Sunday, April 24, 2011
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings, Tom Hiddleston
In My Own Words
It's amazing what "Home & Away" does for Australian actors. For those who don't know, "Home & Away" is an Australian drama series that airs every weeknight at 7pm in Australia and has been doing so since 1988. I once had an actress friend who said that she never wanted to go on "Home & Away" because it was "trash"....funnily enough she never made it very far in her chosen profession as I haven't heard of her since . As much as people such as this past "actress" like to bag out "Home & Away", it does provide up and coming actors with a fantastic stepping stone to future international success. I'm not saying that if you take part in "Home & Away", you are definately going to become a Hollywood star, but for the ones who really want to take the big leap and try their luck in Hollywood it must look great on their resume. Let's look at some past "Home & Away" actors, shall we? Isla Fisher played Shannon from 1994-1997 and is has been in films such as "Wedding Crashers" and "Confessions Of A Shopaholic", not to mention being Sacha Baron Cohen's wife and the mother of his child. Isabel Lucas of "Transformers" fame's first role was as Tasha for four years in "Home & Away". Melissa George, who has had several successful Hollywood roles in the remake of "The Amityville Horror" and "Derailed" as well as television roles in "Grey's Anatomy" and "In Treatment". Ryan Kwanten started off his career on "Home & Away" as well as bad boy Vinnie. The list goes on and on. The star of "Thor", Chris Hemsworth, is also a "Home & Away" alumni. I remember I once saw Hemsworth walking along a street in Sydney while I was out at my work Christmas party one year. He's come a long way since then! And, like many other Australian actors, he has "Home & Away" to thank for kick starting his career!
These are my own words and here is my review.
"Thor" is reminiscent of what the old action/fantasy movies used to be like, yet still has the characteristics of a Marvel Comic production. Largely carried by extremely impressive special effects, but is still a big cheeseball. "Thor" is definately amazing as far as the visuals go and there are some great moments in the narrative, but there are still some momentsin the script and direction which instigate a roll of the eyes. It is an interesting project for Kenneth Branagh as looking over his past directorial career, "Thor" is his first attempt at a comic book adaptation or an action spectacular. He is no stranger to Shakespearean cinema and there are indeed some Shakespearean references in "Thor". In Short, "Thor" highlights Branagh's strong points as a director and his low points. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has always dreamt of the day when he will be crowned king of Asgard. His father, the current king Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is about to crown him king when their long time enemies, the Frost Giant's bring havoc to Asgard so Thor goes after them without his fathers permission. Odin is so furious with his son that he banishes him to Earth, where Thor meets scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Thor tries to get back to Asgard, but finds out that his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is working against him and will do anything to no let his brother back into Asgard so he can be king.
"Thor" is very much a touch and go situation. There are some really wonderful things about it and some other things that, as said before, just make you want to roll your eyes. It could almost be divided into two movies. One is a great action film set in the a fantasy world where a great battle is taking place, while the other film is a lack lustre and corny romance story set in New Mexico. The first movie is really quite spectacular to see on the big screen. The graphics are absolutely outstanding and completely bewildering, especially if you see this film in 3D. Asgard is almost like a cross between the Emerald City (except gold)in "The Wizard Of Oz" and Naboo in "Star Wars" and has the elegance and grace of ancient civilizations. The cinematography is wonderful throughout all the scenes in "Thor", as is the editing in the action sequences. Yet, there is the problems of the script. Of course it is corny in the way that comic book films are so it is forgiven for that reason. It would be a worry if there was a comic book adaptation trying to be completely serious and dramatic. Branagh has got this part right. Although it is a lot cornier on Earth than Asgard. The romance between Thor and Jane is very comic book romance. Absolutely over done, predictable and cheesy. But hey, thats comic book romances for you!
After seeing "Black Swan", it was almost like a feeling of finally being able to exhale seeing Natalie Portman in this film. Her performance is nowhere near the intensity of that of Nina in "Black Swan" and it is so lovely to see her in a role like this. It is an exceptionally easy one for her and she seems very natural and at ease herself. Chris Hemsworth isn't too bad, but again is very comic book hero corny on Earth. When he is in Asgard, his acting is actually a fair percentage better than on Earth, especially when he is fighting with his father. Anthony Hopkins is flawless as usual and adds emotion and intensity to the film. Not a bad word can be said about Tom Hiddleston. He's perhaps not as evil as what he could be, but that isn't something that remains in your mind when you leave the cinema. Kat Dennings is a great addition to the film and adds humour as Jane's sidekick, Darcy.
"Thor" is a typical comic book movie crossed with the grand spectacle, historical action film. It is just good entertainment. Not a dramatic masterpiece like Branagh is used to directing, but still good viewing. Cheeseball fun.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Director: Jason Winer
Cast: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig
In My Own Words
It always takes a bad day followed by a visit to the cinema to remind me why I love movies so much. It doesn't matter what it is going on in your life, while you are in a cinema, you forget everything which is going on outside and lose yourself in the film. The world of film provides ua all with an escape and with all the crazy things that are happenning in our lives and in the world at this point in time, an escape is something we all need at times. When you need that escape, I really love the movies which are out in the cinemas at school holiday time. There is always a comedy or an animation or two to watch which will always put you in a better mood once you make the trip to the movies. It doesn't even matter whether the film is half decent or not, just as long as it isn't is light and fluffy and fun. Last night when I got home I found myself in a bit lower a mood than usual and I put on "The Country Girl" with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. Now forgive me, but this was the first time I had seen "The Country Girl" and it was a lot sadder than what I thought it would be. My mother rang me while I was in the middle of watching it and got mad at me for watching a depressing movie which would only enhance my bad mood! Quite clearly I should have made the trip to the cinemas last night to see "Arthur"! However, even after seeing it today, I feel like a new person! It really is amazing the power a film can hold over you by way of escapism.
These are my own words and here is my review.
Once again, we approach another remake with caution. "Arthur" was originally made back in 1981 with Dudley Moore as Arthur, Liza Minnelli as his love interest and John Gielgud in his Oscar winning role as Hobson, Arthur's servant. 30 years later, Arthur is now Russell Brand, who resembles Moore only in his haircut for the film and Hobson is now Arthur's nanny and played by Helen Mirren. While the 1981 "Arthur" was worthy of 4 Academy Award nominations and 2 wins, the 2011 version can be described as just good enough. It's fun, but just a bit too silly to be completely hilarious. Sure, there are definitely some laughs but it is a case of seeing the funniest parts in the trailer. Arthur is a child trapped in a 30 year old's body. He loves his toys and spends the money he has inherited from his parents on such extravagences as parties with numerous women and booze. In order to get him to calm down and act like an adult, his distant mother decides to give him an ultimatum, marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or say goodbye to the millions. This happens at the same time that Arthur meets free-spirited Naomi (Greta Gerwig) who he immediately falls for. Arthur is faced with the biggest decision he has ever had to make, marry a woman he feels nothing for and keep his millions, or keep the girl of his dreams and lose all the money.
"Arthur" is a case of Russell Brand playing Russell Brand. He mixes up the roles which he plays in the movies he partakes in, but they are not a great stretch from each other. In all honestly, Brand will probably never be an accomplished dramatic actor, but he still doesn't do too badly in the dramatic scenes. The chemistry between him and Helen Mirren on screen strengthens throughout the film, as it should be. Unfortunately, the strength of the chemistry between Brand and Great Gerwig on screen is extremely weak and they physically do not look right together. On her own, Gerwig actually does do a very good job as Naomi and she is just delightful with a great amount of character. In this film, it does feel that Brand has had to tone down his sense of humour to fit in with the film's PG rating. At the beginning of the film, after about 5 minutes it almost feels as though you are going to start to find Brand's Arthur extremely annoying, but by halfway through the film he has actually became quite likable. His character does seem to be extremely overdone in proving that he has a childlike mind. You can see why the director, Jason Winer has made Arthur this way as to make a point, but it is so overdone that Arthur just seems creepy.
However, the script does allow for Arthur to have some very funny dialogue, even though a lot of it is in the trailer so it doesn't seem as funny the second time you have seen it. The script does tend to miss out on some pivotal moments of Arthur's development, particularly towards the end. "Arthur" does tend to get really qute silly at times, but there really is something in this film for everyone. The best thing is, Winer has made "Arthur" his own and it really is different from the original. Yes, it is not as good as the original, but it is a different film. Gone is the massive Arthur laugh from Dudley Moore and it is replaced by Brand and his own Arthur. The decision to make Hobson into a nanny rather than a servant does work as well as it adds to the immaturity of Arthur's character. The decision also to make Naomi into a tour guide who is running from the police because she doesn't have a license makes her more endearing and perfect for Arthur'sa love interest, rather than Linda (who was played by Liza Minelli) who was running from the police as she was trying to steal a tie for her father. A remake that isn't trying to be the original is always worthy of praise.
"Arthur" is a good film for the holidays. It is entertaining enough, doesn't require the use of too many brain cells and is a bit of fun. It does border on the funny/silly border, but has something for everyone no matter how frustrating it can be at times.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu
Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella
In My Own Words
When the lights went down for the 6:30 session of "Biutiful", the silence itself was almost deafening. When Javier Bardem's name appeared on the screen, my friend next to me held up her hands as if to applaud him. Without even seeing Bardem in "Biutiful" yet, you know it is going to be an absolute powerhouse of a performance. Bardem himself is a fantastic actor and has proved this in many films such as in his Oscar winning role in "No Country For Old Men". However, I believe that it takes something very special to be nominated in one of the main categories of the Academy Awards for a non-English speaking film. Bardem was nominated for Best Performance by An Actor In A Leading Role for "Biutiful", not an easy category to be in contention for. When you look back at the performances which have been nominated for Academy Awards in the past which are not part of English speaking films, they are all truly amazing, unforgettable performances. Of course, all the performances which are nominated for the big awards are indeed noteworthy, but there are always some nominees which people find questionable. The nominees who are nominated for a foreign film and never questioned and always legitimate contenders. For example, Marion Cotillard in "La Vie En Rose", Penelope Cruz in "Volver" and Roberto Benigni in "Life Is Beautiful". The Academy recognises the performances in foreign films which are truly unforgettable and Bardem's performance in"Biutiful" is one of these.
These are my own words and here is my review.
"Biutiful" is exactly as the name suggests, beautiful. It is not beautiful as in it's all rainbows and flowers, as it is quite the opposite. It is hard-hitting, but in a subtle way. It is unsettling, but not disturbing. It is an emotionally charged film with powerful performances so real that they make you truly believe that you are watching real life play out in front of you. "Biutiful" follows the last few months of Uxbal's (Javier Bardem) life as he dies from cancer. He decides against telling his family about his condition, and instead tries to make sure his two young children will have a good life once he is gone. Uxbal tries to make amends for his wrongs and to protect his children from their mother and his wife, Marambra's (Maricel Alvarez) self-destructive behaviour. On the road to his end, he is faced with more heartbreak and guilt than one should ever have to go through.
Javier Bardem is the star of this film and he is everything the lead of a film should be. He is in control of every scene he is in and carries the film perfectly. He is extremely likable and the audience can really sympathize with him. They feel truly sorry for him with the things he has to go through and all you want him to do is have a peaceful end to his life. "Biutiful" really tugs at your heartstrings as the performance by Bardem is so powerful. There is so much pain and suffering, but also love for his children shown just in his eyes throughout the film. A particularly memorable scene is when he comes face to face with his father for the first time in the morgue and the amount of emotions you realise that are passing through the character of Uxbal at that point in time is fantastic. Bardem is able to bring the character of Uxbal to life and completely embodies the character in a way which is seen extremely rarely.
"Biutiful" deals with some very confronting situations which will be very real to some people, but unlike most confronting movies, the confrontation is very subtle. The situations which the viewer is presented with throughout the film could be disturbing if they were done in a different way, but in "Biutiful" they are no so much. This is not to say that the filmis weak at all, but some of the things which occur stay in your mind after the film but don't make you feel uncomfortable. This is something quite extraordinary. Director Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu has really excelled himself by doing something like this which is basically unheard of. The musical score is also commendable. It adds to the tension of each scene and the score is actually quite selective. There is less backing sound than there is in a typical film, but the scenes which are backed by the score are the ones which really do benefit from it. There are no scenes that the musical score is part of that have it there just for backing sounds. Every scene which is included as part of the musical score is so because it is enhanced by it. The cinematography is beautiful and the editing is brilliant.
"Biutiful" is once again a time for Javier Bardem and Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu to shine. It proves that confrontation does not always mean having to make the audience feel uncomfortable, but this is something you may not realise until you see "Biutiful"
Friday, April 15, 2011
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm
In My Own Words
Before I go any further, I would just like to clarify a few things about what I write on here. I've lately had a few people become confused with what "In My Own Words" is about. First and foremost, Movie Critical is a movie review site, but what distinguishes Movie Critical from other websites is "In My Own Words". "In My Own Words" is exactly as the name suggests, a place where I can talk about whatever I want that has anything to do with the movie I am about to review. I may want to talk about the actors and what they do outside their acting roles, I may want to talk about the location of the film or I may want to talk about my personal experiences with the film. It is not the review itself. The "Review" section is where I critically evaluate the film and I focus only on what is featured in the film. So Movie Critical is two things, it is an honest and personal opinion on anything I feel like talking about which has anything to do with the film I am reviewing and it is also a critical film review. I don't think it's the right thing to do to talk about such things as what goes in the cinema or what type of cinema I go to in a movie review, and it isn't right to talk about the actors personality or personal life in a review where you should only by talking about their performance in that movie.
Now that we've got that all cleared up, here is my review for a movie which I was really looking forward to, but.......
"Sucker Punch". The film that is a public relations dream. If you haven't seen the anime styled posters with images of "Sucker Punch's" leading ladies in battle all over your city, you must have been living under a rock for the past month. An action film with entrancing computer generated images crossed with the theme of freedom against oppression with some of the hottest young female stars in Hollywood today. You would love to do the marketing for this movie as there is so much you could do and it opens the action genre up to another target audience of young females. So much marketing potential, so much potential as a film. A film that before it's release date was hailed to be Zack Snyder's "Inception". So what happenned? Both too much and not enough. "Sucker Punch" lacks in the areas that matter and has too much going on at the same time.The concept is great and it could have been a masterpiece, but Snyder has just got too caught up in what he could do rather than what he should do.
"Sucker Punch" opens with a music video like montage of the recent events in Baby Doll's (Emily Browning) life involving the death of her mother and the accidental shooting of her younger sister which have landed her in Lennox Hall Institute for the Mentally Insane. Baby Doll overhears the head of the institution, Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) tell her stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) that the High Roller will come in a few days to perform a lobotomy on her. She plans to escape from the institution before the High Roller comes and in doing so, creates an alternate battleground in her mind in a world where dragons, ogres and samuari giants fight with her and her fellow inmates Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) to seek out their freedom.
"Sucker Punch" could have well been a cult classic. The visuals, the action sequences, the soundtrack and the five " no nonsense" lead females have everything that a cult classic would. The first area that "Sucker Punch" fails in is the script. It contains several bouts of surrealism in which Baby Doll creates parallel universes in her mind. She imagines that the institution is a brothel and her and the other girls are it's star dancers and from here she imagines the battleground inside her head. On paper, the idea isn't so bad, but played out on the screen it just doesn't work. It can be downright confusing at times. Even when you finally get a grasp of what is going on, there is no real feeling of suspense or urgency. The jumping back and forwards between the universes in Baby Doll's mind makes the film seem uneven and too jumpy. There is no smooth flow at all through the film which makes it just feel like a big mess. Of course, the film does have it's impressive graphics and action sequences going for it. The most impressive being that of Baby Doll's first venture into her imaginary battleground where she arrives in a Japanese temple setting in the middle of a snowfall, which is really quite beautiful. The soundtrack of the film is also fitting to every scene.
As for the acting, weren't these girls supposed to be in an institution for the mentally insane? Yes, Baby Doll's mind transforms the institution into a brothel, but shouldn't these girls have more eccentric personalities either way? They just all seem a little too much like your average teenage girls, with the exception of the first scene when Baby Doll first arrives at the instituation and we see the theatre for what it really is. The characters would have definately been more interesting if they had contained some of the characteristics from the girls we had seen in the first seen. Otherwise, they really don't have much character at all. The only two actresses who give performances which are noteworthy are Abbie Cornish and Jena Malone, who play sisters Sweet Pea and Rocket. They don't go the full haul with their characters and take them to the limit so that you can really feel connected to them, but they still have more character than the others. Abbie Cornish could have been a bit stronger in the scenes where she is trying to show her power over Baby Doll, but in two particular scenes (which cannot be given away as they will spoil the film for those who want to see it) she is superb. Jena Malone is also very good in the role as the younger and somewhat positive sister. Emily Browning is just dull in her lead role. She does not change her facial expression throughout the whole film and it is confusing to see how such a weak character in personality could be such an influence to these other girls. Vanessa Hudgens doesn't do too badly in this film when you compare her to her "High School Musical" days. She certainly has grown up and has shown she can do more than sing and dance and can hold her own without Zac Efron on her arm. Yet, her character really doesn't have much to it and we really have no idea who Blondie is. The same can be said for Jamie Chung's character, who is Amber?
We could sit here and talk about what "Sucker Punch" could have been all day, but the fact is that it wasn't. It is flat and messy. Action fans may enjoy it for Baby Doll's war sequences and young teenage boys may enjoy it for seeing the girls in short skirts. One of the year's biggest disappointments, if not the biggest.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Just Go With It
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman
In My Own Words
For how much I normally crticize Jennifer Aniston and her lack of versatility as a motion picture actress, I may actually be warming to her. In "Just Go With It", I enjoyed her more in this film than I have in anything else since "Friends". I am trying to figure out why. It wasn't an amazing performance by any means, but it was maybe because the role suited her comfortably and she was just real, likable and funny. It is no joke that Aniston loves her romantic-comedy roles and she has now been typecast at that type of actress. So when did this become a bad thing? Sure it can be tiresome after we see the same character over and over again in different films and we can make assumptions that the actor's talent range is not quite as broad as some others, but when they do that role really well? I haven't heard anyone criticize Sylvester Stallone or Jean Claude Van Damme for mainly playing the action roles, so maybe I should give Jennifer Aniston a break for playing the same roles. She does them well and if she enjoys doing them, then who is to tell her it's wrong? Even though I am sure she gets paid a great deal for these movies, I am sure she wouldn't be doing the romantic comedies if she really didn't want to and if she wanted to do something else. So maybe we should "just go with it" ourselves and accept that this is who Jennifer Aniston is and what she wants to do.
These are my own words and here is my review.
The teaser poster for "Just Go With It" does what a perfect movie poster does, it shows exactly what the film is going to be about and you know what to expect. It's the age old love triangle flick where one person is just the helper between two peope who really do like each other with a Hawaiian backdrop. "Just Go With It" fulfils it's goal, it's entertaining and fun. Not a contender for any awards, but not the worst film of the year. "Just Go With It" is a remake of the 1969 movie "Cactus Flower" which starred Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and the newcomer, Goldie Hawn. In the 2011 version, Danny (Adam Sandler) has been burnt once and refuses to let himself be burnt again, so he tells every girl that he is already married . Therefore, he can sleep with them and then there is no commitment expected of him so no one get's hurt! His theory no longer becomes applicable when he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker), who he wants to become serious with, but she doesn't want to date a married man. Danny's lie becomes bigger and bigger when he talks his assistant, Katherine ( Jennifer Aniston) into pretending to be his ex-wife and her also children become a grand part of his plan, especially when they all take off to Hawaii for a big "family" holiday.
"Just Go With It" fits into the same categories as many other Adam Sandler films, and also the same as many other Jennifer Aniston films. It is a stereotypical film for both of the lead actors. It is the romantic comedy which Aniston is greatly associated with and the screwball comedy which Sandler is largely known for. However, this does not detract from the film itself. There are some very funny moments and it really is a lot of fun. A lot of the comedic moments are very random, but they are in good taste and are of the universal sense of humour. As one might expect, it really is very predictable and there is no doubt in your mind how the film is going to end. The setting of Hawaii for the holiday adds to the fun of the film, as well as the visual attractiveness.
Adam Sandler is fine in this film and he does his job with ease. He does have some tender moments, such as when he is on the phone to Katherine, but overall he could had a bit more of a connection to Katherine's children, Maggie and Michael. However, him and Aniston are a great on screen duo. The dialogue between the two is very witty and funny, and you can completely believe that these two are close friends who have known each other for years. Aniston does well in the role fo Katherine, even though it is not too far removed from many of her past roles. She still does well and is very easy to like. Model Brooklyn Decker is okay in her role as Danny's young love interest, but she is not extremely convincing in her role and her performance is not at all ground-breaking. Keep an eye out for a hilarious cameo by her real life tennis player husband, Andy Roddick. Nicole Kidman is actually quite annoying in this film as Katherine's "frienemy" Devlin, but she is supposed to be irritating. It is quite a different role for Kidman as she normally drifts towards the more dramatic roles, so it is actually refreshing to see her relax a bit and do something a bit more fun. Special mention must go to Bailee Madison who plays Katherine's daughter Maggie. She is an absolute little charmer from her first scene onwards and she is hilarious. Madison is one actress to watch out for in the next few years.
"Just Go With It" is a great deal of fun. It is very light and easy going and stereotypical, but is nevertheless fun to watch and a good laugh.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
The Lincoln Lawyer
Director: Brad Furman
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, Josh Lucas, William H. Macy
In My Own Words
Finally, another Michael Connelly novel has been made into a movie! This could well be a very self indulgent "In My Own Words" as I am a big fan thriller books written by such authors as Michael Connelly. To my despair, this is only the second Connelly book to be made into a movie. The first one was "Blood Work" which was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood in 2002. My personal favourite Connelly novel is "The Poet". I would love to see this book made into a movie. Is it just me or does it seem like the 1990's and early 2000's were a popular time for adapatations of thriller novels from the likes of John Grisham and other authors such as Jeffrey Deaver and Connelly? It has been awhile since we have had an adaptation like this. I miss them. Well, I miss the ones that are done well. "The Lincoln Lawyer" has proven to be a good relief from that. It encourages me to go and read more thriller books as well. Some people hate them because they give them nightmares. Don't get me wrong, they do also give me nightmares, but I love nothing better than guessing till the end. Also, it takes a great amount of intelligence and research to write a thriller book so I greatly respect the authors of these books who do what they do so well.
These are my own words and here is my review.
Finally, a good lawyer, courtroom thriller that is completely and utterly worth watching. "The Lincoln Lawyer" is a return to form for the genre and also for star Matthew McConaughey. Based on the Michael Connelly novel of the same name, "The Lincoln Lawyer" brings back the intelligent and suspenseful crime dramas and makes them once again entertaining and impressive. Mick Haller (Matthe McConaughey) is the Los Angeles lawyer who would rather work out of his Lincoln than out of an office like a normal lawyer. He is approached to represent clean cut Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), who insists he is being set up by a woman who claims he has raped and violently assaulted her. Haller quickly finds out that he may not be representing as innocent a man as Roulet makes himself out to be. He finds himself in a place of guilt and confusion while trying to do what he is being paid for, but not holding any confidence or trust in his client.
Matthew McConaughey has an incredible return to form and this is his best role to date. McConaughey has shown in the past few years that he can do the action and fluff comedy roles with complete ease and do them well, but this role brings out in him what we all knew he had the potential for. McConaughey shines in this role. He is the primary focus and backbone of this film. He is perfect in this role and perfect in every scene. McConaughey completely becomes Haller and is completely likable, no matter who cocky his character can be at times. His character development is also wonderful. We have a complete sense of who Mick Haller is, where he has come from and what are the things that matter to him. He is a complete joy to watch.
The film is extremely well made. It captures the true essence of the rough around the edges Los Angeles of today and there is no mention of the Hollywood or Disneyland magic which the media loves to portray Los Angeles as being, which makes the film feel so real. The soundtrack and score is perfect for every scene and adds to the charm of the film. The cinematography is also perfect for the type of film which it is. The script is clever with some very witty banter between the characters. It is so great to see a film which is is story driven and character driven at the same time and is so successful at each.
Marisa Tomei is also commendable as Haller's " on again off again" love interest and mother of Haller's daughter, Maggie. She shows her versatility as an actress as all in the same role, she plays the doting single mother who's aim is to protect her daughter, the hard working and ruthless business woman and also the woman with just enough flirtation and femininity to make her completely desirable. Ryan Phillippe is fine in his role as Louis. He is great in some scenes and in some scenes it feels as though he just isn't believable in the part he is playing. Michael Pena is actaully fantastic in his smallish role as Haller's ex-client, Jesus Matinez. Not quite as believable is Margarita Levieva, as Louis' victim, Reggie. One would expect her to be slightly more emotional when on the stand talking about the night she was badly beaten while on the job.
Overall, "The Lincoln Lawyer" is a complete success and the role that Matthew McConaughey was always capable of doing while he was wasting his acting talents on other roles of lesser value. Director Brad Furman should be very proud of his achievement.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Red Riding Hood
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons
In My Own Words
Oh boy, I really wanted to like this movie. I love the idea of a dark take on a fairytale. There hasn't really been that many since "The Brothers Grimm" starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger back in 2005. To tell you the truth, I don't know if there is any other way to do make a fairy tale into a movie these days than to do a dark take on it. Of course, to make a fairytale worth watching these days it needs to be somewhat different to the version we have heard hundreds of times since we were children. There are two such dark fairytale adaptations coming up in the future. "Sleeping Beauty" has been redone once again with Emily Browning in the lead and is set for release this year. However, this film won't be one you'll be wanting to take your children to see. In this remake, a university student find herself caught up in prostitution and other naughty activities. The other dark fairytale which is currently in pre-production is "The Brothers Grimm" Snow White", which is already gaining a tremendous amount of interest with it's recent casting news. Julia Roberts is to play the Evil Queen, Saoirse Ronan is cast as Snow White and Armie Hammer of "The Social Network" fame is to play the Prince.
It almost seems almost as though the only people who can get away with making a traditional fairytale into a movie and doing it successfully is Disney, but even they don't do it as much these days as what they used to. They released "The Princess And The Frog" and "Tangled" in two consecutive years, but upon release of "Tangled" they released a statement saying that they would be making no more princess movie.
Everybody loves a fairytale, whether in traditional style or with a twist. A twist creates a lot more interest these days though and doesn't seem to hurt at the box office as "Red Riding Hood" has shown. As we all know though, box office figures don't always point to a good film.
These are my own words and here is my review.
Catherine Hardwicke knows she struck gold when she directed the first and best so far of the "Twilight" saga. After a three year break from feature film directing, she returns with "Red Riding Hood". The film's release was greatly anticipated, but the release fails to live up to expectations. "Red Riding Hood" is a classic example of how directors have a success and feel that they have to continue their success by trying to replicate their first success. The result is a film which seems like it is just trying too hard and is overdone in everyway. However, there is still something entertaining and suprising enough in the film to make it bearable. Amanda Seyfried is Valerie (Red Riding Hood), the small medival village girl who is betrothed to Henry (Max Irons) and in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Her village has a truce with a wolf who live in close proximately to her and her family, until the wolf strikes again after many years and kills Valerie's sister. The whole village is now in danger and the wolf specifically has it's eye on Valerie.
The main reason why "Red Riding Hood" fails is because it is trying so hard to be a dramatic historical horror film. It doesn't qualify as a horror film despite how dark the film tries to be because while being suspenseful, it really isn't that scary. The image of the wolf really isn't as threatening as one would expect it to be. The wolves in "Twilight" were scarier than this one! The film is suspenseful and actually succeeds more in being a thriller or a mystery as the ending is quite surprising. This is the best thing about the film and a film where you don't see the ending coming is more often than not a success. This film is a success in suspense and storyline, but weak in everything surrounding it. The cinematography and the way which the landscape is captured is really quite beautiful, although some scenes in the snowy village are quite clearly inside a set. The script is quite well written, but the way it is carried out on screen and directed is horrible.
The acting and chemistry between the actors is really quite atrocious. Amanda Seyfried isn't bad as Valerie and she was a good choice for the role. The character of Valerie is quite a dark character, never cracking a smile and extremely serious. She doesn't show too much emotion throughout the film, which she probably should have done more of in certain scenes. The chemistry between Seyfried and Shiloh Fernandez is really poor. These two have no connection with each other at all even in the most intense of scenes and physically do not look right together on screen. Fernandez's performance is also not anything to write home about. He was a horrible choice for the role and one might think that he was cast as the role of Peter just because his looks somewhat resemble that of the black wolf. Max Irons is nowhere near as bad as Henry showing the right amount of emotion at the right moments in the film. Gary Oldman probably gives the best performance in the film as Father Soloman, even though it is far from his best role. Again, the chemistry between Seyfried and Virginia Madsen who plays her mother, Billy Burke who plays her father and Julie Christie who plays her grandmother is almost non-existant in each case.
Looking back at "Red Riding Hood", it is so easy to see why there has been so many comparisons to "Twilight". The wolves, a girl with two boys after her and Billy Burke once again playing the lead character's father. The film isn't bad enough to miss altogether, but it is more worthwhile borrowing it on DVD when it comes out rather than make the trip to cinemas to see it on the big screen.