Daily archives "June 22, 2013"

EIFF: Day 4

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Monsters University ****
USA/Director Dan Scanlon/110 mins

 

A direct prequel to the original “Monsters Inc”, the movie tells the story of how Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) met and came to work in the factory.

 

The film begins when Mike (Crystal) visits the factory on a school trip and decides he wants to become a scarer. Years later, Mike begins studying at Monsters University where he meets Sully (Goodman), a monster with an established family history.

 

The story is enjoyable and relates to the original while still providing a good level of suspense to the audience. Throughout the movie, Mike and Sully experience the highs and lows of University life and have a turbulent relationship prior to joining forces.

 

Both Goodman and Crystal give great performances as the lead characters. The supporting cast includes Steve Buschemi as Randy and Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble, both of whom also perform to a high standard.

 

The animation is top class and looks great in 3D. The soundtrack is also fun and appropriate to the film.

 

While “Monsters University” is not as good as the original, it is an entertaining and fun movie that ties things up nicely.

 

Old Stock ***
Canada/Director James Genn/85 mins

 

Stock Burton (Noah Reid) is a young man who has spent the last 2 years in a retirement home following traumatic events. At the beginning of the movie he is asked to leave the residence, forcing him to face his demons.

 

Throughout the film, Stock tries to get his life back on track by getting a job, dating dance teacher Patti (Melanie Leishman) and trying to fix the issues from his past. While it doesn’t flow particularly well, the story has a reasonable amount of depth and doesn’t reveal everything right away.

 

There is also a subplot involving his grandparents’ relationship which adds some comedy to the story, particularly the antics of Stock’s grandfather Harold (Danny Wells).

 

The actors all give reasonably good performances, the highlight being Gene Mack as comic pensioner Wendel. The other residents of the retirement home are also entertaining and give a realistic portrayal of their generation.

 

While the story is poorly structured and does not really go anywhere, “Old Stock” is a pleasant movie to watch.

 

Oh Boy ***
Germany/Director Jan Ole Gerster/83 mins

 

Starring Tom Schilling as the lead character, “Oh Boy” tells the story of Niko Fischer, a young man who has dropped out of University and is drifting through life in Berlin.

 

The film is shot in black and white and is in German with English subtitles. This gives it a somewhat “arthouse” feel which appears promising.

 

Throughout the movie, Niko comes into contact with a variety of people including his father, an actor friend and a girl he went to school with. While the interactions would be interesting if there was a link between them, they seem rather pointless as each character appears once and is never mentioned again.

 

The story lacks structure and doesn’t go anywhere. Niko drifts in and out of situations with no explanation. This creates plot holes and leaves the viewer questioning why each scene is included. The ending is also disappointing as nothing gets tied up and Niko is no further forward.

 

While “Oh Boy” is nicely shot and reasonably pleasant to watch, the story is all over the place and has too many loose ends.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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EIFF: Day 3

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The Great Hip Hop Hoax ****
UK/Director Jeanie Finlay/88 mins

 

Jeanie Finlay’s documentary tells the story of Billy and Gavin, two young rappers from Arbroath who create personas to help secure a record deal. The film follows their journey from their life back home to their success as rappers and their eventual decline.

 

Looking back on the footage from Billy and Gavin’s career, viewers are likely to wonder how they fooled so many people. Neither had their backstories worked out prior to making their decision, resulting in inconsistencies.

 

One to one interviews feature heavily, giving the audience an in depth look at the story from both the participants’ points of view and those of their friends, family and people in the music industry. This makes the documentary both authentic and unbiased.

 

The only minor criticism that could be found is that the film leaves the audience hanging with regards to Billy and Gavin’s friendship. Having followed them through the entire story, it is slightly disappointing not to see the outcome.

 

Overall, a very enjoyable and entertaining movie.

 

We Are The Freaks *
UK/Director Justin Edgar/80 mins

 

Written and directed by Justin Edgar, “We Are The Freaks” follows three teenage friends living in Birmingham in 1990.

 

The first five minutes of the film in which we are introduced to lead character and narrator Jack (Jamie Blackley) appear promising, however it quickly descends into a poorly structured story with one dimensional characters.

 

Despite Edgar’s attempts to create an enjoyable teen comedy, the story is bland and immature. As the events of the characters’ lives unfold, it becomes somewhat like the Inbetweeners gone wrong and the audience will likely cringe rather than laugh.

 

While the idea was good, the actual film is a huge disappointment.

 

Hawking ****
UK/Director Stephen Finnigan/86 mins

 

Written and narrated by Stephen Hawking himself, the documentary follows the scientist from birth to the present day, focusing on his rise to fame and battle with motor neurone disease.

 

Featuring one on one interviews with Hawking’s family, care staff and former students, the film begins with Hawking’s early life in Oxford then progresses to his life as a student in Cambridge and diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.

 

Despite being given a short time to live in his early 20s, Hawking goes on to live a full and active life in which he completes a PHD and gets married. To this day he continues to work and doesn’t let his declining health define him.

 

Hawking himself is admirable, however his ex wife Jane truly shines as a loyal and supportive figure in his life. Despite knowing about his illness she sticks by him and the eventual breakdown of their marriage is unrelated. Throughout his career, he also has great support from his staff and students.

 

Overall, “Hawking” is a great documentary that gives a “fly on the wall” insight into his life. Hawking’s narration is by far the best thing about the movie and adds a personal touch that no other narrator could.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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Newsreel (W/e 16 June 2013)

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Warner Bros has officially exited the Farrelly Bros’ Dumb & Dumber To.

 

Paramount Pictures is to distribute Terminator 5, while Arnold Schwarzenegger announces that shooting will start in January 2014.

 

Michael Bay might be directing the movie version of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon.

 

Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter joins the cast of Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.

 

Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera will be a stepsister in Disney’s live action version of Cinderella.

 

Carey Mulligan has turned down the role of Hillary Clinton in an upcoming biopic.

 

Chris Columbus’ remake of the Korean supernatural comedy Hello Ghost is set to star Adam Sandler.

 

Formerly titled The Muppets… Again!, the James Bobin film will now be named as Muppets Most Wanted on March 21, 2014.

 

Walt Disney Pictures & Marvel Studios have set release dates for two mystery Marvel projects that will hit May 6, 2016 & May 5, 2017.

 

Man of Steel soars to the top of U.S. box-office.