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