Monday, November 29, 2010

Grey Gardens (2009)

Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore in a scene from the film

Having seen the documentary Grey Gardens (1975), I became interested in this made for television movie about the lives of big and little Edie Beale. Don't be put off by the fact that it was 'made for television,' this was clearly a mistake when you view the film.

Grey Gardens tells the story of this mother and daughter that the documentary only gave us hints of. With scenes remaking moments from the documentary and also scenes that take us into the background of these unusual women, we get more of an insight into the unusual lives of the two Edie's.

The acting and settings in this film are quite extraordinary. I am such a fan of Drew Barrymore, whether she is in a rom-com like Never Been Kissed or playing a teacher in the trippy film Donnie Darko, she never disappoints me. I absolutely adored her in this film, she captures little Edie's character exquisitely! Same of course goes for Jessica Lange as big Edie; a phenomenal performance. You could honestly watch the documentary and film back and forth and not spot a difference. This is also of course evident in the settings, where you can tell fine detail has gone into making it look just the original (referring to the house and costumes).

I guess I am a biased viewer as I am a bit of a fan of the documentary, so really appreciated what this film was about. But, I think if you are not aware of the story of the Beales, this film will not confuse you, it is ideal for either viewer. I may come off like I Loved this film, but it didn't 'blow my mind,' I just really enjoyed getting a new insight into the famous mother and daughter pair.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let The Right One In

Kåre Hedebrant in a scene from the film


Having known about this film for quite some time now, I became more interested in it again when Matt Reeves remake of the Swedish film, Let Me In, was released. Rather than going and seeing the remake at the cinema, (which has actually received rave reviews) I decided to see the original first.

Let The Right One In tells the story of bullied 12-year-old Oskar. When Eli, a vampire, moves in next door, he befriends the pale young girl and romance begins to blossom. What I loved about this vampire tale was that it wasn't a horror, it wasn't a sappy romance like the one in Twilight and there wasn't an annoying vampire gang of friends. It was a love story between two children that had its complications because one of them needs blood to live.

The setting of the film takes place in a small poor town somewhere in Sweden surrounded in snow. The way each scene is shot it makes everything about this poor town seem somewhat beautiful. Like the picture above, Oskar is in his tiny bedroom doing morse code to Eli who is in the room next door. The wallpaper on his wall adds to the beauty of this scene but it's also an intimate moment between two people. Ahh I'm just crapping on, but I felt like this film was shot so beautifully that it was just mesmerizing. The story isn't solely told through dialogue, there are a lot of quiet moments where you just enjoy the scenery.

I'm not a big fan of the vampire genre that is taking over our screens lately, but this film was a breath of fresh air. Also since seeing this and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I'm determined to watch more Swedish films. Judging by my other reviews I have tended to only watch foreign films that are French (I am a big fan of French cinema) but I think I'll venture out a bit now.

Rating: 4.5/5

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Piano Teacher


Benoit Magimel & Isabelle Huppert in a scene from the film

I saw this film two weeks ago but I have not known how to even begin reviewing this film. I have scribbled down so many observations and analysis' I made about it in my journal, but have just chosen to read over them again and again but never actually begin this post. So here I am starting this not knowing what will come next but will attempt to tackle it regardless.

The Piano Teacher comes from genius director Michael Haneke. I have been intrigued by this man since viewing a remake of his own film, Funny Games, (I have recently purchased the original so I can see how different they are, am very much looking forward to it!) which disturbed me but intrigued me so much and left me in awe. The Piano Teacher, managed to get a similar response from me.

The Piano Teacher tells the story of pianist, Erika Kohut (Isabelle Huppert) who leads a life as a piano teacher and lives with her mother. Deep down Erika has a sick mind when it comes to sex and it's when she meets piano student, Walter Klemmer (Benoit Magimel - love that name by the way) who pursues her, that her sick fantasies are revealed. Huppert's character is sad and disturbing and as a viewer you don't know whether to feel sorry for her or judge her.

Haneke's disturbing themes are thought provoking rather than just being there for the sole purpose of disturbing you. It seems his main intentions aren't to confront and disturb you but to rather slap you in the face. It's as if he is saying; we always expect a happy resolution at the end of a film but instead we must be confronted with reality. Its disturbing themes are intelligent, it's as if Haneke has a well educated background and is intent on showing you the truth through ways we have never seen in other films.

There's no kidding though, some scenes are quite confronting and not at all for those who prefer Disney classics or a Steve Martin movie. I strongly recommend this to those of you who are fans of Harmony Korine or Larry Clark. It's a similar kind of vibe but dedicated to an older market perhaps...

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)


Just one of the many outfits from the film that are overwhelming for the eye

So firstly a bit of background information on how I came across this film. I am addicted to my 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, my head is always in it at least once a week. I came across this film called Happiness in it which stars the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman & Lara Flynn Boyle (Twin Peaks). I was so intrigued by it's story and watched the trailer to it numerous times and then began reading up on the director Todd Solondz. This is how I discovered Welcome to the Dollhouse, as Solondz is the director. I have been scouring the shelves of dvd stores for months in the hope of coming across either of these films. It was just last week that I would casually step into JB Hi-Fi with the intention of purchasing nothing (always a fail) and just come across a copy of Welcome to the Dollhouse, simple as that! After watching it though, I am feeling rather unsure about my discovery.

The film follows loner, Dawn Wiener, who is both an outcast at school and at home. Constantly being called Wienerdog at school and ridiculed for not being as sweet and cute as her younger sister at home, Dawn leads a fairly miserable life as a result. What I didn't like about this film is the shit Heather Matarazzo's character, Dawn, has to go through. The taunting at school is one thing but to get so much crap from the mother at home is just frustratingly annoying. The shit Dawn has to go through was just overwhelming and quite ridiculous really to the point that it wasn't quite believable.

This all aside though, I can see the film's appeal. It's quite quirky and funnily enough, original despite the overused storyline of the loner who gets taunted all the time. I just can't make up my mind though whether this is enough to make me like the film. When the film was finished I felt rather disappointed but over the past few days I've been thinking more about it and I think I liked it. I think I'm going to have to give it more time though or another viewing before I can fully make up my mind about it. So for that reason I am not going to give it a rating. However, I'll still be hunting for a copy Happiness.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Kids Are All Right


The family

I'm still trying to work out how I feel about this film. I appreciate it for its originality, incredible acting and all round terrific storyline but unfortunately there were unresolved parts that left me feeling a little disappointed.

The Kids Are All Right revolves around a modern day family; two children and their lesbian mums. When Joni & Laser decide to get in contact with the sperm donor who made their family possible, things begin to change and Nic, the head of the family, doesn't like it.

The film isn't all serious, there are moments where you find yourself laughing quite loud i.e. an interesting D.V.D. that the two mums have sex to, makes for some awkward yet hilarious moments. The acting is also remarkable, but what do you expect when you have a film starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo (I'm also a big fan of the Alice in Wonderland star now, Mia Wasikowska, an absolutely stunning yet quirky girl, I'm expecting big things!) Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are perfect as the lesbian mums, there's nothing stereotypical about their roles, they act them out perfectly and flawlessly.

But of course there is the matter of unanswered questions. I'm not going to give the story away, but at the end you are kind of left asking but then what happens with so and so, why are we left with this part unresolved. I guess it's left to interpretation or just assumption, which I can accept, but you can't help but feel a little uneasy.

Overall, I was pretty pleased with the film. It's not something I'd go out and rush to see again, but I'd recommend to those who are in the mood for something original and less Hollywood.

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Badlands, Carrie & Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Okay, so I'm going to do something kind of different today, rather than review one film I'm going to post a few films I have seen since watching New York, I Love You, with a little rant about what I thought of them and then a rating. I'm doing this firstly because I'm avoiding my assignment which involves me creating an animation in Flash (kill me), and also because I've been a bit slack and haven't posted anything for nearly a month.

Badlands (1973).

The dancing scene! So adorable. And goddamn, Martin Sheen was such a babe in his time.

I absolutely adored this film. Having found out about it from reading one of my favourite coffee table books, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, I went out and purchased it straight away. Unfortunately, being as lazy as I am, I didn't get around to watching it 'til about two months after purchasing it (I still haven't watched Dr Strangelove either, which I purchased in early 2008). Martin Sheen & Sissy Spacek are perfect as the young couple on the run. A favourite part in the film of mine is when they live in their tree house home out in the middle of nowhere. There's an adorable moment when they're just dancing around to their portable radio, it's so sweet. This film has inspired me to check out Director, Malick's other stuff. The Thin Red Line is on the top of my list.
Rating: 4/5

Carrie (1976).

Oh no! Carrie got her period!

Having seen Badlands, I wanted to check out some more of Sissy Spacek's earlier stuff so decided to rent out the horror classic, Carrie. Yeah, I'm not going to lie, usually I love old horror films but Carrie has aged pretty badly. The film opens with a female changeroom at a highschool showing naked schoolgirls walking around. This was a very long opening, basically just filming breasts and bushes all in slow motion... I watched this with my friend Katie and we both just had to laugh because we didn't quite get what the point of it was and it was a little uncomfortable to watch. There's a lot of slapping of students by the gym teacher and just awkward scenes between Carrie and her mother. I enjoyed Sissy Spacek as the character Carrie but apart from that I was a little disappointed and didn't find the film all that frightening.
Rating: 2.5/5

Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

ahhhhmazing!

Yay! I have been long awaiting this film since discovering it on the Internet Movie Database about a year ago. I constantly stalk Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman's imdb profiles to find out what upcoming films they'll be starring in and to discover they were to be in a film together just got me super antsy. This film definitely doesn't disappoint. Amazing characters (Wallace, a definite favourite played by Kieran Culkin), computer game styling, a band called Sex Bob-omb and amazing fighting scenes where Scott Pilgrim must defeat the seven evil ex's. I went to this one on my own and haven't regretted it. Sitting there and viewing this on my own was one of the best moments of my life. I was so so happy that day. I highly recommend all to see this and view it's glory!
Rating: 5/5

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New York, I Love You


A scene from Natalie Portman's short film

Ok, I'm feeling a little hesitant about reviewing New York, I Love You because I see it as a bit of a challenge. So rather than bailing on it, I'm going to give it a shot (this could very much be my worst review, but I'm willing to take a risk).

What makes this so difficult is the fact that New York, I Love You is made up of a bunch of short films. For those of you who have seen Paris, Je T'aime, you will be familiar with the concept. Much like the short films set in Paris, France, New York, I Love You, does the same only in the city of New York (obviously). I loved Paris, Je T'aime, so eagerly awaited to see the same concept taken on in the city of New York. And surprisingly, it seems I prefer love stories told from New York. I actually enjoyed most of the love stories that were shown to me, particularly the ones directed by Brett Ratner, Natalie Portman, Faith Akin and Joshua Marston. Natalie Portman's short film was the one that stood out to me the most though. Her film felt like it was directed by the likes of Sofia Coppola. The shots are beautiful, focusing on the beauty of Central Park, through the eyes of a young girl and her father.

As a single girl, it is somewhat depressing to watch a film(s) like this because it only makes you long for what's on the screen. At the same time, however, I could only kind of laugh at how spontaneous and unbelievable a few of these characters were. So many of them easily approach the other character and talk so openly about sex and whatnot. I wasn't buying it all the time but still found it to be enjoyable viewing nonetheless. As someone who is travelling to New York at the end of the year it only made me want to leave even more, not to find someone, but rather for the beauty that is New York City. The actual city is something you can fall in love with and I think that was something that was portrayed in the film through the way the settings were shot. Natalie Portman's film is of course a huge example of this.

Don't be put off by the fact that the film is made up of a bunch of love stories, they are far from cliche so you won't be rolling your eyes too much...

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Zodiac


Jake Gyllenhaal & Chloe Sevigny in a scene from the film

I have literally just finished watching Zodiac and I am buzzing so much after it that I don't think I'll sleep at all tonight. Don't be put off by it's 2 and a half hour length, it moves so quickly you could have sworn you sat down to watch it for an hour.

I am a big fan of murder mysteries. My cousin Bree & I lived on documentaries and films on true murder mysteries when we were growing up and are still watching them now. Of course it scared us but we were so drawn in by it that we couldn't stop watching it. We followed stories such the Frankston murders case, the Cromwell St murders, the Ivan Milat murders and more. But I had never once heard of the Zodiac murders on which this film is based.

The Zodiac murders case spans over a number of years following a few killings made by this man who goes by the name of the Zodiac. He promotes himself by writing letters to the newspapers as well as ones in code which people must decipher to find out more about him. I really don't want to give anything away though and I recommend not doing any research before the film because it will only spoil it. Just do what I'm going to do, which is reading about it after! (Something which I do far too often i.e. after I saw Changeling, I was reading about those murders for a few weeks. It's just so damn interesting).

When you have a cast starring actors as brilliant as Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Chloe Sevigny it's highly unlikely you'll be left disappointed. One key thing that really drew me in was the Director being David Fincher who brought us other great films such as Fight Club and Se7en. The cast really don't disappoint, the performances are superb. There is also one scene which truly frightened me, I was hiding behind my pillow in parts, (this rarely happens with me).

I could not recommend this film anymore! Save it for a rainy day when you've got some spare time, or better yet go and hire it right now and watch it immediately! (I am writing this at 1am in the morning though, so am thinking of you readers who are reading this during video store hours).

Rating: 4.5/5

Note: My last 3 paragraphs ended in bracketed sentences, hmmm.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Single Man


Stills from the film that show Tom Ford's use of experimentation with colour

What drew me into seeing this film was the unusual trailer that was playing on the loop DVD at my work. I think if my review isn't enough to make you want to see Tom Ford's film debut, at least check out the trailer and be amazed. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aypyJtHzC70

The film is just as hypnotic as its trailer. Ford's use of colour and camera angles/shots are absolutely mesmerizing! And being a fan of Mad Men now, I appreciated the setting being in 1960s America. Ah I just love the fashion, cars and furniture in this film. After seeing Julianne Moore apply eyeliner to her eyes the way she did, I am determined to try it out myself!

Aside from the beauty of the look of the film, the storyline is somewhat lacking. I did thoroughly enjoy the acting by all actors (and if you're not a fan of Colin Firth's usual 'Mr Darcy' role, you'll be quite pleased by this alternative role) and the story was rather intriguing throughout, until the end though. I felt like it was missing something but I just don't know what. A Single Man was originally based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, so I don't know if it was him that gave up near the end or Ford with the screenplay. I am intrigued to find out if someone else agrees with me on this but unfortunately I don't know anyone else who has seen it. If you have, please let me know what you think!

Despite this though, the film has done very well for itself, receiving Oscar nominations and rave reviews. I should also mention, Nicholas Hoult, who you will recognise as Tony from Skins, makes for a very sexy gay man. I feel kind of weird for saying that, but I am just hoping he is a straight man in real life so it makes me look less strange.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mad Men

Apologies for not posting anything recently. I honestly haven't been watching many films, and the ones that I have seen I feel are not blog worthy.


Jon Hamm pictured centre and Christina Hendricks in the green

Lately, however, I have been watching a TV series called Mad Men which I am very much addicted to. The series is set in the 1960s focusing on a fictional advertising agency called Sterling Cooper. The title of the series comes from the name given to men who worked in Madison Avenue. They were called Mad Men, obviously taking from the name Madison.

There are so many reasons why I love this series. For one I love the look of the 60s with the fashion, furniture and of course the kind of advertising they did back then with happy housewifes and the ideal American family. The show glamorizes this era with men and women wearing fancy outfits, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, drinking scotch at 12pm and having scandalous affairs. But of course life isn't always glamourous when we are shown characters' deep and dark secrets and the reality of this 'rich' lifestyle.

The actors are all really spectacular in this series with worthy mentions going to Jon Hamm as the mysterious Don Draper and Christina Hendricks as the voluptuous Joan Holloway.

I'm only halfway through the second series but it should be mentioned there is also a third series available on DVD and the fourth series will air on TV soon.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bright Star


Abbie Cornish in a scene from the film

It's when I watch a film like Bright Star that I want to runaway to England and fall in love with an English boy. That or I want to be taken back to the 19th century so I can have a boy speak to me in such a gentlemanly manner and woo me with his poetry.

I love period pieces. There's nothing like listening to people speaking so politely, viewing beautiful scenery and handsome men to admire. I'm a huge fan of the BBCs version of Pride & Prejudice, so anything set during the same period will naturally draw me in.

Bright Star tells the true story of the romance shared between poet, John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and student of fashion, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Both are delightful in their roles and the romance shared between them is so believable, you feel your heart race when they share their first kiss and when he proposes.

God I'm such a sap for this type of thing, but this truly is a gorgeous piece of work. It's so moving, it even got some tears out of me at the end. That being said though, films are the main source of my crying these days.

This is a beautiful film that I will highly recommend to all that enjoy a romance film with quality.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tenure


Luke Wilson in a scene from the film

After watching Tenure I feel really happy and content. What made me feel this way was quite possibly the locations in which the film was shot, (after some research I discovered the film was shot in Pennsylvania - now adding it to my list of travel destinations).

It seems this film isn't getting the credit it deserves after being only filmed in a few festivals before going straight to DVD. Coming from the producer of Rushmore, I definitely got a Rushmore vibe. With the whole location being a place of education and also the characters in the film were quirky and original. Of course the guy that always provides us with laughs, David Koechner, is our main source of comedy in Tenure.


There's nothing overly fabulous about the storyline but it provided some laughs and overall joy. Luke Wilson is rather mundane as Charlie Thurber, but surprisingly that didn't frustrate me all that much, but some might find this to be a pain, (I think I was in a very good mood when I watched this).

This film's great to watch if you're not in the mood for anything too heavy nor something that is stupidly funny. It somehow fits in the middle and is just a good movie to chill out to.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, May 17, 2010

Black Dynamite


Dynamite!

I have been introduced to the blaxploitation film genre not through a 1970s classic but through a film made in 2009. Black Dynamite has tried to take everything from the blaxploitation period and take you back to the 1970s with it's use of editing, afros and pimping suits.

I am seriously getting onto this genre! I have a slight obsession with black people and after watching 'Good Hair' I have been trying my luck with a few black films but now I have finally hit the jackpot. This film has so many one-liners, I just want to quote it forever!

i.e "You know he came around here about a week ago, with some cats that I had never seen before. Man, I mean these cats looked mean! Meaner than two fat motherfuckers wrestling over pork chops and greens, can you dig it?" -- amazing shit.

I wouldn't even know where to begin with the whole storyline of this film. It is so wack. There is one scene where Black Dynamite is trying to help his crew figure out this whole mystery and the stuff they came up with is ridiculously funny!

I think it's best I just say go out and see it and also give the trailer a watch to get you into it. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nowhere Boy


ah... Babe!

Okay I will try my best to keep the fact that Aaron Johnson is total eye candy in this film out of this review, but seriously, drool! He did this to me in 'Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging,' 'Kick-Ass' and now this! Something about him in the whole 50's attire and combed back hair does a little more for me though (and must have done something for the director Sam Taylor Wood as well, but so not venturing there!)

Nowhere Boy tells the story of a young John Lennon and how he came to be brought up by his Aunt and his relationship with his mother. Having no prior understanding of Lennon's early life, it was nice to get an insight into his upbringing and gives a whole new meaning to his song, 'Mother.'

I got a little teary in this film every now and again. It's always nice to watch a film that moves you a little, especially when you're in the mood for a bit of a cry. The acting in this film is fabulous, I mean when you've got someone like Kristin Scott Thomas as a part of the cast you've got to expect something great.

As much as I enjoyed this film it didn't have a profound effect on me but I would happily recommend it to anyone who is a Beatles fan and is interested in a little history of the creation of the famous band.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rope (1948)


Ha Ha if only Alfred made one of his cameo appearances like this in the film!

I am so disappointed with myself, it has taken me this long to see Hitchcock's 'Rope!' I'm mainly disappointed because I absolutely adore it and am adding it to my Hitchcock Top 5! I think I have a slight obsession with Hitchcock's films set in the one spot, i.e. Dial M For Murder & Rear Window. Rope, of course, falls under this category.

The film is set in an apartment where friends Brandon (John Dall) & Phillip (Farley Granger) have just murdered their friend David (Dick Hogan) and are set to hold a little party afterwards. Little do their friends realise that the chest on which their dinner is set contains their friend/son David. Keeping their secret from their former professor, Rupert (Jimmy Stewart) proves to be more challenging than Brandon & Phillip expected.

'Rope' has everything you want from a Hitchcock film; suspense, witty lines and of course the ever-amazing Jimmy Stewart. I think this is Stewarts best role in a Hitchcock film. The lines he says in the film are hilarious!
i.e. Rupert Cadell: [Phillip and Brandon have been arguing about strangling chickens] Personally, I think a chicken is as good a reason for murder as a blonde, a mattress full of dollar bills or any of the customary, unimaginative reasons.
Janet Walker: Well, now, you don't really approve of murder, Rupert? If I may?Rupert Cadell: You may... and I do. Think of the problems it would solve: unemployment, poverty, standing in line for theatre tickets...

His character's view on murder is a unique one but when it gets taken from Brandon's point of view it takes on a different meaning...

I think if you're a Hitchcock fan and haven't seen this one yet, you're missing out! It's a short one but damn it's perfect. So glad I can say I've seen it now!

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blowup (1966)


David Hemmings in a scene from the film, working his models.

Ah, there is so much to love about this film! The fashion, the music, the photography and I am absolutely in love with the character Thomas (Hemmings). Thomas is a fashion photographer who treats his models like shit and is obviously bored by the subject. In his spare time it appears he prefers to photograph nature and people within it. Thomas' outfit in the film is also what made me fall in love with him, he's so stylish and suave. If he were wearing this outfit today he wouldn't look out of place, it's timeless.

Blowup is mainly set in one day, the day in the life of the unusual photographer, Thomas. When he gets carried away spying on a couple in the park, he takes many photographs of the pair and gets caught. This is how we are introduced to the character Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), a woman who is happy to come into a strangers home and take her top off (yes you will get a few odd moments from the director, Michelangelo Antonioni). What makes the story get a little interesting is when Thomas develops the photographs from the park and discovers there is a mysterious man in the picture who appears to have murdered the other person in the photo.

This is the first film I have seen by Antonioni and I gotta tell you I absolutely adored it! It probably has a lot to do with the fact that it was filmed in the 60s but damn, I really loved it! I thought I would be sitting through a pretentious film all about photography but surprisingly it had a story to it. The whole mystery with the photographs he develops is extremely exciting! I guess the only thing that spoils the film is the ending, still not sure what happened. But aside from that I highly recommend it! For photographers, I think it will be inspiring. The photographs that are taken in this film are absolutely exquisite.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good Hair


Chris Rock

Like a lot of girls I always have something to complain about with my hair; it's too flat, my fringe won't sit right, it's too soft (yes I do actually complain about this!), etc. But after watching 'Good Hair,' these are all really petty issues.
In the documentary Chris Rock takes us on an adventure to learn about black hair and the lengths black women (and men) go to to make their hair look like a white woman's.

Before watching this documentary I only had a slight understanding of what a weave was from watching America's Next Top Model, but I had no idea about Relaxer. For those of you white people, like me, who also have no idea, Relaxer is a product that is made from Sodium Hydroxide. It is used to make a black woman's hair more straight and 'relaxed.' Chris Rock shows us how damaging Relaxer can be to hair; it can cause scabs, hair loss and permanent damage. This is frightening shit but somehow Rock not only makes this topic insightful and educational but also quite hilarious.

I laughed so much throughout this doco. Rock and his interviewees are fabulous. Interviews with Ice-T, Salt N Pepa, Tracie Thoms and some great characters in barber shops and hairdressers are totally entertaining. One of the best quotes in the film comes from Paul Mooney when he says, "If your hair's relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair's nappy, they're not happy." The lines these people come out with are amazing.

I also love the fact that there are hair competitions where hairdressers perform quick haircuts on black women's hair and parade around and dance on stage. There is such a huge following behind this industry and it's a huge money making business! Weaves cost around $1000! It's insane.

I loved this documentary! It was highly enjoyable yet insightful at the same time. It's a documentary for all races. Go and see it!

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Education


Peter Sarsgaard & Carey Mulligan in a scene from the film

Haven't we all met this person once in our lives? The one that changed your life, that up until you met them your life was boring and had nothing. This person introduces you to new things and suddenly everything becomes fun. I definitely met this person once in my life but mine wasn't an older man like Jenny's (Mulligan) in An Education.

An Education follows Jenny, a 16-year-old girl studying hard in highschool so she can attend Oxford University. Her father (Alfred Molina) pushes her to work hard and focus mainly on her studies. But when Jenny meets David (Sarsgaard) she's willing (and so are her parents) to throw away her future and spend the rest of her life with this man and "have fun!"

The title suggests that one can get an education from more than just school; you can also get it through life experiences. Jenny may be well educated in school but meeting David and his older friends teaches her something completely different. Although she feels grown up with these people she still has a lot of growing up to do. It shows how one can be so naive at the young age of 16. But even foolishly, her parents fool for David's charms, so perhaps we can't all be well educated when it comes to life.

An Education is definitely an education for those watching. Being able to relate to it also helped with my understanding of the film. I absolutely adored Carey Mulligan in this film, she's deinitely one to watch in the future. I highly recommend this film to people of all ages. It may be very eye opening to some and 'educational' for others.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Les Beaux Gosses (The French Kissers)


oh the awkwardness!

Ha ha! I had to open this with a laugh because I still can't get over the way the teenagers kiss in this film. It's all over the place, slobbery, inexperienced and right in there! I think the picture above kind of gives you an idea.
This film captures what it's like to be a teenage boy with only one thing on their mind - sex.

Hervé (Vincent Lacoste) and his friend Camel (Anthony Sonigo) are two pimple faced teenage boys with terrible haircuts. All they talk and think about is girls and what they want to do with them. They also share a couple of scenes where they masturbate together! Lacoste who makes out with his bathroom mirror to get practice and jerks off in a sock before he goes to bed finally does gets his chance with Aurore, one of the cool girls in his class.

This french teen film is unique to those that you see coming from America. It's honest but totally hilarious at the same time. It is still quite similar to what we've all seen but it doesn't go in too deep and is mostly just a light-hearted enjoyable film.

This type of film isn't really my thing anymore but I got a bit of a laugh out of it and anything to hear the french language is good for me. Also the soundtrack by Flairs is amazing with its electro-synth sound.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, March 15, 2010

Paper Heart


Michael Cera & Charlyne Yi in a scene from the film

Well it's been 10 months since I first saw the trailer for Paper Heart but now I can finally say I have seen it! (yay)
Paper Heart is absolutely delightful, I couldn't help but smile throughout it.

The film/doco, (it is part doco part scripted but the creators want you to think it's all doco but it is clearly very scripted in parts) follows Charlyne Yi (comedian/musician) on her quest to understand Love. Yi believes that she has never been and never will fall in love so she is determined to find out people's views and experiences on the topic of Love. But to audience's delight Yi possibly begins to find love in the always adorable, Michael Cera and this is where it begins to feel more scripted rather than real. But that doesn't make the film any less enjoyable.

I have to admit I have such a soft spot for Michael Cera and couldn't help but get a little excited by the thought of possibly seeing the real him (still not really sure if I did or not but I'm pretty satisfied). After seeing him play the same character pretty much all the time I fell in love with this shy, sensitive, awkward guy and just hoped that this was who I was going to see in the film. You do pretty much get that same character so smiles all around for Cera fans :)

The interviews Charlyne has with various couples and the use of her puppetry to describe their stories is so adorable. The interview she has with the children in the playground is also a highlight in the film. I really enjoyed the style of the film whether it be the documentary or scripted parts, it was a very entertaining 90 minutes.

This is a very hard film to get your hands on though unfortunately but it's worth hunting around for.

Rating: 4/5


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Closer


Jude Law and Natalie Portman in a scene from the film

I watched this film a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to think of what to say about it ever since but I literally have no words. To quote Seinfeld, "I'm speechless. I have no speech."
I guess all I can say is watch this film and be amazed!

Rating: 4.5/5

The King



Gael Garcia Bernal chilling in the church

Well whenever you watch a film containing incest themes, it's bound to be fucked. It's also kind of funny that after watching Junebug I happened to fall upon this film as it also features a white-christian-american family who are in denial about reality. Like Junebug, someone comes into the family and mixes things up a bit but in this case it's Gael Garcia Bernal as the character Elvis.

Elvis is the long lost son of the Father of the family who is actually a Pastor of one of those churches where they love to sing Christian rock songs and praise Jesus. Just think of the film 'Saved' and you're there. So of course Pastor David is very unwelcoming of Elvis and warns his family not to speak to the young man fresh from the navy. But David's daughter Malerie ends up seeing Elvis behind her father's back and forms a relationship with him not realising that he is in actual fact her half brother (yeah there's the incest theme!)

I didn't quite buy this film. I mean Malorie is all about loving God and the christian faith but then after not knowing this Elvis guy for very long she already starts having sex with him and without no explantation as to why they just get straight into it and continue to do so. Barnel's character isn't quite believable and there just wasn't enough character development for all characters. Sure there's always something suss about the Pastor's long lost son but he does go about things rather oddly.

I don't really know what to make of this film. It did have me drawn in and I wasn't all that convinced by the story or the characters. I think also seeing Barnel play an oddball is just too strange, I couldn't help but think of him as the adorable Stéphane in 'Science of Sleep.' It isn't really everyones cup of tea and not really mine.

Rating 2.5/5

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Junebug


Amy Adams in a scene from the film

I discovered this film at work one day. Every now and again when it gets quiet I like to browse the shelves and discover a hidden treasure. When I saw this one I was immediately drawn by the title and the pictures on the cover, "Could this be Miss Honey from my favourite childhood movie, Matilda?" Sure enough it was, except in real life she goes by the name of Embeth Davidtz. That night after my shift had finished I decided to watch the trailer for the film on YouTube and was so intrigued that I bought it the very next day.

Junebug is utterly moving. All actors in the film are completely engrossing playing rather unique but honest characters. The film is set in North Carolina where a typical small-town, American family live and are about to meet their son's wife (Davidtz). Davidtz has grown up all over the world and works as an art dealer; very far from what the family are used to. Their other son played by Ben McKenzie is very quiet and often keeps to himself, whilst his highschool sweetheart, (Amy Adams) gets easily excited by anything and always has a smile on her face. Adams is the star of the film, her performance is outstanding as the character who is the glue of the family, trying to keep it all together.

Despite the setting of Junebug being one that you can easily set up stereotypes for, it pulls out these realistic, believable characters that you don't usually get out of a small-town film. Sure they praise Jesus and are very closed-minded about things but they are just very real. There's something somewhat depressing about their small-town lives, and when Madeleine, the daughter-in-law comes to visit their inadequacies are slowly revealed.

I loved the realness of this film and the choice to show two parallel worlds that come together. It had its share of quirky moments and often saddening scenes and overall I felt very humbled by the film.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Orphan


The creepy stare from the Orphan girl that had me freaking out!
Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) in a scene from the film

Feeling in the mood for watching something scary last night, a couple of my friends and I decided to check out Orphan.
Where to begin with the creepy story of Esther, the orphan child...
Well when you get a little Russian girl who looks like she's stepped out from early 20th century with her old-fashioned outfits and pale skin you're sure to be in for a fright. Seriously this little girl creeped us out. All she had to do was stare toward the camera and you'd be screaming.

When the Coleman's decide to adopt sweet little Esther, their ideal perfect family begins to change. Little do they realise Esther is a total psychopath who likes to smash nuns over the head with a hammer and help their sweet little deaf sister to hide the evidence. Yeah, not you're typical everyday child.

Orphan does make you guess a lot of things along the way and you are always wondering what this big twist at the end is going to be (without giving anything away, it's a rather peculiar twist, did not see it coming it at all! It's quite unique actually). But it's also rather excruciating to watch. There are so many freaking suspenseful moments that you're just wondering when it's all going to end?!?! The suspense becomes too frustrating to bear that you just find yourself wanting the movie to end already, which is never a good thing.

I think Orphan did a good job in freaking us out but in the end it just kind of pissed me off. It felt like it went forever and there wasn't much relief at the end. I think if you're in the mood to watch a film starring most possibly the scariest looking kid ever, than check it out.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox


Mr and Mrs Fox (Clooney & Streep) in a scene from the film.
(Note Mrs Fox's wonderful outfit!)

Okay, so downside to Wes Anderson making a children's film: putting up with annoying kids in the cinema who choose to talk throughout the viewing experience. Other than that, ahhh Anderson is pure brilliance. Despite it being a stop-motion animated film you still get the Wes Anderson style with its cute little outfits, quirky humour, the regulars (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman) gorgeous colours and of course an awesome sixties inspired soundtrack.

The story follows Roald Dahl's beloved character, Mr. Fox (George Clooney), his family and the community of animals he lives with. When their stealing from the local farms gets discovered by the farmers, there is a war between animal and man. Jason Schwarzman as Ash (Mr. Fox's son) is really delightful in this film as the son who can't live up to his father and be an excellent athlete. Kylie, (Wallace Wolodarsky) Mr. Fox's sidekick also makes for the funny character in the film, providing laughs for the kids.

It really is an adorable little film from Wes Anderson and fans of the director will most likely feel pleased after seeing it. As for the kids, I'm not really sure. I went with my ten-year-old cousin, and although he sat and watched without saying much, he didn't really rave about it afterwards. I think it's more a film for the adults, and as one child put it two-thirds of the way into the film, "Mummy, I don't want to watch this movie anymore," I think it kind of proves that it's not an ideal film for kids.

Wes Anderson proved he can do just about anything with this film.

Rating: 4/5


Friday, January 22, 2010

Whip It


Ellen Page in a scene from the film

Well if there's one thing I got out of this film it's the inspiration to go out and buy some roller-skates and roll around town. It also just put me in a damn good mood.

Ahh I love a good ol' Drew Barrymore film, but to also find out that this is her directorial debut made it all the more thrilling! Sure this film uses as many references toward indie culture as it can, such as, Daniel Johnston's 'Hi How Are You?' t-shirts (famously worn by Kurt Cobain), but what film starring Ellen Page doesn't? To be honest this girl is starting to give me the shits, playing the same cynical, alternative, cool character in nearly every film she's ever starred in, but surprisingly she didn't bother me all that much in this one.

Page stars as the character Bliss, forced to take party in beauty pageants by her mother (Marcia Gay Harden), which just isn't for her. When she discovers a roller derby sport involving racing fellow roller-skater girls (which actually proves to be a rather violent sport), she finds herself falling in love with it and decides to sneak behind her parents' backs and take part in the sport.

There's young romance, musicians, quirky characters, food fights and an awesome soundtrack; everything you want from an indie-comedy. I'm still not sick of this genre yet so I took quite a liking to Whip It. If you're not sick of Ellen Page yet and are just up for something light-hearted this would be a perfect choice.

Rating: 4/5


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Lovely Bones


This could possibly be the most annoying character in cinema history
Saoirse Ronan in a scene from the film

So I just came home from a bizarre cinema experience. My friend Callum & I decided to go see a film tonight that goes by the name of The Lovely Bones. What made us want to go see this? Well, feeling rather spontaneous I decided to pick a movie that I hadn't heard anything about (seeming as Fantastic Mr Fox couldn't be shown any later than 5:30pm), so I watched the trailer for The Lovely Bones and thought, "Eh, this couldn't be too bad. It actually looks quite interesting and Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz are in it and usually they make good choices."
So Callum & I headed down feeling a little weary about my choice but ended up sticking to it. Possibly the best thing about this movie wasn't anything to do with the movie, it was that fact that Callum and I got the whole cinema to ourselves. Mobile phones were answered, running about the room and trying the front seats out were only a few of the things we took advantage of.
I'm getting carried away, let me review this piece of bullshit film shall I!

So apparently what we're meant to take from this film is a number of things, such as, there is a spiritual place between earth and heaven where young dead girls can be all wise and tell you all about it and life, etc. And we must embrace life and enjoy every moment, and even our young, dead character says to us at the end, "May you live a long and happy life."
Seriously, it couldn't be more perfect that Callum and I got the cinema to ourselves because it enabled us to shout out how bullshit the storyline was. We didn't care about this spiritual placein between the two worlds. We just wanted to get to the murder mystery stuff!
But this film was not about that. It wanted to provide comfort to its audience using bullshit theories.

This movie just frustrated me. Fortunately I could scream at the screen and say how pathetic it all was. The only scenes that I actually enjoyed was watching the drunken, smoking, Grandma with a sense of humour (Susan Sarandon). But unfortunately there wasn't enough of her in the film so it didn't stimulate me enough.

Well I think I made my point.

Rating: 0.5/5

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Trouble With Harry

Little Arnie (Jerry Mathers) is the first to discover Harry's body in the opening scene from the film

So I'm slightly obsessed with the fabulous Alfred Hitchcock and it was only a matter of time until I reviewed one of his films, so I thought why not do it now.

Last week I was watching a documentary on his film-making style and the people who spoke on it were directors of today who talked about their favourite films of his and so on. At one point they brought up his 1955 film, The Trouble With Harry and mentioned how Hitchcock decided to try something new by making a comedy. Of course I was quite intrigued by this as Hitchcock is of course the master of suspense; not comedy! So the following day I grabbed a copy from work and watched it that night.

Naturally going into it I was a little weary not knowing what to expect from my favourite director. The beginning was actually rather humorous, I chuckled quite a bit.
The story revolves around a dead man's body who goes by the name Harry and what makes the story so unusual is the fact that no one really seems to mind that he's dead. In fact one character doesn't even notice him when he's walking around engulfed in his book. He trips over him more than once only to apologise and to continue on walking and reading. Even a homeless man takes Harry's shoes and casually walks away.
What makes it slightly Hitchcock is the Whodunit? storyline. Some characters think that it may be them, others are not really sure who it was, either way, the audience are left guessing. When the character Captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) believes it to be him that murdered Harry, his fellow character Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) is more than happy to help him bury the body and forget the whole thing happened so he can go off and be with Harry's wife, Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine), who also couldn't careless about the death of Harry.

The story is a clever one and quite original but I couldn't help but feel disappointed as I just really wanted to feel like I was watching a Hitchcock film but that just wasn't the case. I'm sure if it was made by another director I would have enjoyed it far more, but I'm just too attached to Hitchcock's suspenseful style. The second half of the film also got quite tedious and I was kind of hanging out for it to finish, which is never a good thing.
I think I can forgive poor old Alfred though as he did make many fabulous films following The Trouble With Harry, so I think he made up for it.

Rating 2.5/5

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fight Club

Edward Norton in a scene from the film

It's been just over ten years since the release of David Fincher's 'Fight Club,' but it was only just last night that I finally watched it. Of course I was only ten-years-old when the film was made so I would have taken no interest in it back then, but after working in a video store for 3 years I've been informed to watch it for quite some time.

Perhaps what I most enjoyed about this film was it's original storyline, without giving away the ending, I was quite impressed with the unusual twist it took later on in the film.
I had never seen a film starring Edward Norton before this and judging by first impressions I was quite blown away. Norton definitely steals the show for me in this one, even more so than his well know co-star, Brad Pitt. Pitt is always one to pick quirky roles but Norton really did it for me in this one.
Norton stars as the Narrator of the film, an insomniac that tries a number of ways to help him get some sleep. It isn't until he meets Tyler Durden (Pitt) that his insomnia diminishes when the two start a Fight Club. Basically the club involves a bunch of everyday men who get together at night to fight each other until they are bloody and bruised. What starts out as a club eventually turns into a cult and Norton's character becomes weary of Tyler's leadership role.
Of course there is more to this than meets the eye but of course that is revealed to us later on in the very surprising twist.

One of my main interests when viewing a film is watching how the Director shot the film and how it was edited in the post production process. The moment this film began I knew it would be an interesting one. We are immediately thrown into the life of Norton's character. His mundane work life and his trouble sleeping at home. The best way he describes his insomnia is, "When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep... and you're never really awake."
The dialogue in this film is quick, intelligent and often rather humorous.

'Fight Club' is definitely one worth checking out.

Rating: 4/5