots, with a faithful medieval script and plot, carefully written by a talented trio of Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini.

There is a fine line between cliché and tradition, and the film approaches this line very nearly, however not enough to deem Snow White and The Huntsman as boring and predictable. The dark twists and eerie turns in the movie are what actually capture the audience, keeping them on their seat, not knowing what will happen next. Those who go see Snow White with the idea that they know what they are in for should re-consider. This is not the fairytale of Snow White that we know and love. There is no singing down a wishing well in this film. Kristen Stewart is playing Snow White, for God’s sake, and she does it remarkably.
Charlize Theron is ball-busting as the raucously evil Queen Ravenna - the beautiful new wife of dashing widower King Magnus (Noah Huntley) whose daughter Snow White is considered the most stunning in the land. Ravenna, who was told “beauty is power” by her late Mother, is angered by this, and commits many solemn acts in retaliation, one of which results in the poor Snow White spending her teenage years locked in a dirty tower. Miraculously, she did this without the need to pluck her eyebrows and without sprouting any acne. Showing the first signs of gusto, Snow White breaks free, only to now become the Queen’s “Most Wanted” escaped-prisoner. Drunken widower, Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is ordered to bring the Queen her heart so that she can “live forever”. Armed with an axe, he trudges into the woods, however, the endearing widower’s conscience gets the better of him. The film follows their journey through the dark forest, on the travel to meet with the Duke (Vincent Regan). There, with help from charming Prince William (Sam Claflin) they will attempt to defeat the Queen together.
For his first feature, Sanders is astonishing, approaching the tale with enough to darkness to startle and enough lightness to add beauty. The recurring theme of darkness and lightness effectively conveys the true message of the film – that strength and beauty of heart is more powerful than anything else. Kristen Stewart’s gutsy yet endearing Snow White is a giant leap away from a portrayal of Bella Swan that some may argue as “weak”. Although, the two characters share similarities in selflessly fighting for the things they care about. This side of Kristen not only can convince haters of her true acting ability, but also provides a visual treat with her natural yet enigmatic beauty. The beauty of Snow White’s strong soul captures the heart of many – whether they be in the audience or in the film.
It wouldn’t be Snow White without the dwarves. For an unknown reason, there are eight of them, but whatever the number, the burly creatures (including Nick Frost, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane) provide laughs and a mild-profanity to the film. What we see unfold is an army made up of strong human traits. This ain’t no superhero movie. We can actually relate to the characters and experience their discomfort without knowing they’re going to make it out okay. The film is gritty and challenging, with the perfect balance of horror and realism. Oscar-winner Colleen Attwood’s costumes are simple enough not to distract, but thoughtful enough as to help contribute to the Medieval setting so effectively created by the visual effects team and Alice In Wonderland producer Palak Patel. Teamed with James Newton Howard’s triumphant score, the result is a special cinematic experience.
Snow White and The Huntsman sets the bar for all upcoming fairytale action flicks. It is gutsy, thrilling, haunting, energetic, imaginative, funny, heart-stopping and breath-taking, with an all-round fantastic cast and captivating visuals that will stay with you even after you leave the movie. The films that inspire are the best kind of films, and Snow White inspires even the weakest of children, convincing them that if you do something with all of your heart and strength, then you’ll all live happily ever after.

Thursday, 10 May 2012



I am not dead, although it feels like it sometimes! (I'm exhausted).
I don't have the time to post a review lately due to exams and other priorities that I wish weren't priorities but unfortunately have to be :(
I haven't watched a movie in a week! That is a record, for sure, however it is not a choice and hopefully I will have a review up by Sunday night - but even that seems unlikely!
If I do manage to write one, then the movie of choice will be American Pie Reunion - I have high hopes!
Anyway I thought I'd just write this to whoever actually reads my reviews (I know there are many of you! Thanks!) and make sure y'all know the blog still exists.
Thaaaank you for reading my reviews hopefully they are of some help etc etc. Let me know if you've listened to one and watched/not watched a movie because of it!
Gracias amigos.
Bye :) 

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Letters To Juliet (2010)

Rating: PG
Director: Gary Winick 
Screenplay: Jose Rivera, Tim Sullivan
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Drama
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Gael García Bernal, Christopher Egan.

Letters To Juliet speaks for itself. Though occasionally charming and sweet in parts, this chick-flick is yet another clichéd film that lacks relatability and is full of one-liners that will provide you with nothing but cringes, as it follows Seyfried’s Sophie – a wholesome, American woman - who ventures on a pre-wedding holiday to the romantic Verona with her busy, fast-talking, selfish fiancé, Victor (Bernal) – a man who keeps yelling “Incredible! Incredible!” at pasta, bread and cheese.  
It is in Verona, where Sophie discovers “Juliet’s Secretaries” – a group of women selflessly replying to other teary-eyed women’s pleas to Shakespeare’s Juliet, begging for help with love.
Being a fact-checker, eager to begin her journalism career, Sophie jumps at a chance to run a story when she finds an un-answered, yellowed letter tucked away in the wall. Dun-dun-dun. Here, is where we are - supposedly - gripped.
After finally receiving a response to her pleas, Vanessa Redgrave’s Claire and her grandson, Charlie (Egan) embark on a long journey with the annoyingly cheerful Sophie to find Claire’s long lost love, Lorenzo Bartolleni, getting to know each other along the way.
Meanwhile, fiancé Victor is swanning off sniffing parmesan and popping corks, and already neglected Sophie feels drawn to charming Brit Charlie. We didn’t see that one coming. That’s not sarcastic; at first, we really didn’t see that one coming – but maybe that’s because the limited dialogue and vapid storyline had enticed us to sleep. 
Letters To Juliet is enjoyable (or more appropriate; ‘not painful to sit through’) for the forgiving romantics, but some may not relish in the idea of watching Vanessa Redgrave stare into the eyes of hundreds of aged Italian men for an hour and forty minutes. The film is a solid block of cheese. Despite what Victor may claim, this cheese is not incredible; it’s not quite Halloumi - but it is good. Like Cheddar. Or Dunlop – sweet, with an offish taste that not many can bear.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Welcome To The Riley's (2010)

Rating: 15
Director: Jake Scott 
Screenplay: Ken Hixon 
Genre: Drama 
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Melissa Leo, James Gandolfini

It is Stewart’s electrifying performance as the deeply damaged and foul-mouthed prostitute Mallory/Allison that drives this prolonged independent drama to the very end. Though lengthy and quiet in some parts, Welcome To The Riley’s is a terrifically compelling story that ticks all the boxes in becoming a unique and charming independent drama. The film gained much critical acclaim after its Sundance Festival buzz; and there was a special recognition for Kristen Stewart – the ‘Twilight girl’ – and her dynamic portrayal of the teenage sex runaway whose life lacks fundamentality such as being able to make a bed or clean a toilet. After her Mother died in a car crash when she was a child, Mallory has lost all sense of moral and ethics and can’t make it through the day without smoking a joint or – as frequently put – “f*cking” a customer.
Gandolfini is gruff and captivating as middle-aged Doug Riley – a man stuck in an empty marriage with Lois (Melissa Leo) following the death of their teenage daughter. On a work trip to New Orleans, seeing similarities in troubled Mallory to those of his own daughter, he decides to help Mallory in the best way he can. The two form a bond that is unlikely, earnest and fun, with a memorable back-and-forth humour well-played by Stewart and Gandolfini, as the two characters seek refuge in each other’s loneliness.
Leo is dynamite as hermit Lois as she makes a miraculously brave move in going out to get her husband, leaving the house for the first time in several years. When reunited, Gandolfini and Leo present a relationship that is profound and worthy of your tears as they realise what the grief has done to their marriage. The couple stand as the parent type figures for the orphaned teen and Stewart’s Mallory is enchanting;  giving the perfect balance of tough and hopeless as she repels their help, claiming “It’s too late for that sh*t.”
As a trio, the range of styles and personalities these actors present merge to make a film that is all at once hilarious, haunting and touching. The hazy cinematography blends Welcome To The Riley’s in with all the other American independents, and its scarce script offers us a silence that is thoughtful to some; frustrating to others. It is a shame that its minor mistakes are the ones that make it slightly fade into the background, as Welcome To The Riley’s is a truly poignant and sincere film that deserves to shine.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Help (2011)

Rating: 12A
Director: Tate Taylor
Screenplay: Tate Taylor
Genre: Drama
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas-Howard.

Tate Taylor has proved to be ‘one-to-watch’ with his faithful adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s international best-selling novel, The Help, following Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), an aspiring author during 60s America, as she makes the courageous decision to write a book from the point of view of the African-American maids facing the struggles of racism as they work for white families throughout the civil rights movement.
Tate Taylor is barely a toddler in terms of the film industry; The Help being only his third directing credit, and the first to gain much critical acclaim (scoring four Academy Award nominations) for its depth, hilarity and warmth. However, for Taylor, the future is now bright. The film has the correct balance of humour and profoundness, with a script that stays faithful to the novel and a cast that react with one another so well that it is hard to imagine them acting without each other in any future projects.
Well-known for her work in comedies, Stone was the perfect choice for Skeeter – perfectly embodying her ditzy and determined nature with just the right amount of light-hearted wit to relieve The Help of its serious truth. Stone’s performance as Skeeter presents her in an entirely new field, proving she can do more than joke her way through a sketch.
Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) make a wonderful on-screen twosome, providing us with laughs and tears, however it is their individual performances that truly shine. Davis’ Aibileen is endearingly vulnerable beneath her strong armour, taking care of another woman’s white child as she mourns the loss of her own. All the while, Mother, Elizabeth (Ahna O’Reilly) swarms around worrying about dining and dresses, paying as little attention to her ‘baby girl’ as she does the maid.
Aibileen finds a connection in telling Skeeter her stories – no matter how taboo they are. She finds it her responsibility to convince the other maids to tell theirs too – Minny proving to be the hardest to induce.
Spencer is sassy and brash as the no-bullshit Minny, getting her own back at irrational employer, Hilly – played disgustingly callously by Bryce Dallas-Howard - in the most gasp-worthy way, serving up a damn good slice of revenge and establishing by far the funniest moment of the film. Losing her job was the best thing to happen to her as she stumbles upon a job working for the sweet and naive Celia (Jessica Chastain), feeling more freedom and happiness than she has in a long time. Celia, along with Skeeter and the other maids, provide Minny with a release from the violent hard-ships of her home life.
As we embark on the long road with the on-screen team that soon become our friends, we are invited into a sad and engaging world that really opens our eyes to the upsetting truth of a history which effected millions. The film is worthy of your tears, your giggles and your gasps – with a gut-wrenchingly earnest cast, a beautifully composed score (Thomas Newman), together making a film that is lovable, enjoyable and poignant all at once.     

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Avengers Assemble (2012)

Rating: 12A
Director: Joss Whedon
Screenplay:  Joss Whedon
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner.

With the extortionate hype surrounding the release of The Avengers Assemble, there is lots of room for disappointment. The high box-office estimates, the anticipation of whether Mark Ruffalo would deliver us the most perfect Bruce Banner/Hulk yet, the desperation to know if any of the comic-book movies are ever going to be as great as expected… It seems very likely that there will be some let-downs after these greedy prospects are constantly being thrown around in the media in the lead up to The Avengers Assemble open day - and so, people are preparing for the worst.
Well, much like Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his opinions on the Avengers “time-bomb” Team, society was very, very wrong – not about the supposed brilliance of the film, but about the let-downs, because there are absolutely zero disappointments to follow the reveal of The Avengers Assemble.
The film is sequel to all previous Marvel comic movie adaptations, taking off with Loki – the creepily evil brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – as he finds his way back to Earth and steals the ultimate alien source of all energy, the Tesseract, threatening to subjugate the entire Human race with it and his own extra-terrestrial army from homeland, Asgard.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D sees no other option than to bring together all unique and powerful forces - including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – to defeat Loki and his plans, assembling a team called The Avengers.
For Joss Whedon (creator of TV sensation, Buffy The Vampire Slayer), this film may be the ultimate highlight of his long career - and this guy has already gained himself an impressive resume with screenplay credits for both Toy Story and Buffy. It’s Whedon’s dry humour and ability to remind the audience that the heroes are still human despite their specialities that prevents The Avengers Assemble from quickly transforming into another shallow and fast-forgotten action/adventure movie. Well delivered Shakespearian one-liners from Thor, feisty words from Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, slapstick comedy moments from Hulk and the usual quips and sarcasm from Tony Stark/Iron Man add laugh-out-loud moments and slapping-of-the-knee humour to relieve us of the tension that is created in the run up to attack. One of the greatest gems of the film lies within the family-like relationship that Whedon creates between Stark and Banner. Downey Jr. and Ruffalo are endearing with their on-screen “bromance”, establishing a real sense of unity within the team. The audience have full belief that the heroes will avenge – and with success.
Whedon is effective and smart, creating a perfect balance of action and heart just enough to allow the audience to actually care about what happens to the team and feel genuine pride whenever there is a victory. The special effects are realistic and powerful - a definite must for a movie of such size and budget - and the costumes and weapons are appropriate; not too flouncy as to distract us from the true heroism that comes from within the hero and not from their armour (disregarding Iron Man, of course, but who cares when he is so god-damn awesome without the suit?).
Full of twists, turns, gasps, laughs and triumph, The Avengers Assemble is the kind of film that makes you want to jump up from your seat, throw a fist in the air and scream “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!”. Your hands automatically gravitate towards each other as you applaud mid-movie, and there is a permanent grin plastered across your face, alight with childlike excitement, watching in awe as your favourite super-heroes join together with power and gusto, giving The Avengers Assemble the worthy title of “the best comic-book movie Marvel has ever made”.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Adventureland (2009)

Rating: 15
Director: Greg Mottola
Screenplay:  Greg Mottola
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader.

Set in 80’s Pittsburgh – a time of The Velvet Underground and pot cookies – Adventureland is the unique indie coming-of-age feature that makes us laugh, cry and cringe all in one. Endearingly funny, awkward and smart – Greg Mottola’s compelling vision of a typical teenage Summer is what makes this film unlike any other comedy out there. With its quirky cast and epic script, Adventureland is for anybody who’s ever had their heart stepped on, ever been caught stuck in a dead-end job, ever been young and reckless, and anybody who has ever fallen in love.
Jesse Eisenberg is genius as insecure and poetic student, James Brennan, whose Summer plans to travel are crushed ,as his family runs out of money and are forced to venture to Pittsburgh, where James reluctantly begins his job as a theme-park attendant at the run-down Adventureland. Eisenberg’s effective portrayal as the somewhat innocent virgin James is exceptional and the audience is on his side as soon as he cycles his bike through the park entrance.
The amusement park depicts a disarray of kooky rules, enforced by its equally kooky - if not slightly insane – owners, Bobby (Bill Hader) and Paulette (Kristen Wiig), such as – “nobody wins a Giant Ass Panda” and “no freebies, no free turns for your friends, no free upgrades”. Hilarious performances from both Hader and Wiig effectively present the madness of the 80s with their odd relationship and strange personalities – the epitome of 80s America. Mottola isn’t too heavy with the 80s theme. Subtle references to the era are made with wardrobe and the preppy punk soundtrack that could make Adventureland succeed alone. The movie is gracious and sleek, leaving the characters to establish the mood without frilly sets and overload of props.
Kristen Stewart is grungy and endearing as the troubled Em Lewin, a wry and compassionate teenager who has a taste for liquor and Husker Du. It is Em’s funny and enthralling nature that captures James’ attention - despite temptations from the park Goddess Lisa P (Margarita Levieva) – and the two characters form a bond that couldn’t be pulled off without Stewart and Eisenberg. The profound relationship is well demonstrated between the actors, delivering chemistry that is just the right balance of awkward and earnest.  The two face the struggles of moving from youth to adulthood together, enjoying the ride and ignoring the responsibilities life throws at them on the way.
A brilliant and sharp cast help to create the Adventureland team we see on screen and so desperately wish to be part of. Martin Starr is dry and side-splitting as the miserable youth, Joel – pissed off with life, unable to bag himself a girl. Matt Bush is juvenile and novel as the giggly Frigo, and Ryan Reynolds is slick yet seedy as the cheating maintenance guy Connell – who missed his chance at rock-fame after jamming with Lou Reed. Supposedly.
Full of quips, quirks, kookiness and truth, Adventureland is a winner when it comes to a casual, light-hearted flick. It’s a movie for every teenager with its thoughtful analysis and a fun-loving charm that can teach a kid more about life than life itself. Mottola understands youth and teaches the audience to be brave when it comes to life, whether life be working a dead-end job or graduating Harvard Law. Adventureland speaks volumes, and for an easy-breezy comedy, it inspires no end.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Drive (2011)

Rating: 18
Director: Nicholas Winding Refn
Screenplay: Hossein Amini
Genre: Crime/Action/Thriller/Drama
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston.

Nicholas Winding Refn is slick and scandalous, delivering us a faithfully brutal adaptation of the tenacious novel Drive, by James Sallis. Like the book, the movie follows Gosling as the quiet hero and unnamed Driver as he works multiple jobs as a car mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a driver for criminal getaways, attempting to forget his supposedly shameful past. From the word go, there is a dragged out tension and silent ticking-of-clock as Driver waits in a car for what feels like six hundred and forty years. Gosling effectively demonstrates Driver’s cool-as-cucumber nature as he waits for what turn out to be masked robbers to return, but we, the audience, are rigid with anxiety. The silence is ground-breaking, and never really ceases throughout the whole movie, offering us relentless mind games and the occasional need to pee (which is a strong recommendation given the length of the film).
Luckily for this picture, one of its strengths is Cliff Martinez’s eerie, electronic soundtrack that almost makes up for the lack of dialogue - especially between neighbour and future love interest, Carey Mulligan’s compelling Irene, which can only be described as somewhat awkward. You find yourself hissing and growing frustrated. “SAY SOMETHING!” you scream, and speak they do, but it’s nothing too memorable or important. The significance is when Driver in his sleek bomber jacket and suave nibbling-of-tooth-pick eats in a diner, and snaps at a past client after the Father of Irene’s child, Standard, (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison. Suddenly the mood shifts. The irritating silence can only be described as a tired hiker climbing Everest, and this moment is the peak. The tender and fascinating hero we were all rooting for a few minutes ago isn’t as platonic as we all expected, and at last, the movie has gripped us.
The only humour here is from the ridiculously unrealistic blood splats and shrieks of horror (given by the sadly under-cast Christina Hendricks) as Driver sets out to help Standard in order to save Irene (we all knew they weren’t just neighbourly) and her little boy, smart and cute Benicio (Kaden Leos). Driver is still our hero, only this time, he’s less Nicholas Cage and more Al Pacino. That scorpion-printed bomber jacket wasn’t for nothing.
Bryan Cranston is funny and endearing as the sidekick all action movies need, so his death adds the sentimentality that the movie attempts to achieve but fails in areas. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks are more of a comedy act than a gangster villain duo, but Drive can afford minor mistakes. It is a masterpiece with frayed edges, and yet, the picture still stands.  Nicholas Winding Refn is sleek and subtle with a camera lens. With Gosling, the two of them provide us with a successful crime thriller that is slick, brutal and intense. Drive takes us on a road that has never been ventured down. The ride is tiresome and impatient yet once the pivotal point has been reached , we are thoroughly enthralled.  

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Crazy Stupid Love (2011)

Rating: 12A
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Screenplay: Dan Fogelman
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Drama
Starring: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone.

Despite the lame title, Crazy, Stupid, Love is not a typical romantic comedy. It is cheesy, un-cliched and nothing less than relatable as it unfolds the most typical of family struggles with quirks, surprises, hilarious dialogue from Dan Fogelman and fizzy performances from its leads.
Ficarra and Requa are minimalistic and clever, leaving dynamics ready to be explored by its quick-witted, sharp and honest cast ensemble. A trusty one at that, with the ever-comical Steve Carell who somehow always manages to have us in tears of laughter – and in this film, even some tears of awe when he delivers the heart-warming speech at his smart yet awkward teenage son’s (Jonah Bobo) mini-graduation. A speech, which you will see, manages to tie the whole family back together again.
Julianne Moore is brilliantly spicy as Emily, the wife/ex-wife of Carell’s middle-aged character, Cal. The movie jumps straight in at the deep end with an awkward public announcement in a restaurant, when Cal asks Emily what she would like to order from the menu and she loudly declares; “I want a divorce” and later admits she has slept with another man, “David Lindhagen” (Kevin Bacon).
Three seconds into the movie and you’re already rooting for dreary yet earnest Cal, who
heads off to a bar. Here, smooth-talking, swagger-oozing Ryan Gosling’s Jacob is like an angel sent from above, ready to slap Cal into the ladies-man he needs to be to get back at his bomb-dropping wife, striking up an odd yet genuine friendship.
Meanwhile, Jonah Bobo’s young Robbie perseveres with his infatuation on family friend and babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), whilst she crushes on bore-turned-Casanova, Cal, and even goes to the extremes of sending inappropriate pictures to him. It’s awkward to see the innocently played Jessica strut around naked, pouting for the camera, yet the obstinate moment adds significance and grittiness to the film, if not gains a few laughs from the audience. The consequences of teenage love so well played by Tipton begs the question most adult viewers will be reluctant to utter; “We’ve all been there, right?” It’s all very stupid yet we find ourselves nodding and laughing bitterly at the screen.
The new Cal is strutting around in swanky suits, taking home every woman that will have him. A sexual encounter with a teacher soon backfires once he realises she is in fact, the teacher of his son. That’s a parents evening you are going to remember for all the wrong reasons. Moore is believable and endearing as she breaks down in tears – wondering what the rest of us had been thinking; “What went wrong?” Cal rethinks his womanising ways and contemplates his friendship with Jacob.
Jacob is a changed man too. He is in love for the first time in his life, unknowingly with Cal’s perky, oldest daughter, Hannah (Emma Stone). A barbeque that we’d been hoping would turn everything around soon turns sour at this revelation and we’re back to square one.
It is usually a cliché to see ups and downs in a rom-com, but this cast remind us that the reason these clichés stand is because they happen in our lives, every day. Affairs. Young love. Old love. Mid-life crises. One-night-stands. You name it, this movie has got it, and yet it still remains tasteful and witty despite its lengthy and jam-packed plot.
Full of wisdom, heart-felt moments and gasp-worthy exposures, it is not crazy or stupid to love this movie. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Somewhere (2010)

Rating: 15
Director: Sofia Coppola
Screenplay: Sofia Coppola
Genre: Drama

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Chris Pontius.

Sofia Coppola
perfectly captures the appropriate blend of heart and honesty in this eye-opening American drama exploring the harsh reality of a Hollywood star and his struggle to re-connect with his family.
In this day and age it is almost necessary that we know the ins and outs of our favourite actors life, but Somewhere effectively visits the hidden cons that celebrity life can offer, bringing a simple, if not fundamental story to life.
Stephen Dorff is earnest and gritty as privileged Hollywood actor Johnny Marco who has gotten used to the Hollywood lifestyle and lost sight of himself along the way. Step aside Dakota, because Elle Fanning is here and she is cute - without being sickening - and relatable as the spoilt yet appreciative eleven year old daughter, Cleo.
Coppola is a fan of visual metaphors, and if you’re not, it is a suggestion that you skip the opening and ending scene of Dorff’s character driving around in his Ferrari – (which I am sure means something profound) - then skip the full cut of Cleo’s unnecessarily long ice-skating routine (which was beautiful, yet tiresome) and then leave it there, because other than that, nothing about Somewhere fails to grab.
It is possible to be fully immersed in the truthful and lovable relationship between Johnny Marco and his daughter as you recognise the struggles when Cleo is dropped on Marco’s doorstep amidst his hard-living party animal antics. Dorff and Fanning deliver a connection which is quirky and understandable and viewers find themselves rooting for Dorff’s character to turn away from his pill-popping, sleazy, drunken ways and give Fanning’s Cleo the Father she deserves.
The film is beautifully shot, whether it be the eccentric camera angles or Harry Savides’ clean-cut cinematography that gives the movie a 90’s indie-flick feel. A cameo from Jackass’ Chris Pontius adds a much-needed humour and kiddy-feel to the responsibilities that Dorff’s Marco has been lumbered with among Cleo’s arrival. Suddenly shopping for summer camp and grabbing dinner are a priority and Dorff effectively shows the out-of-touch-with-reality persona that most celebrities are destined to carry in this world of competitive media and trash-talking press. One of the first scenes between Marco and Cleo involve Marco asking his daughter if they are “being followed”.
This concern is quickly brushed aside when Marco realises there is a lot more to life than his failing career - so cleverly demonstrated when Marco attends a press photo-call and is all-smiles for the cameras before proving to have an off-hand, hate-filled relationship with his apparent “best friend” of a co-star. Coppola again proves she is not just handy with a camera but also with a pen as she cunningly depicts the truth behind the glamorous, perfect sugar-coat that the film industry is given.
Luckily for today’s Hollywood starlets, Somewhere proves that despite all of this, actors are human too. They have families and they have struggles. Dorff’s character breaks down in tears when his daughter is packed off to Summer camp – proving that he does have a heart and he can now realise what kind of Father he hasn’t been.
It’s gripping, it’s truthful and it’s quietly compelling – Somewhere opens our eyes and yet again is a sturdy success for Coppola with her tender words and her ability to grip an audience with the simplest of stories - in this case; family.

Monday, 23 April 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)


Rating: 15
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Screenplay: Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear.

Genre: Thriller/Drama
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller.

Ezra Miller isn’t a household name yet, but his performance as the psychopathic teenager Kevin Khatchadourian warns the film industry that his movie-making journey is only just beginning.
Lynne Ramsay cleverly directs this chilling psychological thriller, adapted from the ground-breaking novel (Lionel Shriver) telling the tale of gutsy Eva Khatchadourian  - a flawless performance from Tilda Swinton - and her struggles to love her strange child as he grows to become a young man capable of terrible things.

I’m glad to see that this isn’t one of those corny movies when the character has to say the name of the title during the film to get it to work. This is quite the opposite. The main character in this film doesn’t have to say practically anything to get this movie to work. It just works.
With its eerie silences, gasp-worthy moments and mind-boggling twists and turns, you certainly will need to talk about Kevin as you chew your nails wondering when and what Kevin’s most unimaginable final act will be.
If you like movies with a lot of dialogue, this movie certainly doesn’t fit the brief – (as my Dad said, “the script writer had an easy job on this one”) – but it’s a whole lot more than that. A haunting visual and dragged out music note can summarise a whole plot more than any one-liner can, and let me tell you, in this case, We Need To Talk About Kevin is the epitome of a job well done.
This is not a movie to watch with your friends on a night in, or to snuggle up on the couch with when you’re nursing a hangover. It’s a tricky one, so watch it by yourself. It’s okay to be anti-social, so shut your blinds and turn out the lights. Grab a bag of Doritos (though you’ll stop eating them mid-bite) and switch off your phone. Then, prepare to be blown away.
Oh, but don’t watch it if you’re pregnant, because if any movie can dissuade you from reproducing in fear of creating a demon child, then this one can.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Hello and welcome!

Finally made a blog to thrust my film reviews upon :) I'm about to watch the 1st movie!!!! The review will be up as soon as I finish watching it.
Hopefully one day, instead of having a deadline for a blog which nobody *at the moment* follows, my deadline will be for Empire Magazine.
Dreaming big.
Here's some inspiring songs to pass the time.