Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 104 minutes
Director: John Krokidas
Writers: John Krokidas and Austin Bunn
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgewick

Kill Your Darlings will open in Australian cinemas on the 5th December and is distributed by Sony Pictures.

Kill Your Darlings is very much an acquired taste film. It will seem a little too bizarre and confronting for some, but for those who are fans of the Beat Generation and those associated with it will be in for a thrill.

Kill Your Darlings is without a doubt very nostalgic and atmospheric of the 1940's and the world of the young Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, all of who are brought to life wonderfully by their respective actors. As a film about these men, the film is a complete success. However, it is not a continuously engrossing film, not incredibly suspenseful or thrilling, and takes an incredibly long time to get to the main focal point of the film.

When seventeen year old Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is accepted to Columbia University, he steps out of the shadow of his well known poet father, Louis (David Cross) and starts to make a name for himself. He quickly becomes best friends with the charismatic Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), who enters Allen into a world he never knew existed and introduces him to William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). The four share their ideas on deconstructing social norms and start their own war against society's accepted standards. Yet it is the presence of Lucien's "guardian angel", David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) that threatens to destroy it all and brings the young men to one fateful night that will change all of them forever.

As a biopic, Kill Your Darlings is incredibly well done. It documents the beginnings of the Beat Generation exceptionally well and uses the narrative to reveal how Allen Ginsberg came to be the man he was. You really feel as though you step into the world of Kill Your Darlings rather than remain a spectator on the outside for an hour and a half. Each scene is so atmospheric and makes you feel, hear, smell and touch everything which you are seeing on the screen. In particular, the scenes inside the bars throughout the film are incredible. You can smell the smoky air that is tinged with the smell of alcohol and the glamour of the 1940's makes it seem far more attractive than what a local bar may be in the present. It is a rare thing in today's movie culture of larger screens and 3D, to feel so involved in a film which is just straightforward and not being enhanced by these cinematic tricks.

The screenplay itself is verbally exquisite, as one would hope that a film featuring some of the most well known writers of the twentieth century would be. Some of the dialogue, especially that of Lucien, is just so interesting and pleasing to listen to. However, after the thrill of the first five minutes of the film, Kill Your Darlings suddenly plateaus and just coasts along for awhile at the same tone and emotional level. The beginning scenes with Allen and Lucien in the prison and Lucien in the lake holding David in his arms, along with the powerful title sequence, make for a fantastic start to the film which promises so much. Yet this is it as far as suspense goes for the majority of the film. It does quicken up it's pace a bit more at the very end, but for the most part is very slow and boarding on tedious.

John Krokidas' direction certainly brings out the best in his actors. There is no lack of character in any of the main players in this film. They are all wonderfully and intriguing constructed and have so much more to them than meets the eye. Daniel Radcliffe gives his first really "grown up" performance as Allen Ginsberg in this film by taking his acting to a completely new territory. He embodies Ginsberg perfectly and has some terrific emotional moments. Dane DeHaan has so much charisma as Lucien Carr. You do not want to take your eyes away from him from the beginning to the end of the film as he is so captivating. Although not the most likable character at times, he is absolutely the most interesting.

Ben Foster's William Burroughs is brilliant. Foster is almost unrecognisable from his past roles when he first appears onscreen. His performance is incredibly quirky, but again so intriguing. The tone of his voice used through the film is almost hypnotic, with a touch of hilarity. Elizabeth Olsen doesn't have as much screen time as you would like to see her have considering her portrayal of Edie Parker, Jack Kerouac's girlfriend is so powerful. She is a strong woman, but also has a tender side, both of which would have been a treat to see more of. Jennifer Jason Leigh also does well as Ginsberg's mother, Naomi.

Kill Your Darlings does fall into the trap of retelling the story of these men fact for fact, which means that it forgets that the audience needs to actually feel something to be kept entertained. The film isn't for everyone, but those who enjoy these particular writers or finding out a bit more about the origins of twentieth century literature will enjoy Kill Your Darlings.


You may have also seen Daniel Radcliffe in.....
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2 as Harry Potter
The Woman In Black as Arthur Kipps

You may have also seen Dane DeHaan in.....
Metallica: Through The Never as Trip

Friday, November 22, 2013

Delivery Man (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 103 minutes
Director: Ken Scott
Writers: Martin Petit (original screenplay "Starbuck") and Ken Scott (screenplay and original screenplay "Starbuck")
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders, Chris Pratt, Andrzej Blumenfeld

Delivery Man will be released in Australia on the 5th December and is now showing in the USA.

On the surface, Delivery Man may seem ludicrous and it is true that you do have to abandon reason for awhile, but underneath it has a great deal of heart and warmth.

Delivery Man does have the tendency to cross over into the territory of the ridiculous and the all too familiar comical cliché territory. These are the territories that you would never have any doubt that a film about a anonymous sperm donor fathering 533 children would fall into. However, Vince Vaughn does do a wonderful job of showing how parental instinct can click straight in when you become a parent yourself, and this is what gives the film a really beautiful silver lining.

David (Vince Vaughn) is an underachiever who just can't seem to get anything right no matter how hard he tries. He finds himself at an all time low when he has to grow marijuana in his apartment in order to raise money to pay off some massive financial trouble he finds himself in. However, his world is turned around and he makes a decision to turn his life around after two major life events take place. Firstly, his newly ex-girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders) tells David that she is pregnant and he is the father of the baby. He also finds out that when he was an anonymous sperm donor 20 years earlier, this resulted in him being the father of 533 children and 142 of them are filing a lawsuit in order for him to reveal his identity.

So much about Delivery Man is cliché. We have all seen before the underdog who makes good as a result of a life changing event in countless comedies before this one. The music, editing and cinematography are all the same as the same sort of films which have came before it. Based on the 2011 Canadian film, Starbuck, Ken Scott has remade his own indie film with the Hollywood benefits. Indeed the fact this film was made does seem like a Hollywood thing to do when it comes to comedies. When one hears a story about a man anonymously fathering 533 children, it does sound comical in itself. It almost sounds as though it was screaming for a main stream film and if Scott didn't remake it himself, someone else would have as it fits the mould of an atypical Hollywood comedy film. What strikes you about Delivery Man more than anything else is that it's face value is absolutely nothing we haven't seen before and there is nothing really new it brings to the table.

However, scratch the surface and you see something you may not see everyday in such a comedy film. There is something really beautiful about Delivery Man. It will actually reach out and pull the heart strings of many people who will see it, particularly parents. Every parent knows that the period before you become one is a terrifying time filled with worry and self doubt as to what kind of mother or father you will be. Yet the moment you see your child for the first time, your parental instinct kicks in and all you want to do is love and protect your child. Delivery Man shows us that this parental instinct can kick in when you first lay your eyes on your offspring, whether it be the moment they are born or later in life like in this case. It is extremely touching watching this happen. Of course there are the things you do wonder about, like what the future holds for this man with so many children and where are the mothers in all this, but it is still very sweet watching parental love in it's simplest form.

Vince Vaughn may have seemed the obvious choice for a comedy film like many we have seen before as he has proved that he can play the lovable underdog well, but he goes above and beyond expectations, especially in the final scenes. Funnily enough, it is actually the "loser" part of his role that he is least believable. He doesn't really strike you as as much of a no-hoper that the film would have you believe he is. Sure the story suggests otherwise, but not the way he carries himself. He is far more believable as the proud father of how many children. As Vaughn became a father for the second time this year in real life, he must have brought a lot of the energy he has for his biological children to this role. You can feel the love his character has for the young people he comes into contact with and it is this that makes the film so sweet.

Although Vaughn has the main role in the film and is the star, Chris Pratt provides the comedy relief. His relationship with his children is really hilarious, particularly in the sandpit scene. While Vaughn is normally the head comedian in his films, it is Pratt who is in this film and he adopts this title with ease. Cobie Smulders is also very good as David's girlfriend, Emma. Britt Robertson, who plays Kristen, and Jack Reynor as Josh are also stand outs.

Delivery Man must be seen in order to appreciate the emotional depth it possesses. Although it may seem no different in many ways to comedy films we have seen before, it has more heart than we could have imagines.


You may have also seen Vince Vaughn in.......
Couples Retreat as Dave
The Internship as Billy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 146 minutes
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Suzanne Collins (book), Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt (screenplay)
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is now showing in Australian cinemas and is distributed by Roadshow Films. Opening in the UK on the 21st of November and in the USA on the 22nd of November 2013.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Fans of "The Hunger Games" book trilogy by Suzanne Collins and 2012's The Hunger Games have been anxious to see whether Francis Lawrence's direction do the second instalment to The Hunger Games the justice it deserves.

Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Catching Fire is a wonderful follow up to the first film and in many ways actually better. Francis Lawrence has done a great job directing a very well adapted screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt and has created a suspenseful and very emotional at times film. Jennifer Lawrence shines in her second venture as Katniss Everdeen and is surrounded by a number of intriguingly well-rounded characters.

After winning the 74th Hunger Games, District 12's victors, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are about the embark on their victor's tour of the districts. Although the two are still carrying on their love affair for the cameras in order to stay alive, Katniss is confused about whether she does have feelings for Peeta outside the arena, or if she is meant to be with her long time best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth). However, Katniss has more pressing matters than her love life at the present time. President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has his eye on her every move as his citizens see her as a beacon of hope and her actions have inched the districts closer to a rebellion. With the 75th Hunger Games approaching, Snow does the unthinkable and announces that the pool of tributes will consist of past Hunger Games victors, which means that Katniss is definitely heading back into the lethal world which haunts her dreams every night.

With an influx of young adult book series being made into films and not all of those adaptations praise-worthy, Catching Fire is in a class of it's own. Not only is it a wonderful adapted screenplay, but it is one of the rare second films that may well be better than the first. Lawrence was a perfect choice for director for the second film as he has brought out the best in his actors and by doing so has made the characters personalities stronger by showing their raw emotions in a more powerful way than what we saw in The Hunger Games.

A lot happens in Catching Fire's 146 minutes. Such a running time would normally seem like an eternity in a movie theatre, but every scene is essential and contributes to the greater picture. In addition to that, every scene is intriguing and creates some sort of emotion. There is also a great deal more tension and suspense leading up to the finale than in the first film. The ending is done absolutely perfectly as you feel you are at the very height of suspense, and it leaves you wanting more and wanting the third film, Mockingjay Part 1 to be released sooner rather than later. It is an incredible thing for a film to be two and a half hours long and to leave you wanting more.

There are a great deal of close-up camera shots of the characters throughout the film, particularly of Katniss. These close-ups allow the audience to grasp every bit of emotion the character is feeling and you are able to tell so much by looking closer. There are also some very fast camera movements whilst in the Hunger Games arena. Although these can be a tad dizzying at times, it feels as though they were employed to represent the mayhem that the Hunger Games arena creates and the sense of always being on the look out and on edge. The actual landscape shots of the Hunger Games arena are also quite stunning.

The centre and heart of the film is absolutely Jennifer Lawrence. From the very first shot, Lawrence is perfection. When we first see her sitting beside the lake, we understand so much just by looking at her. Just from seeing her facial expression, we can tell that she is psychologically exhausted and still very much recovering from her time in the arena. Her performance packs a bigger punch than that of the first film and is much more emotionally charged. She is truly brilliant and the perfect heroine. What is so great about her Katniss is that she is effortlessly strong and a beacon of hope by being the person she is. It would be so easy to seem corny when acting as a symbol of strength, but there is absolutely nothing corny about this performance at all. Lawrence is just a powerhouse from beginning to end and her last scene is a perfect example of this strength.

Josh Hutcherson does well as Peeta, and continues to be such a likable character. Liam Hemsworth has a greater role as Gale than in the first film, and he also does very well with what he has been given. Both Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, as Haymitch and Effie are both full of character and are a pleasure to watch. Donald Sutherland is particularly terrifying in such a subtle way, and it is the subtlety that makes him so unsettling as President Snow. Lenny Kravitz is an audience favourite as Cinna. His performance, like Sutherland's, is subtle rather than over the top, but his loyalty and love he shows for Katniss is so endearing. Jena Malone is also wonderful as tribute, Johanna Mason. Johanna was again a character that could have been made to seem corny, but Malone is so natural and real in this role and her obvious anger actually makes her very likable.

While Catching Fire is a wonderful film, it is still not a stand alone film and it is absolutely crucial that you see the first film before you see this one. That shouldn't come as a huge surprise as this is part of a trilogy, not a sequel so it can hardly be seen as a negative aspect of the film. For those who love The Hunger Games movie or books, there is no disappointment to be had here.


You may have also seen Jennifer Lawrence in.....
Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany
X Men: First Class as Mystique

You may have also seen Liam Hemsworth in.....
Paranoia as Adam Cassidy

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Fifth Estate (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 128 minutes
Director: Bill Condon
Writers: Daniel Domscheit-Berg (book), David Leigh and Luke Harding (book), Josh Singer (adaptation)
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, David Thewlis, Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci, Alicia Vikander
The Fifth Estate is now showing in Australia, the USA and the UK.

Julian Assange is without a doubt one of the most intriguing figures of the twenty-first century. He may not be everyone's favourite person, but everyone wants to know what he has done, what he is doing and what he is saying. Assange is perceived as being a one of a kind dangerous man, as he has no weapons to fight with besides the truth and the ways he can obtain it.

So it definitely comes as a surprise that The Fifth Estate doesn't provide a solid platform for this enigmatic figure. One may toy with the idea that it may still be a bit too soon to have a feature film about the Wikileaks founder, but it is more to do with the fact that the film has no sense of suspense or tension and is void of any emotion. It is such a shame that an interesting case such as Wikileaks should be presented in such a tedious manner and is unable to grasp the emotion and seriousness of the situation. Yet, the representation of Julian Assange by Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't disappoint.

The Fifth Estate chronicles the rise of Wikileaks from it's very beginnings as seen largely through the eyes of Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl). Berg worked closely with the infamous and enigmatic Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) during the quest to uncover the truth that some of the world's largest organisations are withholding from the public. This was the quest that led Assange to having access to the collection of the most incriminating documents in American history. Whilst The Fifth Estate covers in great detail the events that led up to this controversy, it also looks at the relationship between Berg and Assange and gives insight into the real Julian Assange.
The biggest problem with The Fifth Estate is that it is completely void of tension and emotion. In a film such as this in which a recent and culturally significant event is being represented, it is vital that it have the ability to create an emotional impact. There is no emotion felt throughout the whole film, not even when dealing with the revelations of Bradley Manning, which is such an emotional topic anyway. The film coasts along without any urgency and adds at least another ten minutes on at the end which doesn't need to be there. This ten minutes is obviously there for the reason that director, Bull Condon is trying to help the film finish on a spectacular and meaningful note, but it does quite the opposite. The drawn out ending has viewers leaving the film remembering that they just felt bored and this is the memory they take with them about The Fifth Estate.

However, the cinematography is actually really wonderful and equally intriguing. The virtual workspace of Wikileaks is represented brilliantly and is genius, as it represents the deception virtual workplaces can hold. The beginning montage is also very good and the subtitles giving the sense of coming straight of a computer is a nice touch. The soundtrack is most fitting as well.

The actual character of Julian Assange in the film leads us to think that maybe The Fifth Estate has been made a little too early. Anybody who has followed Assange's movements over the past few years and seen footage of him or has seen this year's documentary, We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks will recognise many of the scenes are actual recreations of Assange. There are several scenes which mirror Assange's conferences and also one which is a recreation of footage of Assange dancing in his unique style. However, Assange being the person he is is not a personality which transfers well to screen. From what we have seen and heard of him, he is a very complex human being and has a very distinctive air about him. To those who are not familiar with the man (although it is unlikely there are too many who aren't), some of the dialogue used by Benedict Cumberbatch's Assange may seem a little too unusual and his dancing scene especially will seem ridiculous. At this point in time, it is probably a little too soon to be seeing a take on Assange on the screen. His character isn't likable at all on screen, but many may argue that he is not likable in real life as well if Daniel Berg's experiences are anything to go by. One thing is for sure, he is still an interesting and complex character, but he may not be the character current movie goers are interested in seeing. In a few years time when Assange is categorized as an historical figure, he may be even more interesting on screen when audiences are interested in knowing what he was really like. At this point in time, it doesn't feel as though we are finding out anything about Julian Assange that we don't already know, especially if you had already seen We Steal Secrets this year.

Yet this is no fault of Benedict Cumberbatch's. It is evident that Cumberbatch has studied Assange's behaviour, dialogue and body language in great depth for the film and it has paid off, as he does very well and is better than the film he is in. The Englishman's Australian accent is very convincing, just like his portrayal of Assange. Daniel Bruhl is good, but it doesn't feel as though the screenplay gives him enough opportunity to really show emotion or take his performance further. The same can be said for Alicia Vikander who plays Berg's girlfriend, Anke Domscheit. She really does not have enough to work with and all we see are sparks of potential.

It is a shame that we don't see enough of Laura Linney in The Fifth Estate because she is wonderful in this film as Sarah Shaw. She is such a strong female character and shines in her role. Stanley Tucci is in the same boat as James Boswell, as he really does not have enough screen time.

With more emotion and suspense, The Fifth Estate would have worked better in a few years time when people feel the need to find out more about what really happened with Wikileaks. Just a little too soon and a little too weak.


You may have also seen Benedict Cumberbatch in......
Star Trek Into Darkness as Khan

You may have also seen Daniel Bruhl in.....
Rush as Niki Lauda

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 95 minutes
Director: Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn
Writers: Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett (characters), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (story), John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein and Erica Rivinoja (screenplay)
Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Neil Patrick Harris, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 opens in Australia on the 5th December 2013 and is distributed by Sony Pictures. Now showing in the USA and United Kingdom.

One thing that the original Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs was able to do without any trouble was to conjure up an appetite in it's audience. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 gives much the same effect.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is thankfully the type of sequel that doesn't rely on the first film to make it's way in the world. It is original in it's own way, very cute and fun, the perfect film for families to enjoy together. It isn't particularly the most memorable film, but still allows for a particularly enjoyable hour and a half of your day.

We meet Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs hero, Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) again literally moments after the last film, just as he reveals to his now girlfriend, Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) that he would like to really commit to her. We are also taken through a speedy reminder of Flint's adventures up until this point in the first few minutes of the film, before Flint's life long idol, Chester V (Will Forte) appears to offer Flint the opportunity of a lifetime to work for him and become an inventor for his company. As amazing an opportunity that it is, things do not go Flint's way and he is soon summoned back to his hometown of Swallow Falls, which has now been taken over by food-animal hybrids.

The fact that Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is a sequel shouldn't let anyone stop seeing it. Although it is a sequel, there is no possible way in which you are felt out of the loop. The first few minutes takes you quickly through what happened in the first film so not to discriminate against those who didn't see the first film. However, even without this introduction, there isn't too much in the film which relies on the first film, meaning you don't necessarily have to watch the first film in order to understand exactly what is happening. As is the case with most follow up films, it does still pay to watch the first film just to get a further grasp of the characters, but those who haven't seen the first film will not leave the film feeling as though they don't know that much about the main players.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is a visual treat, in more ways than one. The use of colour throughout the film is exquisite and they are used to create the optimum effect, particularly in the scenes in Swallow Falls and with Flint's hilarious celebration invention. The creativity when it comes to the food-animal hybrids is wonderful. Audiences will find that the scenes in Swallow Falls are a collage of alive food, such as "tacodiles", "shrimpanzees" and some pretty terrifying hamburgers, as well as submarines which are actually Subway sub's. There are also some very cute and social live strawberries.

The story is quite clever, but it is a story that will be enjoyed more by children than adults. Even though this is a film for the whole family, adults will find the visuals more satisfying than the screenplay itself. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 can absolutely be described as cute above all else. It is a fun film, but has no real emotional depth or suspense as it is targeted towards family as a whole being able to enjoy it. As a result it is not particularly memorable, but still serves it's purpose of being an enjoyable and fun film.

Bill Hader once again does well as Flint and gives a great deal of character through his voice. Will Forte does an interesting job as Chester V, and Andy Samberg and James Caan are great fun as Brent McHale and Tim Lockwood. Neil Patrick Harris also makes hilarious monkey Steve even funnier with his vocals.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is a fun film that parents will be able to enjoy with their children. The living, breathing food are a great highlight, and will leave you craving a taco or two. You may also wish that Caffeine Stations were a feature at your workplace too.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Enough Said (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Writer: Nicole Holofcener
Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone
Enough Said will be released in Australia on the 14th November 2013 and will be distributed by 20th Century Fox. Now showing in the USA and the UK.
Enough Said is one of the most refreshingly real romantic comedies of recent times.
While not all of us will go through the same situation these characters go through, the film deals with some very real feelings dealt with when approaching a new relationship, while still hurting from the last one. Enough Said is a grown up comedy, which is still incredibly moving and can also be quite saddening at times. Not to mention it is an emotional experience in itself seeing the last of James Gandolfini on screen and especially in such a beautiful performance which reminds us what we have lost.
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a masseuse and single mother who's daughter, much to her dismay, is about to leave her to go to college. She has not had another serious relationship since her ex-husband, until she meets Albert (James Gandolfini) at a party and the two start dating. At the same point in time, she forms a friendship with a new client of hers, Marianne (Catherine Keener), who she very much looks up to. Eva soon finds out that Albert is Marianne's ex-husband, the man who Marianne has been telling Eva all these horrible things about, making life extremely awkward for her. Eva struggles to distinguish the difference between what she thinks about her new boyfriend and what Marianne thinks about her ex husband as a result.
Enough Said is a really beautiful film about human behaviour and relationships. Director and writer, Nicole Holofcener has done a wonderful job of constructing a screenplay with so much feeling and which brings out so much character in all the players. The only criticism that can be made about the screenplay is that it has a period in the middle of the film where it feels as though the film has started to chase it's on tail. The same conversation seems to keep taking place while Eva is trying to figure out what to do in her predicament and it takes awhile for the film to keep flowing, but when it does, it is well worth it.
Enough Said can be incredibly realistic at times and many people will see themselves in characters such as Eva and Albert. The films representation of divorced or separated parents can be quite haunting in it's realism. One of the most striking moments of the film occurs when Eva is trying to explain to Albert why she didn't tell him how she knew his ex-wife. She explains that she was trying to protect herself against getting hurt in the same way she did in her marriage, to which Albert replies "But you forgot to protect us".
This line and indeed much of the film will hit very close to home for those people who have been married (or have just been in a long term committed relationship) before and are trying to move on with a new relationship. As Eva does in the film, as much as you try not to compare your new relationship to the last one, you are continuously on the look out for signs why it could not work instead of  reasons why it should. It is frustrating to the viewer to see how Eva starts focusing on the negatives in her relationship with Albert, rather than seeing the positives, which are incredibly evident to someone looking from the outside in. Yet, people like Eva will be able to understand how it is incredibly hard to just take the good with the bad and move ahead. Once you have found yourself able to allow the good to wash over the bad, you can move on, but if you continue to see a new relationship as an extension of the failed one, it will inevitably reach the same demise as the first.

Another factor of the film which many people will find familiar is that of the children moving away from home for the first time. Both Eva and Albert are very close to their daughters and Eva especially has a very hard time saying goodbye to her daughter as she feels like she has no one else. As the film progresses, it is almost a grieving process for her and she tries to find ways to cope with the feeling of neglect that she is experiencing. Again, from the outside we know that Eva's daughter, Ellen is not neglecting her, but only undertaking a rite of passage of leaving home to go to college so common to American young adults. Yet, in Eva's situation, the separation is made even harder and she feels the need to again protect herself from the inevitable pain of losing her daughter to college. In today's society it is not an unfamiliar story where single parents try to find new love and are faced with feeling incredibly alone when their children leave home, and these themes in Enough Said will be quite saddening to some people, but will also cause relief in others who will finally realise that the way they feel is not all that uncommon.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is wonderful as the leading lady in Enough Said. She completely embodies her character and is incredibly likable despite her bad decisions. Her Eva is a character who many people will be able to relate to. Louis-Dreyfus' comedic background helps her very much in the film and it is the little things with her dash of humour which make her performance so gorgeous.

James Gandolfini's whole performance is just so heart-breaking. Even without the knowledge that this was his last role before his untimely death, it is still terrible to see such a beautiful character as his being treated so badly on screen. Although Catherine Keener does give a good performance as his ex-wife, Marianne is an incredibly selfish and snobbish character. Albert on the other hand has flaws, but is so gentle and lovable. It crushes you as you watch events crush him throughout the film. Even though Louis-Dreyfus' is the star of the film, Gandolfini is the hero. His simple and subtle, yet emotional and charismatic performance is one which will be remembered.

Enough Said is a film that looks simple enough on the surface, but has a great deal of depth. This is achieved by a wonderful screenplay brought to life by perfect performances.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 120 minutes
Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Chris O'Dowd, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston
Thor: The Dark World is now showing in Australia and the United Kingdom. Opening in the USA on the 8th November 2013.

There was never any doubt that Thor: The Dark World was going to reminiscent of it's predecessor, which was just a little bit corny, but still a lot of fun.

And it has proved itself to be just that. However, it has avoided the pitfall that many sequels tend to fall into, which is the "The sequel is never as good as the first" category. That isn't to say that Thor: The Dark World is better than the first film, but it is also not noticeably worse than it. Sequel business aside, it is also surprisingly comical and, not so surprisingly, action packed.

Years ago, the Dark Elves entered into battle to return the universe to the dark it was once in, but using an element called Aether. Since then the Dark Elves have been banished and are only awakened when Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) finds the Aether and has it enter her body. Jane hasn't seen Thor (Chris Hemsworth) since he left her in the first film, but he returns to her as soon as he believes she is in danger. He takes her to Asgard to keep her safe and in his sights while the Dark Elves are after her. However, there is one ally Thor needs more than anybody else in these times, and that is his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who, of course, is locked in the dungeon after trying to destroy the world.

Thor: The Dark World is by all means what you would expect from it. It is more about the action, spectacle and entertainment than about the dramatic, realistic and sentimental. The action sequences sure are impressive, especially the final showdown set in Greenwich. The CGI used to create Asgard and it's surroundings is very well done, although Asgard seems to have suddenly become a cross between a cross between Rivendell from The Lord of The Rings and Naboo from Star Wars. There is also a scene between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth which is almost visually identical to one in Attack of the Clones between her and Hayden Christensen.

As was the case with the original Thor, the script is as corny as can be. Thor himself seems to be a corny character in general, which can often come with the territory of being a buff and handsome god. He is not particularly a character who has cinematically been represented in a serious light, so the amount of humour in the script seems appropriate. While the first half of Thor: The Dark World tends to be somewhat mediocre as not much really happens, the second hour is much better as there is more humour, action and more of Tom Hiddleston's Loki. There is so much humour that the film somewhat borders on a comedy. However, the comedy in the film does work and proves rather enjoyable and entertaining.

Even though Hemsworth's Thor is the star of the film, the film has it's best moments when Tom Hiddleston is on screen. Loki is an extremely complex character. He obviously has an evil past, but this doesn't change the fact that you never quite know what his motives are. Hiddleston makes Loki into a character which the audience feels a real connection with and he is truly the highlight of the film.

Hemsworth does well enough, but his character, as opposed to Loki's is very one-dimensional and nto quite as interesting. Natalie Portman does well as Jane Foster, but often falls into the corniness that Thor does, as one would guess considering she is his love interest. Kat Dennings is also very funny as Darcy and like Hiddleston, doesn't have a bad scene in the whole film. Chris O'Dowd is also on screen for a very short amount of time, but is memorable for his well delivered comedic dialogue.

Thor: The Dark World achieves exactly what it sets out to do as it is entertaining and enjoyable for the most part. Perhaps not the best and most original action production in recent times, but still has some moments worth seeing the film for.


You may have also seen Chris Hemsworth in.....
Thor and The Avengers as Thor
Rush as James Hunt

You may have also seen Tom Hiddleston in....
Thor and The Avengers as Loki
Midnight In Paris as F. Scott Fitzgerald

You may have also seen Natalie Portman in.....
Thor as Jane Foster
Black Swan as Nina Sayers

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Counselor (2013)

Year: 2013
Running Time: 117 minutes
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Rosie Perez, Natalie Dormer

The Counselor opens in Australia on the 14th November 2013 and is distributed by 20th Century Fox. Now showing in the USA and will be released in the UK on the 15th November.

Ridley Scott's The Counselor has all the potential in the universe. Scott provides the film with a critically acclaimed and respected director, Cormac McCarthy a successful writer and a stellar cast make up the reasons why one would be forgiven for being excited about this film.

After the film's 117 minutes, what you are left with is an air of confusion. Confusion as to what went wrong when you put together so much of what is right. However, at the same time, there are some incredible things about The Counselor, which makes it all the more confusing.

Counselor (Michael Fassbender) has just got himself engaged and cannot resist the draw of earning just a bit more money to set himself and his fiancé, Laura (Penelope Cruz) up. He gets caught up in the business of drug trafficking by the hand of his friend, Reiner (Javier Bardem) and Westray (Brad Pitt). As a lawyer, Counselor is at the same time still conducting his business with his clients, until him doing his civil duty seems to intersect with the people he really didn't want to mess with in his money making scheme. Counselor is faced with a very real danger and must try to figure out how to save both the lives of himself and those close to him.

What really causes The Counselor to suffer is it's screenplay. We have come to expect so much more from Cormac McCarthy than what he has given here. It is one of those stories you see play out on screen where you aren't quite sure if you are missing some important plot point, or if it is really a simple story pretending to be complicated. It is in this way that The Counselor find's it's confusion. It is a simplistic film pretending to be something more and confusing everyone in the meantime. The dialogue isn't particularly entertaining, with the exception being the unforgettable "car and catfish" scene. The majority of the dialogue is so dull that it affects your concentration levels, particularly in the first 20 minutes. Yet The Counselor is thankfully not completely void of suspense and intrigue, these moments just aren't as prominent as one would have liked. A fun game to play when Counselor and Westray meet for the first time, is to count how many times Westray un-necessarily says and oversues the word "Counselor" in the scene.

The cinematography doesn't quite fail in the way that the screenplay does. There is some stunning photography and camera angles used throughout the film. Scott opens the film with an amazingly filmed bed scene between Counselor and Laura which feels graphic, but shows nothing to suggest that it is.

Michael Fassbender does well with what has been given to him. His best moments on screen are towards the end of the film when his and Laura's lives are in danger. Fassbender still remains natural on screen and 100% believable in his execution. This is perhaps Cameron Diaz's best role to date. She plays Reiner's dangerous girlfriend, Malkina. Malkina is a particularly interesting character. You never know quite what she is up to and she has a tremendous amount of character. She is so different to any other role Diaz has previously done and shows Diaz at her very best. Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz also do quite well, while Brad Pitt really isn't given too much to work with in order to turn out a notable performance on his behalf.

The Counselor is not by any means a complete failure, but is not the masterpiece it could be with so many artists working towards it.


You may have also seen Michael Fassbender in....
X Men: First Class as Magneto
Prometheus as David

You may have also seen Penelope Cruz in.....
Nine as Carla
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as Angelica

You may have also seen Cameron Diaz in.....
Shrek Forever After as Princess Fiona
Bad Teacher as Elizabeth Halsey

You may have also seen Javier Bardem in.....
Biutiful as Uxbal

You may have also seen Brad Pitt in....
Moneyball as Billy Beane