Thursday, December 4, 2014


Ok, full disclosure, Jake Gyllenhaal is one of my all time favourites, not only do I believe he's quite gorgeous (as I'm sure he would me should our paths ever cross), but I also think him a wonderful and versatile actor, but as a true professional I have reviewed this movie as objectively as is possible... Nightcrawler is a fascinating film, the story of a ghostly Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) who scrapes a living in the shadows by dubious means. The first scene he is caught stealing wire fences and tries to bag a job with the man he sells the stolen goods to, he's a slick negotiater from the start but is told flatly 'I don't hire thieves'. Undeterred he stumbles across an accident on the way home and sees Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) videoing the police pulling a woman from her vehicle, after questioning him, it turns out that Joe is a 'nighcrawler' who arrives ASAP to crime scenes and sells the footage to news channels. Louis' mind is ticking over through those huge unblinking baby blues..So he sets up, after selling a stolen bike, his 'company' and begins his own internship in the murky world of nightcrawlers. To do this he hires a homeless uncertain guy named Rick whom he pays $30 a night after a lengthy discussion to navigate and keep watch the car whilst Louis is filming. Gaining his first newsworthy footage he takes the film to Nina (Rene Russo, it's been too long) the night editor of a news channel and is given his first pay check. Nina is definite about the type of film she wants to increase the ratings, bad things done to white middle class people by minority groups, "if it bleeds it leads". Louis takes this challenge very seriously and sets out to get the best footage by any means necessary with great success,knocking back Joe Loder's offer of him running a second van for him to continue freelancing. This ambitious sociopath, trained by the internet, chants self help management forum mantras, and just when you feel he's tipped over to the wrong side of sane...he smiles and you forgive him for a moment, at your peril. Soon enough he's pressuring Nina for a date, when she succumbs as a 'professional courtesy' he embarks on his own special brand of seduction bordering on blackmail, he wants her and by god he's going to have her..if he doesn't he can always take his films elsewhere, and haven't her ratings gone up recently and where can she go from being a night editor on the lowest rated news channel if he doesn't get her the footage she needs? Louis justifies all his actions by stating that everyone has the choice to decide what they do, and to a certain extent he's right. He delivers the thinly veiled threats in his sing song patter, bordering on psychopathic but never over the top..Don't feel sorry for Nina for too long, scratch the surface and another Louis is lurking just underneath. There are a couple of people who are not morally bankrupt, Rick is surprisingly sensitive and Frank who works at the news channel both attempt to be somewhat moral compasses, but to no avail. Nina and Louis railroad everything and everyone to climb the greasy career pole. The film culminates in a house invasion turned multiple shooting that Louis arrives at before the police and films the grisly footage, but it's what he does with his knowledge of the perpetrators that makes the lines of reality and fiction blur so goulishly, does Louis somehow believe he is directing his own movie? This film is a dark,satirical swirling mass of steamy LA nights, humour as black as tar and blind, unrelenting ambition and Jake is a revelation as Louis. Initially completely out of synch with the world around him, he slowly realises if he is to realise his dream of owning his own production company he must relax when people call him 'Louie' instead of Louis. Like a starved vulture he watches people's every move..what ties they wear, how they react in situations and attempts to blind them with his business babble, generally very successfully, because Gyllenhaal manages to balance Louis with just enough charm to weigh up his freakishness, never crossing the line to an unbelievable character. His tirade to Nina when he realises the shift of power is in his favour, demanding the news anchors quote his deluded business name during the running of his films and the blink and you miss it reference to her meeting his bedroom demands reveals that she does indeed dance with the devil. Close to the end of the film, there is a scene where he brings Nina the murder scene footage..they are feet apart, ever drawing closer as he discloses what he has caught on film, explaining he made her wait because he wanted to increase his bargaining power, there is an uncomfortable eroticism that makes you feel that he's not just talking about his films...Thin, haunted, hunted, self assured, full to the brim with throwaway quotes, confidence and swagger, Louis is one of the ultimate anti-heroes..It's great to see Rene Russo on screen again, a shame it's because her husband is the director, she deserves much more airtime than that. Nevertheless it's good to see her sensuous brand of desperation and last taste of youth mixed with the flattery and disgust of this younger man's attentions that can help her scrabble her way once more to the top.. Nightcrawler...creeps up the back of your neck and makes your heart thump a little faster - 8.5/10

Love, Rosie

Anyone who has never visited the UK, but has seen 'Love Actually', 'Notting Hill', the abysmal 'Four Weddings' and now the equally twee 'Love, Rosie' would get off the plane at Heathrow and expect to be met by a handsome blundering blustering fool, a pretty, quirky ingenue with pigeon toes, their respective families all in hand knitted jumpers and best friends who were either ugly and funny, gay and funny or hair dyed pink, crazy clothes...and funny. Granted, the British have a great sense of humour, but we don't all spin off witty repartee at the drop of a hat or use the 'f' word in every sentence, well most don't. It's almost the same as if you only know Australia from films, you would think that everyone lived in the '70s, were bordering on manic depression and all dealt drugs...hang on a minute.... Anyway back to 'Love, Rosie' here we go....Rosie (a luminous Lily Collins, how could the bald pated drummer Phil have produced such a beauty?) and Alex (Sam Grant..sorry, Claflin, handsome, floppy haired..crooked smile) have been bestest friends since they were little. Now they're almost grown up and share a drunken kiss on Rosie's 18th birthday, only Rosie doesn't remember and Alex is too spineless to tell they go to their school leaving party with other people to spite each other and so the tedium begins...Alex gets a scholarship to Harvard Medical School which is amazing considering it's a graduate school.Rosie is supposed to go with her bestie to study hotel managment but gets a condom stuck up her snapper on her first shag and has to stay in good old Blighty to raise the product of this dangerous liaison whilst Alex oblivious to it all is in Boston living it up with...yes his ugly funny mate with a gorgeous neurotic sister that he ends up with after finally twigging why Rosie never got on the plane two weeks after they almost get together about twenty five times until it gets so irritating that you wish they just forgot who each other were and got on with their very English lives...the life decisions the pair of them make are enough to make you seriously doubt the entry level for admission to Med school.Rosie's mate, yes the one with the red hair who's..funny (Ray Winstone's daughter, nepotism anyone?) tries to sort her out a few times, but even she gives up, all the while Rosie's brat grows older almost than Rosie and gets an Alex of her very claustraphobic...I won't give the ending away...but I'm sure you all know where it's going..going..gone and to be honest, you just breathe a sigh of relief at the end. There's no romance you just hope and pray that they're smart enough to take their clothes off before they finally go for it.. The problem with this film is it's just really lazy. The acting is actually pretty good. The script is pretty abysmal but the premise is one that we all love, boy meets girl, takes a while to get there but eventually does, everyone's happy..but this one is just so drawn out and ridiculous that it's just not worth the bother. Love, Rosie...Just, Lazy. 3/10.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kim and Kanye….

Ok, I understand that this is not a review of a movie. I just feel utterly compelled to rant! This is a review of course of the song and video that is causing such a buzz…Bound 2 by Kanye West…. Oh, where to begin? The video perhaps… It's basically real life scenes of really really bad paintings of horses running, the ocean and mountains, the kind of thing your nan would have hanging over the fireplace interspersed with a very serious Mr West pouting and either moving with what one can only assume is a very nasty tic, riding a motor bike..(look mum no hands!) and/or (shock horror!) shagging his well advertised squeeze, the voluptuously vapid Kim Kardashian she of the huge boobs and very tiny waist, as all good D listers should have after just giving birth to a child. Much has been said about the sexual content, Kimmy is seen laying back bored as a viewer with an IQ in double digits is when watching one of her reality shows, jiggling very slightly on the motor bike (I think it's a Vespa but I don't really know my bikes so don't quote me). The jiggling or possibly quivering is supposed to insinuate that she is having sex with Kanye, she is seen in various positions and her face I believe is supposed to portray some kind of plastic ecstasy.. one can only imagine really because her lovely surgeon chiselled features never move, even with the mechanical quivering. Whilst Kimmy is a-jiggling, Kanye is getting down to the serious business of either simulating giving her a right good seeing to or nuzzling into her neck shouting 'Bound!' loudly, seriously, has he been checked out for Tourettes? or sneering at the camera with all the venom of my six year old son in full tantrum mode.. My point to this is there is NO sexual content….its about as sexy as watching my 76 year old Dad twerk….but slightly more cringeworthy. It's no shock that these two have sex, they do have a baby, the ridiculously named 'North' whose career is stretched out before her before she can even sleep through the night poor little mite. It's hardly front page news….Kim and Kanye have sex!!! The shock is that they are happy to portray their sex life as about as exciting as what I was doing yesterday….cleaning out the gutters…although to be honest, I was listening to the mighty Silverchair, so my activities yesterday were infinitely more stimulating than Kim and Kanye getting it on on the vespa trying to avoid the horse poo and hurricanes that were blowing the day they decided to shoot. My main issue is with the lyrical content of this utter dross. Some people have been outraged that Kim's waist has been whittled down to the size of a small chipolata (no offence Kanye), but no where have I read any protest about what utter bile the lyrics are… they are so bad that honestly I can't write any of the lines in full here… They are filled with either the highly imaginative words 'bitches' or 'hoes' and he does actually refer to his best beloved, the mother of his child as a bitch too. He also refers to what he would like to do to her on the kitchen sink..hope the dishes have been done first..and would desperately like his one and only to supply him with some extra ladies to shag for his birthday.. I can see why because he exerts so little energy he would have plenty left over for other lucky ladeeezzz. He frequently uses the 'n' word.. if it has a on the end instead of er is it still as offensive?!! I know that this word has been 'reclaimed' by some members of the black community, but I still have the right to be utterly offended just as I am by the words chinky, red indian and wop…I don't have to be Chinese, Native American or Italian to know that these words are heinous. Kanye West is an idiot so bloated with his own sense of self importance, he's carrying half of it in his little chipmunk cheeks..he is revered by celebrities, 'A' Listers even that are condoning the use of the words and derogatory lyrics about women. This man has a daughter for God's sake. Everyone just stands by and applauds…and he has the full endorsement of another equally talented high profile 'celebrity' his lady love could she sell her daughter out, or herself for that matter? What are these two thinking? They are teaching little East that it's ok for her to be referred to as a hoe and a bitch, and it's fine for her fame hungry mum to be seen naked and being shagged by her humourless talentless father while he's fully clothed and calling her a bitch…she will of course love these two highly unlovable creations and will think that their word is God…my heart bleeds for her and for all this generation to have clowns like these two to look up to… This brings me to the genius parody performed by the very talented James Franco and Seth Rogen..Bound 3…it is fabulous and to be honest, the more I think about it, it's a quite a philosophical work of art…we crack up at James' scowling face and postulating nonsense and adore the sensuality of Mr Rogen's hirsute back whilst he coyly makes love to the camera, but they are just copying the original video WORD FOR WORD..SHOT BY SHOT. That's why should we take one seriously and one not? It's a sad statement of the world we live in..shame on us all..but for the record..even the brain drains Kim and Kanye know who I'd rather share a Vespa with... Bound 2…Bound to make you ashamed of the celebrity adulation gone crazy 0/10..Bound 3 helps to restore your faith in humanity..a little. 10/10...

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Great Gatsby

Although I've still been going to the movies once a week at least, I have had a hiatus on blogging reviews due to being hideously busy work and home wise. However, if there is one film that I will come out of my self imposed exile to review, it's this one old sport. Bring out the Baz haters, come one come all to the verbal and personal Luhrmann lynching, and bring your family too to give him a good kicking while he's down..except he's not down because the people have voted with their feet and the theatres are full. I wonder if these nay sayer reviewers have even seen the movie, or understand the book by F Scott Fitzgerald for that matter. Baz Luhrmann is a wonderful director of some genius, who has a certain style, it may not be to everyone's taste, but it is perfect, perfect for The Great Gatsby. I personally adore all of his work except for Australia which was woefully miscast but still had some magical moments. Baz is a story teller in the truest sense of the word. His movies are fairy tales or fantastic fables, not documentaries or word for word transcripts of books. I won't go into the story too much, most of us are very familiar with it. It is an American tragedy as Greek as they come. It's a story of enduring misplaced love, friendship, lust, jealousy, greed, hope, selfishness, singleminded devotion... and carelessness. Sadly, for people as cynical as me, it's a confirmation of all that is wrong with the world. But it's a beautiful story. Seen through the eyes of writer turned banker Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), it's the tale of Nick's next door neighbour, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) a billionaire party thrower who never seems to attend his own events and is illusive in the story and for the first part of the film. Nick has a beautiful cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) who is married to a brute of a man, Tom (Joel Edgerton), rich, arrogant and compulsively unfaithful. Nick is thrown into a world he is unfamiliar with, parties and gossip, sex and alcohol. Gatsby slowly befriends Nick and asks to meet Daisy through him, at Nick's house. It turns out, however, that Jay and Daisy know each other from five years before, and so unravels a story so heartbreaking, it will seep into your psyche leaving you with a sense of utter sadness yet with a lingering feeling that perhaps something wonderful may just happen. Much has been made of the fact that the film is too over the top. Well, yes it is, in the parts that it's supposed to be. The parties are an orgy on the senses. As they are in the book. It's an integral part of the story that these gatherings are debauched and wild. It's kind of the point. They are shot beautifully and are such an assault on the senses you feel as if you've gate crashed them yourself. Much criticism has been thrown at Luhrmann for the use of modern music, especially Jay Z's involvement. I'm not a huge fan of that type of music so write honestly when I say that it just fitted in perfectly. There was music from the twenties era too in the film, but bringing more up to date styles ties us to the story in a contemporary way and makes us feel more connected to the movie rather than it feeling like a period piece. Baz has always done this, listen to the music in Moulin Rouge! and I doubt very much whether the band Garbage were around in William Shakespeare's time, but their music was used to devastating effect in Romeo + Juliet. The other parts of the film were not at all over done, unless it was called for as in the scene where Nick and Tom party way too hard with Myrtle and friends. A lot of it was incredibly nuanced and quiet, a perfect and deliberate contrast to the lunacy of the parties. Tobey Maguire has been singled out as being rather bland. I think that's the whole point. He's the anchor, the narrator and is the everyman. Everyone else has large personalities, he is the quiet voice of reason. I thought his performance was heartfelt and set just the right tone. Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan was also critiqued as being a 'one note player', I disagree. Joel Edgerton is a well known and respected actor/producer in Australia, and America will be seeing a lot more of him in the future, I predict. The character of Tom Buchanan was only really one note; I have met a few Tom Buchanan's in my time (though sadly not as attractive as Joel) and there wasn't much else to them but the one note, sometimes only a quaver.... Tom does reveal a different side as well towards the end of the film, and is in no way two dimensional. Isla Fisher is superb as Tom's blousy mistress Myrtle Wilson, I would have liked to have seen more of her, as is the again underused Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker, the Art Deco beautiful love interest of Nick. There is even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance by the mighty Baz himself. Carey Mulligan would not have been my choice for Daisy. In no way do I mean this disrespectfully or unkindly as she is very lovely... but she is not beautiful. After seeing it though, I have changed my mind, not because I suddenly think she is beautiful, but for two other much more important reasons. Firstly, she is an excellent actress and physically perfect in stature and demeanour. The second reason is thanks to the immense talent of Leonardo DiCaprio. His performance is so convincing as a man in love, that you realise it matters not a jot what you think of her. Jay. Loves. Daisy. I have read no negative comments about Leonardo's performance, but not nearly enough praising it. For the first twenty minutes you barely see DiCaprio. He is a shadow, glimpses here and there, a tantalising side view, a build up of curiosity. And then... against the back drop of a wild party, the music crescendos, fireworks explode and in this orgasmic build up...Jay Gatsby appears...and it's like the sun coming out after an earth shattering storm. His incredible beatific smile lights up the screen, this golden man, full of mystery, life, love and hope. But there are plenty of beautiful men in Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio is so much more than that. His performance displays the multi dimensional aspects of a man on the edge. Gatsby's self assuredness melts away whilst waiting in Nick's home for Daisy to arrive, revealing some fabulous physical humour from Leonardo an as yet untapped talent for comedy. The heartbreaking moments when he is just looking at Daisy, it's rare to see an actor so convincingly portray someone so in love, heart and soul. The furtive glances and sideways looks as he's desperate to shield those he cares for from his financial dealings and shady business associates. Jay's desperation as things unravel with Daisy and his unwavering loyalty, innate goodness and singleminded hope for the future. If I was reviewing any other actor I would say it's a career defining role. For Leonardo it's not, all his portrayals are of this calibre. He is without a doubt, the greatest American actor of all time. This is a brilliant heart breaking roller coaster movie, with some truly perfect moments filled with romance and the glamour of the movies. Thank You Baz Luhrmann. A more fitting title for a film I couldn't find. THE GREAT GATSBY: Gatsby. The Great 10/10.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Had I realised that Michael Haneke's Oscar nominated 'Amour' was an ironic title, I may have watched this film from a different angle. After watching this movie, I came home to read some reviews, and they are all without a doubt positive and waxing lyrical, especially from the high brow newspapers who mutter about depth and masterpiece a lot. Oh well, I never did like to follow the crowd. The first scene begins lightly enough, a crew of ambulance workers break the doors of a fantastic Parisian apartment open wearing masks to help overcome the smell, and on the bed is a decomposing elderly lady dressed in her finest surrounded by chrysanthemum petals. Amour tells the story of Georges and Anne, an octogenarian couple who are musical academics. They enjoy a night out at a concert and arrive home to find their flat has been broken into, but nothing appears to have been taken and it's not mentioned in the film again, apart from Georges making a few calls to get the door fixed. It may have been an analogy for the fact that their lives are about to be changed by an intruder, but also may have been a time filler, because there are a lot of those. Anne suffers a moment of alert unconsciousness, like a daydream, which Georges is alarmed about. As well he should have been as it was a stroke, but that is only disclosed near the end of the film. From this point on, the story goes on its inevitable downward trajectory, initially Anne is paralysed on her right side but has all her mental faculties about her, but after suffering a second devastating one, is left bed bound and rambling, with Georges left with no option but to hire some much needed help. Their only daughter played by Isabelle Huppert visits occasionally with her philandering husband (the English rotter) but seems more interested in real estate than her mother's state. The conditions in which Georges and Anne live become untenable and as a crisis is reached, George makes a decision about Anne and her future. Most of the film is set inside this sprawling apartment, very chic and utterly comfortless. The film is shot often in almost real time, recording every mind numbingly routine chore that we all do every day. Don't get me wrong, I love to watch minutes of a woman vacuuming the carpet as much as the next person, but what some could take as a profound social comment on life's prosaic patterns, I just saw as a director who couldn't think of what to do with the time he was given. Talk about banging on, yes, we get it, life is repetitive and really really boring at times, and we have to do things that we find mundane for people we love, yes, it's not just George who has to, we ALL do!! The actors, French royalty Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges and Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva did a sterling job, if the portrayal was meant to be of two people completely disconnected from each other, a couple of poissons froid if you will. There seemed to be absolutely no chemistry between them, even when scenes of them reminiscing should have been revealing. There is a scene where Eva the daughter is telling Georges that she used to like listening to him and her mother making love as it comforted her, mmm how very French of her, I couldn't imagine them shaking hands let alone bumping uglies. There are scenes where Georges has to get very close, maybe more intimate with Anne than they have been in years, which could have been explored and should have been poignant, they just looked awkward. It's ok that other relationships were fraught, but surely the central characters should have liked each other a little? Anne's former pupil now a well known pianist drops in. It's a very awkward scene, as Georges doesn't tell him about the stroke before he wheels her in, and then when the pupil dares to ask about it, he's brushed aside as if her stroke was something to be ashamed of, and a mysterious illness that is incredibly rare. Anne seemed to have a difficult relationship with her only daughter, it was all very stilted and there was no familiarity between any of them. Whilst I'm on this rant, when Anne comes home from having her first stroke, we see Georges going through (endlessly it seemed) tasks of picking her up and doing things for her. It was painful to watch as he is not a youthful man, but also it was so pointless. He was obviously a smart guy and there are so many aids available to assist carers, he didn't have to struggle like that, and there were things that she could have used to make her feel more independent. Hugely frustrating to watch. We then see that Anne doesn't want to live anymore in this state, because she feels useless, well tell that to my ex-colleague who was paralysed down his right side who came into the office every single day. I didn't understand why this made her completely unable to enjoy life in any capacity especially as she was a music teacher so much and could still enjoy that, rather than being the national pole vaulting champion which was obviously off the table now. Maybe I'm just too practical to enjoy this type of film. I did have sympathy don't get me wrong, but there seemed to be a lot of self pity and misery dwelling, which just irritates me frankly. The thing is, these people are in their eighties, sad as it is, didn't they expect it? When you are lucky enough to get to your eighties, you can't really think that nothing will ever happen to you? It's a sad but inevitable part of life, it's not a tragedy like it would be if they were in their thirties. Also there is barely any humour in the whole film. A smattering of the gallic sort, but it's no laughing matter. Even during life's darkest moments, humour is lurking, it's what keeps us sane. Not in this lovely apartment, at one stage Anne states that she doesn't want to see her son-in-law because she can't take his British humour. I would have sold my first born for a touch of it in this movie. The finale was slightly skewed and supernatural and the ending shot of Eva walking into this magnificent piece of real estate made you think more that she was rubbing her hands with glee at being left it all, rather than ringing her hands with the misery of losing both her parents. I usually love French films and was really looking forward to this, I felt very disappointed that it's turned out to be a case of the Emporer's new clothes. There was little to no traces of love in this very cold self important drama, except maybe for the little pigeon who probably deserves it more than anyone else. AMOUR: What's love got to do with it? 3/10

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cloud Atlas

OK, here goes...I haven't read the book of Cloud Atlas, but from what I understand it was considered almost unfilmable. Mmmmm I think that the directors Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run) may just have proved that wrong. The plot is way too intricate to even outline, but I will give it a shot. The film is set in six time frames, the first in 1844 involves an American lawyer on a ship who befriends a stowaway slave, next up 1931 in which a haunted gay man seeks out a famous composer and becomes his amanuensis (musical assistant), 1973 and a female journalist investigating a scandal involving a nuclear station. On to 2012 and light relief in the form of a publisher who owes a lot of money and is shipped off to the mental health unit from hell by his fed up brother, skipping forward to 2144 where a fabricant is saved from her miserable life in New Seoul to become the planet's saviour and finally to the 24th Century and an uncomplicated goat herder's life is turned upside down when a strangers comes to his community and needs help. And that's about all I can give you folks. This movie is completely magical. It's three hours long, but I wish it had been longer. The magnificent cast are quite an eclectic mix of actors and it works beautifully. Throughout the film, the same people appear, in different forms, genders and races. Some might have a problem with that, but it's crucial to the film and I found it totally inoffensive as everyone crossed races, caucasian to asian, black to jewish, asian to european so you can be equally offended by it all or not. The stories are all intertwined, and the message is nothing new, but it's such a beautiful message that only the most jaded are tired of it being told time and time again. I am a committed atheist, reason and logic are my masters, but oh how I love the concept of eternal love and souls being bound to each other forever, so romantic and pure. This is the core of the film, the eternal questions we all ask, why do we repeat the mistakes of the past? Is love so powerful that it crosses oceans of time? Are we all connected? Can love change someone? Are we bound to people and if so why? It also confirms, for me at least, that love is the only thing that really matters. That we seek comfort and kindness and it makes our lives better, or changes us if we receive it, give it or if we are spurned. Themes of dominance, evil, slavery thread through it too, you can't have love without hate after all. There are the questions raised of spirituality and organised religion and the questioning of tyranny, but I felt that these questions could be tailored to our beliefs. A Muslim would draw his own favourable conclusions to the same scenes that I did. Visually it's a masterpiece. From the salty seas, to the Blade Runner style of New Seoul, it is quite perfect. The music is just stunning, pushing the boundaries of our feelings even further and it accompanies the words of the script very admirably. The post apocalyptic pidgeon English is wonderfully melodic and child like and used to great effect. All the acting is superb, give or take a couple of ropy accents from Tom Hanks, but he makes up for that with a suprisingly buff turn as the goat herder. Ben Whishaw is as always a pure haunting joy to watch, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving are here amongst others. Which leads to my final point, Hugh Grant is a lazy bugger. His turn here is outstanding, just as rich and nuanced as any of the other actors, so why has he plumped for the easy road all these years? Cloud Atlas is not an easy watch, and it won't be to everyone's liking, but to me its a creative masterpiece, thought provoking, with a multi layered great big beating heart at the centre and organised time travelling chaos all around the edges. What more could an old romantic like me want? Cloud Atlas: A compendium of beauty, doesn't always tell you the direction but you'll be very glad you opened it up. 9/10.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Side Effects

And so it seems that Steven Soderbergh is disillusioned with Hollywood and the film making process and is taking a sabbatical/retirement. Let's hope it's a sabbatical and he gets his mojo back, after all he gave us amongst others 'Erin Brokovich', The 'Ocean's' franchise, 'Sex Lies and Videotape', 'Traffic', 'Magic Mike' and the underestimated and ridiculously sexy 'Out of Sight'. If it's a retirement, we're losing a really wonderful and inspired director and for that we who love movies should all feel a great loss. For his grande finale, he has chosen to direct a little gem of a thriller, Side Effects. Jude Law plays Dr Jon Banks a psychiatrist who treats a suicidally depressed woman named Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) whose husband Martin (Channing Tatum) has just been released from prison after four years for insider trading. Dr Banks is up to his sea green/aqua blue eyeballs in work and takes on a paid role to trial a new anti-depressant ablixa which Emily eventually ends up taking after the incompatibility of other anti-depressants. After a shocking turn of events, Jon finds himself under the magnifying glass and turns to Emily's former psychiatrist Dr Victoria Siebert (a frail looking Catherine Zeta-Jones) for some answers. Emily ends up in court and Jon's ethics are questioned when an incident involving a former female patient is uncovered. Nothing however is quite as it seems and as he digs deeper, Dr Banks uncovers a dark world which threatens to ruin his career and his marriage. Jude Law is very convincing in his portrayal of an initially relaxed professional at the top of his game who slowly unravels as events take over. He is a somewhat overlooked actor, dismissed as a 'pretty boy' but he's very accomplished and without vanity, not a hint of botox or indeed weave in sight, which makes him all the more attractive and I haven't seen a man look as good in a cardi since Daniel Craig in 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', something about English men and woollens evidently...Rooney Mara is also good as the isolated and confused Emily, she's not a million miles away from her role as Lisbeth in the aforementioned movie, but she shows promise, though appears much younger than her character's age of 28. It's refreshing to see the likeable Tatum as something more than beefcake, again, he has a promising career ahead if he sticks to these meatier (pun intended) roles that he seems to be able to cope with. Whilst we're on the subject of Channing, is it just me or does he have a face that is most unusual? It's also a delight to see Catherine Zeta-Jones back on form as the spiky secretive Dr Seiber, though her make up artist would do well to steer clear of the darker lipsticks and Malificent-like eyebrows, we're not in the nineties now and it's quite distracting. It was a thrilling surprise to be transported to a rip roaring thriller, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This wouldn't be a review without a few little gripes though would it? I felt that all of the guilt was unrealistically shifted on Dr Banks, I really don't think, in fact I know that in real life this wouldn't have happened. The series of events wasn't his fault, and his partners turned on him quicker than you can say psychoanalysis. Also, in some nicely played scenes, his marriage is depicted as happy, he's a thoughtful and kind husband and stepfather, a little too hard working and distracted but better that than a jobless loser. I do think Jude Law has, for want of a better analogy mellowed like a fine wine, a very fine wine so I may be biased. Call me old fashioned but when you are lucky, oh so lucky enough to marry a handsome, kind, funny and smart man that fancies the pants off you and loves your son, don't you own him the benefit of the doubt rather than pissing off at the first sign of trouble? If I'd been him, I would have thought twice about whether I would want a faithless wife back after that, maybe pick myself a nice single nurse who shares the same curious phenomenon as he of a right pointed ear to dote on or something..... The message of the film, if there is one seems to be the compulsion that the modern world has on fixing things, the relentless pursuit of happiness which leads to so many anti-depressants being plied onto the masses. Also that if a colleague/partner/loved one messes up or is in trouble, finger point, leave them to flounder and look after yourself without a backward glance, which a jaded cynic may say seems to sum up the twenty first century. Anyway apart from these small issues, it's a great film, exciting and fun with some Hitchcockian twists and turns. It seems that they do make them like they used to, or they did before Mr Soderbergh retired/sabatted. SIDE EFFECTS: The Law of Attraction 7/10