Director: Hunter Richards
Writer: Hunter Richards
Stars: Jessica Biel, Chris Evans and Jason Statham
I tend to go through phases of watching a particular actor’s films because I become obsessed with them and this week with the Avengers coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray, I have chosen Chris Evans as my obsession. I really hadn’t watched much of Chris Evans before Captain America but going back and watching bits and pieces of his career has been interesting. He’s done some not so great films but he’s also done some surprisingly good films. London is one of the good ones in my mind.
It’s a drama centred around Syd (Chris Evans) who is a bit of a druggie – cocaine mostly – and who is trying to win back the love of his life, London (Jessica Biel), who is about to move away and start her life with her new guy. He meets Bateman (Jason Statham) the day of her going away party, which he wasn’t invited to, and takes him along. The film then consists of flash backs of London & Syd’s relationship and Syd and Bateman in the bathroom of her best friend, Rebecca’s (Isla Fisher) parents house and their discussion of life, relationships, religion, and where things went wrong. It is a gripping film as you are drawn into these men’s lives with little prior knowledge about them and as their friendship as strangers grows you see how it is they came to be at this point in their lives. Evans shows a different side to his acting as he portrays the tormented soul of this grown man and standing next to Statham doing the same is something I didn’t think I’d ever see, and they are both incredibly brilliant. It has actually made me think of them as actors rather than action movie stars. They show depth to their characters and are able to capture a great deal of emotion and convince you that these men are so much more than you just see on screen. They are brilliantly directed by Hunter Richards, also the writer, and the film delivers a unique look into this world. Biel and Fisher are also brilliant in this film and ground the narrative.
I really liked this film and I really loved Evans and Statham in these different roles. They are brilliant action stars but it is great to know they can really, truly act. I really recommend seeing this film, it’s edgy and different and is able to deal with big questions of life and love in a bathroom with Van Gogh and Cocaine. Go watch it.
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis
When I said I was going to see Moonrise Kingdom a friend asked me “So you’re a Wes Anderson fan?” and to be honest I would never have considered myself a fan of Wes Anderson. His movies are quirky, strange, and in some cases just completely bizarre. But after seeing Moonrise Kingdom I think I finally understand why people either love or hate him. However if you hate this film then there is something seriously wrong with you and you need to go to Disneyland and reclaim your childhood or something.
To try and describe Moonrise Kingdom would be to strip it bare of any real substance. At its heart it is about the love of children and how they feel passionate and life defining things. But there is so much more than that to the film. I could rant and rave for hours about the nuances of genius in the screenplay, or the incredible performances by every single one of the cast members, including the three little brothers of our heroine, Suzy (Kara Hayward). The children in this film are incredible actors and actresses. Most of the time I was sitting in awe of their ability to bring this story into life with their genuine acting. There was nothing false about their performances. The two main leads Suzy and Sam (Jared Gilman) are both “troubled” children, they are misunderstood and are trying to live in a world that will never really, truly understand why they are a little bit quirky or different. And they deal with it splendidly. Their adventure is crafted with such a big vision but also with an innocence that defines even the smallest things like what they pack for their escape. Suzy and Sam are two characters who I will never forget, they make me want to be a child again and wish that I was more adventurous when I was one.
Moonrise is beautiful and quirky and fun in every moment but with an underlying sadness of the adult lives of our parents, scout masters, and policemen. Anderson brings to light how children see the world with so much more depth than we give them credit for. We forget so easily what it was like to be a child, a teenager, a young adult even. Instead we try and grow up, we try and put on a brave face rather than being brave, and we forget how to enjoy the simple little things in life like the beauty of music and how it is constructed in so many layers. Anderson brings to light the falsehoods of adulthood, and the way we can affect children in even the smallest of ways with our actions and opinions. This film is filled with beautiful metaphors of life and love. I really want to find a way to use this as an English text as a teacher.
P.S. I still don’t love Bill Murray because he embodies the awkward and tense humour which I continually both cringe at and giggle to. It’s just too confusing to deal with. He’s great in this film, but I still don’t love him.
Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Stars: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson and Richard White
There is something truly magical about Disney. It is the fantasy it creates of a world where issues can be overcome, where evil falls and good triumphs, where all things end in the most spectacular of ways. But the endings have never been my favourite part. I also like to see where the characters begin. And this is why Beauty and the Beast is still my favourite Disney film. Not just Disney “princess” film, but Disney film overall. And it is all because of who Belle is at the beginning of the film.
The first time you meet Belle she is walking into the village and the whole town erupts in song around her. The way she treats people through this sequence is what I love and the fact that she is strong, intelligent, polite, respectful, humble, and the same to all people. Her sense of equality breaks through the walls of the judgment she faces from the town, and even when it comes to the ghastly Gaston, she is polite and dismisses him respectfully, if only a little tersely. She is accepting of everyone and the one person she tells her true judgments to is her father, and even then she gives reasonable accounts of why she dislikes someone like Gaston.
Her whimsy, strength, sacrifice, boldness, and adventurous nature continue to be what shapes her throughout the film. When she comes up against the Beast her response is one of fearlessness and willingness to take him on and see past the harsh exterior of his beastly appearance. This is what I love about Belle. I love her character for every single moment of this film, there is never a point when I don’t like her or disagree with what she does. She is honest and kind and thinks of others as well as herself. She is encouraging and joyous of everyone and seeks to treat them as she would like to be treated. The only moment when I think she does the wrong thing is when she goes into the west wing where the Beast has forbidden her to go, but even then I would’ve done the same, just not on the first night I was there… And even then you expect it because, let’s be honest, the Beast is asking for it as soon as he says it’s “forbidden”.
Belle was my role model as I was growing up. She was my heroine of all literature. It was her intelligence and strength that captivated me and made me want to be her. I didn’t necessarily want to fall in love with a prince and live in a big castle but I did want to be strong and wise and kind.
Who has your role model been from a film, book, tv series, or other form of literature?
The Sapphires – Official Poster – from IMPawards.com
The Sapphires (2012)
Director: Wayne Blair
Writers: Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
Stars: Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy
There is always a little part of me that tends to cringe at Aussie humour. It’s something about it being a little bit corny and overdone that I find groan-worthy. It is something that I’ve been discovering has been shaken out of Australian films little bit by little bit over the years and it has now hit the right tone in most Australian films that I’ve seen over the last couple of years. I think it’s also a better quality of all aspects of film making as well which has begun to give Aussie films a real chance of succeeding in other countries as well as at home. The Sapphires is a perfect example of the quality films that Australia is producing.
Based on a true story, The Sapphires follows the story of a group of Australian indigenous women with talented voices and a passion to use them. It is set during the Vietnam war, which is not a time period I know much about, apart from the funky music and cute fashion, oh and Forrest Gump. The story between the women is heartbreaking and endearing all at the same time. It shows the intricate difficulties of racism in Australia in the 50s and 60s and how it affected all people involved, not just Aboriginals nor just white people. I found that this point was handled incredibly well. It balanced the sensitivity with the truth and harshness of racism and made the world of Australia in the 1960s really come alive with a unique view from the point of view of indigenous Australians.
The highlight of the film for me had to be the relationship between Deborah Mailman’s character of Gale and Chris O’Dowd’s beautiful and hilarious portrayal of Dave. The arc of their story has a unique and wonderful twist to it and to watch it unravel on screen is simply delightful. You really feel for all the women in this film, from the women in the Sapphires to their mum, aunt, cousin, etc, there is a grace and sharpness to the shape of the relationships between the women. It is this that gripped me through the film, I was pulled in through the comedy and emotional take on the women and the battles they faced in their lives. The strength of these women is showcased in a variety of ways and it was fantastic to see strength in women displayed in these ways as it really illuminated the different ways femininity can be expressed.
Chris O’Dowd provided a wonderful lightness and humour to the film and really bound the film to an international grounding, as well as the link with the Americans in Vietnam. I really do hope this film is accepted by an international audience.
The only complaint I have about this film is the one or two times when that old Aussie cringe-worthy humour and corniness came through the cracks, but I was able to overlook this because of the strength of the rest of the film. Go and see it if you get the chance. It’s made me fall in love with Soul music all over again.
There are few shows that I can watch by myself and find myself laughing out loud. QI is one of those rare shows that never fails to be both freaking hilarious and informative. I am constantly amazed at how much I find myself giggling as I sit on my bed watching it on my laptop. There is something wonderful about comedians revealing their intelligence and the way their wonderful minds work. Of course then you realise the reason they are such good comedians is because they do know quite a bit about the world and thus can find what is truly funny about it.
QI, which stands for Quite Interesting, is a “game show” for the intellectuals. It is comprised of questions relating to all different aspects of the world. From Astonomy to the Immortal Bard to Zoology and Agriculture. It covers a myriad of ideas and facts and corrects the general ignorance of the world one episode at a time. Along with these weird and wonderful facts there is the weird and wonderful guests that grace the desk of QI with Stephen Fry and Alan Davies every week. They are mostly British comedians with a few extras thrown in for good measure. They compete for you knows the most interesting things and who is least taken by the myths that are spread by the general public.
My favourite thing by far about this show is Alan Davies. He is the representative of the world on QI. And as much as Stephen Fry would like to prove him to be an idiot, I think he is the one who shows the most humility and hilarity. He represents the public and helps us to know that we aren’t just all stupid, but simply ill-informed.
If you haven’t seen QI I would really recommend it. It is a fun show and you will giggle and learn at the same time, what could be bad about that!?
The Bourne Legacy – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Director: Tony Gilroy
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay & story), Dan Gilroy (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel & inspiration)
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton
The Bourne Legacy is the fourth in the Bourne franchise but it also the first movie with the main character of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) instead of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). The story picks up Cross as he is on a training exercise for the “program” in Alaska, and while Jason Bourne is running rite in Europe and America. With Bourne’s eradict behaviour and the light being shone on the CIA’s operations, they plan to shut the “program” down. This is where we find ourselves thrown into the action with Aaron Cross as he tries to survive the wildness of apparent death and the dependence on viral tablets that have been part of his treatment in the “program”.
After loving the Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum so much I was cautious walking into this film. But I came prepared with low expectations after reading a bad review from Empire Magazine. I shall never trust their reviewers again, and you will soon see why. I sat in my cinema seat with popcorn in hand as the lights dimmed and the familiar image of a body floating in water appeared on screen (a similar shot was used in The Bourne Identity to open the series). This time however it was Aaron Cross, diving into the depths of a river in Alaska. He emerged from the water as a wet, rugged, bearded, wild man in the form of Jeremy Renner. He wrapped himself with a blanket and stood in front of a fire on the icy shelter next to the river as the camera panned out to show us that he was standing in the middle of a snow covered wilderness. And it was at this moment that I knew the film was going to break my low expectations by far.
Renner plays a more vocal character than our beloved Bourne, however he performs with such strength, ferocity and charisma that you can’t help but be on his side as he fights to live. The story unfolds in two parts and by the end of the feature I felt like I had started in a different movie than the one I had ended up in. It wasn’t as cleverly devised as the originals but it captures the audience and takes them on a ride of adrenaline just the same. The action sequences are just as intense as in the originals and there is an added element of remorselessness in a lot of the action that wasn’t there in the originals but left me a little shaken and shocked. Renner surpassed my expectations of wonderful as he continued to show his unbelievable ability to be a rough and tough action hero. He isn’t your usual type of handsome for an action figure but he becomes more handsome the grittier he gets. And when sitting across from the gorgeous Rachel Weisz the screen screams sexy at you. The pair of actors make a formidable force on screen and with the added bit of evil provided by Edward Norton you can’t help but be captured by this film. Norton provides boundless amounts of terrifying intelligent evil to the movie and I would never want to work for his character because I would just end up in tears every day out of fright.
The Bourne Legacy follows the trilogy with a faithfulness to Ludlum’s world and provides a great next installment for the series. It may not be better than the original three but it certainly matches them for action and adventure. I can’t decide now whether I prefer Bourne or Cross which is testament to Renner’s performance as Cross. He is charming and brilliant as well as vulnerable and fierce. The balance between Renner and Weisz solidifies the film and the story really makes you champion their cause. I really enjoyed this film and will definitely be seeing it again as soon as possible. Go and experience the awesome that is Aaron Cross and the irresistible Jeremy Renner.
Director: Tanya Wexler
Writers: Stephen Dyer (story & screenplay), Jonah Lisa Dyer (story & screenplay), and Howard Gensler (original story)
Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce
It’s amazing to think that we were once at a point in society when “germs” was a term that only those who were highly educated and kept up with the latest medical literature knew. It’s also amazing that once the cure to pretty much all of women’s ailments came in the form of induced orgasm. For a topic that is so controversial and frowned upon by respectable people it is amazing that Hysteria was such a joy to watch.
Hysteria is based on a true story of a man named Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) who found himself as the accomplice to Dr Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), a doctor who specialised in women’s health, mainly the treatment of hysteria, a diagnosis of women who had all sorts of symptoms and was treated by helping the women by ridding them of these ailments in a most unusual way. Dr Dalrymple has two daughters, Emily (Felicity Jones) who is very sensible and all of what a true woman should be, and Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is volatile, erratic, a fervent suffragette, and who runs a shelter for women and their children and teaches them about hygiene, literacy, and numeracy. Charlotte is everything a woman of the Victorian period should not be.
As Granville continues to serve his patients he himself suffers an ailment in his hand which makes him unable to fulfill the procedure required to cure his patients of hysteria. It is with the friendship of Granville and his inventor friend Edmund St. John-Smyth (Rupert Everett) that holds the key to Granville’s continued employment and ultimate success.
But this film isn’t about the invention of the vibrator as the posters and blurbs will tell you. Hysteria is about the ill-treatment of women and their capabilities even to this day. Gyllenhaal’s vibrant and passionate portrayal of Charlotte Dalrymple is inspiring as you see her struggle to change the culture in which she lives by simply caring for those less well off. It is through her servitude to the lower classes that she makes a huge difference in the long run for those she helps. She is a socialist, a libertarian, a woman. It is this characterisation which holds the entire film together for me. It reveals the true nature of what was going on at the time and sheds some light on what is still going on in our society today.
This film is light-hearted and fun. Rupert Everett is brilliant as ever and Hugh Dancy plays an uptight Brit most splendidly. I think this story could only be told faithfully in a British and prudish manner as it deals with a subject that could be twisted and sexualised and thus lose a lot of its appeal. It is told in a period manner with all the nuances of innuendo and suggestion and it is truly satisfying in the way it addresses an awkward invention and period in history.
It’s not the greatest film ever made, nor is it probably even up in the top 500 but it is delightfully light and well performed by all involved. Top marks go to the costume and set designers of this film. It is gorgeous to watch. And Maggie Gyllenhaal is so wonderful as a Brit that I wish she was more highly acclaimed than she is. She is a marvelous actress and is charming to watch. I’d go see it just for her.
For a film that could truly be awkward and unappealing, Hysteria offers a pleasurable look at the invention of the modern vibrator and the beginning of women’s health in Britain.
The Bourne Identity – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
The Bourne Identity (2002)
Director: Doug Liman
Writers: Tony Gilroy (screenplay), W. Blake Herron (screenplay), and Robert Ludlum (novel)
Stars: Franka Potente, Matt Damon and Chris Cooper
There have been some blessings that have come with growing up with an older brother who loved Steven Segal and Bruce Willis films. One of those blessings was the nurtured love of action films. There is something incredibly satisfying about watching the good guy triumph over the evil, especially when the evil is the US government.
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a man without memory of who he is or why he knows he knows how to do a myriad of things including speak multiple languages fluently and can take down fifty armoured guards without a second thought. He is searching for his past and dodging death as he seeks to live a future free of the command of those who once controlled him. Jason Bourne is a man not to be trifled with.
As with most action films there isn’t a lot of dialogue, but there sure is a lot of acting going on by Matt Damon and his lady accomplice played by Franka Potente. The relationship that spawned out of need turns into a relationship of shared experience. There is a wonderful crafting of this pairing that takes place throughout the film which makes it genuine and more meaningful than the sloppy creations in your B-list action films.
The story of Bourne and his adventures are based off Robert Ludlum’s popular novels but carry more of the characterisation than of the actual story in the novels. But I believe this is for the better as the complexity of the novels take away from the sharp immediacy of the films. The Bourne Identity is the first in a trilogy (soon to be added to by a fourth, The Bourne Legacy – out August 11th). The Bourne Identity begins the saga of Jason Bourne and it also is, in my opinion, the best of the films. You really ride along with Bourne as he discovers parts of who he is, where he has been, and who is after him. With the carefully sequenced and choreographed action scenes filmed mostly on handheld cameras it provides for a rocky ride but intensifies the scene and provides what would be quite a real perspective on the action. Damon’s performance is pensive and withdrawn but comes across powerfully as he expresses his character’s strength, confusion, love, and vengeful nature.
I am a little cautious about getting my expectations up for The Bourne Legacy because the Bourne Trilogy was so gritty and wonderful. It will be interesting to see where they take it and if they stick to the books that carried on after Ludlum’s death. I am very excited to see how Jeremy Renner goes in his lead role in this film (no he’s not a recasting of Jason Bourne, it’s a different character). Renner’s really becoming a new action man of film and it’s going to be interesting to see what aspects of Damon’s portrayal he picks up on and which he reinvents for himself.
Series Writer: Steven Moffat and a bunch of his friends.
Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillian, Arthur Darvill and everybody who has ever acted in Britain basically.
It is not always the case that a secondary character can transform everything you think about a show. It was one line, it was in a normal episode but it changed the way I forever thought about Doctor Who. Rory Williams told the Doctor “You don’t know how dangerous you make people to themselves when you’re around.” From that moment on Rory Williams stole my heart and became my favourite Doctor Who character of all time. He trumps Amy Pond who is fabulously feisty and he trumps River Song who is the woman I wish I could be, and he trumps Donna Noble who proved herself to be so normal and yet so spectacularly special (I’m just gonna skip over Rose Tyler and Martha Jones). Rory tells it like it is. He is the male companion the Doctor never wanted but who he comes to treasure as a moral and ethical compass.
For a long time I watched Doctor Who for the adventures, for the friendship of the characters, and for the Doctor’s extravagance and wonderful charisma. It is a show that has been able to hold captive audiences for multiple generations and made the transition from black and white television to colour to HD and lived on. The production value may have gone up but the heart of the show remains the same. It is, at it’s core, a show about the wonder of humanity. For me, Rory embodies this as the character who is humanity at its best and most noble.
Doctor Who has for a long time been my favourite show. From the moment it was reincarnated by Russell T. Davis in 2005 to today and the imminent arrival of Season 7 on our silver screens, I have been in love with the Doctor. When Steven Moffat took over writing in 2009 after having written some of the best episodes in previous seasons, including my favourites “Blink” and “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”, I was overjoyed. I have loved Moffat’s writing since a kid, even though I hadn’t connected the dots until he started on Doctor Who – this included his teen drama “Press Gang” which I have vivid memories of as a child. I’ve already written about my love of Moffat (see my Sherlock review here) but it has to be said that Steven Moffat and Matt Smith’s teaming have brought Doctor Who to a new level of awesome. It’s a darker and more philosophical show when Moffat writes and collaborates with people and it provides a deeper level of intrigue than usual. There are so many moments whilst watching Doctor Who when I find myself thinking about the meanings of life and what it means to be a human. This isn’t necessarily the case in every episode but the more I watch the more I find the multifaceted nature of Moffat’s story lines and scripts. The way he weaves story lines together across multiple seasons is extraordinary and I am constantly awed by his genius.
Arthur Darvill as Rory in Doctor Who – Let’s Kill Hitler – from Tumblr – myvintagelove
Getting back to my love of Rory though… Rory Williams is a character that is centred on love, loyalty, courage, and honesty. This is all buffered by an underlying insecurity which is truly endearing and really grounds those characteristics in a truthful portrayal by Arthur Darvill. Darvill’s performance as Rory is practically perfect because he balances the insanity of the Doctor and Amy Pond (Karen Gillian) with a warmness and gentle strength. It is the combination of all his courage and cowardice that makes him a true companion and my hero of television. He is who I would want to be if I was with the Doctor, both petrified and cynical but ultimately triumphant in the moment of need. He is someone that seems realistic rather than being carried away with the charisma of the Doctor, and provides the grounding that the Doctor needs when off on adventures and traveling in the TARDIS. Rory is my hero because he is the one companion who is not afraid of leaving the Doctor but who is loyal to a fault to his friends. Rory always seems on the outer with Amy and the Doctor but it is Rory who will always be there for both of them when night falls on their tale.
With the new trailer having just been released for Part 1 of Season 7 I am both excited and sad to see the end of the Pond’s. I think they have been great companions and I don’t think that will ever change, but I know I will weep for a week when the curtain is drawn on their adventures with the Doctor. Moffat will make it as painful as possible, this we know, but I also think it’s going to be a good ending to a wonderful period of the show.
P.S. I know most people think River Song gets her sassiness from Amy but I really think she gets it from Rory, he is the truly bold and brave one.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl – Official Poster – from IMDB.com
Pirates Of The Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Ted Elliott (screen story & screenplay) &Terry Rossio (screen story & screenplay) and Stuart Beattie (screen story) and Jay Wolpert (screen story)
Stars: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom
Oh the bliss that is to fall in love with a pirate! I saw this film at the cinemas with my best friend from High School. I had a big crush on Orlando Bloom due to the Lord of The Rings trilogy (yes I know, not so appealing now, but that long blonde hair and elvish tongue, yum!) but when I left the theatre I had an even bigger crush on Johnny Depp. How can you compete when standing next to something as beautiful as a pirate in the form of Depp? I still think Elizabeth should’ve run off with Captain Jack but he would never have put up with her. They will always have that night on the island though.
This was the first film that I really fangirled over as a teen. I was obsessed with everything Pirates. I bought the DVD, watched the special features multiple times, watched the film so many times through my last year of school that I can’t recall how many times I’ve actually seen it, although my DVD looks worn. It was the film I put on in the background when I was studying, when I wanted to fall asleep, when I wanted to escape into another world, when I wanted to daydream. It was fun, action packed, funny, and well crafted.
Admittedly the second and third film in the franchise were not as wonderful, and the fourth was a little strange as well, but the original is always the best – except possibly in the case of Toy Story because the third one made me cry like a baby and laugh like a little girl. Anyway… Pirates Of The Caribbean was a brilliant film because it combined all the things I loved about action films, comedies, periods and romance. The grittiness of pirates contrasted with the beauty of the Caribbean with brilliance. The humour of Depp was startling against the drama of Geoffrey Rush. The special effects were stunning. The story line well-balanced. The performances of the actors throughout the film are still entertaining and still make me giggle.
But through all of these features there is one thing that always keeps me coming back for more. It is that it is simple and charming. It isn’t a hard film to watch. It’s purely entertaining. I love that it is a fun film that I can watch over and over again. And even though it’s probably not to everyone’s taste, it is to mine. It doesn’t necessarily have a big moral story overlaying it, nor does it try to be too complicated, it just takes you along for the ride and lets you enjoy the scenery and the ebb and flow of the pirate film. This is what a great action film does for me, it tells an exciting story and allows you to enjoy it. And that’s why I’ll keep on watching it into my old age.
Do you have a film that you watch repeatedly just because you enjoy it?