Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I have to admit, as a child I was never a fan of the Narnia books. I have also not seen the first two Narnia movies apart from clips with Mr Tumnus in it, purely because he was played by the divine James McAvoy. It begins at the start of WWII, as Lucy and Edmund, along with their dreadful cousin Eustace are pulled into a picture and sucked back in to Narnia. There they meet Caspian (a Jesus-like Ben Barnes)and crew on a breathtaking ship and are enlisted to help them in their fight against an evil smoke that is taking their fellow Narnians. Along the way the young people learn about their own demons. Lucy wants to be beautiful like her absent sister, and Edmund yearns for the power not yet entrusted to him. There follows a classic tale of Good versus Evil, with Good, as always, comfortingly prevailing. The special effects in this film are spectacular. The storyline though fairly standard is imaginative enough to hold your concentration. There are some fabulous creatures, some of them extremely scary and there's a special appearance by the mighty Tilda Swinton as The White Witch. The acting is excellent, especially from the younger generation. A special nod to Will Poulter as the pig-headed snobby cousin Eustace who sees the error of his ways. I always like the snotty posh kids, they're the funniest. The Ship's Captain is played by Australian larrikin Gary Sweet. He seems confused at times, is he playing Captain Pugwash or Captain O'Flaherty? Aslan is voiced by His Majesty Liam Neeson, and the adorable tenacious Reepicheep is Simon Pegg. Be prepared to shed some tears at the end. A lovely film for slightly older children, my seven and eight year olds loved it, but any younger and they'll be scared. The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: It's a stormy crossing but there's light on the horizon. 6/10.


The King's Speech

There is a lot of well deserved hype surrounding this marvellous film. It's the story of the future King George VI (Bertie to his friends) the reigning Queen Elizabeth's father, who stammers. Difficult enough for anyone to deal with, but for a possible Monarch, very bad news. Bertie has a sense that he may one day be King and has been to quite a few recommended speech therapists, to no avail. His wife, Elizabeth (a regal Helena Bonham-Carter) finds an untried therapist in Harley Street, an Australian by the name of Lionel Logue, and so begins a very different kind of friendship. When Bertie's brother David , Edward VIII (a mesmerisingly plummy Guy Pearce) abdicates for the love of Mrs Simpson, King George VI is thrust into the limelight, public speaking and all. King George, with Lionel's help overcomes adversity with astounding courage, and finds his voice. Geoffrey Rush is quite wonderful as the laconic Aussie, who insists on overstepping all the Royal boundaries to get to the person behind the throne. How can a film about something as simple as overcoming a stammer be so enthralling? Well, the acting is really superb.
If Colin Firth isn't at least nominated for a Golden statue for this, there is no Movie God. Mr D'Arcy was great in 'A Single Man', but he completely nails it as the strong, kind, frustrated and likeable King. The script is tight and often extremely funny, making the characters believable, fallable and human. The sets and photography are at times breathtaking and the whole film seems to capture the age entirely. Tom Hooper directed this masterpiece, for that is what it is, and poignantly dedicates the film to his father, who died in action in World War II. Don't miss this outstanding film. The King's Speech: Unlike most, this is one speech you will never want to end. 9.5/10.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love and Other Drugs

Firstly to answer the question, is there a lot of sex and nudity? Yes, and hallellujah for that. This is the story of Jamie Randall, (Jake Gyllenhaal with eyes of blue and body of Adonis, swoon) who is the much loved black sheep of a successful medical family. Trying his hand at many jobs, he lands a sales gig with Pfizer, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Initially he is selling antibiotics and anti-depressants, but this is the mid-nineties and Viagra is about to unleash its mighty power on the world. It's in this job that he meets Maggie (sweet, lucky Anne Hathaway) a wild child diagnosed with Parkinsons at the tender age of 26. Jamie is a hound to say the least and so it appears is Maggie. So begins a steamy affair, oh boy is it sexy, but will it turn to something more? Well, it's a really great film. The script is quite hilarious, earthy and charming. The support actors are wonderful, standout being Josh Gad as Josh, Jamie's younger foul-mouthed brother and the always brilliant Hank Azaria as a world weary GP. It's quite an eye opener into the world of drug companies and the shameful extent to which they and their employees will go to nail the deal. The film however belongs to the lead couple. There is a wonderful chemistry between these two. Anne is just a tad unbelievable as a girl living on the edge, but only because she exudes so much niceness, her acting is fabulous. And Jake, what can I say about Jake that hasn't already been said? Warm, funny, gorgeous and rakish, what more could a girl want? Enjoy this lovely feel good movie. For all the sexuality in it it's not offensive at all and is really just a good old fashioned romance. Love and Other Drugs: Just the prescription needed for this jaded old soul. 8/10.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


M. Night Shyamalan started off fairly well, although personally I didn't like '6th sense'. My favourites are 'The Village' and the much maligned but in my opinion utterly charming 'Lady in the Water'. He's well known for appearing in his movies, arrogantly assuming himself to be in the same category as Alfred Hitchcock. I'm increasingly worried for M. Night's safety as he's in danger of disappearing up his own lift shaft. Devil is mainly set in an elevator. There are five people trapped in the lift. All of them, it is revealed, have done dreadful things. There are people from the building trying to rectify the problem. Really inept people. The handsome Detective (last seen in Julie and Julia, Chris Messina) has a horrific past and is assigned to the case when strange things start happening as the lights sporadically go out in the lift and people start losing their lives, and marbles. Now I haven't had a huge amount of dealings with the police, but in Australia none of them looklike they do in American movies. I like to think all Police Officers look like filmstars in the US. A very religious security guard, viewing the shenanigans in the lift from a web cam is convinced it's the devil at work, and weaves the story into the film. How will it all end as one by one, the lift users begin to regret not taking the stairs. The acting is quite good, although they all seem so shifty and awful you almost sigh with relief when you don't have to hear them talk any more. The film has a surreal quality, which actually detracts from the tension and horror. The ending is satisfying, though predictable although you do almost feel as if you should be hearing a chorus of angels as the car drives off into the night. Apparently M. (is the M for something really embarrassing like Muriel?) Night is planning another eleven of these type of films. At least he keeps them quite short, and apart from the odd moment of boredom setting in during the lift scenes, quite entertaining in that predictable horror genre kind of way. The film isn't particularly gory either. There are some clues in the scenes and some red herrings, although when you watch one of M's films you're usually looking out for a sign of some sort aren't you? Devil: It's in the detail. 5/10.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fair Game

The last time that Sean Penn and Naomi Watts acted together was in the excellent 21 grams. This is an equally harrowing tale, though for different reasons. Fair Game is based on a true story, although how true is difficult to judge as the story had to be gleaned from different sources as there is no official reports. Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plame, a CIA agent though to everyone except her husband and parents is a stocks trader. She is married to Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) who is an outspoken quite humourless and earnest democrat who demands the truth, even around the dinner table. Valerie is involved in the weapons of mass destruction period of history. Her and her colleagues are asked to find the truth surrounding whether or not Iraq had them or not, and more specifically whether aluminium tubing found was indeed for uranium and nuclear weapons or not. Valerie's husband Joe is asked to embark on a fact finding mission to Africa, to a country he knows well, Niger (irritatingly pronounced Neeeeeger so as not to be mixed with Nigeria). Joe goes to ascertain whether Neeeeeger is involved in the WMD or not. Joe finds all evidence to the negative, as do the CIA. This doesn't stop the US Government from stating as we all know, that Saddam Hussein was hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Valerie has also roped in an Iraqi Dr working in the US to go back to Iraq to question her brother, a scientist, about his knowledge of the hidden weapons. This family are lead to believe, as is Valerie that they will be helped by Uncle Sam to leave Iraq and live a life in safety in America. This does not happen. Due to Joe's outrage as the news is broadcast that an investigation in Neeeeger found evidence of WMD, he reveals that he was the source and that he found no such evidence. This leads to the CIA and The Vice President offering up Valerie as the sacrificial lamb and to her horror exposing her as an agent. Her friends are horrified, watch for her best friend, played by Brooke Smith, recognise her as Jame Gumb's lucky victim in Silence of the Lambs? Joe and Valerie's lives are torn apart as they have to face allegations from the public that they are communists and suffer death threats. Their marriage is in ruins as Valerie questions Joe's motives for speaking out. As you would expect, the performances are excellent. No one does outraged political correctness quite as well as Sean Penn. Naomi Watts is equally compelling, though slightly less self righteous. It's a difficult story to tell, at times it can veer into the uninteresting, although the subject itself isn't. We all know that faceless Government services would sell their Granny down the river for a promotion, but it's still quite shocking to see it happen. There is such opinion on this war, and although 'Fair Game' is very slanted to the against camp, it is more well balanced than expected. It's a worthy film, but not quite entertainment. FAIR GAME: War Games are rarely fair. 6/10.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wild Target

This film is a remake of a French film 'Cible emouvante'. As sometimes happens in these cases, a little is lost in translation. It's the story of Rose (Emily Blunt) who has swindled a dashing 'business man' Rupert Everett with a fake painting. Rupert then sets the best of the best solitary assassin Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) to dispose of Rose. Through a series of cock ups, Victor fails to follow the job through, and so the mayhem begins. Victor ends up becoming mesmerised by Rose, and a hapless Rupert Grint (Tony) gets pulled along for the ride. Chastised by his ruthless overbearing Mother (brilliant Eileen Atkins), hounded by the second best assassin in Britain (a fabulously fake tanned Martin Freeman) the three become embroiled in an adventure that makes them all realise the true meaning of life. The film has some really charming and funny moments. Emily Blunt is a lovely actress, but I don't quite believe her as the wild Rose. Bill Nighy is also an English stalwart, but he only ever really plays, well, Bill Nighy. Uptight and unemotional, speaking through closed lips and stiff limbed. Rupert Grint is great as the permanently stoned, sport loving spy apprentice Tony. Rupert Everett tends to steal the show a little as the handsome completely amoral businessman Ferguson. There are some quite dark moments which don't really tally well with the light 'four weddings' feel of the film. The scenes are almost comic book England, very beautiful but so cliched, even down to the stolen Mini Cooper. It's worth a look, but the ending is quite disconcerting. Children that kill animals are just not even vaguely amusing, people maybe, but not animals.
Wild Target: Just misses the mark. 6/10.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The American

Oh George, you silver haired fox you, can you do no wrong? Well yes actually you can with this clunker of a film. It begins in Scandanavia, after some thoroughly unwholesome activity in a log cabin, George and his squeeze go for a walk in the snow. Low and behold he is attacked by snipers and so the pursuit begins leaving a trail of blood but no police questioning in his wake. George or Edward as he calls himself, scarpers to Castel Del Monte in bella Italia, having been directed there by his boss to await further instructions. Whilst in this most picturesque of villages, he meets a sinful priest and a prostitute with ideas above her station. He is assigned a very covert operation involving a lady and a gun. All the while being pursued by a very inept hitman. Can this jaded gun for hire get out of the game alive? There are lots of meaningful looks and pauses (more constipated than pregnant) in this film. I know many women will dispute this but there are hundreds of things I would rather do than watch Mr Clooney assemble a gun for five minutes. Edward seems to be rather partial to three things in life, guns, sex and picnics. Admirable qualities in any man obviously, but in Edward it all comes across as slightly creepy. The scenes are tired and cliched. The story is old, so very old. Edward is warned not to make any 'friends', so he takes up with a hooker, only to fall in love with her probably because she is generally topless or dresses like a lady of the night, even on her days off. A keen lepidopterist, he has a tattoo of a butterfly on his back and is called by the ladies, "Mr Butterfly". There is a scene where he's at the most beautiful outdoor spot having a yes, you've guessed it, picnic with a lady. A butterfly lands on the woman's chest (it must have been called Edward) and Edward warns her to leave it, as it's endangered. Oh perleeeeaaase! The town where this all happens obviously has zero Police presence and noone actually lives there apparently, judging by the many cafes that are making no money whatsoever selling one 'Americano' a day to Edward. Perhaps we should all move there to improve the economy and boost the population, or perhaps that's what George was trying to do there. This film was so bland, it even made this town's architecture look dull. I am a huge fan of George Clooney and find him to be charming and a gifted actor. Everyone's allowed a little bump in the road occasionally I guess. The ending is so truly jaw droppingly predictable, you could almost hear me groan as the end credits came up. The American: The man from Del Monte says blah. 2/10.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I'm beginning this post with a question. Who is in their seventies , sports a dodgy burgundy velour tracksuit and still manages to be sexier than most actors of any age today? Answer at the bottom of the page. Now on with the review. Bruce Willis plays Frank he's the titular RED (retired and extremely dangerous) from the CIA. He's also bored and lonely and strikes up a phone relationship with Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) who works for his pension company. When Frank's home is invaded by a mass of dead shot killers one night (although not dead shot enough to actually kill him, naturally) he enlists the help of his old work buddies to solve this political conundrum. Along for the ride is Sarah, whom Frank kidnaps to save her from the evil clutches of the Government. The old work buddies are his majesty Morgan Freeman, the reliably crazy and generous John Malkovitch, HRH Helen Mirren, sexy and charming as usual, and British stalwart but lesser known in the US, Brian Cox. The villainous scene chewing baddies are evil leprechaun Richard Dreyfuss and a simpering, cowardly Julian McMahon. The mayhem is followed by a super cool ice man CIA agent Karl Urban, (slightly reminiscent of Brad Pitt in looks) determined to stop Frank at all costs. The adventure that ensues is really great fun. It's full of ridiculous cartoon violence and John Malkovich is hilarious as the paranoid Marvin Boggs, though he's usually correct in his assumptions. The reviews for this movie aren't great, but honestly what do people expect? It's a real delight to see older actors having a really fabulous time camping it up on screen being tough guys. It's all tongue in cheek and there are some brilliant one liners. Bruce Willis is great, he's always had a lot of charisma, even if he can really only play one role, he does it well. If you want a rip roaring two hours of suspended belief, look no further than RED. Watch out for a spritely Ernest Borgnine as well. Answer: Morgan Freeman of course dreeeeammy! RED: Better RED than dead. 7/10.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Made in Dagenham

What a charming film this is. It's the dramatised story of a group of women who make car covers for the Ford car company in Dagenham, England in 1968. The company has downgraded their pay from semi-skilled to unskilled and the women are not happy. So begins a historic and little known fight, that broadens to gaining equal pay for women in the workplace globally. It's a really fascinating story. The initially reluctant leader of the female strikers is Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) and fully supported by shop floor manager Albert (Bob Hoskins) and fellow worker Connie (Geraldine James). As you can imagine, there are many hurdles along the way. There are some poignant and emotional scenes. The film has an amazing '60s feel to it, unfortunately right down to the way that women were, and to some extent are, regarded in society. There are some staggering scenes of the Union bosses and Ministers and their cronies which just take your breath away with their deep rooted sexism. Even Rita's generally supportive and decent husband Eddie (Daniel Mays) has a layer of ingrained male superiority, which is still alive and well in the male species today. It doesn't feel weighed down or worthy, because as you would expect from a British film, it's full of earthy humour. The cast is a delight. The fashions are fabulous. The cause is just. A wonderful and heartwarming two hours. MADE IN DAGENHAM: Made me proud to have been made in Britain, and proud to be a woman. 8/10

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Social Network

It was a slightly surreal experience watching this movie. Usually when a film is based on fact, it's set some time ago. This is from events of only six years ago. It's the story of Mark Zuckerberg brilliantly portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg and his rise to becoming the youngest billionaire and creator of the much loved 'Facebook'. It was invented during his time at Harvard with his friend Eduardo Saverin. The origiinal basis for the site was based on the elitism of the 'Finals Clubs' in the prestigious Ivy League schools. If you didn't have a Harvard email, you couldn't be on 'Facebook'. This appealed to Mark, as it appears that he was driven by being in the cool group of kids and social climbing oh, and a girl, there's always a girl. The girl in question is played by Rooney Mara, soon to be seen in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (English speaking version). She takes over the mantle of Lizbeth Salander from Noomie Rapace and has to fill some very large shoes. Money was not Zuckerberg's motivator. Andrew Garfield plays his loyal friend Saverin who stumps up the money to get the company off the ground. It is told in flash back as Mark has two law suits to contend with. One from Saverin who was shockingly stabbed in the back by 'Facebook'. The other from impossibly handsome twin rowers (Armie Hammer) who accused Mark of intellectual theft by stealing their initial idea of an elite website. Justin Timberlake stars as Sean Parker, the inventor of free music download site Napster who gives input into the development of 'Facebook'. Now singers do not have a good track record when it comes to acting, think Madonna, David Bowie and Mick Jagger eeewww. I'm happy to report that old sexy back is quite wonderful as the charismatic if a little paranoid Parker. Andrew Garfield is brilliant as the sympathetic Eduardo but the film belongs to, as it should, Jesse Eisenberg. He plays his role with a complicated mixture of naivety, confusion, profound intellect, social ineptness and a little question of where he stands on the austism scale thrown in for good measure. I read that the film portrays Zuckerberg in a poor light. I don't feel this is exactly true. The essence of the whole film is that these brilliant young guys had an idea and ran with it. None of them had the experience emotionally or business acumen to handle the overwhelming phenomenom of 'Facebook'. It's also documented that this is the director David Fincher's idea of what went on during those years and not a verbatim account. This was a really great movie. I do not understand the attraction of 'Facebook' or wanting to belong to any of those finals clubs, it's a strangely American school thing I think. You do understand the character's commitment and passion to them though. It is a moving and sad story which, though exclusive to the 21st Century in technology is timeless in it's emotional story. THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Tell your friends about it on Facebook. 8/10.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let Me In

Now I'm not usually a fan of spooky films. This is a remake of the much acclaimed Swedish film, 'Let the Right One In'. As a movie lover, I sometimes feel it's my duty to get out of the rut and see a film that I don't really want to see. I'm glad I saw this one. It's a dark tale, as you would imagine. The story of a lonely and much bullied boy named Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Owen has no friends, until a shoeless girl appears in the apartment block named Abby played by Chloe Moretz last seen using the 'c' word as Hit-Girl in Kick Ass. Owen and Abby strike up a sweet friendship even though Abby warns that they can't. Of course Abby has a little secret in that she is a vampire. She lives with an older male who procures her food in a variety of awful ways. The local murders arouse the suspicions of the local police thank goodness. Investigations are led by a policeman played by Elias Coteas who looks disconcertingly like Robert De Niro. So the film unfolds as we find out what happens to our two young friends. The acting is very good. Abby is beguiling and sympathetic, well, as much as a blood drinking twelve year old can be. Owen is heartbreaking as a lonely young boy longing for a connection with someone. The adults are admirable as is the gore. The CGI is a little unbelievable though, which detracts a bit from the whole atmosphere. All in all, a very well made horror movie. Let's just say that I had to take a deep breath before kissing my kids goodnight when I got home. LET ME IN: You might think twice before being too hospitable. 7/10

Sunday, October 24, 2010


We had a very special trip this weekend, and were lucky enough to be staying across from an Arthouse Movie theatre. I had been wanting to see this film for a while, so obviously took it as the ideal opportunity. Starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried as Chloe, this is a sloppy adaptation based on a novel. The film suffers from delusions of grandure. Neeson and Moore are always faultless actors but not even they could save this one I'm afraid. It's the tired old tale of a Gynaecologist (handy as it turns out) played by Moore who believes that her Tutoring husband is doing the dirty after he lies about missing a flight home. Enter Amanda Seyfried as the all knowing high class hooker Chloe whom the good Dr hires to initially attract her husband to confirm his cheating ways. Will she be happy with what Chloe finds out about ol' teach? Thus unfolds an hour and a half of angst, miscommunication and awkward seduction. What's so wrong with this story of sexual intrigue you ask? Well, the script is disjointed, stilted, doesn't ring true and just isn't, well, sexy. The actual story is one that is as old and tired as I am, with no new twists and you care so little for the characters that it doesn't matter anyway. The role of Chloe is miscast. Amanda Seyfried is pretty and acts well, but is unconvincing as a beguiling, seductive prostitute. She still looks as if she should be bopping around a Greek Island with Meryl. The movie doesn't make much sense at all. Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson are great, especially when you consider that Natasha Richardson (Neeson's wife) sadly died whilst he was making this film. The locations and clothes are gorgeous,but it's style over substance I'm afraid. You just don't believe in or care for any of the characters that much and the ending is quick and far fetched. The 'twist' at the end is baffling and leaves you wondering just what the director's final message was. Whilst I'm nit picking, why does almost every couple with children in movies opt for only one child? Is it cheaper, are they lazy or does it have a deeper meaning that has gone totally over my head? Chloe: More street walker than High end hotel, though if it was a hooker would charge you $1000 a night and think you should be very grateful for the privelege. 3/10.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Town

Ben Affleck directs and stars in this gritty drama set in his native Boston, in the city of Charlestown. It's a bleak tale. Doug (Ben Affleck) is a criminal who masterminds bank and security van raids. He is aided and abbeted by his lifelong volatile friend Jimmy (Jeremy Renner) and two other ne're do wells. After a particularly violent bank raid, Doug follows a woman {English import Rebecca Hall)when he becomes concerned about how much she witnessed during the crime. They fall in love, oh dear, no good can come of this. The gang are hounded by the FBI, headed by the man of the moment, John Hamm of Mad Men fame, looking slightly out of step in modern day clothes. So begins a game of cat and mouse. Doug also has the burden of his past, his father is in prison and he is accountable to a florist (nice touch) played by Pete Postlethwaite. It appears he is the equivalent of the Godfather in this notoriously Irish territory. The outlook is dark for all who appear in this movie. Doug desperately wants to get out of his environment. He has the memory of once being a star ice hockey player and is in AA, scraping hopelessly away from the life he was predestined to live.
It's a really great film. Ben Affleck is swiftly becoming a director to be reckoned with, his directorial debut was the incomparable 'Gone baby Gone'. This doesn't quite have the punch that had, but it's close. You find yourself really caring about all the characters. Affleck has an air of calmness and security surrounding him, and Renner alternates malice with an endearing vulnerability. I really enjoyed Rebecca Hall's character, she is real and likeable. Blake Lively plays Ben Affleck's on off ahem, booty call and is shaping up to be one to watch in the future. All in all, it's a really interesting take on an old tale. As the tension mounts, and there's plenty of tension, you find yourself at odds. You know who you should be hoping gets out in one piece, but you find yourself in a moral dilemma. You see, I'd take Ben over Doug Draper any day of the week.
The Town: Wouldn't want any of them as my neighbours, well, maybe one. 8/10

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eat Pray Love

It was with great anticipation that I went to see this film. Not particularly due to the content, but more to see the luminous Julia Roberts back on the silverscreen. What a joy to see this fabulous actor. It was not a joy to see the film, however. The story, incase you haven't been on the planet, is about a woman unhappy with her lot, who decides she deserves more from life. Away she flies, to eat in Italy, pray in India and love in Bali. Surprise surprise, by the end of the film, she has discovered her 'authentic self'. What a journey into the land of self indulgence this is. First she leaves a husband, who whilst a little flighty, is lovely and loves her. Fair enough, dump him love, we all make mistakes. So then she falls for the adorable James Franco, an off off Broadway actor that she meets whilst he is, wait for it, performing in a play that the egotistical Ms Gilbert has written. In this play, she describes how the female character morphs into each boyfriend of the moment. It is then bizarre to witness her self realisation that she has indeed morphed into James Franco during their relationship. She seems so into her very being that I thought she'd be more self aware than that. So after much handwringing, off we go, leaving a dumbfounded friend (Viola Davis) and angst ridden Mr Franco a mere memory. Elizabeth's Italian adventure goes swimmingly. The food is mouthwatering and everyone thinks she is bellisima. Italy is beautifully shot, and her friends are both beautiful and witty of course, to match her. Then across to India, where she changes to a suitably hippy if rather stylish wardrobe to suit the backdrop. Here is where the self indulgance factor goes off the chart. Lots of praying and meditation, meeting new people (one of which is the ever wonderful Richard Jenkins) and once again changing everyone she meets for the better, even a rogue elephant picks out unique aura. Next to Bali, and another new season's garments. There are almost as many costume changes as Sex and the City 1 & 2 combined! She has a great time, meets many people, changes lives again; builds a house for a parasytical friend and meets the man of her dreams (Javier Bardem). At this point you feel like screaming out to him "Run Javier, run for your life!" There are ups and downs in this relationship and just when you think it's all going ok and Javier makes a grand gesture, poor little Elizabeth throws a hissy fit and almost ruins everything. In the end, she knows a daft sucker when she sees one and decides he's worth the commitment afterall. Lucky lucky man.
The script is so thick with self satisfied smugness, the neverending naval gazing is exhausting. The worst scene is when our heroine is lying prostrate on the floor stating that she doesn't know how to 'be'. Come around to any house around 5pm on a school night. Then attempt to cook tea, walk the dogs, shower kids, ensure homework is completed and remain cheerful whilst working full time. I and millions of other women around the world will show you how to 'be' Ms Gilbert. The film is in danger of disappearing to a location where the sun does not shine, ever.
Are there any redeeming factors? The scenery is breathtaking. The acting as you would expect from a cast of this calibre. It's a testament to Ms Roberts that you still like her as an actress at the end of this homage to self. That's about all the nice things I can say about this one I'm afraid folks. I have no idea what Ms Gilbert is like in real life. The book never appealed to me, neither did the film as it turns out. The impression one gets is not good. The book was a best-seller so obviously plenty of people found her shenanigans profound and interesting. Still, it's nice to see Pretty Woman back.
Eat Pray Love: Me Me Me. 2/10

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crazy Heart

Well, as we all know, Jeff walked away with the best actor award at the Academy Awards. Did he deserve it? Well, I haven't seen all the nominee's performances, but from the ones I have seen, yes.
It's the story of Bad, a washed out country singer with a jealous feud running with his old successful protege. Bad drives all over the vast dry lands of the USA playing in bars and clubs, sleeping with aging groupies and drinking his way through the bottle shops. He is then interviewed by a young journalist (Maggie Gylennhaal) and his life changes forever..
This film is truly wonderful. It really doesn't succumb to any of the cliches. In less experienced hands, the role of Bad could have been really yucky when it came to the May/December love scenes, instead it left you feeling rather envious of young Maggie. Jeff Bridges has always oozed laconic charisma and charm and it's still there, by the bucket load, with a passable singing voice to match. The actor totally emerses himself in the part, he is stripped bare of all vanity and at times it's very painful to watch. Maggie is good as the love interest, I really like her usually but found her quite irritating, rather reminiscent of that highly annoying actress Meg Ryan. I am hoping it's just the character. The ever impish Robert Duval is just wonderful, and the usually two-dimensional Colin Farrell was great, with a dynamic voice to boot, but still looks like he could do with a good wash. I thoroughly recommend this film, it's a tale of hope and strength and is just a delight. Even this confirmed Country music loather left the theatre with toes-a-tappin'. CRAZY HEART: Will have yours melting by the end. Bravo Jeff. 8/10

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

And the Oscar goes to.......

How sad am I. I have spent the last month mulling over in my little mind who will win, who will be robbed, and I'm still outraged at some who weren't nominated! Enough of the ruminations, here are my (almost) unbiased predictions and also my personal picks. Don your best frock (or tux) get a bucket of half sweet and half salty and enjoy the fabulous ride that is the 82nd Academy Awards hosted by the incomparable Alec Baldwin and a newly startled looking Steve Martin. Weep at the 'in memorium', gasp at the glamour, yawn at the chairman of the Academy, thrill at the leading men (or women).....Gotta love that business of show.

Best Actor
I'm happy with Jeff, George or Jeremy, but the Oscar will go to Jeff.

Best Supporting Actor
Would love to say Matt but can't go past Christoph Waltz, a completely sublime performance. A nod goes to Stanley Tucci, who would have thought that someone so funny and warm could be so evil?
The Oscar will go to Chrisoph.

Best Actress
Happy with Sandra, Carey or dear Meryl, but the Oscar will go to Sandra.

Best supporting actress
Would like Maggie, but it's Mo'Nique (did I spell it right?) Shave those legs lady!

Best Animated Feature
For me, it's Up or the fabulousness of Fantastic Mr Fox, but I think Up will beat the fox.

Art Direction
I would like The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus or Sherlock Holmes, but I think we all know that Avatar's a shoe-in.

The Hurt Locker or the overlooked and divine Inglourius Basterds, but again, Oscar belongs to Avatar.

Best Costume
It can only be Bright Star, please say it can only be Bright Star.

Katherine Bigelow, take one for the girls please, although Jason and Quentin are equally deserving in my books.

Best Picture
I would do a jig for 'Up in the air', 'Inglourious Basterds'(the academy would never be so bold), 'An Education' or 'The Hurt Locker', but I think Katherine's in for a double whammy with 'The Hurt Locker'.

And so ends my predictions for this year, usually wrong I have to say, but I always have a blast trying!

The Blind Side

I have to admit, I have always loved Sandra Bullock. I have also been very frustrated with her, because she could easily be accused of being a lazy actress. It's all the more annoying when you see how talented she can be when you see some of her lesser known work, as author Nelle Harper Lee in the brilliant 'Infamous' and the multi layered Jean Cabot in the equally great 'Crash'. I think she's beautiful and sweet and charming, and when she sets her mind to it, a really talented, thoughtful and generous actress.
The Blind Side is a good film. It's the 'based on truth' story of the very rich Tuohy family (courtesy of Taco Bell franchises), headed up by the fierce Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) with unwavering support from her loving husband Sean. Sean is portrayed extremely ably by Country and Western singer Tim McGraw who brings a warmth and strength to a role that could easily have seen the husband as downtrodden and hen pecked. The Tuohys are a good Christian family, and when Leigh Anne is given the opportunity to help a homeless young black student Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron)from her children's school, she doesn't hesitate to put her money where her mouth is and assist him in every way possible. Michael has not had a good life up until he meets the Tuohys, a crack addicted Mother, pushed from pillar to post, drug dealing friends, you get the all too familiar picture. When Michael's huge frame is put to good use as a player in American Football, it's shown he has a talent for the game, even if he needs some encouragement and guidance to get him there. There's a lovely appearance by the ever wonderful Kathy Bates as his tutor, and the Tuohy children are well acted, especially the mischievous young Sean JR (Jae Head, we'll be seeing more of him I'm sure). There's a lot of sadness in the film, but also a lot of humour and hope. I felt that the role of Michael was a little miscast. In the film, it was explained that he hadn't had much in the way of schooling, but was a bright kid. That didn't come across, to be honest, most of the time Aaron portrayed him as someone with all the lights on, but noone's at home. When you see the real life pictures of Michael at the end (now a successful football player) you can see the spark in him that isn't in the film. It's splitting hairs a bit because it's a lovely feel good movie. Leigh Anne's love, warmth and tenacity are at the heart of the film. Sandra Bullock is also at the heart of this film. In a lesser actress' hands Leigh Anne could have been seen as irritating and bossy, instead she is feisty, tenacious and fun. Yes, it's a bit schmaltzy, but what's wrong with that? I personally really love a good bit of schmaltz, who doesn't? It's a great story, that leaves you feeling that the Tuohy's were really lucky to have found Michael as well as vice versa. The movie won't win the Acadamy award but as for Sandra, well Uncle Oscar just might visit...The Blind Side: The film won't blind you with it's brilliance, but Bullock will have you looking through blurry lenses for a while. 6/10

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Hurt Locker

This is any movie lover's busy time of the year, almost like Christmas. I'm rushing to make time to see as many Oscar nominated movies as possible before the big day! Well, I saw 'The Hurt Locker' last night. From the moment it begins, it's unrelenting and confronting. The story follows a crack Army bomb squad unit Bravo Company on it's daily tasks of finding and defusing bombs in Iraq. It's the last month of the team's tour and the surviving members, SGT Sanborn and SPc Owen Eldridge are just trying to get through the days. Eldridge in particular is finding it particularly difficult to reconcile being in Iraq in these horrific, stressful circumstances. If it sounds a little groundless, have no fear, Director Kathryn Bigelow knows exactly where she's going with this film. A new, talented and extremely cocky maverick, SSG William James (relative newcomer Jeremy Renner) joins the team, and his relationships with his colleagues change all of their lives forever. This movie could easily have spiralled into cliche and predictability but it's extremely well rounded. The actors are, without exception, superb. There are small parts for the commanding presence of Guy Pearce and the impossibly blue-eyed talent of Ralph Fiennes. Jeremy Renner gives a complexity and amiability to a difficult character. The thrill and terror he seeks and gains from his job is palpable. The danger he puts himself and others in is sometimes laughable but foolhardy. The whole film is surrounded by menace and heat, you can smell it. My heart was racing through most of the time and you are constantly looking out, on the soldiers behalf, for snipers and danger. The scenarios just seem to get worse and worse and when you think that humanity can't go any lower, something else pops up to shock. This must only give a miniscule insight into what the soldiers have to deal with and boy, is it an eyeopener. Is it pumped full of testosterone? Of course it is. That is the type of person this film deals with, and they are keeping people safe. It's confronting, but doesn't judge. This is not a political film by any means. There is no glorification, nor is there bleeding hearts. It's a film about warring men and their struggles, sometimes with how much they enjoy the life, which makes it all the more real and human. The cinematogrophy is wonderful, I was a little dubious because I knew some of it was filmed on hand held camera and that usually makes me feel like I've spent 6 months on a leaky boat. The film is far too professional though, and my fears were allayed when I had not one queasy moment. There is little music thankfully and what there is is put to good use. I can't imagine what it must be like over there. If it looks like hell, and sounds like hell, surely it must be hell. The subtle scenes of homelife make this film a stand apart from other war films. I get what all the fuss is about. I think Mr Cameron needs to steel himself. THE HURT LOCKER: Bigelow has this locker's combination all worked out. Lest We Forget. 8/10.

The Road

I knew that this film was adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, so was expecting it to be bleak and desolate as he also wrote 'No Country for Old Men'. It's the story of a post-apocolyptic world, you never know what happened, but everything is either dead or dying, including all the plants and animals. A Father (the imperial Viggo Mortensen) and his son, Kodi Smit-McPhee, a wonderful natural and likeable young Australian actor journey to get to the coast, where they hope to find a better life. It's a dream that keeps them both surviving. Some of the events they have to survive are blood curdling and horrific, gangs of subhuman cannibals dwelling in these amazingly beautiful old American houses making the debauchary even worse somehow. You will need a strong stomach for some scenes. Charlize Theron plays the wife/mother in flashback form which she plays beautifully, a woman possessed by maternal instinct and loss of hope and humanity. No one is given any names. There are a couple of cameos, I won't tell you who they are because they are almost unrecognisable and it's quite a shock when you realise who they are! Along the way, they meet people, some to trust, some not. Most are just trying to get through a day at a time. It has some extremely poignant rewarding moments, the Father showing his son things that we all take for granted, and his wonder at them all. The film really makes you work for your rewards, however. It's incredibly painful to watch and at times it gets all a bit bleak and hopeless. It's such a beautiful portrayal of a Father's love for his son, he will literally do anything, without hesitation, for the betterment of his beloved child, and it's heartbreaking. It's very confronting seeing the decaying world, the scenery is spectacular. No actor can be faulted for their performance. The real shame of this beautifully crafted film is that it's so well thought out, and so well crafted, but the ending really lets it down. I remember feeling a little like that at the end of 'No Country for Old Men', it's as if the author suddenly thought, "I've had enough of this" and just wraps it up neatly when it doesn't even make sense. I felt really double crossed I have to say. Still, it's very much a film worth watching as long as you're not having too bad a day to begin with. With a little bit more care, it would have been a classic. THE ROAD: It's long and winding, with a dead end. 6/10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shutter Island

Much has been made of this movie. The frustration at having the dates pushed back and then finally, like Christmas, it was apon us. There is little to tell of the story of this Hitchockian film noir by Sir Martin of Scorsese, for to outline the story too far would be to give the plot away. It's the tale of Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a US Marshall, that along with his partner (Mark Ruffalo) embark on a journey in 1954 to an institute for the criminally insane on Shutter Island. Their task is to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an inpatient. Teddy is assisted with his enquiries by the Director of the Institue (Sir Ben Kingsley) and various other inpatients and staff. During the course of the film the Marshall descends in on himself in a spiral of hallucinations, memories of the liberation of Dachau, meetings and migraines. All is not as it seems on Shutter Island...
Firstly, without question, the acting is superb. Leonardo DiCaprio gives yet another powerhouse performance, his descent into hell is emotional and understated, you feel his confusion and despair. Mark Ruffalo is consistantly excellent in everything he does, and his turn as Leo's partner is relaxed and warm, an excellent contrast to Marshall Daniel's wreck. Sir Ben Kingsley needs no introduction and his portrayal as the kindly, compassionate Director (or is he?) is wonderful. The rest of the cast, the divine Patricial Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Hayley, the formidable Max Von Sydow, Ted Levine (remember him as Jame Gumb?) all just add to the quality and depth of this film. The score is menacing, the scenery hellish and strangely beautiful and the flashback/hallunication/nightmare sequences are the stuff of dreams, albeit rather hellish ones. The atmosphere this film creates is menacing, but with a sadness too. People will be looking for twists and turns at every corner, I say relax, it's not The Crying Game, there is no big reveal, rather a slow revelation over the course of the 2 1/2 hours. Be warned, some of this film is hard to watch, and shockingly confronting. Enjoy this magnificent film which embraces many genres, it's a wild ride, but I wouldn't want to take it with anyone other than Leo and Martin. SHUTTER ISLAND: Don't pay the Ferry Man. 9/10.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wolfman

Ever since Bram Stoker's Dracula, I've had a bit of a penchant for Gothic horror. Actually, it probably goes back further than that to the days of watching 'Hammer House of Horror' on a Friday night with my sisters in awe of Peter Cushing hamming it up for all he was worth. I love the campness, fog and humour of them. The Wolfman was just one of these movies. Now I know it's been pretty much panned by the critics, but honestly, what did they expect? It was fairly obvious from the shorts what sort of a film it was going to be, and it didn't disappoint. The story is of Laurence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), a British actor who has lived in the United States (thus neatly explaining his accent) called back to his home in England to help find his brother. There he meets his brother's fiancee (Emily Blunt) and reunites with his eccentric father (Sir Anthony Hopkins). There unfolds a dark tale of werewolves, betrayal and curses. It is filled with gypsies, intestines, love and dark humour, all the while with silver bullets flying. There is a supporting cast which reads like a who's who of English character actors, and Detective Abberline (a real life character who investigated the Jack the Ripper murders) is given not enough airtime and played by the eminently watchable Australian actor Hugo Weaving. Art Malik and Geraldine Chaplin round off this delightful cast as the long sufferring Sikh servant and the all knowing gypsy (I'll leave you to guess who plays who). Benicio Del Toro reminds me of Brad Pitt's Puerto Rican younger brother (if he had one), he is disconcertingly magnetic and always looks like he's seen a whole lot of life. He seems to be more comfortable playing the wolfman than Laurence. Emily Blunt is sympathetic and sufficiently mourning (although not for long once Benicio arrives) and Sir Anthony is aptly eccentric with his dysrhythmic speech pattern and accent from who knows where. I enjoyed this film for what it was. The effects were great, and the wolfmen were true to the old style movies version, and all the better for it. THE WOLFMAN: Pure silver. 6/10

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bright Star

John Keats was a wonderful romantic poet, and this beautifully crafted film brings him to life. Directed by Jane Campion, it stars, in my opinion, one of the best young actors the UK has to offer, Ben Whishaw. He is almost more Keatsian than Keats himself with his starved good looks, raffish hair and threadbare clothes. It is the story of the last two years of Keats'life and the inspiration he draws from the love of Fannie Brawne. Fannie portrayed by Abbie Cornish, who until now hasn't really had much chance to spread her acting wings. Well, she does in this one, and she flies. Fannie is an independant young woman who designs the most beautiful clothes, (the costumes are divine) and she brings a real and true quality to this feisty woman. Obviously, it's a very sad story but surprisingly upbeat and fun. The romance is true, rather than the fluttering eyelids and flowery words of some period dramas. There is a stellar support cast, and the music is just perfect as it's very sparse and the music there is is sent from heaven in the form of Mozart sung by a choir, including the vocally competent Mr Whishaw. Like many other stories of centuries past, it echos how bound people were by class and substance, which makes it all the more heart-breaking for the doomed couple. I can't recommend this film highly enough, but please be warned, you will need to have no shame and plenty of tissues for the last ten minutes, and the closing credits music and voice-over is one of the most powerful I have witnessed. BRIGHT STAR: This movie couldn't have been given a better title, a celestial treat for anyone who has ever loved. 9/10

Friday, February 12, 2010

Up in the air

Oh George, with your chestnuts eyes, and hair of the silver fox, is there anything you can't do? It seems not. Now some don't like Mr Clooney, too suave and charming, the question is can you chastise a giraffe for being tall and eating leaves? You cannot. Even in his lesser roles his urbane European charisma oozes through, it's not his fault you see, he's everyone's favourite Uncle (the good one, not the bad one that noone talks about). I have to say that whilst I find him totally irresistable and a wonderful actor, I don't actually fancy him, so think I can be fairly objective.
Up in the air is directed by Jason Reitman, of brilliant 'Juno' fame and he's hit the nail on the head again with this delightful story. It's about Ryan Bingham, he's the opposite of a head hunter, a hired gun who flys all over the USA firing people. The majority of these fired people are played by actual victims of the US recession who verbalise their feelings on the traumatic events in their lives with dignity and humour. Ryan loves his job and his detached life. He loves his world up in the air and his only real concern is reaching the million frequent flyer miles club, an astounding feat. Then a hungry and ambitious young lady (Anna Kendrick) comes up with a cost cutting idea, and it's up to a disapproving Ryan to show her the ropes. This journey, both literal and emotional they both go on is fascinating and believable. Ryan's boss is played by the ever reliable and likeable Jason Bateman, and a love interest pops up in the form of the softly beautiful Vera Farmiga as Alex Goran, in her own words, a female version of Ryan who shares his love of the shallow world of status and card collecting. The film is full of gentle twists, turns and suppositions, not all of them unpredictable, but wholly enjoyable. There's a wedding thrown in and Ryan also performs in some fairly excrutiating self-help seminars in some pretty drab and depressing settings. This is one man's story of a chapter in his life, it's gentle and funny with wonderful actors, every one of them faultless and an amazing script. Ryan appears to be one person, and by the end of the film you see him in a completely different light. The ending is perfect. No gimmicks. The film is pretty perfect too, and one of my favourites of the year and an Oscar pick for me. UP IN THE AIR: An extremely grounded film. 9/10


What can you say about the much hyped, much anticipated film that is 'Avatar'? Quite a bit actually! I would first like to say that I like James Cameron's films. I'm not one of those fickle people that raved about 'Titanic' when it came out and now look on it with loathing and sheer snobbery. I stand by my enjoyment and love of that film excuse the pun, but it swept me away and still manages to all this time later. So it was with excitement that I went off to see the film, even forking out for the extra 3D, and then having to pay extra for the privelege of 3D glasses!
First, the graphics are quite simply beautiful, amazing, creative and cannot be faulted. Whilst I wouldn't go as far as some being suicidal at the wrench of having to leave the planet of 'Pandora' in the cinema (I don't really fancy the idea of having to combat huge rhino like creatures of an evening), it was truly beautiful especially the neon lights at night and the botanical gardens. The Na'vi people were very realistic and it was quite a strange experience believing totally that they were a race of people in their own right. The 3D was unobtrusive whilst enhancing the whole event.
That, unfortunately is where the glowing report ends. The question I ask myself with 3D is, "Would the film still be good as good without it?" The answer, for me is a resounding 'no'. The cast were fine as they had very little to do really. Sam Worthington was sufficiently brooding, all square jaw and antipodean rugged good looks. Zoe Saldana has a fine voice as Neytiri (you never see the actress), Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi as the hippy botanist and evil, weak head of operations respectively were solid. Michelle Rodgrigez deserves a medal for churning out the most dire lines of the movie. You see, the problem is that, taking away all the bluster and shine, it's just not a very good movie. The plot is as weak as a cup of my Grandmother's tea. Paraplegic Marine (yawn) takes over his smarter twin brother's role as a Na'vi avatar to infiltrate the people, gain their trust and either learn more about their ways, or take all of the 'unobtainium' ( a rare and extremely expensive mineral only found at the bottom of their sacred tree). Is the name of the mineral supposed to be ironic? Sorry, the film doesn't strike me as clever enough for that. James Cameron wrote this as well, and it shows.He should stick to directing. At times, the lines are so crass, it's embarrassing. I won't give the plot away if you're the one person in the world reading this that hasn't seen it, but suffice to say, it's predictable and uncreative, even down to the 'action man' scarred, flat-topped military man who wants to see the whole world of Pandora burn. Yawn yawn yawn. It was far too long, talk about clock watching and how many fight scenes can you put into one film?
I just remember the feeling when I saw Titanic that I'd never seen anything like it before in my life, and what a rollercoaster of emotions you rode on. With Avatar, I felt nothing for any of them. I am quite a greeny, and on principal would have been rooting for the botanist, but sometimes found myself gunning for G.I Joe. The romance was laughable, no feelings came through at all. I guess I was just really disappointed that all of this time and money had been spent on effects and the wonders of Pandora, and very little creative thought on editing, script or the film as a whole. I'm sure it will sweep The Oscars, but if it wins best picture, there is no justice. The last scene set up nicely for a sequel, one I won't be hooking my dragon up to and flying off at the first opportunity to my local cinema for. A children's film for adults. AVATAR: Shows that even these brilliant avatar's can't whip up emotion like good old fashioned flawed people can. 8/10 (for graphics) 4/10

Thursday, February 11, 2010


"Please not another Vampire movie"! I thought as I read the cinema guide for last week. As it is my movie rule to see a film a week, whether there is something that I really want to see or not, off I trotted. As it turned out, it wasn't just another Vampire movie. Directed by the Spierig brothers and stars the increasingly attractive Ethan Hawke as the reluctant Haematologist medic Edward (yes, another Vampire named Edward!) who was turned to the darkness by his gung-ho soldier boy brother. Sam Neill plays the divinely unctious Charles Bromley, corporate head of a blood bank, Willem Dafoe as 'Elvis' a former Vampire (woefully underused) and Australian actors Claudia Karvan and Vince Colosimo. This is an imaginative story set in 2019 and is a tale of ethics, love and frights. When the good Dr who is trying desperately to find an alternative to the rapidly depleting blood supply stumbles across some extremely valuable (and trusting) humans, they offer a much more humane solution to the dilemma the world finds itself in. The Dr feels he's hit the jackpot, but do the large corporations really want an alternative, or is money and status the real goal? There are some really gory bits, as you would expect and hope, and some lovely heart stopping moments in this film. There is a subdivision of Vampires, that are even more terrible called the subsiders, a mutant form of vampire that are forced to suck other vampire's blood or, even more revoItingly, their own. These subsiders provide most of the fun and possible heart attacks. The movie is about 1 hour 40 mins, so not too long. The script is quite well thought out and there are some really funny moments. The relationship between Charles Bromley and his daughter ( a beautiful Australian actress named Isabel Lucas, the jury is still out on whether she can do much more than look great) is a bit shallow, and so almost seems unnecessary. I would have much preferred a bit more dark humour considering the originality of the story, and at times it seemed a little too serious and self-important. All in all, an enjoyable romp with good solid acting and more than a little adventure. DAYBREAKERS: Worth venturing out in the night for. 6/10

Welcome to my blog

Hello there! I have just started this blog as apart from my family, I live and breathe the movies and so love talking about them that have decided to review the ones that I have the opportunity to see. I hope that you enjoy it.