Let’s Dance – Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Lingings Playbook - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Silver Lingings Playbook – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Director: David O. Russell
Writers: David O. Russell (screenplay), Matthew Quick (novel)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Always look for a silver lining is the philosophy of Pat (Bradley Cooper) who has just spent time in a mental institution after being arrested for assault on his wife’s lover after he caught them in the shower together. Not a great way to find out that you have a bipolar or that your wife is cheating on you, especially when you are obsessive about your marriage. Pat is determined to get Nikki back. But there is a restraining order and her general not wanting to see him that is getting in the way of Pat restoring his marriage. In walks Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) the sister of his Ex’s best friend. Recently widowed and recovering from depression and a slight sex addiction, Tiffany and Pat form an unlikely friendship. Throw in a mix of Pat’s crazy parents and a large bet that goes wrong and you have Silver Linings Playbook.

Though the story line is your basic comical love story, it is the characters that make this film the fantastic film it is. From Bradley Cooper’s quirky and socially blunt mannerisms to Jennifer Lawrence’s swift mood swings and determination to Robert De Niro’s perfectly rational superstitious gambling habits, this film is filled with actors doing exactly what you want them to do, embody the characters. It’s no wonder that the actors in this film have received so many nominations for this film, they are extraordinary.

Silver Linings Playbook is fun and quirky and will charm the socks off you. It’ll stick with you and make you smile for weeks after seeing it from remembering Lawrence and Cooper’s performances.

4/5

Advertisements

Perfect Portrayal – Hitchcock

Hitchcock - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Hitchcock – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Hitchcock (2012)

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writers: John J. McLaughlin (screenplay), Stephen Rebello (book)
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson

I’ve never been able to sit and watch a thriller without getting scared out of my brains or laughing at how ridiculous it is. Alfred Hitchcock films are different though. I still remember watching North by Northwest as a young teen and not really understanding who made it or what it was meant to be, but it was in black and white so I was interested. It turned out I have a love/hate relationship with thrillers. I also studied Rope at university as part of a film studies class and from that moment onwards I was both enthralled and petrified of Hitchcock. So when my friend suggested we go see a movie about Hitchcock and the making of Psycho I wasn’t completely sold on the idea, but friends will make you do amazing things, and it was a very hot day…

I was blown away. Utterly and completely. Hitchcock is an incredible film about an incredible man. Strange and sometimes scary, Alfred Hitchcock – portrayed perfectly by Anthony Hopkins – is a man who needs to be in charge and who needs to be engaged with a project. The thing that is terrifyingly brilliant about this film is how Hopkins brings Hitch so much to life that you feel like you are watching the man himself. It’s not just the mannerisms or speech, it’s his air and the delivery of every second of every scene. And with Helen Mirren by his side as Alma Reville, Hitch’s wife and script editor/writer, the world of Psycho is lived out on screen for the audience. The perversity of Hitch’s obsession of his lead ladies and his want of control over their lives is very evident but done in such a way that you are both repulsed by him and pity him at the same time, but above all you come out with an admiration for a broken but brilliant man who was and still is the master of suspense.

Special mention needs to go to Scarlett Johansson (Janet Leigh) and Michael Stuhlbarg (Lew Wasserman) who held the supporting actor roles with such integrity that the film would not have been as convincing without them.

4/5

Which story do you believe? – Life of Pi

Life of Pi - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Life of Pi – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Life of Pi (2012)

Director: Ang Lee
Writers: David Magee (screenplay), Yann Martel (novel)
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain

It is a difficult task to turn a novel into a film, especially one that is burdened by a heavy philosophical investigations. As most critics would attest to Ang Lee’s genius in creating absolutely stunning films I will simply say in that regard that he has once again gone above and beyond the high expectations I set for brilliant directors. What is even more brilliant about this film is how it allows philosophical ideas about faith and religion to be discussed in strategic and carefully plotted ways so as to both bring the subject to light as well as telling an incredible narrative. Ang Lee and David Magee have, together, hit the perfect balance of narrative and philosophy in Life of Pi. The gorgeous cinematic scenes along with a heartwarming story of survival and the discovery of faith is all combined together to make a film that is enjoyable and surprising. The story of a boy and a tiger on a small boat in the middle of the ocean is always bound to be exciting. What could go wrong with a hungry tiger on a raft with a boy to help keep him alive? And who is going to believe your story if you really do survive?

The passion of this film stems from Suraj Sharma’s performance. He has a heartwarming and grounded nature that makes the adventure feel all the more real. It is a fun ride and there are surprising moments in amongst the narrative and the power of the story comes from knowing where it ends before it even starts. It is a beautiful cinematic experience that can be enjoyed by all the family and will rock you back on forth on the waves of emotion as Pi discovers the unique characteristic of humanity.

4/5

Hitting the right notes – Pitch Perfect

Pitch Perfect - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Pitch Perfect – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Pitch Perfect (2012)

Director: Jason Moore
Writers: Kay Cannon (screenplay), Mickey Rapkin (book)
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson

There is something genuinely magnificent about a carefully crafted one-liner in my humble opinion. It should surprise you, make you burst out laughing, and be delivered with as much dryness as possible. Pitch Perfect has just the right amount of one-liners to make this film a great comedy. Yes the stereotypes are strong and the humour can be blatantly obvious at points, but this makes it all the better in my mind. The comedy in Pitch Perfect is both funny and makes fun of itself in clever ways. It doesn’t ruin the narrative flow but in fact enhances it.

Pitch Perfect is the tale of Beca (Anna Kendrick), an alternative chick, DJ-wannabe, who is misunderstood by her father and is mostly friendless. That is until she is forced to join the all-girl acapella group. Forced to try out by the very forward Chloe (Brittany Snow), she comes into the group which is already going through a period of transition. The group is being controlled by the high-strung Aubrey (Anna Camp) who is on a mission to win nationals but she is a traditionalist and a perfectionist which does not suit Beca’s alternative and creative ways. Beca tries to both change the groups style, as well as trying to stay of Aubrey’s good side. It plays out as you would expect, the whole film does as well, with bits of surprises along the way, but it works. The thing about films like this is that if they stick, more or less, to the formula, then they will be entertaining. It is the way the more or less is challenged that either makes or breaks a film like this. It is the difference between a A-grade film and an B-grade film. Pitch Perfect hits the harmonies of formula and classy comedy in the right key. It is definitely the minor characters of Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Lilly (Hana Mae Lee), and Benji (Ben Platt) that make this film fantastic. Never underestimate the power of a great supporting cast, they will and do steal the scenes and make the film better.

4/5

Who Am I? – Les Miserables

Les Misérables - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Les Misérables – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Les Misérables (2012)

Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: Claude-Michel Schönberg (book) & Alain Boublil (book) & Victor Hugo (novel) & Herbert Kretzmer (lyrics) & Alain Boublil (original: French text) & Jean-Marc Natel (original: French text) & James Fenton (additional text) & William Nicholson (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway

I have always loved musicals. I grew up watching Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, etc, and loved everyone of them, good and bad. My favourite film is Singin’ In The Rain and will continue to be until my life’s end. I say that in order to justify my instant love of Les Misérables. I have never seen it on stage but I have had friends in the past who have raved about it.  I now understand why.

Although there are parts of the film which could be improved, *cough Russell Crowe cough*, the musical is adapted onto film brilliantly. It has a raw and gritty quality to it which makes the story feel real and grounded in history. The music is beautiful and the integration of story-telling with the music is seamless. Hugh Jackman does a great job of Jean Valjean and really carries the film and us with him on the journey of his hard life. However, the kids in the film are what really make it for me. Daniel Huttlestone (Gavroche) and Isabelle Allen (young Cosette) are incredible little talents. They come alive on screen and steal every scene they are in, especially Daniel.

The best thing about this film is that it has real heart. I cried, nay, I sobbed as Eddie Redmayne sang about how his friends would never sing again. Oh my gosh did I sob! Every moment was breathtaking and heartbreaking and heartwarming and oh just everything! It wasn’t that this was a brilliant film, or a brilliant musical, but it is a great story, well told, and in a lot of ways that is what films should be, even musicals.

4/5

See it in 3D – The Hobbit

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh (screenplay), Phillipa Boyens (screenplay), Peter Jackson (screenplay), Guillermo del Toro (screenplay), JRR Tolkien (story)
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis.

When the Lord of The Rings films first came out ten years ago they really blew me away as the first epic adventure film that I had seen on the big screen. I still remember sitting through them, watching Legolas swing around that horse and climb up the oliphaunt and shot an arrow through its head. It was an adventure story and wondrous to behold on the big screen. However, in the opening scenes of The Hobbit my jaw dropped as the landscape and action came alive on the screen. Seeing this film in 3D is essential. Mainly because the story is padded out so much that there are moments when you can sit back and enjoy the visuals. Don’t get me wrong, sure the story of the Hobbit is great, but three films is a little excessive.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gives the back story to Bilbo Baggins. It is Bilbo’s story, but Jackson and his co-creators decided that they needed to give it context within the Lord of The Rings films, this is so very unnecessary even though I love seeing Elijah Wood as Frodo again. The story of Bilbo is exciting and adventurous in the book, and Jackson has brought it to life visually, but instead of making it fast paced and exciting like we are now used to, he has slowed the pace in between the big action scenes. I’m really not sure whether them stretching the short novel out into three movies is a good thing or it will just be laborious when it comes to the end of the third film but I have very mixed feelings about this first installment. I both enjoyed the ride and the visuals but also felt the length of the film and knowing there are another two to come over the next few years gave me a sense of tedium as I sat through the last half hour. The Hobbit as a story is meant to be a tale of adventure and discovery of what it means to belong for children but it hasn’t been treated this way and it loses it’s childish charm in a lot of ways because of the slowness of the telling of the film. Martin Freeman is brilliant, as is the rest of the cast, but all in all Jackson should have gone back to Tolkien’s original ideal in The Hobbit rather than trying to make it The Lord Of The Rings again. Jackson has overlooked the difference in Tolkien’s writing and purpose from The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings.

3/5

Hope, Wonder, Fun, Delight – Rise of the Guardians

Rise Of The Guardians - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Rise Of The Guardians – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Director: Peter Ramsey
Writers: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay), William Joyce (book)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher

There is something wonderful about children’s films. They are delightful to get swept up in, especially when they are good. Rise Of The Guardians is a joy to watch. It’s not the best animated film ever but it has everything it needs to make you smile and laugh as well as teach you lessons about what is good to believe in. The morals infused in every character are at the forefront of this story as we travel with Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) as he discovers who he truly is and why he is chosen to be a guardian of the children of the world.

Jack joins North (Santa, voiced by Alec Baldwin), Tooth (The Tooth Fairy, voiced by Isla Fisher), Sandman (not voiced, but wonderfully animated!), and Bunny (The Easter Bunny, voiced by Hugh Jackman), as they battle Pitch (The Boogeyman, voiced by Jude Law) who has taken it upon himself to torture and torment children with fear and nightmares. There is a great narrative progression through this film and it throws you around through the tunnels of children’s belief and their determination to believe in the core of each of these folklores. It is uplifting and cheery and has some great characters, although a little underdeveloped for my liking.

With Christmas creeping up incredibly quickly this is a great film for the family to see together as it refocuses both children and parents on what the festive seasons we celebrate in western culture represent. The wonder and delight of children are what we really aim for at Christmas, but we also love to reawaken that childish fun in ourselves over the Christmas and New Year period. Rise of The Guardians is not just a Christmas film but it certainly does hold all those little goodies that make Christmas movies so great and what make children films so beautiful.

3.7/5

For the woman he truly loves – Skyfall

Skyfall - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Skyfall – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Skyfall (2012)

Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan, and Ian Fleming (characters)
Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris

From the opening moments of this James Bond film you know it will be filled with everything that makes a Bond film great. There are the typical cheesy Bond moments of the classy casino, the car/motorbike chase, the Bond girl, and Bond kicking arse all around and surviving against the odds, and his one-liner wit. But you also see another side of Bond. The scriptwriters and Daniel Craig have given us better version of the rough-edged Bond you see in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. He isn’t the slick, nothing-ruffles-my-hair Bond of the Bronson or Connery age. He is a rugged and beaten up Bond. And in a lot of ways Daniel Craig has given James Bond a humanity that you don’t really see in the older films. The producers were on the right track when they convinced him to take the part. Daniel Craig looks sexy even as a beaten up alcoholic who comes back to life to save the woman he truly loves. I mean you can’t beat that.

The one thing that shouldn’t have surprised me but did was that Skyfall is a beautiful film. Sam Mendes has made an absolutely stunning film to watch. Every shot is gorgeous, and not just because Daniel Craig is in the shot. You can watch the music video for Adele’s Skyfall and see how visually brilliant they have made this film, but you don’t get the full effect unless you are sitting in a dark cinema with the full scale picture. I have no words for how delightful this film is to watch. It goes without saying that Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and the rest of the cast are brilliant but they have really stepped up the quality of this franchise all around.

I have to admit, I did take a moment during one of the slower parts of the film to work out whether my incredibly high expectations were making me love the film, or if it was just that I loved all Bond films – I even love Moonraker – or whether Skyfall was just a really good film. What was the conclusion I came to? It is an excellent film. From everything from the story to the actors to the justification for the fight scenes, everything fits together to make Skyfall a great film on its own. Even if you didn’t know anything about Bond you could still enjoy this film and appreciate it for a good action film. I don’t want to give anything away but there are some great hark backs to old Bond films that make this film a Bond fans delight.

Go and enjoy the fall.

4/5

Heartbreakingly Beautiful – Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writers: Stephen Chbosky (novel), Stephen Chbosky (screenplay)
Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller

Kids nowadays have it as rough as they did generations before ours. And as it has done before, film and literature tries to tell the hard stories of our lives and culture. Perks Of Being A Wallflower, based on the novel by Stephen Chbosky – who also wrote and directed the film – brings to life the story of a group of teens who try and survive their messed up and complicated lives. The film delves into how Charlie (Logan Lerman), Sam (Emma Watson), and Patrick (Ezra Miller) deal with the awful hand that life has dealt them. Each of them has a past, even at the age of seventeen they are dealing with the consequences of other people’s actions upon them. These young actors portray characters that are full of complicated emotions in such realistic ways. There was never a moment in the film when I didn’t believe their story. They gave heart and soul to the characters and created a passionate and powerful portrayal of the modern teenage life.

Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t simply a coming of age story, it is a story of how awful things happen to young people and they have to deal with them given limited support and the pressures of school and peers. It is full of dorky awkwardness and beautiful, innocent youth but deals with matters that are far beyond what you would expect of a teen flick. From issues of homosexual to depression to death, it handles these issues with a grace and honesty that I hadn’t expected and shocked me to tears. When people look back on this film in years to come it will mark this generation in the same way that The Breakfast Club marked the 1980s.

I felt completely and utterly spent after the film. It was so powerful that there was more than one person in the film who was sobbing by the end. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and was a reminder that we can transform our lives even in the most awful of circumstances. It was also a reminder of how important the support of people who love us are. The way we treat each other can either destroy or restore us.

Make sure you take a box of tissues with you as well as your laughter because it will make you both laugh and cry.

4.5/5

A psychopath is what? – Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Seven Psychopaths – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Stars: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell

Dark humour or black comedy is a type of comedy that I’ve never been sure whether to laugh at or find a little icky. I have to say after sitting in a theatre and being the only one to giggle basically the entire way through this film that Seven Psychopaths has either shown me to have a dark sense of humour, or I am actually a psychopath, I’m pretty sure it’s the former.

Seven Psychopaths is not a film I would recommend for anyone with a weak stomach or who doesn’t like a lot of violence in their comedies. However, in saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The actors in this film are all outstanding and each part fits together to make this film brilliantly funny. There were moments when Christopher Walken’s face just made me burst into a fit of giggles. Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell’s comedic timing and delivery is perfection. The one surprise for me in this film was Colin Farrell. Admittedly I haven’t been a fan of Farrell before, but his performance in this film has made me reconsider my opinion of him. It’s worth a watch just for the surprise of Colin Farrell’s performance.

The script by Martin McDonagh is satirical and witty. It has been brilliantly crafted and directed. McDonagh is clever and incredibly funny in the way he twists and surprises you throughout the entire film. The laugh out loud moments that I had stemmed from the surprises in the plot just as much as from the actors performances. He has created quirky film that has some hilarious moments and some really touching moments as well.

I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but it is very funny if you like dark humour and want to go along for a fun adventure with an alcoholic writer, a Christian dognapper, and a lovable psychopath.

4/5