Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Cast: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels
In My Own Words
I have a great respect for James Franco. I have great respect for anyone who tries to balance completing a university degree with a full time career. Could you imagine trying to complete a university degree while being one of the most popular male actors on the planet at the present time? Franco must have wanted a challenge, but good on him! He started acting while completing his Creative Writing degree at UCLA and he is currently enrolled at NYU's Graduate Film program and Columbia University's Graduate program for Fiction Writing. That's what I love, when an actor appreciates the art form behind what they do and continues their education in what they love.
That is not all I appreciate about James Franco. He loves to take risks. He was critically acclaimed for his role of James Dean in the TV movie of the same name, Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man trilogy, the lead male role in "Tristan + Isolde" and of course, as Aron Ralston in his Oscar nominate role in "127 Hours". The scope of his acting roles is very impressive. I think we need to give him a break in regards to his performance as an Oscar host. He wasn't Billy Crystal, but there are not too many people who could do the job that Franco did in front of the whole world. And there isn't too many people who could host the Academy Awards and be at class the next day. Kudos Franco!
I have to mention one of my favourite Franco roles, as himself in "30 Rock". Yes, I am a big fan of "30 Rock" in general so that may contribute to the fact that I find the idea of Franco having to find a fake girlfriend in order to cover up the fact that he is in love with a Japanese body pillow extremely hilarious.
These are my own words and here is my review.
"Howl" proves that it is possible to be captivating and weak at the same time. It is not boring and not slow, but it is also not suspenseful and not powerful either. It is extremely unusual for a film to be all of these things at once, but then "Howl" isn't an ordinary film. The elements that go into making "Howl" the film that it is show complete originality and creativity. "Howl" is almost two stories in one, with the centre of the film being Allen Ginsberg's poem, "Howl". From one angle, the film is about Allen Ginsberg (James Franco) and his life, specifically focusing on his life and loves in the time in which "Howl" was written. While Ginsberg talks about his life from his New York apartment, on the other side of the country in a San Francisco courtroom "Howl" is on trial. The question is, is "Howl" a work of art, or just a work of obscenity?
The people who will find "Howl" the most interesting are literary fans and fans of James Franco. People who don't fit into these categories will most probably find this film bizarre and lack lustre. It is the biopic aspect of this film which makes the film bearable. "Howl" would have perhaps been more of a success if the whole film had in fact been the story of Allen Ginsberg and the courtroom drama been left out. You can see what directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman are trying to do by trying to capture what "Howl" meant to the poet and the readers and the cause and effect, but they would have been better to have left it at the poet. The courtroom scenes have no suspense, no drama, no depth, the acting is poor and the best thing that comes out of these scenes is that you find out what makes a piece of writing credible.
However, the scenes with Ginsberg are quite enthralling and the animation segments are almost hypnotising. It is a surprise to those who had not heard much about the film beforehand to find so much simple yet brilliantly creative animation involved in the film's editing and cinematography. Franco's performance of Ginsberg is fantastic. He becomes Ginsberg in this role and masters his voice and tone. He can also be quite heart breaking in some flashback scenes, such as when he realises that his lover has left him. Franco makes Ginsberg's character lovable and brings emotion to the film. In short, he saves the film.
"Howl" is quite simple, but it is not hard to determine that it wasn't supposed to be. It is obvious that it was supposed to work as a film in two parts, yet one part of the film fails to really do anything at all. Epstein and Friedman should thank those at The Monk Studios for their amazing animation and James Franco for his accurate performance for the successes in this film, as without them "Howl" would be completely unfulfilling.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I'll always remember driving through Bel Air back in July 2008. Bel Air is widely known for being one of the most exclusive suburbs in Los Angeles in which many stars past and present have made their homes. The driver turned around and said to me "See that white house up on that hill over there? That's Elizabeth Taylor's house". I was in complete awe. It was the closest I had ever been to a living old Hollywood legend. Well, that's actually untrue. When I was 7 and on a family trip to Hawaii my family and I actually met and had a photo with Tony Curtis, but this was different. Back then I didn't know about the grace and glamour of old Hollywood. Today it absolutely amazes me and if I was able to go back in time, give me a premiere of one of the 1930's or 1940's movies in Hollywood any day. Anyway, I cannot describe the way I felt when I looked at that house and knew that at that point in time, she was in that house I was looking at. That night I went home and imagined what it would be like if I was ever to meet Elizabeth Taylor. I would just be lost for words in a moment like that. I wouldn't know what to do or say, I think I would have just burst out in tears. She was such an amazing beauty, such a strong woman and an absolute firecracker of an actress.
Now, I will never know what it would have been like to meet Elizabeth Taylor. On the morning of Wednesday the 23rd of March, the legendary Elizabeth Taylor died of congestive heart failure. Taylor was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center six weeks ago with complications of her long suffering illness. During this time, she was completing her memoirs from her private diaries she had kept over the years which one would expect to have some pretty interesting informations. She must have known her time was running out. I didn't want to believe it when I first found out about the memoirs, but I think I knew that the day would come soon. She is survived by her four children, ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Elizabeth Taylor was born on February the 27th 1932 in Hampstead, London. Shew was born to American parents who relocated back to the United States during 1939 when war was on the horizon. It wasn't long after that young Elizabeth found her way into the movie business after people started commenting on the beauty of the Taylor's young daughter. She was signed with MGM and stardom found her when she was cast in "National Velvet" in 1944. Taylor blossomed into a beautiful young lady and starred in such classic films as "The Last Time I Saw Paris", "Giant", "A Place In The Sun", "Cleopatra" and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof". However, her two greatest film roles are considered to be in "BUtterfield 8" and "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?", both which she won Academy Awards for. She was nominated for another three Academy Awards.
It wasn't just her amazing acting which she won media attention for over the years. She is also remembered for her tumultuous private life. Taylor was married eight times to (in order) Conrad Hilton Jr, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd (who died in a plane crash while married to Taylor), Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton twice, John Warner and Larry Fortensky. She was also extremely involved in fundraising for AIDS research and awareness as a result of her close friendship with Rock Hudson.
Taylor was an extremely lucky lady. She has come close to death various times, but each time she still had more to achieve in life and her will to live was so strong. During the filming of "BUtterfield 8" she was pronounced clinically dead. It was clearly not her time though, and she went on to win the Oscar for her performance in that film. Shirley McLaine, who was also nominated that year for her performance in "The Apartment" is famously quoted as saying "I lost out to a tracheotomy" as it was widely assumed that Taylor won based on a sympathy vote. She was had a brain tumour removed in 1997, was placed on life support in 2008 and had heart surgery in 2009. She was a battler. She wanted to live and she had so much to achieve before she left the world.
Elizabeth Taylor lived an amazing life. She personified the golden years of Hollywood and never let go of her grace and elegance. It is devestating to lose her, but she achieved so much and the world was lucky to have had her. RIP Liz Taylor.
To end on a lighter note, here is my favourite YouTube clip of Liz which makes me laugh everytime.
Director: Neil Burger
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, Anna Freil
In My Own Words
Abbie Cornish is one of those actresses who I personally believe will be an Academy Award winner in the future. And I am not just saying that because she's Australian and I am Australian. Nor am I saying that based primarily on her latest role in "Limitless". Cornish won the AFI (the Australian equivalent of an Oscar) in 2004 for her breakthrough film role as Heidi in "Somersault", and she has recieved 4 AFI nominations. The roles she has undertaken are the calibre of those which are nominated for awards, but Cornish isn't afraid to lend herself to roles such as this one in "Limitless" or in the highly anticipated "Sucker Punch" which is released next month. Personally, I believe she was hard done by not recieving a Golden Globe or Oscar nomination for her role as Fanny Brawne in "Bright Star". She was just stunning in it and gave a heart breaking performance. However, it is a very competitive world out there, which goes without saying!
When you watch as many movies as what I do, you tend to take a bit more of an interest in the opening credits at the beginning of a film and then you tend to start remembering people's names who don't usually get as much recognition by the general public as actors or directors. One such name which I noticed coming up over and over again was the producer Ryan Kavanaugh. A executive producer is the figure who is involved in the overall production of the film and handles the business deals. The main reason why I first noticed Ryan Kavanaugh's name is really because my mother's maiden name is Kavanaugh, but then it kept turning up and I thought "Wow, this guy must be really successful and know what he is doing". So what does one do when you wonder about something? Get on the Google! Well, I felt like I should have known who Kavanaugh was before now. He is an entreprenaur of Hollywood, the owner of Relativity Media who has had an incredible rise. He hasn't been in the movie industry for very long, but his list of credits include" Nine", "Brothers", "Robin Hood"," The Fighter" and now "Limitless". Kavanaugh definately knows what he is doing and I would love to know his secret...as I am sure many people do! He is a powerhouse in the business world of Hollywood.
These are my own words and here is my review.
The onslaught of Hollywood action films continues. "Limitless" may look like just another action thriller on the surface, but it does have something that not many other films of this genre have. Originality. It's unusual these days to see an action film with a storyline which doesn't feel like deja vu. "Limitless" is fresh and entertaining. Based on the novel "The Dark Fields" by Alan Glynn, "Limitless" is a different look at the danger of substance addiction. Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) starts off the film as one might descibe as being a loser. He is a writer who has a book deal, but has not written a word and is therefore not earning a dollar. By chance, he bumps into his ex-brother in law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) who assures him that a pill which he gives him will fix all his problems. After Eddie takes this pill, he is able to absorb information quicker and his brain works at a higher level than the everyday person. Eddie quickly becomes addicted to this drug known as MDT and although the quality of his world increases dramatically, the danger and fight to stay alive begins.
What is so refreshing about "Limitless" is that it isn't a thriller based on the run from the guys who are after you (although parts of the film do lean towards that) or finding out who are the killers. It is a thriller about a fight against addiction, which is something that many people will be able to relate to. It is almost as if the film serves as a wake up call for some and contains some very real situations that individuals addicted to a substance may encounter such as not being able to pay people back for their addictions and facing financial difficulties with another party, and also the effect it has on your physical and mental health. Not to mention the effect it has on the relationships with those around you. The script is very clever, as one might imagine in a film where the lead characters intelligence increases and he obviously pretty smart things to say. However, the film itself is not as suspenseful at times as it is supposed to be. The reason for this is that it quickens pace and then slows down, and this happens several times throughout the film. There is suspense, and then there is a period in which it's intensity is lowered dramatically. This happens various times throughout the film and this is why the suspense is not consistently maintained, which is actually quite frustrating. The ending is also very anticlimatic and should have finished at least 10 minutes earlier. Yet, this does not destroy the film as it is still entertaining whether it is slow or suspenseful.
It is easy to see how Neil Burger would have had fun directing this film and the overall visual surface of the film is quite impressive. There are some great film sequences and visual effects used which are quite attractive and impressive to watch. Although some of the effects may make you suffer from motion sickness. "Limitless" is actually a good showcase of types of visual effects, cinematography and editing which are used in Hollywood action films today. New York City is definately put on show through the filming of this film as well and features heavily in the cinematography, along with the visual representation of Eddie's mind.
Bradley Cooper carries the film well. The best part of the film for him is the beginning where Eddie is rough and ragged and when he experiences his downfall in health and luck. He is so great in this part because it is completely different to the characters which he normally portrays in films. Sure he looks completely different, but you really feel sorry for him in the way which he carries himself and the sorriness in his eyes. Once he becomes the successful Eddie, it is much like any other Bradley Cooper role. Bradley Cooper does Bradley Cooper roles well so you can't really fault the performance. Abbie Cornish is charming as his girlfriend, Lindy and this is actually quite a different role for her. Her and Cooper do also have a great on screen chemistry, which really helps support the film. It is good to see Robert De Niro back on the big screen and he does wuite well in this role, as one would expect from him. He plays Eddie's business partner/boss, Carl Van Loon and he does definately come across as a character who you would love to have on your side, but would hate to have against you throughout the film.
"Limitless" is one of the better action thrillers released this year. Neil Burger should be applauded for taking on a film which required a lot of originality and creativity to make it work on the screen and pulling it off. It is not often a book which has a story to it that one would normally think should be left as a book as it wouldn't work on screen, does really tell the story and tell it effectively. That really is something to be proud of and is the sign of a great director.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Griff The Invisible
Director: Leon Ford
Cast: Ryan Kwantan, Maeve Dermody, Marshall Napier, Toby Schmitz
In My Own Words
Now this movie is an example of the reason I watch movies! REAL acting! Roles which take actors who are known for a particular type of role and makes them into a completely different character! What I love about this is that before this role, you may look at that actor and think that they eouldn't be able to drift too far away from the persona of the role which made them famous. In this case, I am of course talking about the lead in "Griff The Invisible", Ryan Kwanten. People outside Australia will know Kwanten primarily for his role as the hormone crazed, Jason Stackhouse in "True Blood". Those who are from Australia, will remember Kwanten in his days before "True Blood" when he played Vinnie in the long running Australian soap opera, "Home & Away". Both of these roles are bad boy roles. While in "Griff The Invisibe", he becomes the introverted, young at heart Griff who knows he is the outcast in the real world. It was so fantastic to see him transform himself. All those who have a crush on Kwanten will crush on him even more after this film as a result of his puppy dog expressions.
"Griff The Invisible" reminded me a fair bit of a media flurry which is going on in Australia at the moment. For those who haven't heard, just a bit over a week ago, the Australian media had a field day with a You Tube clip which showed a young Sydney schoolboy bullying a bigger schoolboy by punching him in the face. The bigger boy suddenly snaps, picks up the smaller schoolboy and throws him to the ground, breaking the bully's ankle. Bullying is a big problem in schools across the world as it can obviously cause physical pain to children, but both short and long term psychological damage. There has been a media frenzy with this You Tube clip, but also a huge onslaught of support for Casey Heynes, the boy being bullied. Both boys were suspended from school, but Casey has seen an enormous amount of support as he finally stood up for himself. I'm not going to go into who is and who wasn't to blame, but "Griff The Invisible" reminded me of this scenario as it showed an underdog who has enough of being bullied and takes matters into his own hands, but ends up getting into trouble for it. However, once people find out who the true bully is, he becomes the one everyone feels sorry for and he becomes the hero. On the Australian show "A Current Affair", Casey was interviewed and when asked "Are you a superhero?", he replied "No, I wish I was". Casey, believe you are a superhero, because to everyone who has watched the YouTube clip (except maybe the bully's family) you are!
These are my own words and here is my review.
"Griff The Invisible" is perhaps the first Australian superhero movie and it is a superhero like no other. Don't expect any corniness or stereotypical heroes in this film, and don't expect to take your superhero crazed children to it and them enjoy it. "Griff The Invisible" is a very cute, feel good, but often quite a emotional film. It's the superhero movie that isn't about a superhero persona, it is about the real person. Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is a customer liaison officer by day and superhero by night. He is tormented and bullied in the workplace for being offbeat, anti-social and quite unsettlingly strange. Although he is hurt, he knows it doesn't really matter because they don't know who he truly is. He is happy with his lonely life which his brother, Tim (Toby Schmitz) occasionally pops into, until Melody (Maeve Dermody), the pretty, young scientist enters his life.
"Griff The Invisible" is more about the person behind the superhero alter ego than what goes on when they put the mask on. The characters of Griff and Melody are brilliantly written. They both ooze with charisma and character and because of them, the film feels very real. The dialogue written for Melody is fantastic and makes her so likable. Griff is likable from the very beginning of the film and completely relatable. You feel his triumphs and feel his pain. Ryan Kwanten pulls off the character of Griff and makes everyone fall in love with him (who hadn't in "True Blood"). It is so great to see an actor challenge himself with a different role and give such a stellar performance. He plays the part perfecting and brings so much emotion to a part which without him, could have just been dull and lifeless. Maeve Dermody is also so sweet in this role. A true actress can act just with her facial expressions and have these expressions make you hear what she is saying.
The other good thing about this film is it brings up very real issues such a bullying and also about the young at heart. Nobody should change the young of heart if they are happy in the bubble they live in. However, "Griff The Invisible" is very slow at times and you really don't know where the film is going at times, which can be a tad frustrating. It also doesn't have a distinctive beginning, middle and end, which isn't too much an issue in film these days, but it doesn't do anything for the people who want suspense in their movie. The score is perfectly fitting to the film and adds to the emotions and feelings each scene provokes.
"Griff The Invisible" is a sweet film with a real underdog as a hero. It takes the underdog hero and tears him right down to the nitty gritty, which is what a typical superhero movie doesn't do. It is a completely refreshing film in the superhero genre.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams
In My Own Words
I know, I know, but better late than never! I wanted to see "The Fighter" as soon as it was released. It just made it a tad difficult that it was released when I was overseas in a country where it hadn't been released yet, and was going to be released after Ieft. It would have made a lot more sense if I had reviewed this film before the Oscars...but better late than never! It's always hard trying to judge whether someone will win an Oscar for their acting talents in a particluar film when you haven't seen the film. However, these days you can pretty much telll whether they are going to win or not based on how many awards they win before the Oscars. Now, having finally seen "The Fighters", I can say that Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are deserved of their Oscars. Leo has redeemed herself slightly in my eyes now that I have since the film she won the award for, as I was really not impressed with her dropping the "F bomb" onstage upon recieving her award. There are some places that that word is just not appropriate for, and the most prestigious film event of the year is one of those places. She does have...interesting fashion sense as well as she showed at the Independent Spirit Awards. But she was given the Oscar based on her performance in "The Fighter" so let's just focus on that.
On that subject, the Best Supporting Actress category at the Oscars this year was probably the most competitive I have seen in years and any one of the five actresses nominated could have walked home with it. Amy Adams was brilliant in this film, just as Melissa Leo was. Adams is another star who has come so close scooping up an Oscar and still hasn't taken the gold man home. This was her third nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category, with her first two being for her roles in "Junebug" and "Doubt". Adams is one of those rare actresses who is completely versatile. She can do the sugar and spice roles and make everyone fall in love, and she can also do the dramatic roles which will, more often than not, land her an Oscar nomination. I have no doubt she will eventually scoop one up. You never know what her playing Janis Joplin in the upcoming film "Janis Joplin: Get It While You Can" will do for her!
On another note, we all know what is going on in Japan at the moment with the earthquake and the tsunami. It is completely heartbreaking and terrifying to watch. There have been several world events in the past few months like this such as the floods in Queensland in Australia and the eartquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, which are horrifying to watch and can make you feel pretty horrible. In times like this when watching the news gets us down, we can be thankful for film. Film provides you an escape from reality, if only for an hour or two. They're not going to fix the world, but they can take you away from the terror for a few hours and depending on the film, can help you to remember that there is so much beauty in this world and many things we can be thankful for. Say a prayer for those in Japan, we're thinking of you.
These are my own words and here is my review.
David O. Russell's masterpiece, "The Fighter" is one of the best sports films to come out in years. Whether boxing is your thing or not, this film completely captures you from beginning to end. "The Fighter" isn't so much about boxing than it is about the character in it and the relationships they form. It is a perfect character cased film, and how many awards and nominations it had for the stars during awards season is perfect proof of this. The film is based on the true story of boxer, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his brother and trainer, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Dicky, once a boxer himself, has plummeted into cocaine addiction and eventually lands himself in prison. "The Fighter" looks at the relationship between the brothers and the whole Ward family and the lingering question is, does Micky stand a better chance of taking the world welterweight championship with out or without Dicky and his family's influence?
The best part about this film is indeed the acting. Mark Wahlberg gives a splendid performance as Micky Ward. However, it does feel as though he is constantly overshadowed by his supporting actors. Wahlberg's Micky is perhaps the easiest role to play in the movie. He does it well, but it isn't too much of a change from Wahlberg's other roles and he isn't taking any great risks in his role. However, Wahlberg is one of the producers of "The Fighter" so credit must be given to him in his achievement of the film overall. Christian Bale gives a career best performance as Dicky, the older brother with the addictive and slight offbeat personality. Bale completely becomes his character in every way and you completely forget that you are watching Christian Bale and truly believe that you are seeing the real Dicky Eklund on the screen. He is definately deserving of his Oscar and every other award he has taken home for this role. Melissa Leo also gives a superb performance as Alice Ward, Micky and Dicky's obsessive mother. Like Bale, she completley transforms herself into the character, both in mannerisms and in appearence. She isn't a likable character, but great to watch and captivating in every scene she is in. One tends to back Mickey's girlfriend, Charlene Fleming, played by Amy Adams over Alice. Adams plays smart mouthed Charlene perfectly. Although she can be quite crass at times, she is generally likable and the audience identifies with her as the one who stands by her man through thick and thin. She captures just the right amount of emotion for every scenario in every scene and is completely relatable.
The acting isn't the only thing about this film that is brilliant about this film. The construction of these characters and the way they are portrayed on screen is the result of a great achievement in direction by David O. Russell. He knows the ins and outs of all of the characters and passes on all his knowledge to his actors. The film is tightly knit and absolutely captivating from beginning to end. The script is very well written and every scene is meaningful. The cinematography is also brilliant. One of the great moments of cinematography is the way which Russell focuses in on Micky's fighting hand and the way which his hand shows the way he feels about each of the charcaters he forms a relationship with. Unlike the majority of other sports related films, this film isn't as feel good as the others. Yet it does make you feel good. It is another one of those amazing films which make you happy just by watching it and witnessing something fantastic.
"The Fighter" is a masterpiece by David O. Russell. He has brought to the big screen a story of tragedy and triumph with colourful characters and beautiful film making. This film will always be remembered for the amazing performances by the amazing actors who took part and shined.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Director: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate
In My Own Words
These are my own words and here is my review
A hall pass, in the traditional sense, is an exclusion from class. In Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly's new movie "Hall Pass", a hall pass isn't the exclusion from class, but the exclusion from marriage. Rick ( Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are two men who feel they are stuck in the rut of their marriages and are longing for the single life. Feeling their husbands frustration, Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate) decide to give them both a hall pass, so they can have a week off from marriage and do whatever they need to do. So the two men set off on a week of what they think will be week of lots of sex and girls. What one can imagine from this description is that, yes, there will be lots of dirty references and nudity here and there. It is not the type of comedy you would take your parents with you to see.
However, "Hall Pass" does come across as though it is trying to be really funny by using jokes that have all been done before and just aren't quite as shocking as the Farrelly brothers try to make out. There are very few laugh out loud moments in this film considering it is a comedy. The script is quite weak and quite random, as several jokes just come out of nowhere and have no real relevance to what is happenning at that point in time. It really feels as if the film is trying too hard to be funny and the jokes are very forced. for example, Fred's scene with the girl in the bathroom. If one has to result to something like that for a laugh, you know they are struggling. Also, Fred's scene in the car at the beginning which we have seen in so many films over the years that it no longer has shock value and is simply a silliness value. The film itself actually feels quite forced and as a result feels very jerky. After the Farrelly brothers have shown what they are capable of with such films in the past as "There's Something About Mary", it is a real disappointment to see a movie like this from them when comedy is meant to be their forte.
The acting in "Hall Pass" is really very average and badly directed. The majority of the acting felt as forced as the jokes in the film. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis don't seem natural at all in their roles. One would think that a man who feels like he is trapped in his marriage and wants to have some time to relive his single life would be an easy role to play and would be a character that would be completely relatable to many people out there, not just men. However, the way the Farrelly brothers direct these two just depicts two pathetic creatures who are over-exaggerated and simple. The way both Wilson and Sudeikis portray their characters is more the fault of the Farrelly brother's direction of them rather than their acting abilities, as both actors have shown in the past that they can act and are great comedy actors. The on screen relationships of Rick and Maggie and Fred and Grace are also very weak with no chemistry between the two sets of actors. Once one confesses their undying love to the other, you think "Really? Is that how you really feel?". And when the film finished, how much do we really know about Fred and Grace, besides what we have seen in the movie? Very, very little. Probably the best part of the film is the "bromance" between Rick and Fred, as Wilson and Sudeikis seem to just bounce off each other.
There is nothing new under the sun, and "Hall Pass" proves that. All the jokes are completely unoriginal and not very funny. Every year there seems to be a number of majorly publicised comedies which come out and are just not very funny, and this is one of them.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I Am Number Four
Director: D.J. Caruso
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer
In My Own Words
"I Am Number Four" is director, D.J. Caruso's first cinematic stab at the sci-fi genre. He's had experience with sci-fi in television with directing stint's in "Smallville" and "Dark Angel", but this is his first go at it on the big screen. Caruso has already proved himself more than capable of directing thrillers with credit to his name such as "Taking Lives", "Disturbia" and "Eagle Eye". So making a sci-fi thriller, shouldn't be too hard a task for him. Especially with the help of producer Michael Bay who knows a thing or two about sci-fi considering he is currently completing his fourth sci-fi film in a row. Yes, you are right. It is the 3rd Transformers he is in the process of finishing off. So, thriller expert plus sci-fi action expert, we should have a winner on our hands with "I Am Number Four"!
Ironically, or maybe not so, these were the two men who were ultimately responsible for the rise of Shia LaBeouf. LaBeouf had been in the business since 1998 when he was only 12 years old, but at 21 in 2007 he was given his first top billing in a major film. It was D.J. Caruso who cast him as the teenager, Kale under house arrest in "Disturbia". His next major role (besides lending his voice talents to the animated feature "Surf's Up") was as Sam Whitwicky in "Transformers" directed by Michael Bay. So thanks to Caruso and Bay, international movie superstar! My point is, is the same thing in store for Alex Pettyfer considering he's got these two in the same film? Unlike LaBeouf. Pettyfer has already been top billed in the family film "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker", but this is his first billed as an adult in a main stream film. His next film is "Beastly", the modern day "Beauty And The Beast" story with Vanessa Hudgens and Dakota Fanning, which has just been released in the states. It has made over $10 million in it's first week. He next film is "Now " with Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfreid and Cilliam Murphy, and he is rumoured to have been cast in "The Seventh Son" with Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Lawrence. Things are definately looking up for Pettyfer. Caruso and Bay are proving themselves to be lucky charms with their actors!
These are my own words and here is my review.
"I Am Number Four" is a film that has a little bit for everyone. It has action, aliens, romance, high school drama, family drama and some very good looking people. It is what you would expect a film to be with all these credentials, it is entertaining and quite a bit of fun. "I Am Number Four" is not the number one film you will see this year, but it certainly fulfils it's purpose. Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) may look and act human and feel human emotion, but he is not your normal everyday teenager. He is a Lorien, or an alien, and must do everything in his power to keep it a secret as there are forces out there who are killing the remaining Lorien's one by one. Just as Number Three falls victim, Number Four don's the alias of John Smith and moves to Paradise, Ohio. While trying to stay incognito, John falls in love with schoolgirl photographer, Sarah ( Dianna Agron) and befriends outcast Sam (Callan McAuliffe). These new friendships make it harder than it ever has been before to pack up and leave and puts himself and his friends in danger.
The combination of D.J. Caruso as director and Michael Bay as producer is a great combination for this movie. It brings the suspense and great story telling of a Caruso film and the special effects and spectacular cinematography of a Bay film. There are some amazing action sequences and the special effects in scenes such as the final battle are actually quite beautiful to watch. Of course, the film is very unrealistic and even quite silly at times as one would expect with a story like this. The characters are also very stereo typical and the story is not particularly original or unpredictable, which again is something people would expect from a film like this. However, because this film falls under a the sci-fi genre where these things are expected they are forgiven.
The good thing about this film is that it has great character development. Yes the characters are stereotypical, but during the span of the film you get to know each of the characters, who they are and their backgrounds. The acting isn't too life changing. Alex Pettyfer does carry the film well and he really does outperform all the other actors. He is does seem natural in the role, but at times can also come across a bit boring. Dianna Agron does well in her role away from the sometimes evil sometimes sweet Quinn in "Glee", although she doesn't put the emotion into her performance when it really counts. She does well in the natural scenes and then lacks when she should be giving more. Timothy Olyphant isn't bad as John's protector, Henri, but isn't a stand out.
"I Am Number Four" is not a great piece of work but it does entertain and that is what Caruso has set out to do in this film. Really, you can't ask more of a movie than to succeed in doing what it is meant to do.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The Adjustment Bureau
Director: George Nolfi
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp
In My Own Words
When we were walking out of the cinema tonight, my husband and I had a discussion about Matt Damon, which turned into a heated discussion about the Oscars. Firstly, we were discussing whether Matt Damon will ever win an Oscar. Of course, he has already won one with his lifelong friend, Ben Affleck for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly For The Screen for "Good Will Hunting" in 1998, but it is the elusive acting Oscar which he has become a chaser of. Damon has now been nominated for this award twice and still hasn't been able to catch up to it. Damon is an interesting actor. He is well known for his action roles such as Jason Bourne in the Bourne films, he likes the roles which are anything but ordinary such as in "The Informant!" and he can pull off the dramatic roles as well, as he showed in "Invictus". Whether he catches it will have to do with his choice of roles.
Which brought me to my second point of discussion, I don't believe any actor enters the acting profession purely to win an Oscar. I doubt if you asked Meryl Streep or Jack Nicholson "Why did you start acting?", they wouldn't say "To win an Oscar". An Oscar is the ultimate prize, but it is not the be all and end all of an actor's career.The very large majority of actors out there will never win an Oscar or even be nominated. I'm not entirely sure that when an actor who hasn't been nominated for an Oscar or any other award before performs a role which they believe they have put a great deal of effort into, do they hope an award will come to them, whether it be an Oscar or something of smaller value? How about the ones who have been nominated for an Oscar before, do they keep another nomination in the back of their mind when they perform a role which they think may have a chance? I'm not saying this is something every actor will think about or that Oscars are a means to an end or even that every actor cares about being awarded. I strongly believe that actors are artists who act because they love it and it's their means of expressing themselves and they are fortunate enough to make a living out of something they love. I can't help but wonder though, if you are nominated for an Oscar and do not win, do you have a thirst to be nominated again for chance of winning? I'm sure there would be part of them that would want this. It is only humour nature to chase what was so close yet so far away.
These are my own words and here is my review.
"The Adjustment Bureau" is an interesting film. Yet like many other science fiction films which cross over with action films, it is very far fetched and as a result it can just seem quite silly. The idea for the film is clever and really quite intriguing, but it could have gone so much further than what it did. There were so many points in this film that could have been delved into more and quite a few gaps in the story as a result of some complex subjects addressed. Matt Damon is David Norris, a young congressman who is running for the US Senate for the state of New York. When he loses his campaign first time round, he meets an intriguing and beautiful woman, Elise (Emily Blunt) who makes him feel a way he never has before. He meets her by chance again, only to be informed afterwards that Elise is not part of the plan. The plan is the way the world and the people in it are supposed to go according to The Adjustment Bureau, the people who make sure everything goes the way it is supposed to. David tries to defy the plan and do everything he can to be with Elise, even if it means risking his life and his sanity.
"The Adjustment Bureau" was an ambitious project to take on for director George Nolfi. There is so much to this film. There is romance, drama, science fiction and action, as well as a subject matter which has to be explained in great detail and emotions which have to be addressed. It really is a huge project and one cannot blame Nolfi for missing out bits and pieces throughout the film. Many questions remain unanswered at the end of the film. For example, why do plans change throughout people's lives? If David had a angel or guardian in Harry, then why didn't Elise have one as well? If it wasn't part of the plan for these two to be together, then wouldn't there be someone on her side to keep her away from him working there as well? However, there was a lot to cover in this film so leaving a few questions unanswered didn't hurt a great deal. Many questions were answered as well which allowed the film to maintain momentum and the audience to remain interested.
A big misconception about this film is that it is just like another Bourne film. Although the film does have suspense and a few car crashes and chases in foot, it can hardly be classified as an action film. If it was classified as an action film, it would fail miserably. The concept of having a God like figure who's disciples work with mechanical means to place ideas in people's minds and scan their brains is slightly ridiculous. The whole concept of a force being behind what happens in everyday life is quite fascinating and does challenge you to think more about fate and chance. The story is well written, but the dialogue can be a little sketchy at times.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have quite a lot of on screen chemistry in this film. They respond well to each other and physically look the part fo a couple in love. They both give emotionally charged performances showing how in love the two characters really are with each other. Although the charcaters really don't see each other much during the film and normally a film where they don't see each other too much over the span of the film it seems unrealistic to understand how they feel so strongly about each other, it feels right that they should love each other so much. Both Damon and Blunt are extremely likable in their roles and both have a great amount of character. Because of these two, "The Adjustment Bureau" feels more of a romance than an action film.
George Nolfi gives "The Adjustment Bureau" a fair go. It could have gone a lot further and the ending coould have also been a bit more conclusive and satisfactory, but there are some very good aspects. Damon and Blunt bring the characters to life and the film is actually quite thought provoking. An interesting take on the ways of the world.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The morning after the Oscars. For those in the movie industry and film lovers alike, it is a chance to breathe again. We all saw Colin Firth and Natalie Portman walk away with the awards which was the moments were we waiting for. The morning after the Oscars is like the morning after a sport grand final. The belief has set in that they are over for another year and all the guessing is finally over. A breath of fresh air.
The Academy Awards are an opportunity to honour those who have made a difference to film in that year, as well as those who have made a difference to film throughout it's history. The morning after the 83rd Academy Awards on the 28th of February, one who made her mark on the history of film passed away at 89 years old. The beautiful Jane Russell, born on the 21st of June 1921 passed away from a respiratory disorder in her home in Santa Maria, California.
Russell was a 1940's and 1950's Hollywood sex symbol who shot to stardom in her first role in Howard Hughes film, "The Outlaw". The film caused a scandal for using photos of Russell in suggestive clothing and positions, such as this:-
In today's world where almost anything goes and films are able to slot into a number of ratings, it is almost inconceivable to understand exactly what the uproar was about. However, back in the 1940's the censors were extremely tight on their grasp around what could be seen and what couldn't be. Hughes found himseld in hot water with the censors over the the lack of covering there was to Russell's body in the film's promotional photos. Hughes was notoriously known for his love of women, in particular women film stars. In the way that he insisted of having Russell filmed and photographed, one would expect that Russell was one of his girls. In fact, Russell was known as the one Hughes could not get to sleep with him. Needless to say that there were many men who were not upset by how much of Russell Hughes wanted to show. These photos and "The Outlaw" marked a change in the film industry and it's attitude towards images of female sexuality. Russell became a sex symbol overnight.
Her star continued to grow and shine with the release of film's such as "The Paleface" and "Montana Belle". Besides "The Outlaw", her other most popular role was as the brunette in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" opposite Marilyn Monroe. In this film she begun to be recognised for her singing and dancing talents as well as her acting. The publicity for this film included a hand print ceremony at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Her handprints can still be seen today right next to Marilyn's.
Although Russell was more than often remembered for being one of the greatest sex symbols of the golden years of Hollywood, she also had a softer side. Despite what she represented and her wild ways, Russell was a devout Christian who, in her biography, believed she passed on her faith to other stars such as Judy Garland. Russell works tirelessly to keep Christianity in her family's life and to pass the word on in Hollywood. She was also mother to three adopted children, Tracy, Thomas and Robert or "Buck". She founded the World Adoption International Agency, after she found in during the process of international adoption how hard it was for American's to adopt outside their country.
Jane Russell made her mark on the world and played a vital part in the evolution of women in film. She will be greatly missed and the world mourns another piece of old Hollywood lost. RIP Jane. We'll miss and always remember you.