Saturday, 16 January 2010

Mini Reviews - 'Funny People'

‘Funny People’

Firstly, I have never seen the appeal of Adam Sandler.

I watched this movie in trepidation, and in the end I was neither more of a fan or less of one.
Perhaps it is because I do not find him funny.
Never really have.
But in watching him I noticed some very interesting things about the movie happening around him. Was it just me or did the entire film make you dislike his movie/comedy star? When George Simmons (Sandler) learns of his terminal, inoperable health condition, his desire to form a genuine friendship cause him to take a relatively green performer, Ira (Seth Rogen) under his wing as his opening act.
Understandable, but in watching this film I found myself rooting for Ira to succeed and George to die.

Maybe it was because George was a bratty little twerp who only really begins to think about his life and how he has lived it when it is being taken away from him. Even during the times he is at his lowest he is a horrid little pig. Insulting his doctor, his only friend and selfishly making amends with the family he left behind to seemingly grant him a sense of doing the right thing.

Perhaps this film is truly about just how vapid and self centered people in Hollywood really are.

The only characters who come out of the film unscathed, with a sense of humanity are Seth Rogen to delves to unseen depths here, and Eric Bana as the husband of Georges old flame.
These are the real people caught up in amidst the phony of Hollywood, and perhaps that is writer/director Judd Apatows point, that the big earning celebrity in Hollywood is really alone, and the schmuck who works in the deli with a host a friends, is much richer.
Sweet sentiment, badly told.

Grade - C+

Broadcast Film Critics Awards

Wow. They have turned into a bigger popularity contest then the Globes are. I honestly thought these were critics - guess everyone wants to be liked.

BEST PICTURE: The Hurt Locker
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
BEST ACTRESS: TIE: Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia, and Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Cristoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS: Saoirse Ronan - The Lovely Bones
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE: Inglorious Basterds
BEST DIRECTING: Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner - Up In The Air
BEST MAKEUP: District 9
BEST COMEDY: The Hangover
BEST SONG: "The Weary Kind" - Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett - Crazy Heart
BEST SCORE: Michael Giacchino - Up

Actress - The Race

Friday, 15 January 2010

Mini Reviews - 'Julia'


Messy and over long, and at some points verging on the ridiculous, but all anchored by an incredible central performance from Tilda Swinton. She’s 40, is an alcoholic. She is a manipulative, unreliable, compulsive liar, yet still flamboyant and sexy, even if she looks like she may smell.
She gets caught up in a stupid kidnap plot that she should buy into, but that is the beauty of the performance. She convinces you that she is convinced it is all legit, basically the brilliant Tilda Swinton convinces you she is dumb.

Despite the thriller style twist turning plot involving gangs, ransoms, and the drama of a none to bright woman trying to stay ahead of the game, it still plays as a character study in which by the frustrating last frames, you see the glimmer of the human being she could become.

It is a shame then that every other player in the film is either saint or sinner. Perhaps that is all Julia is capable of seeing.

Grade - B-

Mini Reviews - 'It's Complicated'

It’s Complicated’

Lady, ten years divorced with 3 sprogs has an affair with her ex husband while starting a relationship with a new man. Nut shell synopsis.

Meryl Streep can do no wrong, can she? Even when is called upon to giggle and smirk, she still manages to make the character believable.
You have to give it to her for making this rather wet and sickly screenplay work. But also props should go to Alec Baldwin who almost out shines Streeps by ploughing through the film like the rogue he is portraying. He is almost the one true breath of honesty in the piece.
The film, however is not very funny nor it is very charming. It plays more like a feminist idea of how things should happen, then how they really would. Sure the chemistry between Baldwin and Streep is wonderful, but that is where the chemistry stops. Everything else just feels so phony and polished, like her friends, her children, even her restaurant. Sure this is fantasy, but doesn’t fantasy come across better when grounded in reality?

Grade - C

Trailers - 'Chloe'

This film got good notices when it debuted on the festival circuit in 2009. Judging by the trailer it looks like another film featuring those rare of things, interesting female performances. This of course means the box office will not be huge, but judging by this trailer I am very curious to see Moore and especially Seyfried and how they perform their roles.

The notices for both women have been very positive.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Mini Reviews - 'The Messenger'

The Messenger’

Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton and Ben Foster are superb in this Sundance drama which revolves around a US Army officer assigned to casualty notification.

While the film never preaches about the war it speaks volumes in the three main characters.

Ben Foster gives a career making performance in the lead role, but it is Woody Harrelson as his very damaged and tightly would partner, and Samantha Morton as the newly widowed love interest (and whose ability to speak volumes just from her eyes is devastating) who make this film as powerful as it is, but they are still not able to hide the cracks of a story that needed to show just a little more humanity.

Grade - B

Trailer - 'The Ghost Writer'

Polanski directing Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olive Williams and Kim Cattrall = Me so curious. This curiosity stems mainly from what he can get out of Cattrall who I suspect may be great in this. Then again I always get this way when brilliant directors go a strange direction with casting.

Will have to wait for the Berlin Film Festival to see how good it is.

Trailers - 'The Company Men'

The blurb:
"Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-workers Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) and Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers.
Bobby soon finds himself enduring enthusiastic life coaching, a job building houses for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner) which does not play to his executive skill set, and perhaps the realization that there is more to life than chasing the bigger, better deal. "

Looks rather interesting, and those who go to Sundance should try and catch a screening, especially with such an interesting cast. Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Chris Cooper, Craig T. Nelson and Rosemarie DeWitt. It will be interesting to see if producer John Wells has it in him as a movie director.

Mini Reviews - Stop-Motion

‘Mary and Max’

Who would of thought that this little film about two pen pals, one a lonely little 8 year old girl in Melbourne Australia, and a 44 year old New York man suffering from asperges symdrome by Australian film maker Adam Elliot would end up resonating with such honest emotion.

His sharp take on the world of misfits and the wonderful character design make this one of the must see films of the year. I have not laughed so much at any film so far this year. The wit on display is nearly out shone by the depth of feeling.

Such a sad thing this will probably not be one of the five best picture nominees for this years Oscar, simply because not enough people have seen it.

Grade - A-

‘The Fantastic Mr Fox’

What a wonderful year it has been for animated films, especially stop-motion animated films. This film by Wes Anderson i s no exception. Witty, weird and wonderful (even if you do wish the central character would be smacked down a peg or two) with some of the most humorous and visually striking set design to be seen all year.

Such a shame that animated films still have such a long way to go before they would ever be considered for some of the more artistic awards (Art Direction, Cinematography, ect) because this film makes a very good case for that.

Grade - A-

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Actress - The Race