Double you tee eff – The World’s End

The World's End - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The World’s End – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The World’s End (2013)

Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman

The third and final instalment of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End). Anticipation for this film had stirred in me when I first heard of its pending creation. I am a big fan of Edgar Wright’s work – both stylistically as a director, and also as a storyteller/writer.

If you haven’t seen either Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead I would recommend you do so before you see The World’s End. The main reason for this is so you understand the format of the Cornetto films. Wright and Pegg have a way of making their movies start like your typical comedy and then turn into something completely different. The World’s End starts out with old friends being lured back to their home town to do an epic pub crawl they failed to finish 20 years earlier. But the town has changed. And not in the normal, time has passed, people have moved on, kinds of ways either. Something weird is going on and the pub crawl becomes more than just getting to the end of the crawl, it becomes about getting to The World’s End.

Wright and Pegg have crafted a clever script and stylistically it is very much like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The quick cuts of mundane tasks, e.g. pouring beer, and the pop culture references are in plentiful supply. As is the witty and clever humour. There is a lot of playing with words and phrases in the first half of the film, which sets up the unfolding narrative that comes later in the film. However the character development is underdone and feels like it has been pushed to the side in favour of the jokes and action of the film. Especially with regards to Simon Pegg’s character there is a real lack of relatable qualities which make him a less than ideal protagonist. By the end of the film I kind of just wanted him to fail at whatever it was he was trying to achieve. I just didn’t care about him. I cared about the other characters more than the lead which is not an unusual feeling, but it was surprising.

The World’s End is a Sci-Fi-Comedy and does a good job of pulling apart the Sci-Fi genre in comedic ways. It is cleverly constructed and the ending is one that will have you in stitches. The World’s End is a nice finish to a classy trio of clever comedies.

3.5/5

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Adapt and Make New – Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Much Ado – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Joss Whedon (screenplay) and William Shakespeare (play)
Stars: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, Clark Gregg, Jillian Morgese.

There is something about Shakespeare’s comedies that make for good adaptations. 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s The Man, O, The Lion King, etc, have all taken on new looks of Shakespeare’s plays. And then there is the cinematic versions of the plays such as Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), Othello (1995) etc. A good adaptation can be one that is true to the original text, or one that develops the ideas and narrative into a new setting. Joss Whedon has done both with his version of Much Ado About Nothing.

The film opens with a single piano note. A note that tells the audience that love is a thing that will cause both joy and sadness. It is with this simple note that the entire mood is set for the film. The film is shown in black and white, preparing the audience to see the blurred lines of grey in all the lies the characters tell one another, whether for good or for evil. And with the opening scene of Beatrice and Benedict as lovers you know you are in for an interesting take on Shakespeare’s tale of love, deception, rumours, and purity.

The best thing about this adaptation is Joss Whedon and the cast’s comedic timing. Much Ado is meant to be funny. It is a battle of wits between Benedict and Beatrice but here you see so much more of the comedy as played by all the characters. From little moments like Leonato (Clark Gregg) falling asleep/hung over in the kitchen and then being knocked awake and into speech, or Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark) standing creepily at the end of Don John’s bed. The comedy in this film is exceptional.

The way the film is shot is really interesting because of the different camera angles. The shots looking down from heights to where the characters are creates a voyeuristic feel. The audience is another member of the party and is privy to closed door conversations and monologues of characters. It feels very much like an amphitheatre at points, providing the film with visual cues back to the original play.

There are just some films that grab you from the first moment and don’t let you go until the credits roll. Much Ado held me through the laughter and the tears and made me want to revisit Shakespeare with a new passion. This film will make you laugh; it will make you question how you talk of others; it will make you question why you listen to rumours; and above all it will make you want to fall in love with innocence and joy.

5/5

Childhood revisited – Monsters University

Monsters University - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Monsters University – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Monsters University (2013)

Director: Dan Scanlon
Writers: Dan Scanlon (story and screenplay), Daniel Gerson (story and screenplay), Robert L. Baird (story and screenplay)
Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Nathan Fillion, Helen Mirren.

Origin stories have become a real fad in cinema recently. It’s always fun to have a prequel to story you love, but there can be that niggling feeling at the back of your mind of the what ifs. What if they stuff it up? What if the characters aren’t as you remember them to be? What if it’s just a bad film?

Well Monsters University knocked all those what ifs from my mind the moment it started. The humour, the characters, the lightness was all there. Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James Sullivan (John Goodman) are back in this funny origins story. Monsters University is where all the great scarers are trained to go on to work at Monsters Inc. Disney is the champion of these types of stories. You know the ones, the little guy struggles against the big corporation to make them see that their prejudices are misplaced and then they all live happily ever after. Of course there is always much more to the story than just that, and Disney definitely know how to make it great. Monsters University doesn’t fail to live up to my high expectations. It is funny, heartwarming, and brings back all the delight of the first film.

Mike and Sully are headed to university. Both have dreams of being the best scarers the Monsters University has ever seen but they are both from very different worlds. Sully comes from a long line of scarers. Mike does not. Mike is a dreamer. He wants to be scary, but what is scary about a small green ball with a large eye? Mike and Sully are not friends. They are competitive, and polar opposites when it comes to scaring. But then they both get kicked out of the scaring major and must work together with a bunch of misfit monsters to win the Scare Games and the respect of their peers.

Monsters University is charming, funny, and has a great moral lesson woven into it. It’ll be one of my favourite animated films in the years to come. Almost everything about this film is great.

5/5

Just a good ol’ uplifting film – The Internship

The Internship - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Internship – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Internship (2013)

Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Vince Vaughn (screenplay and story), Jared Stern (screenplay)
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne

I’ve seen a lot of bad films in my time. I’ve seen a lot of good ones too. It’s always seemed to be a subjective matter of what is good and what is not. What one person finds funny may not be funny to someone else. And this is what I find interesting about a film like The Internship. I was in a great mood when I sat down in the cinema. I had been laughing with a friend beforehand and I didn’t have high expectations for the film. I was just there to have a bit of a laugh and to see Dylan O’Brien (Stiles from Teen Wolf) in a film. But The Internship surprised me. I mean, yes it is a big walking and talking advertisement for Google, and Google really doesn’t need advertising, it’s a verb. I’m not a huge fan of either Vince Vaughan or Owen Wilson, and together they have no appeal for me. But they do both have that charm of being funny american men. And as much as I would like to say that this film was as bad as I expected, it really was a delight.

The story unfolds as two older gents, Billy (Vince Vaughan) and Nick (Owen Wilson) in a crisis a lot of people are facing – no jobs, no savings, no prospects, and no skills in a technological age. It’s your usual triumph of the little guy over the bully kind of comedy. It is funny, light-hearted, and entertaining. The misfit interns that we get to know and love along the way are thrown together in a group that has to compete for the opportunity of getting a job at the end of the summer intern. They are a weird bunch but they charm their way into the audiences hearts through quirks and humour.

It always fascinates me how the way you view a movie can be determined by the attitude you enter the film with. I’m not sure that The Internship is a good film or whether I was just in the right mood. But I can definitely say that it wasn’t a bad film. It was a good laugh and a great time.

3.5/5

Director: Shawn LevyWriters: Vince Vaughn (screenplay), Jared Stern (screenplay), 1 more credit »Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne | See full cast and crew

When a film just whelms – Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - Official Poster from IMDB.com

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – Official Poster from IMDB.com

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writer: Tommy Wirkola
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Peter Stormare

There has been a definite revival of fairytales over the years. Snow White, Cinderella (oh so many), Peter Pan, etc etc etc. Hansel and Gretel is one of those fairytales that I’m never sure how to feel about. It’s about a couple of kids being deserted by their parents because they can’t feed them, a witch captures them and then they kill the witch. How is that a kids story?! Well the new rendition of the Grimms Brothers fairytale definitely isn’t for children. The updated and expanded story of Hansel and Gretel all grown up is not a great film. It has it’s good moments but it really is just another supernatural action film. The only reason I went to see the film was because of Jeremy Renner, and it was worth it for that. It isn’t a bad film, but neither is it a good film, which makes me wonder how to review such a piece. The action sequences are brilliantly choreographed and the humour is pretty great. The stand outs of the film is Thomas Mann who plays Ben, the witch hunters little fan boy, and Derek Mears who plays the troll Edward. Ben and Edward provide humour and heart to a film that is just about beating up witches and shooting old school big guns. Edward the troll is possibly the best admission to the story as it provides a different kind of look at a beast that is so awful in other stories. Edward is your big, friendly, witch protecting, morally good troll. He is bound by his task to protect witches, but is able to decide how to go about that task. And then there is sweet but tainted Ben who has followed the stories of Hansel and Gretel and dreams of being a witch hunter like them. Ben is sweet and starry-eyed and provides a great comedic relationship between himself and Hansel.

I saw this film in 3D and for the first time I regretted seeing a film in 3D. It was a little unnecessary and would’ve been as good, if not better in 2D. I felt a little ill in parts because of the quick movement of the camera in the fight scenes and it was hard to watch at points. I also had a moment of my inner feminist coming out in a scene with Hansel and Mina as the filmmakers decided that it was fine to show the female character undress but didn’t show the male character do the same, which is just silly and sexist (and who doesn’t want to see Jeremy Renner strip down?! So disappointing…)

All in all I wouldn’t necessarily ever recommend Hansel and Gretel but it was still a fun film to watch.
2/5

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

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

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

The perfect woman of your imagination – Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Ruby Sparks – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Ruby Sparks (2012)

Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Stars: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Annette Bening

What would you put on paper if you could write yourself the perfect romantic partner? What if the person you created came to life? That is the basic premise for Ruby Sparks but the film is so much more than just the exploration of love and relationships.

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is an acclaimed author, having his first success as a 19 year-old he hasn’t really produced another “literary work of genius” in the last 10 years. He doesn’t have many friends, apart from his brother, and since his last relationship he has been in therapy to deal with all his issues, especially to do with his inability to put pen to paper again. He is your adorkable reclusive author struggling to create his next work of art, and then he dreams of Ruby (Zoe Kazan). She stands backlit by the sun, talking to him and being the perfect imagining of the girl of his dreams. Calvin finds his muse and begins to write the story of Ruby and their relationship. But when strange bits of women’s clothing keep turning up and then Ruby appears in his kitchen one morning, fully formed, a person, a real person, just like in his book, just like in his dream, Calvin freaks out. And who can blame him, he has just seen the living, breathing, talking girl of his dreams. And so begins the bizarre and wonderful ride of Ruby and Calvin. There is only one problem: Calvin. In his creation of Ruby, she is the perfect girl for him, but is Calvin the perfect man for Ruby? And if he isn’t then how can he hold onto her, can he keep writing and change Ruby so she will desire and want to stay even though Calvin is just an asshole sometimes?

The film is beautifully crafted from every aspect of this idea and Zoe Kazan is a “genius” for being able to create such a well thought through and produced film. I cannot find flaws in this masterful creation of a film. The more I reflect on it the more I come to love it. Calvin is the right amount of romantic, recluse, and asshole. Ruby is a character of imagination and reality combined and Kazan brings to life the dream with a sweetness and depth that captivates. There are some key moments (which I will try not to spoil here) that brought me to a convulsion of wanting to laugh and cry at the same time, the shock, horror and pain of the way we treat each other as humans when we love so deeply is conveyed with such honest power that I can not even come to grips with how Kazan and Dano were able to act so fiercely and faithfully to their characters. The pain of love and loss is one of the reasons why this film works. It may be based on a silly, unrealistic hypothesis but it provides us as viewers with the perfect amount of imagining to process on what relationships can really be like. The complexity of love and the way it can transform us and engulf us is confusing. Love is a mystery of humanity that may never be fully understood but that we will always seek to find answers to. Kazan provides us with a way of exploring the aspects of love that cause us pain: miscommunication, unmet expectations, selfishness, pride, and stubbornness. But her real genius is helping us to see the solution to our pain. The way this film is resolved is satisfying and it feels resolved with that little added hope of a brighter future for our troubled protagonist.

Thank you Zoe Kazan for writing a beautiful, unconventional love story that will continuously remind me that relationships are always about two people, not just one, and that loving is about giving as much as it is about receiving.

Go and see this film, you will not regret it for a single moment.