Thursday, February 24, 2011
Gnomeo And Juliet
Director: Kelly Ashbury
Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham
In My Own Words
It's about time someone finally made an animation about garden gnomes. It's been awhile since Noddy was around and everybody loves the gnome from "Amelie". I'm not saying I've been holding my breath waiting for a gnome movie or it's even something which I've thought about at all. When you think about it though, how cool are gnomes? Especially the concept of them coming to life when the sun is down? Having a gnome in the garden is always fun, it's having a little man watch over everything when you aren't there to. It's something you can think about and make up their own stories. They are a fun concept. Keeping this in mind, it's interesting that the first gnome movie in years is based on Shakespeare.
So, I decided the Google gnomes and see what I came up with. Garden gnomes started popping up in peoples gardens in the 1930's as ornaments. Their appearence has a resemblence to the seven dwarves featured in "Snow White And The Seven Dwarves". Disney does it again by showing the effect it has on everyday society! The most shocking discovery was not where they came from or anything in the words. I came across a photo of two gnomes which were doing the naughty deed! And that was on the first display page when I typed in gnomes, I didn't go looking for trouble. It almost makes me a bit worried to look any further as gnomes may not be as clean fun as what I thought they were! What gnomes do when the sun goes down may not be as clean natured and may not be something we all need to know that much.
These are my own words and here is my review.
Like the first gnome we see in "Gnomeo And Juliet" says when he appears on the screen, "The story you are about to see has been done before. A lot..." Yes, yes it has. The story of "Romeo And Juliet" has been done in many different ways many times. One would think that gnomes playing out this version would be adorable, comical and as original as it could be. It is.... a bit, but not a great deal. "Gnomeo And Juliet" is cute and fun, but otherwise quite flat. It plays out in much the same way as people would expect a film based on Shakespeare's tragic love story would. The houses of Montague( the Blues) and Capulet (the Reds) are adjacent houses in suburban England where the owners don't get along, and neither do the gnomes who live in the garden. By chance, the Blue Gnomeo and Red Juliet meet in the land in between their houses and it is love at first sight despite their differences. Gnomeo and Juliet defy their elders by seeing each other, but things are complicated a great deal when one of the Red's is killed in a duel involving Gnomeo and their lawn mowers.
"Gnomeo And Juliet" tries hard to be a blockbuster. It has a stellar cast who have donated their vocal talents for this film and one Elton John who has donated his music and is also executive producer. It tries hard to be original, but that is all it is doing. The film just lacks and doesn't create any lasting impression. It is extremely forgettable and is one of those films in which you leave the cinema after it is finished, and then a few hours later can barely remember that you have seen it. The visuals are great, but they are not spectacular. The screenplay is nothing special, although there are some funny one-liners throughout the film. It's not even entirely clear as to whether "Gnomeo and Juliet" is supposed to be a children's animation or not. It has the simplicity of a children's film, but has many jokes and themes that would not be understood by children.
However, there is a certain amount of creativity to the film. The creation of the gnome garden worlds are certainly clever. Such as their obsessions with lawnmowers on the world wide web, the outside world and their garden friends. The characters are colourful and fun. Gnomeo and Juliet themselves are probably the two most boring characters throughout the film, as they are challenged by Featherstone the flamingo, Nanette the frog, the Red Good Gnomes and Fawn (voiced by Ozzy Osbourne). One of the fun parts of the film is keeping your eye our for Shakespeare references, which pop up along the way and will be easier to find for those who are familiar with Shakespeare's life and his drama.
The problem with "Gnomeo And Juliet" is that it is not quite sure what it is. It is clearly trying to be a gnome version of "Romeo And Juliet", but it lacks the emotion. It is not quite sure who it's target audience is and it is just trying too hard to be successful. There are some good points about the film, but the aspects of a film which make it successful overall are just not there. It is an extremely light and moderately fun watch. A film you would love to remember, but it doesn't help you to do so.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Just About Famous
Director: Matt Mamula and Jason Kovacsev
Cast: Joe Manuella, Charlie Franks, Dale Leigh, John Morgan
In My Own Words
At Movie Critical, we are always happy to give help to those who deserve it. As well as review the latest in cinema releases, we also take pride in reviewing independant film gems. It's a great feeling to know that you are helping out the independant film makers who have worked so hard to make a great film by posting a positive review. Making a film is no easy task and requires a huge amount of commitment and creative talent. It is such a credit to these film makers, who don't earn anywhere near the same amount of money as the Hollywood film makers, when they make a film that could easily compete in the mainstream world.
I have had the great pleasure of helping out some brilliant independant film makers in the past and it is something I look forward to doing more of in the future. This time round Movie Critical will be reviwing "Just About Famous", a short documentary about the lives of celebrity impersonators. Sound funny? It is! "Just About Famous" has played in 15 film festivals to date including DC Shorts, Orlando Film Festival and will be shown at the upcoming Cleveland International Film Festival. We wish Matt Mamula and Jason Kovacsev the best of luck in the upcoming festivals!
These are my own words and here is my review
When are you lucky enough to get Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin in the room together? Sound like just a political gathering? Well, add to the equation Elvis Presley, Jay Leno, Brittney Spears and Robin Williams and what do you have? The Sunburst Convention of Celebrity Tribute Artists! "Just About Famous" is the short documentary which allows you to go behind the scenes of the convention in the best and most hilarious way possible. This short feature finds out the stories behind several of the best celebrity impersonators and how they came to do what they do. They clear up the misconception that celebrity impersonators are people who are such big fans that they come to believe they are these people. As Jay Leno impersonator, Gary Alan says "All I have to do to know I am not Jay Leno is to walk out to my car!" "Just About Famous" is filled with funny one-liners just like this and you would have to have a very dull sense of humour not to find a duet between Bill Clinton and George Bush tribute artists, Dale Leigh and John Morgan hilarious.
A good documentary must always have a subject which is of interest to a number of people, but must have a factor which sets it apart from all other documentaries. Celebrities are celebrities because of public interest. People want to know about celebrities and their lifestyles. So creating a documentary about people who are almost celebrities is genius, and the setting of the convention is the perfect place for it to be undertaken. Film makers, Matt Mamula and Jason Kovacsev have pieced this short documentary together perfectly. The short is clean cut and explores the questions about impersonators that people want answered. It is just a fun piece of work and an absolute joy to watch. Although "Just About Famous" is only a short documentary, it leaves you wanting more. There is definately room for at least another hour of footage before the interest wears off, if the interest wears off at all. "Just About Famous" is more intriguing being about the celebrity tribute artists of Jay Leno, Robin Williams and Dr Phil than it would be watching documentaries on the celebrities themselves.
It is a credit to Matt Mamula and Jason Kovansev as to how good "Just About Famous" really is. It is not often you finish watching a short only to realise how much you really wished it had gone longer. Maybe a sequel is in the works for after it has done the festival rounds? These two directors have a long career ahead of them in film making.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Never Let Me Go
Director: Mark Romanek
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, Sally Hawkins
In My Own Words
"Never Let Me Go" was one film I was really looking forward to seeing. It is one of those films which I first hear about while it is in production and know nothing about it, yet I know who is in it and just that makes me want to see it. "Never Let Me Go" is the second pairing up in a feature film of Keira Knightley and Carey Muligan. I believe that these two are two of the finest British young actors going around at the moment. Firstly you have Knightley, who has proved that she can do it all. She can do the young roles, the damsel in distress, the tough girl, the object of affection and the historic roles. All of these she can do well, and has earned herself an Oscar nomination for "Pride & Prejudice" in doing so. At the present time she is also appearing in "The Children's Hour" in London's West End. There is nothing she can't do. Then you have Carey Mulligan. Mulligan has completed the majority of her work in British television, but 2009 and 2010 were big years for her in regards to film. Her break through role was as Jenny in "An Education" in which she recieved wide acclaim and her first Oscar nomination. As much as I admire and love Mulligan's performances, I would love to see her in a role which would require her to smile a bit more! Maybe a romantic comedy should be on the cards for her to break up her intense dramatic roles and show that beautiful smile of hers. Don't get me wrong, I don't want her to turn into an actor who only does the cutesy rom-com roles, but she has such a beautiful smile, it would be great for her to show it off on screen once or twice and lower the intensity. However, she does intense extremely well.With these two involved, "Never Let Me Go" looked like a winner to me, even when I didn't know what it was about. We are all guilty of this, but what is a better marketing tool than your favourite actor or actors?
These are my own words and here is my review.
"Never Let Me Go" is the new film from Mark Romanek based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is an interesting and unsettling film, but also very tender and emotional. It has been described as a film about love and betrayal, which it indeed true, but it is also about growing up and the emotions which make us human. "Never Let Me Go" centres around three school friends, Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley). The film opens in Hailsham, a strict, but pleasant boarding school when the friends are young. Their friendship and dynamics with one another change as they get older and they come to experience emotions and feelings between one another that one would not suspect at such a young age. All this because Hailsham was not as it seemed and they were not normal children.
"Never Let Me Go" is not what it is made out to be. Perhaps this is a good thing as it makes the film more intriguing and interesting, but it is not a good thing if you are expecting a movie truly about love. There is a great deal of emotion in this film, the large majority of it being hard emotion. You feel so much sorrow for these three characters and what they have to go through day by day. It actually puts your life into greater perspective by making you realise the freedom you have to do what you want to do and be who you want to be. "Never Let Me Go" is largely a character based drama, focusing primarily on who these three main characters are and how they feel as a result of the walls which are put up around them. Although the audience does not see anything which would make them cringe in pain, they do feel pain just from the thought of what these three friends have to go through. It is a credit to the film makers that they can create stir up so many feelings and make so much of an impact by something which they cannot see. The film is beautifully directed and the cinematography is quite superb. Romanek captures the tranquility and serenity of the English boarding house extremely well. The scene at the beach is also a standout in his direction.
"Never Let Me Go" has a great story and is brilliantly written and cast. Carey Mulligan gives another superb performance as Kathy H. She is able to tell the audience so much just from the look in her eyes. Her performance reaches its peak towards the end of the film. Honourable mention should also be given to Isobel Meikle-Small, who plays the younger Kathy H and looks uncannily like a younger version of Mulligan. Throughout the film, it can seem as though Andrew Garfield has drawn the shortest straw, as he has perhaps the easiest role throughout, but then in one particular scene towards the end of the film he completely blows everyone else in the film out of the water. His performance brings tears to your eyes in this particular scene, and it shouldn't be a question of which scene this is after you see it. It is so good to see Garfield complete a role which is completely different from his role in "The Social Network" as it proves that he has a long and bright future ahead of him, and not just as the next Spiderman. However, on screen Mulligan and Garfield do not have a great amount of chemistry. They do not seem quite as in love as the story makes them out to be. Keira Knightley also gives a great performance in which she goes through all the emtions one would in such a situation with complete believability. The interaction between Knightley and Mulligan on screen works superbly as they both know who their characters are and the tension is felt between these two, but also the love is felt between them too.
"Never Let Me Go" is an emotional film. There is nothing presented on screen which would make this visually a hard film to watch, but the thought processes it sets you on and the way it makes you feel are not easy things to face. This does make for a splendid work of art as it makes you feel and think things that you wouldn't have unless you had seen this film.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clemence Poesy
In My Own Words
Oscar contender review number no.7. Never fear, by February the 27th we will have all of the Best Picture nominiee's reviewed. As far as "127 Hours" goes, it is infamous as being the film where the guys cut's his arm off. I hate to be a killjoy and supplying a major spoiler of this film, but if you don't know this part about "127 Hours", you must have been living under a rock. This was the major reason I wasn't looking forward to seeing this film. I don't know about you, but watching people amputate their limbs is not really one of my favourite things to do. However, the film around the amputation....is actually quite beautiful. I never thought you could have bodily amputation and beautiful in the same sentance, but there you go. That is Danny Boyle for you. He is one film maker who is able to make the most unlikely aspects of a film beautiful. All you need to do to see proof of that is watch "Slumdog Millionaire". Boyle is truly one of the geniuses of ensembling a film with beautiful and amazing cinematography around a gruesome reality.
These are my own words and here is my review.
"127 Hours" is another work of genius by Danny Boyle. Not only is it another beautiful piece of work for Boyle, but it is also a career best performance thus far for James Franco. This combination allows for a subject matter and story that could be completing unsettling and uncomfortable, to be life changing and inspirational. Although, the film can definately be unsettling as it can remind you of the powers of nature beyond our control. "127 Hours" is based on the book of the same name by Aron Ralston (James Franco) who retells the 5 days which begun by canyoneering in Utah and getting his right arm submerged between a fallen rock and a canyon wall. He is stuck in this position for 5 days on his own and in this time, re-evaluates his life and the relationships he has with the people in it.
The direction of this film is brilliant right from the very beginning. The cinematography is just beautiful and takes on the form of a storyteller. For example, the beginning opf the film shows a montage of the things which Aron is seeing from his car as he drives to his destination. This montage of images such as a McDonalds sign and other pieces of main stream advertising logos shows the superficiality of Aron's life before the accident. The visuals of Bluejohn Canyon and it's surrounding areas are just breath taking. However, it is unreal how such a beautiful piece of nature could also be so dangerous and life threatening. The flashback scenes are also made with great care and definately give the feeling of nostalgia. They show how Aron, in hos time stuck in the canyon, is almost having an out of body experience and is seeing himself from other eyes. Director, Danny Boyle is one of the masters of cinematography and lives up to his reputation in this film project that seems like it was made for him. The soundtrack of the film is also a winner, another sign of a Boyle film. It perfectly fits each scene and creates tension by working with the visuals and the feeling of the scenario.
As previously said, this is a career best for James Franco. He carries the film from beginning to end by himself, being the single focus and in every single scene. It is difficult to maintain a film from beginning to end by yourself, let alone be that you are in the same position and location for the large majority of it. His performance is definately Oscar nomination worthy as Franco perfectly shows Aron's initial cockiness and his descent into madness over the time period he is stuck in the canyon. The change of character is perfect throughout the course of the film. Franco's performance is inspiring and he was the perfect choice for Aron. The man himself should be proud to have been depicted with such a brilliant performance.
"127 Hours" is beautiful. With the final event the unfolds while Aron is in the canyon, the film should be anything but beautiful, but there is no other way to describe it. It is completely captivating even if you know what is going to happen and it's visuals are almost hypnotic. Boyle has made yet another masterpiece with "127 Hours".