Aug 24

Film review – The Ugly Truth (2009)

Film review – The Ugly Truth (2009)

The Ugly Truth

Rating: 6/10

Starring: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, Nick Searcy, Cheryl Hines, John Michael, Bree Turner, Kevin Connolly, Bonnie Somerville, Yvette Nicole Brown, Craig Ferguson

Directed by: Robert Luketic

Review: Film review – The Ugly Truth (2009) – Abigail “Abby” Richter played by Katherine Heigl is a morning show television producer. Although highly efficient at her job her show is struggling for ratings. To solve this Stuart played by Nick Searcy, who is Abby’s boss, brings in a crude late night talk show presenter Mike Chadway played by Gerard Butler, who has male chauvinist views and is the exact opposite of Abby. They begin to work with each other and inevitably clash but while this happens Mike discovers that Abby has trouble with her love life and sets about helping her get a man. This goes well as Abby starts to date Colin Anderson played by Eric Winter, with Mikes help. Colin is an orthopedic surgeon who has just moved in to the flat across the way from Abby. But of course this is a romantic comedy and so things are never that simple. Abby and Mike are slowly drawn together and yes, I’m afraid, for the inevitable/predictable conclusion.

This is a somewhat ruder and cruder romantic comedy than the average and that adds a little fun to proceedings. Heigl gets to take a shot at the best fake orgasm title first won by Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally for example.

Interestingly I found it funnier the first time around so perhaps its more entertaining on first sight. Heigl and Butler are up to standard but I’m not sure the film around them is. I think this is primarily a fault of the script which, to be honest, provides no meat for them to work with. It scraped a six based on the first viewing, its a five after that.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ugly_Truth

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1142988/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Aug 17

Film review – 27 Dresses (2008)

Film review – 27 Dresses (2008)

27 Dresses

Rating: 6/10

Starring: Katherine Heigl, Peyton Roi List, James Marsden, Malin Åkerman, Charli Barcena, Edward Burns, Judy Greer, Melora Hardin, Michael Ziegfeld, Brian Kerwin, Maulik Pancholy, David Castro, Krysten Ritter

Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Review: Film review – 27 Dresses (2008) – This film is the very definition of chick-flick, so much so that the audience when it was first shown in the cinema consisted of 75% women (based on studio research).

Jane Nichols (played by Katherine Heigl) organises weddings for people, friends, relatives, you name it. She loves the process and spends most of her life working on other peoples weddings all the time dreaming about her own. Kevin Doyle (played by James Marsden) is a writer who covers weddings for the society pages. At the top of the film they meet, at a wedding, of course. The result being they share a taxi home even though they don’t seem to get on and after Jane has been dropped off Kevin realises she has left her diary in the cab. He keeps it and arranges to return it to her.

Meanwhile, Jane’s sister Tess (played by Malin Akerman) returns to New York and stays with Jane. On a night out together Tess is introduced to Jane’s boss George (played by Edward Burns) and immediately hits it off with him. This is a problem because Jane is secretly in love with George. As Jane is forced to hide her feelings and put up with first George and Tess dating and then having to arrange their wedding she slowly finds herself warming to Kevin.

Formulaic romance plot, blah blah blah.

There’s nothing terribly original here I’m afraid, but perhaps that’s the point. I’m a guy and so not the target audience. If you like chick-flicks, you’ll like this. Since it’s a comedy romance there is at least a little humour to help pass the time. I’ve seen worse.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Dresses

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0988595/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Aug 11

Film review – El Dorado (1966)

Film review – El Dorado (1966)

El Dorado

Rating: 8/10

Starring: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Charlene Holt, Michele Carey, Ed Asner, Christopher George, R. G. Armstrong, Paul Fix, Robert Donner, Jim Davis, Adam Roarke, Johnny Crawford, John Mitchum, Chuck Roberson, Don Collier, Olaf Wieghorst

Directed by: Howard Hawks

Review: Film review – El Dorado (1966) – This mid sixties Western starring John Wayne is a bit of a classic. It is essentially a remake of the 1959 film Rio Bravo also starring John Wayne. For some reason Howard Hawks developed a bit of an obsession with the theme and developed three versions of it in total, he produced and directed all three.

John Wayne plays Cole Thornton a hired gun. Edward Asner plays Bart Johnson a wealthy rancher who hires him to help win a range war. Robert Mitchum plays the Sheriff, J.P. Harrah of El Dorado who is an old friend of Thornton’s and when he finds out why Thornton has come to town warns him off, advising him he wasn’t told the truth about the situation. Thornton accepts his advise and turns down the job with Johnson. As he is returning to town from the Johnson ranch Thornton accidentally shoots one of the sons of Kevin MacDonald played by R.G. Armstrong, the MacDonald’s are the other ranch owners who Johnson is trying to get rid of. The boy is gut shot and knowing this is a bad position to be in kills himself to end the suffering. Thornton returns the boys body to the MacDonald’s clan and explains the situation before leaving. Again on his way back to town he is shot by one of MacDonald’s Daughters. He disarms her and is not fatally wounded but when he finally gets back to town the local doctor is unable to remove the bullet because it is too close to his spine. The doctor advises him to have it removed as soon as he a meets a better quality doctor.

Thornton leaves town once he gets better and after a couple of months runs into Mississippi, played by James Caan, a young man who kills another man in the bar Thornton is in. Turns out the man had killed a friend of his two years ago and he had been hunting him down all this time. When friends of the man look like starting further trouble Thornton steps in and stops the fight. It’s at this time Thornton realises that one of the men is Nelson McLeod a famous gun slinger. He’s heading for El Dorado having been hired to do the job Thornton turned down. He tries to hire Thornton to go with him but Thornton turns him down whilst at the same time learning that the sheriff J.P. Harrah is currently a drunk having loved and lost a woman since Thornton was there last. Thornton and Mississippi team up and decide to go and help Harrah against McLeod and Johnson.

There’s plenty of gunfights, token female interest provided by Charlene Holt as Maudie and Michele Carey as Josephine ‘Joey’ MacDonald and a high quality cast. This is a slightly harder edged version compared with the earlier Rio Bravo version. Good stuff.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Dorado_(1966_film)

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061619/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Aug 04

Film review – X-Men (2000)

Film review – X-Men (2000)

X Men

Rating: 6/10

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Brett Morris, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Tyler Mane, Bruce Davison, Ray Park, Shawn Ashmore

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Review: Film review – X-Men (2000) – The first in the series, this film introduces all the key characters of the X-men including Wolverine/Logan (played by Hugh Jackman), Professor Charles Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart), Dr. Jean Grey (played by Famke Janssen), Cyclops/Scott Summers (played by James Marsden), Storm/Ororo Munroe (played by Halle Berry) and Rogue/Marie (played by Anna Paquin). It also introduces Xaviers arch enemy Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (played by Ian McKellen) and his team of mutants, Mystique (played by Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), Sabretooth (played by Tyler Mane) and Toad (played by Ray Park).

As humanity begins to become aware of mutant human beings who have special powers living among them, a Senator, Robert Kelly (played by Bruce Davidson) seeks to control them by ensuring that they are all identified and their powers recorded through a Mutant Registration Act. This is the final straw for Magneto who believes that human beings are irrelevant and that the future belongs to mutants. He sets about trying to achieve his goal of transforming all of humanity into mutants by kidnapping first Senator Kelly (who he turns into a mutant, although this fails to work properly and the Senator ends up dying) and then Rogue who’s unique powers will help him increase his own. Wolverine decides to team up with the rest of the X-Men and they pursue Magneto and his mutants in order to free Rogue before it is too late.

A clean and tidy film, its well cast and has some good effects. On the downside, the plot is a little thin and the overall film suffers. Could have done with a little more work on the script before shooting. Basic entertainment but not the film it could have been.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men_(film)

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120903/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Aug 03

Film review – Iron Man (2008)

Film review – Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man

Rating: 8/10

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaun Toub, Faran Tahir, Paul Bettany, Leslie Bibb

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Review: Film review – Iron Man – (2008) – The first of the new Iron man series, this, it could be argued, is perhaps the most successful comic book to film translation. A lot of this I think is down to Robert Downey Jr. who plays Tony Stark (Iron Man). Downey Jr. brings a natural style and humour to the part and to top things off has a natural chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow who plays Pepper Potts, Starks long serving personal assistant. The bad guy this time around is played by Jeff Bridges who plays Stark Industries executive Obadiah Stane. Stark Industries is the company Tony Stark runs having inherited it from his father. It specialises in military equipment manufacture and supplies the American Government with all its latest and best weapons.

On a trip to Afghanistan with his friend Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes a military liaison (played by Terrance Howard) Stark having demonstrated his latest new missile “Jericho” is almost killed when his convoy is attacked. When he comes too he finds himself a captive and his kidnappers are demanding he builds a Jericho missile for them. On top of this he has had a crude electromagnetic device fitted to his chest to prevent shrapnel reaching his heart. Having agreed to build the Weapon for his captors the first thing he does is replace the crude device fitted to his chest with a much more sophisticated one based around a revolutionary electric generator called an arc reactor. Knowing that once his captors have the weapon they want they will kill him he instead designs and builds a robot suit and this enables him to escape.

Once Stark gets back to America he decides to change his company so that it doesn’t develop weapons any more, he wants it to do things to help people instead. His first project is to replace the device fitted to his chest with a far superior one and then he goes on to make a much improved version of the Iron Man suit he used to escape capture. With this, Iron Man is born and he goes on to help some people being attacked by his former captors. Not knowing that he has a problem at home because Obadiah who he thinks is his friend is actually plotting behind his back.

There’s a nice pace to the movie, its actually rather beautifully shot. There are two top performances from Downey Jr. and Paltrow which help to make it a superior comic book translation. Good fun and entertaining.

Ps: There are subtle introductions to both S.H.I.E.L.D (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) and the Avengers initiative for those interested in such things. More of those in future films.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Man_(2008_film)

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Jul 13

Film review – Die Hard (1988)

Film review – Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard

Rating: 10/10

Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, James Shigeta, Bruno Doyon, Andreas Wisniewski, Clarence Gilyard, Joey Plewa, Lorenzo Caccialanza, Gerard Bonn, Dennis Hayden, Al Leong, Gary Roberts, Hans Buhringer, Wilhelm von Homburg

Directed by: John McTiernan

Review: Film review – Die Hard (1988) – The very definition of action film this one started a new franchise with four others to follow Die Hard 2, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard. Bruce Willis stars as the New York Police Department officer John McClane who when visiting his wife Holy played by Bonnie Bedelia ends up fighting a group of terrorists who have hijacked the building she works in. The Nakatomi Plaza building is a new building owned by the Japanese company Holy works for and a group of staff are having a Christmas party when John arrives. While he is waiting in an office for his wife to speak to the staff the hijackers led by Hans Gruber played by Alan Rickman seize the staff. John manages to escape their clutches and then sets about trying to make the rest of the world aware of what is going on. Having killed a terrorist he eventually gets the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) to check the building and when Sgt. Al Powell played by Reginald Veljohnson starts to drive away thinking there is nothing wrong McClane drops one of the dead bodies on top of his car. Surprisingly this is the beginning of a friendship conducted between the two men via radio as the try to help each other get through the situation.

The film is a series of carefully crafted action sequences inter-spliced with some classic one liners. There’ll be hand to hand combat, gun fighting, explosions, edge of the seat tension and anything else you can imagine an action film should have.

Bruce Willis proved perfect for this role and never looked back, Alan Rickman plays an excellent baddie and Reginald Veljohnson supports well. Not my genre but great entertainment.

Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.

Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Hard

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095016/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Jun 22

Film review – In & Out (1997)

Film review – In & Out (1997)

In Out

Rating: 6/10

Starring: Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley, Bob Newhart, Shawn Hatosy, Zak Orth, Alexandra Holden, Lauren Ambrose, June Squibb, Shalom Harlow, Gregory Jbara, Lewis J. Stadlen, Deborah Rush, Kevin Chamberlin, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Debra Monk, Ernie Sabella, Joseph Maher, William Duell, Alice Drummond, Selma Blair, Whoopi Goldberg, Glenn Close, Jay Leno, Dan Hedaya

Directed by: Frank Oz

Review: Film review – In & Out (1997) – This romantic comedy stars Kevin Kline as Howard Brackett an English teacher who is outed as being gay by former student Cameron Drake played by Matt Dillon at an Oscar ceremony. He is about to be married to Emily Montgomery played by Joan Cusack and so the outing causes confusion and consternation. The next day he is hounded by the press and in particular Peter Malloy a TV journalist played by Tom Selleck. As the wedding approaches Malloy who is also gay helps Howard to understand that he is indeed gay and just didn’t know it. This leads to Howard coming out in front of the whole wedding just as he is about to take his vows.

It’s not high art but it is occasionally funny and Kline in particular plays the part well. Joan Cusack was also praised for her performance as the eponymous wife to be. Tom Selleck is less convincing as the gay journalist but does provide some of the comedy including a ten second kiss with Kline noted at the time. The films positive portrayal of gay issues in middle America was also praise worthy for its time.

Worth a watch as there is some fun to be had, its a popcorn movie, suitable for a Sunday evening quiet night in.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_%26_Out

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119360/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

Jun 09

Film review – August Rush (2007)

Film review – August Rush (2007)

August Rush

Rating: 7/10

Starring: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robin Williams, Terrence Howard, William Sadler, Jamia Simone Nash, Mykelti Williamson, Leon G. Thomas III, Alex O’Loughlin, Bonnie McKee, Timothy Mitchum, Becki Newton

Directed by: Kirsten Sheridan

Review: Film review – August Rush (2007) – This musical drama, almost fantasy, focuses on an orphan boy who turns out to be a musical child prodigy. Evan Taylor / August Rush played by Freddie Highmore has been brought up in an orphanage and has no knowledge of his parents. Like most of the children in the orphanage Evan is waiting for his parents to come not really realising they never will. In his case however he feels he is always in contact with them and eventually this leads him to run away and seek them out. He falls into the hands of Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace played by Robin Williams a modern day Fagin and discovers his musical talent which Maxwell immediately seeks to exploit for his own gain. Evan (Maxwell renames him August Rush) eventually escapes Maxwells grip and is discovered as a musical talent and sent to The Juillaird School of Music. There he learns formal music structure and is recognised as a child prodigy before Maxwell regains control of him, briefly, Evan finally escaping his grip at the end of the movie.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Evan his parents Lyla Novacek played by Keri Russell and Louis Connelly played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers are in different parts of the country. Louis lives in San Francisco but has stopped playing in his band. While Lyla, a classical musician lives in Chicago and teaches music having given up playing.

Like a musical composition all three strands of the plot are slowly drawn together using the magic of music.

Its not a work of genius I’ll freely admit but it does somehow manage to capture the magical connection that music can make. With its reference to Oliver Twist it rather nicely updates the character of Fagin very successfully played by Robin Williams who is completely believable in the part. Freddie Highmore does a nice job in the lead role and is backed up by reasonable performances from the very beautiful Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers (I’m sure he’s beautiful too, but not my taste :-) as his parents. There’s a little magic here that raises it above the average.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Rush

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426931/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

May 25

Film review – The Great Gatsby (2013)

Film review – The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Great Gatsby

Rating: 4/10

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan, Max Cullen, Adelaide Clemens, Brendan Maclean, Jack Thompson, Gemma Ward, Callan McAuliffe, Gus Murray, Stephen James King, iOTA, Jens Holck, Alison Benstead, Joel Amos Byrnes, Chris Proctor, Kate Mulvany, Kim Knuckey, Conor Fogarty, Sam Davis, Tasman Palazzi, Edward Midgley, Gareth Hamilton-Foster, Vince Colosimo

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann

Review: Film review – The Great Gatsby (2013) – Nick Carraway played by Tobey Maguire is an alcoholic in a sanatorium. He speaks about a man he once knew called Gatsby and his doctor urges him to write his thoughts down as part of his treatment. This film tells that story.

Having moved to New York in the summer of 1922 Nick rents a small house on Long Island in the (fictional) village of West Egg. He finds he has moved in next door to a large mansion owned by Jay Gatsby played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Gatsby is a somewhat mysterious character who holds a large number of very extravagant parties. Across the bay in East Egg Nicks cousin Daisy Buchanan played by Carey Mulligan and her husband Tom played by Joel Edgerton live in a similarly large mansion and from a distance the two over look each other. The film follows the entanglements of these characters plus Jordan Baker played by Elizabeth Debicki an attractive female golfer.

For a detailed breakdown of the plot I would advise you read the book before seeing any of the films.

3D: This was my first encounter with 3D and its likely to be my last. The technology is poor and really only suitable for children who will be amused by the zazzy effects its provides. Its gimmicky feel acts as a constant barrier between the viewer and the film. The requirement to wear silly glasses (over glasses in my case) acts as a further barrier and on top of that there appears to be a limitation of the technology which requires the tonality of the film to be destroyed in order for the 3D effects to work. Thus it is like watching a film made entirely in the dark.

The Great Gatsby in 3D: I can’t in all honesty think of a more stupid thing to do. All of the beautiful subtlety available to the director from the book has been sacrificed for a gimmick that will die faster than it took to create. Two dreadful decisions were made at the beginning of this project. One was the choice of Baz Luhrmann to be the director and the other was to make it in 3D.

If you’ll take my advice you’ll read the book or watch the Robert Redford film version. This is a gimmick, a monster created by studios desperate for profits from a technology that doesn’t work. That said, I think Tobey Maguire makes a great Nick Carraway and I feel sorry for him that it had to be in such a turkey. Leonardo DiCaprio is less convincing as Gatsby I’m afraid but would surely have done better with better direction. I’ve given the film Four out of Ten because I think perhaps in 2D it might be better and reach the dizzy heights of Six out of Ten. I’ve deducted two points for the 3D nonsense.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby_(2013_film)

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1343092/

Amazon: Not Available

Trailer:

May 18

Film Review – Copycat (1995)

Film Review – Copycat (1995)

Copycat

Rating: 7/10

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, Harry Connick, Jr., William McNamara, J. E. Freeman, Will Patton, John Rothman, Shannon O’Hurley

Directed by: Jon Amiel

Review: Film review – Copycat (1995) – This is a tough psychological thriller starring Sigourney Weaver as Helen Hudson, Holly Hunter as Inspector M.J. Monahan, Dermot Mulroney as Inspector Reuben Goetz and Harry Connick, Jr. as Daryll Lee Cullum, serial killer.

Hudson is a criminal psychologist specialising in serial killers but, having had a bad experience with a previous case is now house bound and retired. When a serial killer begins to strike in San Francisco she contacts the police who are stumped and begins to advise them. Once the police visit her home to interview her the killer finds where she lives and starts to involve her in his killing spree (she can give him the recognition he craves). Each time he kills he kills in the style of a previous serial killer from the past including Albert DeSalvo, The Hillside Strangler, David Berkowitz, Peter Kürten, Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper and Jeffrey Dahmer. The race is on to catch him before he strikes again.

This is a tense and brutal thriller, well made and with some good acting from Weaver and Hunter in particular. Harry Connick, Jr. is cast against type as the serial killer and manages to pull the role off surprisingly well. If you’re a single woman living alone and at all squeamish its probably not the film for you (you’ll have trouble sleeping afterwards). Worth a watch for everyone else though.

Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copycat_(film)

IMDBhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112722/

Amazon: Buy it

Trailer:

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