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.