Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Sapphires

Australia used to be renowned for really great heartwarming comedies, think Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Strictly Ballroom. Then there has been a huge period of angst ridden drug addled movies, very dark, but some brilliant, think, Wish You Were Here, Animal Kingdom. Well, the Sapphires is somewhere in the middle. It's loosely based on the true story set in 1968 of three sisters and a cousin, Gail (Debra Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Kay (Shari Sebbens) and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), who are semi discovered by a wayward young Irishman Dave (Chris O'Dowd). The girls are singing in an outback town talent show, dogged by racism, and their choice of music is Country and Western. Dave wants them to sing sweet soul music, and so they do...beautifully. They pass an audition to go to Saigon to perform for the groups, and go on the adventure of a lifetime. There is some love and pain along the way, one of the girls is estranged from her cousins as she was removed from them as part of the stolen generation when she was young, and as a result is confused about her roots. The oldest of the group, Gail is adamant that her cousin should pick a side, but this being a predominantly happy film, it all works out in the end. Firstly, the music is wonderful. One of the girls, Jessica Mauboy was a finalist in one of Australia's talent competitions and she is the absolute standout. Her voice is amazing and she exudes a real star quality. The character of Gail is played by Deborah Mailman who is a well known actress in Australia. She has a warmth and likeability which is lucky because her character is a right old fishwife. Dave falls for her, and all I could think of was, honey, if you think her militant controlling ways are bad now, just imagine what she'll be like in ten years, not a pretty sight. Chris O'Dowd, again is always endearing, again, that's lucky because he has little to redeem him, a thirty year old alcoholic loser with little to offer Gail other than his first wife. I'm also not really one for the whole pick a side culture thing. The truth is, I think that people are just people and there's no need to pick a side to identify with if you don't want to. I'm a look forward kind of girl, but it had important messages about tolerance that we can all learn from. The parts shot in Vietnam were good, as although they were mainly fun, they did touch on the horrors of war and gave a little feeling of how terrible it must have been over there. More of a dvd film I think, never the less, it's a bit different and a bit of fun. THE SAPPHIRES: Probably more like The Cubic Zirconias...5/10.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Step Up 4 Revolution

Two movies about topless dancing blokes in one week, at this rate I shall have to see a Dr. ..Right, let’s start with the rant..... A formulaic, prosaic movie about a decent guy Sean (Ryan Guzman) from the wrong side of town who falls for a poor little rich girl, Emily (Kathryn McCormick). He expresses his inner soul through the medium of street dance, along with his homies who are equally decent and equally from the wrong side of town. Only the leader, Sean seems to be able to keep a job, and that’s as a waiter, all of the other guys hang around with their arms folded all day sneering, getting tatts and shaking their heads like so many nodding dogs. Still, they aspire to get 10,000000 hits on youtube with their ‘flash mobbing’ so they can win a fortune. Yet more fodder for today’s Generation X-Factor that life is about being famous and cool...sigh, the youth of today...so the poor little rich girl also wants to be a dancer, all be it a thoroughly modern one. Daddy owns a huge corporation, (evil rich man) and wants to turf these lower class wholesome good people off their land and rub his hands unctuously whilst his minions count the blood money. So ‘the kidz’ lead by Emily decide to flash bomb and dance to protest the plight of these salt of the earth family minded peeps. How do ‘The Mob’ manage to afford Apple products, dozens of them? It took me until my forties and a nice little tax rebate to afford one of those beauties. If I was a less suspicious person, I would suggest drug money, but surely no way - these kids say no. The ladies all seem to dance with their legs permanently akimbo dry humping the air like crazed nymphomaniacs. Classy. Also not attainable, not with my hips...And the romance...oh yes he seems so right and wonderful now, but I couldn’t help thinking that in fifteen years time, when he’s slobbing out on the sofa, having exchanged his six pack for a six pack and a wife beater, dear Emily will be thinking, why did I fall for a guy with no education and no prospects? Love ‘aint enough, and the education divide will seem like the Grand Canyon once the first flush of love has, well, flushed. His naivety which once appeared so charming will soon seem like utter ignorance. Maybe I’m just a tad too jaded to be watching this movie.... But then I thought, you know I am not the demographic that they’re after. Oh no, they are after Generation X-factor, Gotta dance kids. And so to the positives... The choreography and innovative dance scenes are fabulous and mindblowing. Just superb. They will have you amazed at how the human body can move and it’s really refreshing to see young people up on screen that are actually supremely talented, and the love story? Well, a cynic I may be, but it was very reminiscent of Dirty Dancing, in fact at the end I was almost expecting Sean to utter the immortal lines “nobody puts Baby in a corner..” I loved that movie, as younger kids will love this one. It’s harmless and spectacular. The Mob are fighting for a cause, and if Flash Mobbing is the worst those pesky kids get up to, well, what’s the harm in that? STEP UP 4: Just occasionally made me feel as though I may have one more dance left in me....5/10.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Magic Mike

There’s a little bit more to Magic Mike than first appears. It’s the tale of Mike (Channing Tatum last seen in 21 Jump Street), who is maybe not magic, but certainly puts a spell on his audience of baying ladies at the local male review strip club where he works. Mike has bigger ideas than stripping, he’s an entrepreneur and dreams of making his own, rather gaudy in my opinion, custom made furniture. Mike takes Adam (Alex Pettyfer, I am Number Four) under his wing after meeting him on a building site and noting his loser qualities. Adam quickly takes on the role of new boy in the strip club and seems to have found his niche. Unfortunately whilst Mike seems to be able to handle the heady heights of male stripperdom, Adam has a little more trouble and soon starts to go off the rails, what with all the free drugs and..ahem..ladies throwing themselves at his lovely lithe frame. Who knew that there was a sleazy side to the sex industry? Luckily for Adam, he has a sister to watch out for him, her name is Brooke (Cody Horn, Rescue Me) and she reluctantly strikes a flirtship with Mike. The Club is run by the indomitable Dallas (Matthew McConnaughey, no introduction needed) an occasional stripper and full time sleaze. Mike starts to think that maybe there is more to life than adulation, shagging different women every night and making a bank roll of dough. When Dallas starts to show his true colours, and Brooke starts to question his integrity, which path will Mike choose? Magic Mike is a well worn formula of retribution and reform, but it works well. thanks mainly to a tight script and the charms of Channing Tatum and Mr McConnaughey. Now Channing is not my cup of tea, but he has an innate sweetness and is hugely likeable, and man, can that boy dance! It’s also nice to see Matthew McConnaughely stretching himself in a role (pun intended), rather than his usual lazy shirtless rom-com phone-ins, he actually shows what a great actor he is. He’s a sinister blend of erotically charged sleaze bag, with a bit of viper thrown in for good measure. Ironically, this is one of his best roles to date, and he is shirtless for most of the time..difficult to watch, but I managed it. The dance scenes are quite mesmerising, you don't know where to look first... Incidentally watch out for Riley Keough as strung out groupie Nora, for she is none other than The King’s, Mr Elvis Presley’s granddaughter. Alex Pettyfer shows potential as Adam, the only real piece of bad casting is Cody Horn as Brooke. She has all the charm and charisma of a pair of your nan’s knickers. Her expressions run from apathy to disappointment, but she does those two well. Not sure what the lovely Mike sees in her, probably his nan... MAGIC MIKE: It’ll have you entertaining thoughts you haven’t had since the Take That ‘Pray’ video...ABRACADABRA! 6.5/10

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Well, The Academy and I agree on something. Hugo is a phenomenal film. Lovingly directed by Sir Martin of Scorsese, it's the story of Clockmaker Hugo (Asa Butterfield), an orphan who lives in the train station in the city of light, Paris. Before his father (Jude Law) dies, he finds an automaton in the museum he works in and brings it home for he andHugo to repair. After his father's death, Hugo focuses on repairing his precious gift as its the last link to his dad. In the station lives a crusty old toy maker, George (Sir Ben Kingsley) who is tormented by Hugo as he tries to prevent him from pinching various toy parts. George is Godfather to Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz, with an IMPECCABLE British accent), and she befriends Hugo. When Hugo discovers that Isabelle is wearing the heart shaped key that he's been looking for to make his automaton work, it sets a chain of events off that will change everyone in the station's life....forever. The images of Paris are so magical and haunting, it's as If they've been sprinkled with dairy dust. Forget Disney, it turns out Scorsese is in fact Tinkerbell as well as Taxidriver. The acting is superb. Asa Butterfield does a terrific job, his huge blue eyes and dark mop of hair are enchanting. There are lots of familiar faces and they all do a wonderful job of bringing love to the screen. Sascha Baron Cohen is the Station Master and for once, I do not detest his screen persona, which is a pleasant first for me. For,this is a true love story, to the craft of filmmaking and a gentler time that is lost forever. If I was to have one little criticism, it is tht whilst the child actors are great, at times, as there is so much dialogue between them, it is a little stilted at times. As if they're waiting for the next one to speak. That is a little nitpick in this sweeping fable of love, loss and finding the truth about yourself and the people in your life. HUGO: The love in this film writes itself, and is the key to the heart of this great movie. 8/10.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The descendents

The Silver Fox won a Golden Globe for his performance as Matt King, a Hawaiian lawyer who has a lot on his plate.He's dealing with a wife in a coma from a boating accident, two wayward daughters, the conundrum of selling land with his extended family for a small fortune, oh and his dying wife was also cheating on him with Shaggy from the Scooby Doo movies (Matthew Lillard). Not much to deal with then. The movie is set in the ridiculously picturesque paradise of the islands of Hawaii. Part of the film's message is that it doesn't matter where you live, problems are problems. Yes, but a nice view eases the pain, take it from someone who lives somewhere not dissimilar to Hawaii! This film should have been great, but it just wasn't. Clooney's performance is good, he's a good actor of course, but he's done better. I felt he was just phoning it in. Matt is supposed to mellow and learn from these difficult experiences, but it isn't apparent, his role in Up in the Air was far superior, more nuanced, must less shallow. The daughters are good, but again there is little depth to them, and the older daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) brings along her stoner boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) who is daft as a brush. Slightly reminiscent of the Keanu Reeves character in Parenthood. In that movie though, initially he seems to be a half wit but brings a thoughtful balance and insight to the family. Sid is just a half wit, a nice half wit but he just seems to amplify everything that's wrong with the film. It deals with some very tough subjects which can be funny in real life, but the humour just falls short of the mark and seems juvenile. I came away just feeling dissatisfied, and the next day can barely remember it. Another thing that totally ruined it for me was the organ donation scene early on when the Dr is telling Matt that his wife won't make it. It is techniquly inaccurate which I find irresponsible when we need to promote organ donation. The Dr states there is no brain stem function and then talks about her battling on for years. Brain stem death is death. It's not a persistent vegetative stae as was implied. He went on to say that as she wanted to donate her organs so they would have to disconnect hermfrom the ventilator.Dont go to that hospital no matter how beautiful the setting. People that are generous enough to gift their organs need to be kept ventilated until their organs are removed and given to others to save lives They are not disconnected, left to die and then operated on. If the body has no oxygen, neither does the heart, kidneys or lungs and they all die. This kind of shoddy research really irks me. They could have just googled the protocol for heaven's sake! It's an entertaining film, for the time that you're watching it. But Gold for the Silver one, I would have put my money on Leo and I haven't seen J Edgar yet. The Descendents: A relatively good film, but won't go down in history as a classic. 6/10'

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

In the interest of public disclosure, I feel that I should declare that I find Daniel Craig insanely attractive. I will try to give a professional objective review despite this fact. This is a much more difficult review than I initially anticipated. I will begin by saying that I was a "Larsson virgin" when I saw the first, Swedish version of Dragon Tattoo. I enjoyed it thoroughly and it inspired me to read the trilogy, and watch the subsequent films. There is much controversy about this English language remake. Unfortunately, there will be comparisons throughout this review, due to the fact that the movies were made only two years apart. The plot of the first film is quite a web and very complicated, but I will endeavor to give a brief overview. Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is a disgraced journalist who used to work on an independent magazine' who dished the dirt on a high powered businessman without enough proof. He is hired by multi millionaire Henrik Vanger ( a regal Christopher Plummer) to investigate the death of his niece decades ago under the guise of writing his biography. Lisbeth Salander is the computer hacking genius who was initially hired by Vanger to investigate Blomkvist but then becomes his assistant as the plot thickens and they are drawn into a tale of serial murders and abduction. Compounded by this is the fact that Lisbeth is a ward of the state and classified psychopath and her benevolent ward suffers a stroke, throwing her to the mercy of a new ward, who has no morals whatsoever. So how does this movie stand up to the incredible scrutiny of the original? Very well actually, if not better. "What?!" I hear you shriek in disgust. Yes, you read it right, if not better. David Fincher (Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fight Club) is a master story teller, and it shows. The look of it is pristine, from the hard core titles, to the interiors of the rooms, to the bleak Swedish countryside. The editing and script is tight, and the music enhances but never invades. So far so good. The acting is superb. It has to be said that in the Swedish version, apart from the Dragon lady herself, the acting was somewhat wooden. Daniel Craig totally embodies Blomkvist, in the books he's quite the lady's man and is much more believable than Nyqvist in the original. There is also a depth to him and an almost bumbling quality which makes him very human. He also looks hot in glasses and plaid pajamas, but that's beside the point. What of THOSE scenes? If you have read or seen the movie, you will know what I mean, If you don't, you're in for a shock. They are not quite as confronting as the Swedish film, but they still pack a huge punch, as they are intended to. So to the big question. Is Rooney Mara any good as the legendary Lisbeth Salander? Well, she cleverly plays it differently, this is no impersonation of Noomi Rapace. Mara's Salander is far more fragile and androgynous. You have far more sympathy for her, rather than admiration. Lisbeth has been through a huge amount in her life, and her vulnerability along with her courage is palpable. Yes, the ending is different form the original but then that nding was different again from the book, and in a lot of ways this ending is more in tune with the book. Fincher focuses more on relationships and humanity, there is much more from Blomkvist's long term married love and partner in the magazine, played by Robin Wright, in her usual classy style. There is a sadness that envelopes this film and the characters, and I feel that this film benefits from it. It is a stand alone film, thrilling, stylish, very dark and with surprising warmth. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO: It's written in ink, this film will become a permanent classic. 8/10.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows

Newman and Redford, Astaire and Rogers, Laurel and Hardy and now Downey Jr and Law to add to the list. These guys have such a brilliant on screen chemistry, it is a joy to watch. The plot of A Game of Shadows is pretty complicated, Watson (Jude Law) is getting married, Moriarty (Jared Harris) has reared his ugly head and done away with Holmes' only love Irene Adler (Rachel McAdam) and a gypsy named Sim (Noomi Rapace) is looking for her brother. It is up to Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) and his genius mind to crack the case with the help of his not that reluctant partner Dr Watson and an array of Victorian ne'er do wells. Guy Richie has hit the jackpot with this franchise. I love the Sherlock Holmes books, but he injects a life and vitality that is in the books, but not most of the screen portrayals. The effects and cinematography are sublime. The costumes, superb and the sets give a real feel of what it might have been like in those grimy times. Downey Jr's eccentric Holmes, mumbling, jealous, insightful and highly intelligent is a sexually charged tour de force. In one fantastic scene we see Holmes against the clock with Don Giovanni playing simultaneously, Mozart and Downey Jr, have I died and gone gone to heaven? Jude Law's Watson is smart, witty, kind and charming a perfect compliment to Holmes and so much better than the bumbling side kick so often portrayed. The support is good, although Noomi Rapace on paper seems perfectly cast as the willful gypsy Sim, the girl with the dragon tattoo seems to have lost her fire disappointingly. The fight scenes are brilliantly executed as before and there aren't too many of them. This film doesn't take itself too seriously at all and there are loads of laughs. Sherlock Holmes should be taken for what I think it is meant to be, rip roaring, sexy, smart and dynamic, now who could ask more from their blockbuster? Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows: The appeal is elementary 8/10.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep even almost surpasses herself this time. what a remarkable portrayal of Lady Margaret Thatcher this is. The film is rather surprising, it is more a sentimental journey than documentary; more love story than critique of a Prime Minister that so divided a nation. Told in flashback sequences, it lightly traces Thatcher's struggle from grocer's daughter to leader of Great Britain. Jim Broadbent plays Denis, appearing to Margaret in hallucinations years after his death that it appears she has never quite recovered from. His performance, whilst very good gives Denis a buffoonish quality that he could never really shake in reality. The young Margaret is played well by Alexandra Roach but the delightfully named Harry Lloyd steals the eaely scenes as Denis looking eerily like his namesake Harold Lloyd, handsome and mischievous. The film touches on the highs and lows of her formidable eleven year term, but never quite scratches the surface, maybe that's for another film. The movie is beautifully acted with a stellar supporting cast, particularly Olivia Colman as Carol Thatcher. The film, whilst poignant, almost feels liike a made for tv movie, apart from the standout surely Oscar nominated performance of Streep. The Iron Lady: There shall be but one mistress and no master 6/10