Results for category "Film Reviews"

The Wolf of Wall Street: ****

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Synopsis: Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) dreams of being a rich stockbroker, but after losing his Wall Street job in the crash of 1987 he falls on hard times. While working in a local dealership, which sells cheap stocks to working-class people, Belfort is inspired to go into business by himself, by manipulating the finance market. 

Adapted from Belfort’s memoirs by Boardwalk Empire’s Terrence Winter, the film plays more like Goodfellas rather than another Wall Street. In that the main character narrates the story, while constantly breaking the fourth wall in order to try and explain the complicated financial dealings.

 

However the most unappealing aspect of the movie is unfortunately the lead character. This part of Scorsese’s genius. While any other filmmaker would turn this into a problem, he ramps up the dwarf throwing, helicopter crashes, cocaine consumption and wild antics keeps the audience engaged in the over the top larger than life true story.

 

Leo DiCaprio returns to work with the auteur for a fourth time, while not his best performance it is a fun charismatic and engaging turn. With his perfect white teeth and wacky fashion sense, Jonah Hill steals Leo’s thunder with a crazy portrayal of Jordan’s bestfriend. Matthew McConaughey’s chest-thumping, coke snorting mentor is the best piece within the film, but feels vastly underused in what is nothing more than a memorable cameo.

 

It is not a Scorscese masterpiece, due to the fact it could be trimmed down to a shorter duration. It does feel like the filmmaker was racing against the clock to finish this film for the studio for awards season. Nevertheless it is incredibly entertaining and a wild ride.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Grudge Match ***

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Run Time: 113 mins                    Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Thirty years after the retirement of boxer Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone), he and his rival Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) embark on a rematch. 

 

The film begins in 1983 when two boxers tie in a match. Prior to the rematch, Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) decides to retire, which ruins both his career and that of his opponent Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro). Thirty years later, both are approached by promoter Dante Slate Junior (Kevin Hart) about both a video game and a rematch between them. Despite his initial reluctance, circumstances lead Razor to accept the offer and the pair get in training for their “Grudge Match”.

 

The movie features a number both of entertaining and comic scenes in which the ageing boxers publicly embarrass themselves and make their promoter’s job increasingly difficult. While the story follows a common formula and does not have a lot of twists, these antics will keep the audience interested and waiting to see what Razor and Billy get up to next.

 

Stallone and De Niro are both fun to watch and work well together. The supporting cast also perform to a high standard with some additional comic relief from both Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin. The subplot featuring Sally Rose (Kim Basinger), a woman who has both the fighters’ affections, and her son BJ (Jon Bernthal) is pleasant enough to watch but very predictable.

 

Overall, “Grudge Match” is by no means a masterpiece but a good form of light entertainment.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

12 Years A Slave ****

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Run Time: 134 mins                   Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Directed by Steve McQueen and based on the real life memoirs of Solomon Northup, the movie follows the musician’s life as a slave after he is kidnapped and sold. 

 

The story begins when carpenter and violinist Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is offered a short music tour by two white men. Believing this will be good for his career, Solomon accepts but soon finds himself drugged and taken to New Orleans where he is sold as a slave and given a whole new identity.

 

Following being sold, Solomon works for plantation owners William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Despite his relatively small role in the film, Cumberbatch is enjoyable to watch and remains semi-likeable. Fassbender has a more significant role and gives an excellent performance as a man who clearly has no conscience and takes great delight in abusing his slaves.

 

As the lead actor in the movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor is both interesting and believable to watch. While Solomon does not talk openly about his feelings, they are made very clear through his facial expressions, hunched shoulders and the way in which he hangs his head. In contrast to this, female slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) openly discusses how she feels about her life. This not only adds depth to the character but illustrates how different people dealt with their situation in completely different ways.

 

The scenes of violence in the film are truly brutal and nothing is left to the viewer’s imagination. Although this may distress some viewers, it adds to the level of realism by showing just how horrific life was for those living as slaves.

 

While the story does not have many twists, the film is both enjoyable and authentic with top class performances.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom ****

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Run Time: 141 mins         Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s (Elba) journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.  

 

Finally the adaptation of Mandela’s best selling autobiography makes it to the silver screen. Initially the film was supposed to star Denzel Washington, now Idris Elba has the daunting task of trying to portray such a larger than life figure.

 

The performances by Elba and Harris are great. Naomie Harris gives a powerful and tragic performance of a wife who has to struggle while her husband is in prison.

 

It is a shame that there was not more emphasis put on the time in this period between the two parties. This adaptation may have been better set as a mini series as Mandela’s life is so interesting that a 2 1/2 hour feature.

 

The film is beautifully shot with some amazing sunsets. While the tranquil sounds of traditional African music give an authentic feel of late 20th Century South Africa.

 

A compelling life story of such a intriguing is letdown by underdeveloped screenplay. It is never less a good biopic with impressive towering performances.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

All Is Lost *****

 

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Run Time: 106 mins         Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Directed by J.C. Chandor, “All Is Lost” follows the survival attempts of a lone sailor (Robert Redford) lost at sea in a remote location. 

 

At the beginning of the movie, the audience is introduced to an older man sailing on his boat in the Indian Ocean. As the story progresses, the weather worsens and the anonymous sailor makes use of the limited resources available to try and save himself.

 

The movie only contains eight lines of dialogue and relies on the actions of its sole character to tell the story. While this could easily have made for a boring film, it is made interesting both by Redford’s creative attempts to stay alive and the mystery surrounding his backstory. Every scene raises questions in the viewer’s mind and the outcome remains uncertain until the last minute.

 

Redford gives an excellent performance throughout the movie. The role had the potential to be difficult due to the lack of dialogue and character history, however Redford’s actions and facial expressions say a lot about the character without actually telling the audience anything.

 

The ending is unpredictable and has a strong element of mystery. If anything, the viewer is likely to leave the cinema with more questions than they arrived with.

 

Overall, the film is a great piece of writing with plenty of suspense and a top performance from Redford.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Paul’s Best & Worst Movies of 2013

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Best Movies of 2013 – Top 5

 

1. Gravity – A long time in development, but the wait was worth it. Not only the best 3D movie ever made, but possibly the greatest sci-fi movie since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

2. Filth – Darkly comic with fantastic performances. Another Scottish classic from an Irvine Welsh novel.

 

3. Zero Dark Thirty – Gritty, compelling and tense portrayal of the infamous moment when Bin Laden was found.

 

4. The Lone Ranger – Forget all the bad press, this was the most under appreciated film of the year. A fun, silly blockbuster that was definitely the highlight of a disappointing Summer season.

 

5. Rush – Based on the rivalry between two of the best drivers racing during the 70’s. Great performances & a gripping story.

 

Worst Movies of 2013 – Top 5

 

 

1. We Are The Freaks – How this terrible dark comedy set in early 90s ever received financing is anyone’s guess. Dreadfully unfunny.

 

2. Diana – What might of been an interesting idea is ruined by a boring plot & the worst dialogue ever committed to a feature film.

 

3. About Time – Another movie full of ideas, lacking in ideas & even worse breaks all the rules it sets out to explain about time travel.

 

4. After Earth – Dull, poorly acted rubbish. Dear Hollywood, please stop giving M Night Shamalamadingdong work. It encourages him.

 

5. Scary Movie 5 – A franchise that should have stayed dead. Barely a chuckle can be found in the film’s overlong 80 minute duration.

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Lesley’s Best And Worst Movies of 2013

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Best Movies of 2013 – Top 5

 

1. Gravity – Great science fiction movie with a tiny cast and big effects. The best film of the year in my opinion.

 

2. Rush – Excellent biopic by Ron Howard. The actors resemble the people they portray and the story is entertaining and accurate.

 

3. Django Unchained – A humorous and action packed look at slavery in the USA. Great acting and awesome screenwriting. Didn’t feel like almost three hours.

 

4. The Lone Ranger – Although it didn’t do well in the box office, this is a masterpiece in my opinion. Great story, top class acting and plenty of action.

 

5. Filth – A dark comedy with some great twists. Not for the easily offended but a must see for those that enjoy humour with the dark realities of life mixed in.

 

Worst Movies of 2013 – Top 5

 

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1. We Are The Freaks – A horrendous low budget movie set in early 90s Birmingham. Avoid at all costs.

 

2. Diana – The acting wasn’t bad, neither was the story. The script, however, was atrocious. A big disappointment.

 

3. About Time – A nice idea, but done terribly. No conflict, very little story, just a bland romantic comedy.

 

4. The Big Wedding – This should have been a good movie with the big names featured but a weak script and poorly developed characters made it awful.

 

5. The Guilt Trip – Lacked humour and was easily forgotten.

Filth *****

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Run Time: 97 mins                           Cert: 18

 

Synopsis: Based on Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name, “Filth” joins an Edinburgh policeman (James McAvoy) on a journey into crime, hedonism and corruption.

 

Set in Edinburgh, “Filth” tells the story of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), an Edinburgh policeman who spends most of his time indulging in drugs, sex and stirring up trouble between those around him. At the beginning of the movie, he is focused on getting a promotion at work.

 

The story is well written and makes great use of comedy. While giving rise to hysterical laughter from the audience, “Filth” explores the dark world of mental illness and has the viewer questioning what is real. In particular, the relationship between Bruce and his wife seems odd and it’s unclear whether she is alive, dead or just doesn’t exist.

 

James McAvoy is excellent in his role as Bruce. The character’s dialogue and mannerisms are quirky and fun and the situations he gets into are both entertaining and memorable. Despite his appalling behaviour towards his friends and colleagues, the viewer can’t help feeling sorry for him as his life deteriorates.

 

A key element in the movie is Bruce’s relationships with his colleagues. Jamie Bell gives a great performance as young detective Ray. He and McAvoy work well together and the dynamic of their relationship changes as the balance of power shifts during the movie. Imogen Poots is convincing as disapproving colleague Amanda and Gary Lewis is enjoyable to watch as daft policeman Gus.

 

Other supporting cast members also perform to a high standard. Jim Broadbent is hilarious as Bruce’s psychiatrist while Eddie Marsan’s portrayal of his friend Clifford Blades attracts both ridicule and sympathy from the audience.

 

The film’s soundtrack is filled with classics from artists including Billy Ocean, David Soul and Tom Jones. This is both enjoyable and adds extra comedy to some of the scenes.

 

“Filth” has some excellent twists and keeps the audience guessing until the final minutes. For those who have not read Irvine Welsh’s novel, the revelations will be completely unexpected and make for a perfect ending to a great movie.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Diana *

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Run Time: 113 mins Cert: 12A

Synopsis: Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the biopic covers the final two years of Princess Diana’s life and her relationships with Hasnat Khan and Dodi Fayed.

 

The film begins with Diana’s (Naomi Watts) divorce from her husband Prince Charles in 1995. The film mainly focuses on Diana’s two-year relationship with cardiac surgeon Hasnat Khan and the issues that led to its failure before touching briefly on her final relationship with Dodi Fayed.

 

The script is poorly written and the dialogue is forced and sugary. Naomi Watts gives a good performance but is limited by the script. While her appearance and mannerisms are similar to those of Diana, her lines consist of weak attempts at humour, regular self pity and dramatic declarations of love that wouldn’t be out of place in a soap opera.

 

Naveen Andrews is also pleasant enough to watch but his character seems flat and underdeveloped while the supporting cast are bland and easily forgotten.

 

The film is very safe in its depiction of events. Charles is never seen and her relationship with her sons is ignored apart from a few lines about their lack of contact. Her relationships with Khan and Fayed are also portrayed in a simplistic, cut and dried way. The former feels like a badly written romance novel while the latter is portrayed as nothing more than a media stunt to make Khan jealous.

 

The ending is rather cheesy and feels more like a soap opera than a biopic. Overall, “Diana” is one of the worst movies of 2013.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Call ****

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Run Time: 94 mins                             Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: When 911 dispatcher Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) makes a mistake with tragic consequences, she vows she will never take a call again. However when teenager Casey (Abigail Breslin) is kidnapped she gets back on the line to fight for the caller’s life.

 

The film begins in a 911 call centre in which Jordan (Halle Berry) is working. After a careless mistake resulting in a caller’s death, she stops working on the phones. Six months later, teenager Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) is kidnapped by a man named Michael Anderson (Michael Eklund) in a shopping centre car park. She calls 911 from the boot of his car and Jordan takes over the call.

 

The story is well written and has a number of twists. The majority of the movie takes place in real time and follows the lengthy phone call that takes place between the lead characters and while events do occur, the main thing that keeps the viewer’s attention is the anticipation and suspense.

 

Halle Berry’s performance is by far her best in recent years. Her character seems very human. She makes mistakes and suffers emotionally but is also determined to make things right. This makes Jordan a character the audience can relate to and adds depth to the movie.

 

Abigail Breslin also gives a great performance. Despite being young and inexperienced, Casey has strong survival instincts and fights even when death seems certain. She and Berry work well together and the trust established between them is a key element in the story.

 

Michael Eklund is both scary and convincing as deranged kidnapper Michael. His motivation for kidnapping the teenager is unclear and keeps the viewer guessing until the end.

 

Despite a promising start and middle, “The Call” loses its way in the third act. While there are some good twists, the last 20 minutes seem all over the place and the ending is disappointing.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan