Friday, 18 January 2013

Les Miserables

  It seems fitting, that a musical, (a love of mine that pretty much matches that of the cinema), should be the film that breaks my film reviewing silence. Since last reviewing, there have been many good films, that I have managed to see. Batman, Brave, and Pitch Perfect are among my favourites, but I have been waiting for this film since Hugh Jackman stated that his pretty face (and singing voice) would love to be a part of Les Mis if it was made into a film. A few years later, Tom Hooper brings this extremely brave and difficult feat to the cinematic screen.
   Trying to describe the storyline and it's main characters isn't exactly easy. Looking at it broadly, it is a story of the french revolution; something this film does very well, is actually makes you take interest in this over arching theme. Watching (or singing)  the theatrical version, it is too easy to get engrossed with the individual characters and ignore the power and impact that the revolution brings. Hooper creates a superb feeling around thi,s by portraying vivid barricade scenes filled with action and emotionality. Apart from this, the film stays mainly with the character of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a character who having finished his time in prison, ignores his parole and creates a new life for himself, meeting various characters and enemies along the way.
   First and foremost, this is a musical, and I have to say that the music is very loyal to the original. It was always going to be hard to create 2 and a half hours of attention-grabbing cinema, whilst maintaing a plot engulfed in song and music. The way Hooper achieves this, is by getting the cast to sing on set, instead of the usual miming and adding in later. The effect (majoratively) is very effective. It feels real and raw, less polished, but this works, due to the fact that les mis as a musical is nowhere near the shiny campness that so many others are. What works a little less well, is the amount of close-up filming. In some scenes this works, but it gets a little tiresome, and often quite uncomfortable when you see the flaws, tears (and even a bit of snot) on the normally sparkly famous faces (which is arguably the effect Hooper is going for).
So, on to the acting. Needless to say, unsuprisingly, Jackman does Jean Valjean justice. He is superb, throughout every scene (including the ones where he looks terrifying), and every song he is unfaltingly powerful and likeable. Some of the acting was straight down the line, suiting the character but giving nothing more and nothing less. These included Rusell Crowe (not a great singer, but justifiable in the acting), Helena Bonham Carter (bored of her sameyness, but does it well nethertheless), Sacha Baron Cohen, and Samantha Barks. The disapointment is Amanda Seyfried. I'm a tiny bit biased, as i'm not her biggest fan, and the character of Cosette is probably the musical's one flaw, but she is just simply, wet. Not impressed at all.
   A big suprise for me, was Eddie Redmayne as Marius. Again, not a character I'm huge on, and yes Redmayne is pretty, but from his excerpts in the adverts I wasn't really anticipating much. However, his soulful and emotional performances through some of the saddest parts (little drop of rain, and empty chairs at empty tables) thoroughly won me over. Also pleasantly surprising, were all of the characters involved in the revolution. Aaron Tveit as Enjolras was excellent, and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche was cheeky enough but still charming.
This leaves us, of course, with Anne Hathaway's Fantine. Not only has there been a lot of coverage and positive acclamation around this, but for me, I dreamed a dream is one of my all time favourite songs, and I wasn't going to sit back and watch it be su-bo massacred. Hathaway, however, is in fact magnificent. I didn't think it would be possible to portray so much anguish, betrayal and hurt in one song without going completely over the top, but somehow Hathaway masters this, and controls it throughout the small amount of screen time that she dominates. She undoubtedly deserves the oscar for her performance, even if only for the fact that she had her hair hacked off on screen.
Overall, this is an epic, beautiful film, that is generally acted extremely well and is made outstanding, by it's beatifully performed music and the superb performances of Jackman, Redmayne and Hathaway.
4.5/5 (darn Sefried)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Breaking Dawn - Part One

*Spoiler alert*

   I used to LOVE the books (i've read them - and listened to them about 5 times each), and i did endure all of the films, except for this one. I didn't like the fourth book, i think it's stupid - and that's saying something seeing as we're talking about vampires and werewolves. So i didn't pay ten pounds to go and see it, but i did rent it out of the library today...

For those of you who have been hiding in a big dark hole, the film starts at Bella and Edward's wedding - human and vampire, just to clarify. From here, we are led to the "saucy" and long awaited honeymoon, where after two weeks Bella discovers she's pregnant (about 5 months so). Everyone is in turmoil about this very fast growing baby that is sucking the life out of Bella, especially the wolves, who basically want to kill her, and Edward who is wrought with the fact that Bella will probably die if she has this baby (and she is insisting she does).

Like I said, stupid.

It has to be said, it was a lot better than i thought it was going to be. It was very true to the (first half) of the novel, and did it's best with the absurdity's. The wedding (without doubt the most enjoyable part of the book), did look beautiful and it was quite nice to have some familiar faces such as mike and jessica from many moons ago. It also has to be said that Pattinson and Stewart are much much better in this film. They're actually not bad at all. The fact that Stewart can keep a straight face in an "intimate" moment when Pattinson is breaking the furniture is actually astounding. There also needs to be brownie points given to Bill Condon who directs the film, who really does make Bella look like she's dying, and i think, dare i say it, gets the level of gore and sex scenes just about right.

However, having said all that, Taylor Lautner as Jacob, is still pretty awful. The six pack novelty has worn off, the wolves aren't very cool anymore - in fact their wolf talk in this film is just plain annoying - and at that end of the day, he's just a little boy whose not very good at acting. As expected, it also gets very slow and ploddy after the honeymoon, with not really an awful lot happening.  If you thought this had little plot, wait for the second half.

I want to end, as the film does, with the birth of Reneesmee (the half human half vampire child). The whole labour and transformation of Bella was dealt with pretty well -  as well as it could have been. Don't however, get me started on the horrendous CGI baby, and Jacobs imprinting on her - weird fascination with the baby (do not ask). It's moments like these, where all the good points about the film are lost to the lunacies of a not very well written novel.

Overall, i think ive just got bored of the whole franchise. I still commend Meyer for writing very addictive teenage prose and i do actually think there is talent in the films, hidden amongst the quite rubbish scripts - i still have a little soft spot for Pattinson. But, at the end of the day, it's films like this that make hollywood movies that little bit more trashy and reinforce the unrealistic relationships and characters that do not exist in real life. I know a lot of films do this, but if you're going to do it, at least do it well.
For it's worth as a movie 2/5
but 3/5 because it's watchable.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The muppets - mah nama na

I've never really watched the muppets, not the movies or the tv show. It has, however always intrigued me, seeming quite up my street - singing and dancing puppets, what's not to like -  so i thought hey, lets give this new movie ago.

The idea of this movie was nurtured, written and acted by comedic actor jason segal (one of Judd apatow's protegees). Gary (Segal), his girlfriend Mary (a perfectly suited Amy Adams) and his puppet brother Walter, being huge muppet fans set out to Hollywood to see the dilapidated muppet studios. Whilst there Walter uncovers an evil plan to demolish the studios. The only way to save it is to raise 10 million pounds (in about a day) and the only way to do this, of course, is to reunite the disbanded muppets and put on a fundraising showstopping one night production.

My fear, was that with Segal taking the helm of this movie, would pollute the family friendly muppets and songs, with niggling innuendo's and a lot of adult humour (much like the quite hilarious, but highly inapropriate avenue q). Although this isn't necessary a bad thing, I wanted to see a wholesome, fun, kids movie that didn't need to have sexual connotations in it in order to be appealing to all kinds of audiences. Thankfully this is what we have. Segal and Adams are vibrant and sweet (almost sickly, but not quite) as Mary and Gary, blending quite well into a film which is undoubtedly taken over by the charming muppets. With the same puppeteers to the characters as there always has been, the scenes and songs of the muppets are the ones that thrive the most. It is just pure, family friendly, goofy fun.

It isn't, however without flaws. There are slow moments, where i can imagine some children (and adults) would get fidgety and a bit bored, and there are a few songs that are a tiny bit too cringeworthy  - i.e, me party - where Adams even looks slightly uncomfortable singing it. Also, I am always a fan of celebrity cameos, they often add an unexpected chuckle. However, this movie has more cameos than you can shake a stick at. Some work, like Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis and Dave Grohl (ah-mazing), and some really don't, like whoopee goldbherg and Selena Gomez (oh dear).

   At the end of the day, I went into the movie expecting fun. I got fun, I got a generally awesome soundtrack, and i got a happy uplifted feeling when i left the cinema. I couldn't ask for much more on a tuesday afternoon.
3.5 / 5

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Friends with benefits

I'm sorry to disapoint you if this title has mislead you into thinking that i have a husband and friends whom i throw myself at, but I am in fact talking about the newly released to dvd film starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.

   Not my usual cup of tea (not a huge chick flick fan) but thought we'd give it a go (seeing as it was free and involved a meal and chats with a friend). This film followed shortly after "No strings attached", which similarily bigs up casual sex, and the idea that sex is a physical need rather than something which should be emotionally attached. Friends with benefits was hoped that it would throw stereotypes of the chick flick out of the window by being a film (albeit funny) about sexual urges and how it should be perfectly natural to fulfil them without any added complications.

   Timberlake and Kunis interact well, and are quite sweet as a couple, there are some funny moments and the start of their casual rendez-vous does seem quite plausible. However, (you felt that coming didnt you?), the film obviously isnt just about sex, they obviously do fall for each other, and the whole thing is just one big hypocrisy. I know that it's a chick flick, I know that I would rather two people be in a relationship before/whilst having sex, however, the film just cops out on it's main theme by giving in to hollywoods cliches. This could be forgiven, if the script was wildly funny and the characters extremely likeable. However, I don't really feel that either. Timberlakes character works when he's being an idiot and just wanting sex, yet his vulnerable and softer side doesnt. Whilst I prefer Kunis when she's feisty and wild, the fact that she's supposed to be emotionally damaged and ultimately fragile, doesnt work either.

  On cinematic release, this film got average reviews, and many people enjoyed it. Honestly it didn't really do it for me. Not because it's got hypocritical morals and ideas (that i don't agree with anyway), and not because i don't like chick flicks to begin with, but because the characters are hypocritical and unlikeable, and the script wasn't funny or entertaining enough. And yes, honestly, if justin timberlake was ryan gosling, you might have had a different review. But, he wasn't. That in itself was a mistake.
2.5 / 5

Monday, 30 January 2012

Long time, but not no see.

It really has been way too long. I'm afraid life has caught up with me a little, and laziness has also had a part to play. But, that doesn't mean I havent been keeping a watchful eye over the cinematic world and here is a quick overview of the best films ive seen over the past few months (both at the cinema and on dvd)


The Help, was to be expected: sweet, poignant and with some very strong performances, portraying a possibly very real look at the lives of the black help in 1950s america. It's only downfall, may be the fact that it is exactly what you expected, and to the standard you expected it to be. Certainly no worse, but not that little bit extra special either.

50/50 was the bitter sweet comedy about a young man dealing with the fact that he has cancer. It's weird that a film which doesn't really have much going on and isn't really that comedic (even with seth rogan throwing in the quips) can be a quiet yet moving film, thats enjoyable to watch and has you rooting for it's very likeable main character (played by a very good joseph gordon-levitt). I don't particularly like seth rogan in his predictable vulgar best friend role that he is sooooo used to playing. I just want him to branch out a little. For me, he was the only let down in an otherwise very sweet and poignant movie.

I didnt see The Beaver at the cinema. It got average reviews and I have very strong opinions around mental health and how it's portrayed. However, it was on sale in hmv and i was bored, so i thought what the heck. It's a film about a man (mel gibson) who is suffering (and has done so for many years) with severe depression. He learns to deal with this by living through a puppet he finds; creating a total different character, and beginning to regain his life back (as a beaver puppet...). Now i know it sounds a little odd, and i'm not sure it comes across that clearly onscreen, but i actually think it is a very important and real look at depression and how it can make a person feel, and the desperation it can lead them to. Gibson (as controversial as he may be at the moment) did a brilliant job of playing two parts of the character, and although the film as a whole did lack somewhat, his performance, and the focus on his illness was brilliant.

I've said it before and i will say it again; i could watch robert downey junior paint a wall. Thereby i was always going to see Sherlock Holmes: a game of shadows even when the first one was distinctly average and i didnt have high hopes for the second. However, i was very pleasantly surprised. The plot was better, the "baddie" was better, and the jokes were funnier. But most of all, the bromance between sherlock and watson was worked on, developed and played on, and that is what makes these modern remakes so entertaining.

The Artist: unexpectedly beautiful, refreshing in todays society, gorgeous to look at and superbly acted. I didnt know what to expect, and i think the "silence" takes a little to get used to, but once you do, you are thrown into a heart warming story which is lavished with detail, care and love. GO see it!

Well, there's an update, lets hope it doesnt take me as long to write the next one.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Ahh two cinema trips in a week. This is more like it. And what's more two good films in a week. Success.

   Crazy, Stupid, Love is a quirky, funny and refreshing (yes it is possible) chick flick, about the marriage of Cal (Steve Carrell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) which is pretty much falling apart after Emily has an affair and asks for a divorce. Whilst feeling like his life is falling apart, and acting quite pathetic, Cal is taken under the wing of the unlikely Jacob (a very swoonable Ryan Gosling) who is given advice on how to pull himself together, dress fashionably and pull women. On the other side of this, we also have a realtionship between Jacob and Hannah (an always brilliant Emma Stone) whose unlikely romance is sweet and awww inducing.

   I know, on paper, it sounds quite predictable and goofy, like most of the wishy washy rom-coms that are produced, and there are some things about it that are a teeny bit cringeworthy. For instance moments with Cals thirteen year old son and his crush on his 17 year old babysitter, are just a little, well, creepy. Moore is also not up to her normal excellent standard; not portraying her characters strengths, and Kevin Bacon is really quite under used.

   However, lets not focus on the few negatives. Firstly, I love Ryan Gosling. He has absolutely just shone in the last year or so. Giving a brilliant performance in Blue Valentine and also the very highly critically acclaimed "Drive". In this role, he is back to the buff and beautful love interest (that he played so well in The Notebook). Jacob, however does not resemble Goslings previous roles. He is cocky, arrogant, pretentious, very beautiful, and very likeable. When he is on screen, it brightens up. What makes the room brighter is when Stone enters with him. I cannot praise this girl enough. She just has some very dry humour about her that is so attractive. It will be interesting to see her play very different roles in both "The Help" and "Spiderman".

   Of course, we cannot forget Carell, playing as he most often does, the predicatable and likeable "every guy". He gets put into these same roles because he does it very well, this film being no exception. There are some very sweet words and moments shared between him and Moore, and some funny bromance moments between him and Gosling.

Overall, this is the sort of film that leaves you with the very rare (now-a-days) warm, fuzzy, loving feeling, (others may call it nausea). It has also restored my faith that there are, at least a few, intelligent, entertaining and sweet "rom-coms".


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Jane Eyre

Ahhhh my heart has been sad with the lack of film watching (especially at the cinema), but what with cinema tickets in Lincoln cost over 9 pounds (I KNOW), that mixed with the fact that I was getting married and moving house, well, it just wasn't happening.

   However, today i offically broke the cinema fast, by watching the classic remake Jane Eyre, starring the very lovely Michael Fassebender and the actually very talented Mia Wasikowska. The mood is set perfectly, the settings and countryside; beautiful, and the actors are all very well suited (even, the sometimes questionable Jamie Bell). I was a little dubious at first about Jane and Rochester's relationship, what with her looking barely 18, and he all rugged and old (er), however, they both managed to do it really well. Wasikowska was actually perfect as Jane, looking especially plain but not acting it at all. I also have to commend her english accent with aspects of quite a decent northern one. For an aussie that can't be easy, but it is actually very good.

   Fassbender seemed to warm into his role a bit more, suiting the flirty lingering moods, rather than the harsh abrupt ones. It was in these moments that the films stars truly tingled. I did feel like there wasn't enough of these moments, before leading to a quite anti-climactic finish. I feel (and this means a lot coming from me) that the reunion could have been more gushing, and die hard romantic, but, oh well.

Overall, this film is both stunning and disturbing at the same time (another pg film that i jumped at), the acting(especially Wasikowska) is very good, and it's about time we had another classic remake on the big screen. All I would ask for, is a bit more of Rochester, and his relationship with Jane, most especially at the end. Maybe next time eh?
3 and a half / 5