Sunday, June 26, 2011


Year: 2011
Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogan, Kristen Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Bateman
In My Own Words
                Aliens? Hmm….I am never sure about the subject of whether they exist or not. With something like this, I never feel like I am capable of making a statement until I am an expert on the subject. The beginning and the end of this is that there has been no official proof that there is another life form out there so innocent until proven guilty. I do like the idea of going on an alien themed road trip across the United States like Clive and Graeme do in Paul. Even if I don’t know if I believe in it or not, it would still be interesting as you would find out about the link there is between each town and another life form and start to piece together whether there is some truth in it. A road trip across the USA sounds like a great idea right about now too! This trip which Clive and Graeme went on sounds like a great post for my other movie website, Travelling With The Movies. Keep an eye out!
                So let’s not waste any time with the “do they, don’t they exist” and get onto the Paul review. This one is dedicated to one of my friends who has told me that she only gets to go to one movie a year and this year she chose Paul! She knows who she is, so this review is for you!
                These are my own words and here is my review.
                Paul is one of those films that you should make the effort to go out and see if you are having a bad day and need a laugh. Even if you are having a great day, you should go out and see Paul because you will have an even better day! It is one of those rare comedies that is completely fresh and original, yet doesn’t take itself seriously and just has fun with what it is doing.  Extra-terrestrial’s aren’t traditionally seen in film as being comedians which makes Paul one of a kind.
                Paul is the nickname given to the alien in question after the dog his spaceship landed on when he arrived on Earth 60 years ago. Up until now, he has been kept at military base just “hanging out”, but when he finds out that he is actually being held prisoner he makes a run for it. He runs into Clive (Nick Frost) and Graeme (Simon Pegg), two best friends who have travelled to the USA to go to a comic convention in San Diego and then set off on their own extra-terrestrial road trip. Their fun holiday has turned into a fugitive run from the authorities with Paul. For these two nerds, it seems as though all their dreams have come true!
                For a comedy film such as Paul, story and script are the keys to making it work. And Paul has the key.  Alien films aren’t new, but many alien films are either family orientated or they are world disaster films. Paul is different. The alien speaks perfect English and if it wasn’t for the physical aspects, you would think he was a young male adult running around. There are some slightly crass moments in the film with a few expletives thrown in, but it isn’t disgusting or gross like some comedies tend to be these days. The story is very original and a load of fun.
                The writing by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg themselves is very good, but nobody would expect any less from these two, especially Pegg  who has made a name for himself for his screenwriting almost as much as he has for his acting.  The film completely flows as a result of a tightly knit script which does not waver with any of the comedy. The dialogue between the characters is very funny, as are some of the one liners. There isn’t really any spectacular cinematography moments, although some of the nature shots are quite impressive. The film more focuses on just the comedy and it’s witty and fun script.
                Both Nick Frost and Simon Pegg do well in this film and are both very funny, but these do not seem like particularly hard roles for them.  This isn’t a bad thing, as they are able to do the roles with complete ease and they do all that can be asked of them. It is Seth Rogan who belittles both of them, even though it is only his voice which is heard.  He provides the voice for Paul and the mixture of his voice and Paul’s physical appearance just make you smile and no matter how rude he is, he is still very likable.  His vocal talents are perfect for this alien. Kristen Wiig is great in the role of Ruth, a young lady who joins the three on their journey. She is very sweet to begin with, but her change over the film and the things that come out of her mouth as a result are hilarious.
                These days comedy seems to be going in the direction of the grosser the better. Paul may not have the cleanest mouth around and neither may Ruth, but it doesn’t have any disgusting toilet humour which seems to be a common theme in comedies released these days. Who would have guessed that an alien who loves Reese’s Pieces could be the hero in one of the funniest films of the year?

Friday, June 24, 2011


Year: 2011
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
In My Own Words
                All hail the stars of Saturday Night Live! Before I lived in Los Angeles, I had only heard of Saturday Night Live, but never seen an episode or knew the fascination with it. Of course I had heard that comedians such as Mike Myers, Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler had got their big breaks on the show. It was never shown in Australia on free to air television until really inconvenient times at night. So when I lived in Los Angeles, I got my first taste of SNL. Now that show is my sense of humour. I was in stitches laughing at the skit of Katy Perry singing “I saw a boat and I liked it” instead of “I kissed a girl and I liked it” and almost falling off the couch when Mark Wahlberg was having an in depth conversation with a goat about it eating apples. These things probably sound ridiculous, but my they are hilarious when SNL do it.
                After this, my roommates knew very well that I could not be out after 10:30pm on a Saturday night because I had to watch my SNL. That is one of the many things I miss about not living in the United States anymore, not having my weekly SNL fix! It is still something I watch in hotel rooms on Saturday nights when I travel back to the states.  Luckily it is shown on cable TV here so I don’t feel as disconnected from the SNL world now.
                As well as SNL being a great show, it has been the stepping stone for so many great careers. There are the three I mentioned before and many, many more. More recently there has been Amy Poehler and my hero, Tina Fey. And Bridesmaids, brings out the talents of Kristen Wiig and Maya Randolph. I am very impressed with Wiig. It was her first go at being the lead lady and I was anxious for her because she is probably my favourite on SNL out of the current cast. She is a very funny lady.
These are my own words and here is my review.
                Bridesmaids has been hailed by many as The Hangover for girls. This is an inaccurate statement as Bridesmaids may be about girls and may have a title relating primarily to girls, but it is not just for girls as boys will find this movie just as funny as girls. There has yet to be a film quite as funny as Bridesmaids released this year. There is actually different types of humour throughout the film so it therefore has something which everyone will find funny, although you may have to sit through some things you won’t find funny at all to get through to something which you do.
                Annie (Kristen Wiig) is not having a great time. She has had her bakery go out of business, broke up with her boyfriend and is living with very strange siblings. Yet, she has to try and put all of it behind her when her lifelong best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged and asks Annie to be her maid of honour. The group of misfits in Lillian’s bridal party tend to bring out the crazy in Annie, especially perfectionist Helen (Rose Byrne).  It is one mishap after the other until the girls just crack.
                Bridesmaids is very well written and directed with some very funny moments. The best thing is that the laughs just keep coming and it is funny from beginning to end. The laughs don’t come from just one particular source, every character is funny and quirky in their own way. There are some moments (not too many) which some people will find isn’t suited to their sense of humour and some other scenes which are meant to be funny, but are actually quite painful. Such as the first competition between Annie and Helen just gets to be annoying and strenuous to watch.
                Although sometimes exaggerated, one of the best things about Bridesmaids besides the humour, is how well it carries the story and how real the characters, situations and underlying themes are. The story doesn’t waver through all the comedy, which is sometimes a hard thing for writers to do when they are so worried about making the film funny. The themes of friendship, happiness and self worth are recurrent throughout the film and will ring true for many audience members.
                Kristen Wiig does extremely well not just as a lead actress, but also as being one of the writers of this film. Annie is so real and many people are able to relate to her. She goes through very real situations with men, herself and the other girls that she really doesn’t seem like just another movie character. It is fantastic character development and Wiig is so at ease and natural in the role.
                Maya Rudolph doesn’t do too badly, but it would have been good to see her get a bit more from the role and express a bit more emotion throughout the film. Rose Byrne is great as the attention seeker Helen. She is utterly painful and you are just waiting for her to trip. It would have been good to see her character let loose and show her craziness, rather than just shed a few tears. The unsung hero of the film is Melissa McCarthy who plays Lillian’s to be sister-in-law, Megan. She brings many laughs to the movie, but she is an absolute stand out as a character which is unconventional and awkward.
                Bridesmaids is an absolute ball of fun. Some things may offend some members of the audience, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise if you check the censors before you see the film. They aren’t there for nothing. Great characters and may even have the answers to some very real problems some people may be going through.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Year: 2011
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana
In My Own Words
                Hands up those in Australia who remember Full Frontal? If you do, you know exactly what I will be talking about in this In My Own Words.
                I am, of course, going to be talking about the Eric Bana which we Australians knew back in the 1990’s. The Eric Bana who was on our television screens each Thursday night at 8:30pm. No, Full Frontal wasn’t an incredibly dramatic and intense drama series, it was Australia’s answer to Saturday Night Live with its collection of send up skits. Unfortunately, the series which I so loved came to an end in 1996, but the memories of Eric Bana as the comedian lives on.
                If someone had told me then that Bana was going to be one of the leading drama and action stars in Hollywood not even 10 years after the show finished, I would have been extremely confused of how anyone could take him seriously. He has definitely proved himself as a fantastic actor and I am very proud of how far our fellow Aussie has come. Yet, sometimes when I watch him in a movie, I am still expecting him to open his mouth and crack a joke or start up on of his famous impersonations as the Aussie bogan, Peter (pronounced “Poiter”), Australian television personality Ray Martin or his very funny portrayal of Tom Cruise. So Bana has gone from imitating the Hollywood heavy weights for a living, to being one of them. Ironic the way the world works out, isn’t it?
                These are my own words and here is my review.
                What comes to mind when you think about a film about a child assassin? Violence, confrontation, uneasiness? Most likely words of this nature and nobody could blame you for thinking this. How about if the movie starts when the “child” in question is in the latter half of her teenage years which doesn’t really make the film about a child assassin, but about a young lady who has been trained as an assassin? Therefore, Hanna is a misunderstood film and rather than creating the controversy which one thinks it would, it is quite amazing really.
                Saoirse Ronan is Hanna, the sixteen year old who has been raised in the Finnish wild by her father, Erik (Eric Bana). As an ex- CIA agent, Erik has trained his daughter as soldier trained to kill. Hanna is sent into the world for the first time to travel across Europe and meet her father in Berlin. As soon as her presence is known in the outside world, she has agents on her tail wanting her dead and she comes face to face with the agent who killed her mother, Marissa (Cate Blanchett). Hanna learns what it is like to be a typical sixteen year old in the outside world and also learns who she really is.
                The story of Hanna may seem disturbing to some people, but it hardly seems disturbing on screen. Sure there is violence, which is to be expected in a film about an assassin, yet the story is really played out as a piece of art. The storyline and script itself is good, but the techniques used to bring the story to the screen are far more impressive than the writing.
The cinematography is just beautiful. There are some amazing panoramic landscape shots and the editing during Hanna’s escape from the agents is brilliant. Director Joe Wright chooses some great locations for the film. The filming locations are very interesting and in the final scenes with playground equipment and the swans and wolf mouth keep everything fresh even at the end of the film. If you really want to get in depth, these images which are part of the landscape could also be seen as symbolic of the childlike innocence which has been destroyed.
In the scene when Hanna is escaping for the first time from the agents, the thrilling images are accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers. The best thing about this soundtrack is that it isn’t techno or electronic music pumping constantly throughout the film, but the sounds are mixed up depending on what is happening in the film at that point in time. One would think that the film was choreographed around the music by how well it matches up and not the other way around.
Saoirse Ronan, this young woman loves the roles that push her boundaries, and why not? She pulls them all off. As Hanna, she physically suits the role as the young girl brought up in the wild. She doesn’t really give a great deal of emotion in the scenes where it is needed, yet she is great as the girl who has never got to experience anything that a typical sixteen year old has. She also doesn’t show a tremendous amount of aggression, which one would normally expect in an assassin. There is aggression there, just not enough.
Eric Bana seems to glide through this role. Like Ronan, he doesn’t show a great amount of emotion. Yet, it is great to see him in another action role. He is a natural in this type of role and looks right at home in the action fighting sequences. Cate Blanchett is very good as the role of the evil agent. She really is quite terrifying and becomes the role with every ounce of her being.
Hanna is truly a work of art. It is visually beautiful and everything is pieced together with the greatest accuracy and care. It is always a great joy to see a film know that it is a piece of art and live up to it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Country Strong

Country Strong
Director: Shana Feste
Cast:  Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester

In My Own Words
Does anybody else find it funny that the only star of Country Strong who is first and foremost a singer outside this film, doesn't sing?

I bet you didn't pick that up until you just read that! Tim McGraw lives and breathes country music being the winner of three Grammy's, married to another country superstar, Faith Hill and has sold millions of records. I can imagine many country music fans would have flocked to see Country Strong in hope of seeing their idol sing on the big screen. Yes he has been in other films in which he hadn't sung in, but this film surely would have been the one he did considering it is about country singers such as himself. Not that it is a bad thing at all because it seperates him as a true actor rather than a singer only trying to be an actor, but it is just interesting that he is the only singer before actor out of the four and the only one who doesn't sing. That's all.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Well, this is probably one cast you probably thought you would never see together in a film. We have Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow, country music superstar Tim McGraw, TRON: Legacy heart throb Garrett Hedlund and Gossip Girl and sometimes pop singer Leighton Meester. Interesting cast, but what about the movie around the cast, Country Strong?

Country Strong is one of those films which require a lot of brain power. Not during the film, but to actually figure out whether you enjoy it or not. It has good points and bad points, just as it has good songs and bad songs. Yet, it is worth a watch for a bit of cheese and a bit of drama.Country music fans will be ecstatic at the long awaited release of a country music film which proves country music to be cool and fun, and not dreary like it is sometimes made out to be.

After a horrific night nine months before in Texas when country music superstar, Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) appeared onstage drunk, fell over a microphone cord, plummeted and lost her unborn child, her husband and manager, James (Tim McGraw)belives she is ready for her comeback tour. However, Kelly's younger lover and country music start on the rise, Beau (Garrett Hedlund) is not quite as sure. James oprganises a sold out tour of Nashville, Austin and Dallas for Kelly and takes Beau and the young starlet, Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) along as support acts. These young stars are ready for their moment in the sun, but it seems that Kelly has already had hers.

There is always something fun about films based on the movie industry, and Country Strong is no exception. Something that Country Strong is also no exception for is that it is cheesy and contains stereo-typical characters for a film of this type. There are some great songs which would do well if they were released on their own ("Timing Is Everything") and then some really horrible and overly corny songs ( the horrible but somehow catchy and toe- tapping "Summer Girl"). There are moments of thrill and goosebumps where the the stars are applauded by massive concert crowds. Country Strong ticks all boxes for a cheesy entertainment based spectacular.

However, Country Strong is inconcsistent to say the least. The story is actually very good and quite entrancing at times, but the script is quite lame which destroys the vibe of the story. There are un-nesccessary lines where there should just be emotion through facial expressions and this would have made the movie far more endearing. For example, when Chiles gives her first performance in front of James to prove she is good enough to tour with Kelly, the audience would have benefited far more if her character had shown her ambition and then nerves through her body language and facial expressions rather than her lines. Yet, the ending is still strong and quite unpredictable.

Gwyneth Paltrow does very well in this film. She plays out well the woman who everyone thought was very close to making a full recovery and goes on a downward spiral into coming undone once again. At the beginning of the film, she is not quite as strong a character as what she becomes in the audiences eyes further into the film. The only thing about Paltrow's performance is that she really has no chemistry with her co-stars. She doesn't seem to be overly in love with her husband ( although at times you're not sure whether she actually is) and there is no chemsitry between her and Garrett Hedlund at all.

 Tim McGraw is also very good, yet one would expect him to be in a film which is based on his main career outside the film. He shows a tremendous amount of love and pain for his wife. It is unclear whether he is actually supposed to be a good guy or a bad guy in this film. He seemingly forces his wife back into the spotlight when she clearly is not ready, yet he never fails in his love for her and, unlike his wife, doesn't have a wandering eye.

Garrett Hedlund is fine. He does well, but his performance is not by any means spectacular. However, who knew he had the perfect voice for country music? Leighton Meester's Chiles doesn't have a particular strong character and at the beginning she starts off quite weak as a result of a bad script, but she finishes off quite well. When happy, her smile does definitely light up the screen.

Country Strong is not the dramatic film which director, Shana Feste may or may not have wanted it to be. It has as many flaws as it does strengths, and like it or not, it is still a fun watch. The combination of Paltrow, McGraw, Hedlund and Meester is enough to bring in the curious folk.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Super 8

Super 8
Year: 2011
Director: J. J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Chandler, Elle Fanning

In My Own Words
One of the things I really loved about Super 8, was that the children with their movie really reminded me of myself when I was around their age. My love of movies has gone back as long as I can remember and in primary school, I decided I wanted to make a movie. Needless to say, the boys in this film got a lot further in the film production stage than what I did. Being only 10, I wasn’t quite sure what to do after the pre-production stage of discussing the movies with my friends as much as I possibly could. Yet, I was completely serious about this film. I spent every lunchtime trying to get all my friends involved and telling them what was the difference between a producer and a director. My movie was to be called “The Taso” and was about a little furry monster who used to live in one of the girls house. He was a sneaky little thing and managed to play games with everyone without actually getting caught. “The Taso” became one of those classic films that was shelved and will never see the light of day.
Back to young people who have actually cracked it into the film industry, Super 8 seems to be the film which has absolutely catapulted Elle Fanning into super stardom. Elle Fanning is, of course, the younger sister of Dakota Fanning, as you may be able to tell not just from the last name but also from their striking resemblance. She has also played the younger version of her sister in I Am Sam and the TV mini-series, Taken.  Yet, Fanning has not ever seemed to be in the shadow of her sister. Before Super 8, she is most remembered for the role of young Daisy in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and as Cleo in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. Super 8 proves what she is capable of and she really is a little firecracker. It may be a big call as the older Fanning is an outstanding actress herself, but the younger Fanning could actually in time to come be a bigger star in her own right than her sister. I know, big call.
These are my own words and here is my review.
The combination in Super 8 of writer and director, J. J. Abrams and producer, Steven Spielberg is an absolute dream. This combination excites not only sci-fi fans, but anybody from any walk of life who just loves great film.  So popular opinion should suggest that we have a great film on our hands, right? Well, maybe.
Super 8 does have exactly what is needed for a great action/ sci-fi film. There is suspense, intrigue and amazing special effects, but there are things which stop this film from making it over the threshold of a good and great film. The film is fairly predictable with an ending which is edging on anti-climatic and as a whole, the film really doesn’t strike you as being completely original. Yes it is intriguing and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the large majority of the film, but it cannot be claimed as being something which we haven’t seen before. However, there really isn’t anything new under the sun so we can’t be too critical.
Set in 1979 in the Ohio town of Lillian, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), the son of the town’s deputy, is focused only on helping Charles (Riley Griffiths) and his group of friends finish make their zombie film. While filming one night, they are witness to the horrific derailment of a cargo train running through town. After this accident, strange things start happening in Lillian and people start disappearing. The town is in panic and Joe and his friends may be the only ones outside the forces who know exactly what is going on.
At first sight, Super 8 seems resemble ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. Joe jumps on his bicycle and one can only have déjà vu to Elliot on his bicycle from Spielberg’s 1982 super hit. Yet then once he teams up with his friends and witnesses the train crash, it is déjà vu to Stand By Me. So what we are looking at is a mash up of ET and Stand By Me, with perhaps a splash of War Of The Worlds. However unoriginal this may make the film seem, there is still a huge sense of intrigue.
Super 8 is very well written and the script flows perfectly. There are also some very emotional scenes which pull at your heart strings. The script and accompanying cinematography methods make the film very suspenseful. In particular, the train crash segment is very intense. The special effects and sound effects employed for this film are brilliant. This is actually one film that proves that you do not need 3D in the cinema to make an action film extremely confronting to those in the audience. The fact that Super 8 wasn’t released in 3D is actually very reassuring and refreshing when 3D seems to be the be all and end all for action films.
Another great thing about this film is the way in which it doesn’t show you much until the right time. In the trailer for the film, nothing is given away as to what is actually in the train so you enter the film with complete intrigue to begin with. The questions are not answered at the beginning of the film, and nothing of the thing in question is really visually shown until later in the film. This is a great technique as it keeps the suspense, intrigue and audience’s attention.
The ending to this film is not as fulfilling as what some may expect it to be. Yet in saying that, it is not easy to think of another way which this film could have finished and it be the type of film which Abrams and Spielberg intended it to be. However, it may be exactly the type of ending that some people were after. It is a fitting ending, but it lacks real intensity in the closing scenes. There is some emotional intensity, but not for the prime focus of the situation.
One thing that also should be touched on is the unrealistic element of the film, in which there is quite a few throughout the film. For example, there is no way anybody could survive a head on collision with a cargo train going at full speed and survive. So kids, don’t try to stop a train at all, car or not. It’s all the magic of movies!
Joel Courtney plays the lead role of Joe Lamb, and in his very first acting performance on screen he does very well. He is very sweet and is the quiet hero. At several times throughout the film, you just want to give him a hug. However, it is Elle Fanning who steals the show in this film. She is brilliant from her very first line in the film and she is the one the audience wants to see more of. She is completely natural in every one of her scenes and like Courtney, you just want to give her a hug and tell her everything is okay. Kyle Chandler is fine as Joe’s father, but he doesn’t really show the traits of a grieving father or a deputy who is under a tremendous amount of stress. The relationship between him and his son doesn’t seem as strained as what it is made out to be.
Super 8 is one of those films which you have to see at the cinema to get the full scope of what it is. It is extremely entertaining and also very sweet in parts. This is one of those rare films which is for everyone.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Imitation Of Life

Imitation Of Life
Year: 1959
Director: Douglas Sirk
Cast: Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner, Sandra Dee
Screening at Sydney Film Festival 8th June-19th June 2011
Monday 13th June 2011 3pm Art Gallery of New South Wales
It is time once again for the most important  film festival in the Australian events calendar. The Sydney Film Festival is in its 67th year and with the Australian film industry only getting stronger, the festival itself is pulling in not only some fine films competing for the Official Grand Jury prize, but also some very exciting Australian premieres.  Hot on the tail of its Cannes Film Festival showing, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree Of Life” will be showing as will Julia Leigh’s controversial “Sleeping Beauty”. However, the great thing about the Sydney Film Festival is that it brings back to the big screen several films that were made during the 20th century that have not been seen in Australian cinemas in many of our lifetimes.
One such film that will be showing at the Sydney Film Festival which I will definitely be seeing is Imitation Of Life. It won’t be the first time I have seen this film, as it is actually featured in my top 50 favourite films, as listed here on, but there is nothing like seeing one of your favourite films on the big screen. Especially if, like me, you have only ever had the opportunity to see it on DVD. However, if you haven’t seen this film and you are in Sydney during the film festival, I do encourage you to go along to the Art Gallery of New South Wales on the 13th of June (the Queen’s Birthday Holiday) and check it out.
Imitation Of Life opens with the meeting of actress, Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) and Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) on the beach at Coney Island. Feeling for Annie’s hardship, Lora invites her and her daughter, Sarah Jane to live with her and her daughter, Susie. Both girls experience growing pains, yet Sarah Jane (older version played by Susan Kohner) has the harder situation. While Annie is dark skinned, Sarah Jane is white as her father was. The last things she is is proud about her mother’s heritage and continually leads people to believe she is white, which ultimately means disowning her own mother. Susie (Sandra Dee), on the other hand, feels neglected by her mother who she feels always puts her career before her.
This film contains a lot of confronting issues, especially relating to race. The time in which Imitation Of Life was made was still a time of racial discrimination so one can partly understand why Sarah Jane would want to avoid that oppression at all costs. Yet, the way she treats her mother is any parent’s nightmare. It is these two minds and conflicting situations in Sarah Jane’s mind that make this film so intriguing. Sarah Jane is, as much as you want to kick her most of the time, a great character. She represents those people in society who feel that they have an identity crisis as a result of being a mix of two races. The situation is particularly heartbreaking when looked at from her mother’s point of view. Sarah Jane blames her mother for being the colour which she is and ultimately does not want her to be her mother. Having your child feel this way about you is any parent’s nightmare. Every parent wants their child to be proud of where they came from and to love the woman who made them, yet Sarah Jane despises her.
The relationship between Lora and Susie does seem to get lost in the Annie and Sarah Jane situation. Although Susie feeling neglected by her mother is supposed to be a big issue, it is almost forgotten throughout the film as the audience is so absorbed by Annie and Sarah Jane. Yet, it does work in a way because Lora gets involved in the dispute between Annie and Sarah Jane and Susie is almost forgotten.
Imitation Of Life is very character driven and the acting always had to be of a high standard to make this film successful. The acting is brilliant by all four of the leading ladies. Douglas Sirk was known for being a “women’s director” and in this film he shows why. Susan Kohner makes you feel angry and emotionally strained watching her, which symbolises how successfully she completes her job as Sarah Jane. Juanita Moore also gives an emotionally charged and absolutely heart breaking performance as the mother who’s daughter is drifting further and further away from her. She is devastating in this film and everyone feels the depth of her pain.
Lana Turner, who gave her best acting at this point in her career, gives a stellar performance. There is one particular scene in Imitation Of Life which could well have been the best scene of her career. She is stunning in this film, but also strong at some times and emotional in others. Susie was Sandra Dee’s breakthrough role and the role just before she was launched into Gidget stardom. She is very sweet, but also manages to give her all in the scenes which demand her to give more than just sweetness.
Even if you are not in Sydney for the film festival this month or you are busy on the 13th of June, track down a copy of Imitation Of Life to watch something quite spectacular. It is a remake to the 1934 film of the same name starring Claudette Colbert, yet this earlier film is not quite as emotionally gifted. Remember to watch this with a box of tissues nearby.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

X- Men: First Class

X- Men: First Class
Year: 2011
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence
In My Own Words
I must say, I am an X- Men fan. I’m not normally one to nerd out on comic book characters or superheroes, but there is something I really like about X- Men. I like the idea of a group of misfits feeling like they truly belong when they are together. I also like how there is the underlying theme of accepting yourself for who you are. In the first X- Men film, it was Anna Paquin’s Rogue struggling with her identity as a mutant and in this film it is both Raven and Hank who have to come to grips with their visible mutations. Normally with Marvel comic movies, the recurring theme is always one of the unlikely hero proving that anyone can be a superhero. Yet in X-Men, it reaches down further than that and tries to teach people that what you sometimes believe is your weakness, can be your strength. I think we all need to remember this. Stop seeing what is wrong with yourself and turn it around so that you see that that is what makes you special. And of course, who can forget the romanticised theme of it is what is inside that counts.
Wow, it seems as though I am also becoming a motivational speaker as well as a film critic. That was deep! It would be great if we could all use our weaknesses to join in some superhero activities and go to Charles Xavier’s school, where education seems to be a lot more fun that sitting in Maths class each day!
These are my own words and here is my review.
The 3rd of June is the day in which X- Men fanatics would have been holding their breath in anticipation for. With a killer cast, great special effects and a lot of answers to those questions that have been asked ever since the first X- Men film was released back in 2000, X- Men: First Class is an absolute thrill for X- Men fans. However, if you are not an X- Men fan or haven’t seen any of the previous films, un-fulfilment and boredom will be the order of the day.
X- Men: First Class is the prequel to the four previously released X- Men films.  It takes you back to the very beginning when Professor X was Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto was Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), two mutants with extraordinary powers who are united in the fight against a common enemy, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Together they assemble a team of mutants, who feel outcast from society but like they belong with each other and fight against Shaw and his team of faithful followers.
Anyone who likes any of the previous X- Men films will love this film. There are many references to bits and pieces in the prior films and all the questions as to why things are the way they are are answered. It really is a suitable prequel to the series and is really quite interesting and definitely enjoyable enough. Those who are not X- Men fans are sure to 132 minutes too long for this film and may get restless quite a few times throughout.
What does differentiate this film from its predecessors (except maybe X- Men Origins: Wolverine), is that it is focussed more on the narrative rather than on the action. There really isn’t too much action until the end. Sure there are bits and pieces of impressive special effects and the odd rough and tumble here and there throughout the film, but there really aren’t any intense action sequences until the close to the end. This may be a long time to wait for those who have their heart set on seeing lots of explosions and gunfire. However, this scenes are worth the wait and as they are very impressive and suspenseful. The CGI is outstanding and the sound editing is also commendable.
And what a cast. Perfectly cast are all those who are involved. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender had hard roles to live up to as they had had the bar set so high by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. McAvoy’s performance reflected Stewart’s in his mannerisms and nature, but also bought something new to the role. McAvoy’s Charles Xavier grows from a cocky Oxford student into a leader throughout the course of the film and you can see how much the character changes from beginning to end. Fassbender is superb as Erik Lehnsherr. The raw emotion exhibited in his character shows how Magneto became the way he is and he demands pity from the audience.
Rose Byrne is very good in her role as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert and gets the most out of her role as she possibly can. Jennifer Lawrence shines as the young Raven who renames herself Mystique, again showing the growth in character over the film. The story of Mystique is one which people will enjoy as she has always been one of the great mysteries of the X- Men series. Kevin Bacon’s performance is good for the most part of the film, but the first scene in which he is in in the Polish war camp is brilliant. It would be an absolute treat to see him do a role like he was in that scene in a whole movie in the future. Nicholas Hoult is also very good as Hank, who later turns into Beast.
One of the best things about this film is that there is so much character development for each of the main characters. Charles, Erik and Raven are so well constructed and every question is answered as to who they are, where they come from and why they are the way they are. Also watch out for a hilarious cameo by Hugh Jackman!
It can’t be said enough that X- Men: First Class is a film which anyone who has seen any of the first four X- Men films will enjoy. There is a lot of fun to be had while you find out the history of the two men who started it all. Great for the fans, quite possibly tedious for those who are not.