Monthly archives "January 2013"

Newsreel (W/e 27 January 2013)

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Bruce Willis has been confirmed to be returning to Sin City by director Robert Rodriguez.

 

Ron Howard is in talks to direct the adaptation of The Graveyard Book.

 

Beverly Hills Cop has been given a pilot order by CBS Television.

 

James Franco is set to adapt James Ellroy’s American Tabloid.

 

HBO plans a Bored to Death movie.

 

Ray Liotta is to join the cast of Walt Disney Pictures’ sequel to The Muppets.

 

Marvel is allegedly interested in Jim Carrey & Adam Sandler for Guardians Of The Galaxy.

 

David Fincher is in talks to direct Gone Girl based on the novel by Gillian Flynn.

 

A sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to start filming in May.

 

Anna Paquin, Ellen Page & Shawn Ashmore are returning for X-Men: Days of Future Past.

 

J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII for Walt Disney Pictures & Lucasfilm.

 

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters does battle with the U.S. box-office & wins.

Les Miserables ***

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Running Time: 158 minutes       Cert: 12A

Synopsis: In 19th century France, an ex-convict breaks parole and sets out to change his life. Along the way, he agrees to bring up the child of a factory worker turned prostitute who has died and she becomes his priority. 

 

Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, the film begins in the early 19th century as prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is being released having served his time. Finding he is unable to find work or be accepted due to his history, a chance encounter with a bishop prompts him to destroy his documents and break parole. For the next few years, he is hunted by policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) who eventually tracks him down as the mayor of a town in France where he is well respected and employs a large number of workers. One of his workers, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) is removed from the factory in which she is employed when it is discovered she has a child whom she is sending money to. Unable to support herself or her child, the young woman resorts to measures that eventually lead to her being arrested by Javert (Crowe) but saved by Valjean (Jackman) when he realises he was partly responsible for her situation.

 

Les Miserables is first and foremost a musical so the viewer expects music to be a huge part of the film. While some of the songs featured are enjoyable, others are sub-standard and seem like they don’t know when to end.  Russell Crowe in particular is an awful singer in this film. While some of his musical work is good, he’s a rock singer and doesn’t adapt his voice to fit the situation. Although some may argue this can’t be done, performances by other actors elsewhere suggest it can be. The problem with Crowe is he lacks adaptability and isn’t able to sing any other way.

 

The story is very drawn out. At 158 minutes the film is a lot longer than necessary and there are sections that could easily be cut from it. There are also a number of plot holes that leave the viewer with questions about why a particular event happened or what caused a character’s death. There is also the question of why a large majority of the cast talk like they’re straight out of Eastenders. Considering the story is set in France, this doesn’t make sense. The viewer can accept that French accents might not be easy for an English speaking audience to understand, but the Eastenders-style accents give the film a rather cheesy feel.

 

In terms of performance by the actors, Anne Hathaway stands out as Fantine, a single mother forced into prostitution. Despite only being in the film for a short period, the character is believable and her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” is one of the better ones in the film. While Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide comic relief as the rather dodgy Thenardiers, Helena Bonham Carter acts in a similar manner to previous roles. The similarity between Madame Thenardier and her character in Sweeney Todd means her performance doesn’t particularly stand out in the film.

 

While Hugh Jackman does a reasonably good job in the role of the main character, he doesn’t particularly stand out and seems slightly miscast while Russell Crowe seems rather bland throughout the film. Both are strong actors, but their performances raise the question of whether they were cast appropriately. Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) also gives a very average performance as does Eddie Redmayne as Marius. While the love at first sight theme is necessary for the story, the viewer can’t help but question why Marius chooses Cosette rather than Eponine (Samantha Barks), an attractive girl who loves him unconditionally.

 

Overall, Les Miserables was disappointing. The story had too many plot holes, the acting was sub-standard and the movie was simply too long. While this running time works for some films, Les Miserables dragged on and felt like 6 hours as opposed to almost 3.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Sessions ****

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Running Time: 95 mins            Certificate: 15

Synopsis: In this true story Mark O’Brien, a polio survivor with an iron lung (John Hawkes) employs the services of a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) in order to lose his virginity. 

 

Virginity seems to be a recurring theme in movies – whether it’s losing it, keeping it or dealing with inner conflicts surrounding it. However The Sessions, based on a true story, provides a unique take on the subject through the eyes of polio survivor Mark O’Brien. 38 years old, confined to a gurney and connected to an iron lung for most of his day, Mark decides he wants to lose his virginity. With the help of his carers and priest, he seeks out a sex therapist who recommends he use a sex surrogate.

 

The film is very moving. While the subject matter had the potential to be rather clinical and preachy, the development of the characters and use of comedy adds a warmth to it. Mark is a character the audience can empathise with. While he is severely disabled, he is shown dealing with an issue that is universal: discovering his sexuality and learning to act on it. The situations he encounters along the way are real, from his initial awkwardness and embarrassment to his idealistic expectations of what the experience will be like.

 

Cheryl Cohen-Green (Helen Hunt) is a great character. During her sessions with Mark, her patience and good humour as well as her lack of shyness about her body allow Mark to explore things and eventually lose his virginity. Helen Hunt plays the character well, however John Hawkes is the actor that really stands out in this movie. Despite his character being confined to a gurney and unable to move, Hawkes’ portrayal of Mark is such that the audience will be rooting for him throughout the film.  The supporting cast also add to the viewing experience. Moon Bloodgood is entertaining and enjoyable to watch as Mark’s carer Vera, while William H Macy provides a lot of comic but heartfelt moments as Father Brendan, the supportive priest who encourages Mark to explore his sexuality despite being of a faith that would normally be against this.

 

Overall The Sessions was a great film to watch. Sex and disability don’t normally go hand in hand in the media so it was nice to see this dealt with in a sensitive but quirky way. A must see for anyone who likes films with “the human edge”.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

 

Newsreel (W/e 21 January 2013)

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Emma Stone may join director Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak.

 

Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity will be released October 4, 2013 in 3D and IMAX.

 

A big-screen adaptation of The Book of Mormon is being developed.

 

Walt Disney Studios announces dates for 2014: The Muppets 2 March, Captain America 2 April, Maleficent July, Guardians of the Galaxy August,Brad Bird’s 1952 Dec.While Pirates 5 to be released in July 2015. But The Little Mermaid 3D no longer being released theatrically.

 

Machete Kills is set to open in US cinemas on September 13, 2013.

 

Al Pacino is set to star in a Brian De Palma directed biopic of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, called Happy Valley.

 

Warner Bros. plans to bring back Gremlins.

 

Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier have been hired to write a script for the next Terminator movie.

 

Ray Liotta, Juno Temple & Jeremy Piven join the cast of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

 

Ron Howard is in talks to direct a remake of Israeli TV movie Kol Ma She’Yesh Li (All I’ve Got).

 

Mark Wahlberg will appear with Ted at this year’s Academy Awards.

 

Mama tops the U.S. box-office, while Arnie’s return stumbles.

Django Unchained *****

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Running Time: 165 mins Certificate: 18

Synopsis: In 1858, bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Waltz) frees a slave called Django (Foxx) to help him track down three outlaw brothers. The bounty hunter agrees to help his new companion rescue Django’s wife (Washington) from a plantation owner (DiCaprio).

 

After returning with the great Inglorious Bastards, Tarantino makes his long talked about western which is extremely fun and in true style as you would expect from this auteur very violent. As can be expected the story is less historical fact and more played out like a comic book, but this is no bad thing. The only major change is that the director follows a linear narrative instead of his usual time twisting plot. Unfortunately the length of the piece is still too long, but does not hamper the movie as a whole.

 

The script is full of funny moments for instance the scene involving the Klu Klux Clan. But Tarantino also puts in enough factual things including Mandingo fighting to keep the balance from making it completely ridiculous in tone.

 

Yet again the director has lined up a wonderful cast mixed with actors that he has used in previous films with stars that have long since been forgotten by audiences, in particular Don Johnson.

 

The main antagonist, Leonardo DiCaprio takes on his most interesting role as a despicable racist incestuous, Calvin J. Candie.  DiCaprio brings a terrifying unbalanced mixture of menace and humour to the character. While Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen, the ‘Uncle Tom’ head servant at Candie’s plantation scene steals at every opportunity he is on screen. Jackson comes across a sadistic Benson and is certainly his best role in years.

 

While Christoph Waltz steals from the lead. Jamie Foxx is disappointingly bland and underplays Django by just playing every action and line straight.

 

Tarantino is like Marmite. Love him or hate him, this film is simply a breathtaking and undeniable accomplishment. Overall a fantastic addition to the director’s work.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

News Reel (W/e 13th January 2011)

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Catch Me If You Can screenwriter Jeff Nathanson has been hired to write Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

 

Christopher Nolan is in talks to direct & produce a new sci-fi movie Interstellar, the script was written by his brother Jonah.

 

Steven Spielberg’s Robopocalypse has been put on indefinite hold.

 

Guillermo del Toro confirms that plans are underway for a DC Comics “Justice League Dark” is being developed with the title Dark Universe.

 

One Hour Photo’s Mark Romanek has left as the director of Walt Disney Pictures’ upcoming live-action Cinderella.

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s joins the cast of the Sin City follow-up, A Dame to Kill For. While Josh Brolin will play Dwight, the same character played by Clive Owen in the original.

 

Brad Pitt may play Pontius Pilate in an upcoming Warner Bros. epic.

 

Frank Darabont To re-write Godzilla reboot.

 

Jurassic Park 3D is set to be released in IMAX for a one-week run.

 

Zero Dark Thirty shoots down the competition at the U.S. box-office.

Quartet ***

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Running Time: 98 mins Certificate: 12A

Synopsis In an old country house,  former opera singers live out their retirements and in harmony. But the arrival of one of the residents’ ex-wife, a diva named Jean (Maggie Smith), brings back bad memories for mild mannered Reginald (Tom Courtenay).

 

It has taken decades for Dustin Hoffman to finally go behind the camera to direct after several failed attempts in the past, including one incident where he was actually fired from the set. What seems strange is that an accomplished actor would tackle a slow English drama as his debut.

 

The story on the whole is too light with little character development for an audience to feel and respond to these characters. There is only conflict between the two main characters of Jean and Reg.  There is also the problem that there are too many secondary characters who we see from time to time, but they may as well be in the background.

 

Where the film adds an extra note is in the performances. Smith and Courtenay  are the  heart and soul to the piece. While Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins completely steal the show as the other members of the quartet. Connolly brings some much needed humour, most of which is ad-libbed.  Collins also brings humour and sympathy to a character who is in the early stages of dementia.

 

An entertaining and charming movie, but without the actual quartet would have been tuneless.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Gangster Squad ***

Running Time: 113 mins Certificate: 15

Synopsis A group of police officers in post-war Los Angeles get together to take down Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), the gangster that dominates the city.

The film begins in Los Angeles, four years after the end of World War 2. In the first scene, we are introduced to John O’Mara, a police seargant on a mission to destroy the local mafia boss. At first, his actions are opposed by his boss. However he is soon called upon by Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) to oversee Mickey Cohen’s downfall.

While there are some good action scenes in the film, it lacks story. The title and general plot do suggest violence is a big part of the story, however there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on apart from shooting and the rather cringe worthy sub plot involving smooth talking cop Jerry (Ryan Gosling) and the mobster’s “etiquette coach” Grace (Emma Stone).

In terms of acting, Sean Penn’s is probably the best performance. Although he does not look like the real Mickey Cohen, he adopts the mannerisms of a cold and ruthless gangster and is believable in the role. Despite only having a small role in the film, Nick Nolte also performs well. Unfortunately the rest of the cast are somewhat disappointing. With an all star cast including Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, the viewer would expect better performances. However Brolin’s character comes across as rather wooden and emotionless while Gosling’s appears to be nothing more than a token womaniser.

As ‘Gangster Squad’ is based on a true story, as a viewer it would be interesting to learn more about how authentic the film actually is. The accuracy of events is questionable, particularly as the film progresses. Towards the end there is a rather ludicrous scene that makes the film lose most of its credibility.

Overall ‘Gangster Squad’ is watchable but disappointing. Although the idea had the potential to be a good movie, the lack of story and mediocre performances let it down.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

 

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Winners & Losers of 2012

 

 

2012 overall was a better year for movies than previous years. Here is a selection of the best and worst of the year.

 

Winners.

1. Ted: Simply one of  the funniest films to emerge from Hollywood in recent years. Seth MacFarlane took a massive gamble and it work. Rude, crude and very funny.

2. The Imposter: Disturbing and fascinating documentary about an unbelievable event.

3. Frankenweenie: Tim Burton is back on form with his most personal project.

4. The Muppets: The return of everyone’s favourite puppets was filled with nostalgia for adults with enough moments to keep the kids entertained too.

5. Room 237: A documentary with speculation and revelations about Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror, The Shining.

6. Brave: Whimsical and entertaining entry from the folk at Pixar.

7. Life of Pi: Subtle 3D and wonderful performances of an adaptation which on paper should never have worked.

8. Argo: Tense and gripping drama with great performances throughout.

9. Moonrise Kingdom: Another eccentric entry from Wes Anderson, which could be his best work to date.

10. The Dark Knight Rises: A disappointment after the fantastic The Dark Knight, but there was enough to make Nolan’s film the best superhero movie of the year  and a great end to the trilogy.

Losers

1. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie: Just terrible. Any film that has a sequence of kids crapping into a bathtub, while some one is it for ten minutes should be avoided at all costs.

2. Piranha 3DD: The first one was so bad it was entertaining, this was just plain dreadful. Not even Gary Busy could save this mess.

3. Snow White & the Huntsman:  A case of style over substance of this fairytale bore.

4. John Carter: Andrew stanton could not carry the magic from pixar to this boring Star Wars looking sci-fi epic.

5. Cold Light of Day: Willis and Weaver must have needed the money to appear in this predictable tired thriller.

6. The Iron Lady: A fantastic performance by Streep, but this biopic lacked any details or facts about the Prime Minister’s life and concentrated more about a fictious account of old age Thatcher.

7. Man on the Ledge: Interesting concept, let down by a predictable and silly script.

8. Cabin in the Woods: Whedon may have made a fun superhero flick, but this delayed mismash of horror and comedy was overhyped, incredibly silly and just redid most things that the mediocre Scream franchise did over a decade ago.

9. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Great visuals, but where’s the story?

10. The Amazing Spider-Man:  New direction, but the plot was just rehashed from the first entry.

 

 

 

We’re back

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few months. It’s been a busy end of the year with getting married and graduating, but now we are back to give film reviews and movie news.