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

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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

Laughing with someone makes it all bearable – Ted

Ted - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Ted – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Ted (2012)

Director: Seth MacFarlane
Writers: Seth MacFarlane (story & screenplay), and Alen Sulkin (screenplay), and Wellesley Wild (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Seth MacFarlane

There is something beautiful about going and seeing a film for free when you don’t expect it, and seeing it with a friend who could came along at the last minute and who is a joy to be around. This was the circumstance that I found myself in when I saw Ted tonight. My friend Lizzie and I rocked up to see an Australian film (The Sapphires – review to come soon, when I get around to seeing it – out August 10) but the cinema had booked a smaller cinema than the distributer had requested and so we were given the option of seeing a different film. Lizzie and I decided on Ted because we had both seen the other option offered. I hadn’t planned to see Ted, mainly because it’s not my usual type of film. I’m not a huge fan of crass and gross humour and not a fan of Mila Kunis and so the only selling point for me was Mark Wahlberg. But with all the negatives I held up against this film I actually found it very funny and enjoyable.

Let me say that I really think that whether you like a film or not depends on both the quality of the film and also the environment in which you see it, especially who you see it with. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed this movie as much if I had seen it on my own or with some of my other friends. And that is no criticism on them, it is just a simple fact of being able to enjoy something a little bit different at a fun moment in the day after a bit of disappointment and just rolling with it.

Ted is the story of a boy who makes a wish when he is 8 for his Teddy Bear to be a real friend. It is a sweet premise and overall I really loved the idea of a man being so connected with a childhood friend that they are still friends thirty years later. The faithfulness, the loyalty, and the bond between Ted and John are really quite beautiful in a lot of ways. And then the adult Ted kicks in, and well that’s when it turns a little chaotic. There are some moments in Ted which were gross and I cringed a little bit at them, but there were also some very clever lines and in-jokes (especially for those who know of Seth McFarlane) and it was these moments that I laughed at most. There were also just a lot of little moments of real silliness that was just plain humourous.

Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis’ performances were stellar but the best performance has to go to Ryan Reynolds. His cameo performance is pure genius. There is a wonderful understated nature to a lot of little moments in this film that make it incredibly funny for our generation but it is also one of those things that mean in ten or twenty years time will go unnoticed and unappreciated. I know that not everyone will love this film but if you have enjoyed popular culture over the last ten years you will probably enjoy this film at least a little bit.

I still stand by my original stance that I would not have seen this film if I had to pay for it but I am really glad I saw it. Seth McFarlane has created a great filmic balance between humour and endearment which leaves you with a positive feeling as you giggle your way out the cinema door. It is this balance that makes it an enjoyable film and it is the endearment that balances out the crass humour which makes it more bearable than other some other similar comedies.

A Unexpected Underdog – The Adventures of Merlin

Merlin - Poster from IMDB.com

Merlin – Poster from IMDB.com

The Adventures of Merlin (2008)

Creators: Julian Jones, Julian Murphy, Johnny Capps, Jake Michie
Stars: John Hurt, Colin Morgan and Bradley James

I wasn’t going to watch this show when it first started on TV but I ended up watching it, like everything I watch, because someone said I might like it and it had an Irish actor in it. So I started watching and then kept watching and haven’t stopped.

I was never very interested in magic, magicians, witches or anything like that as a kid and I totally missed the Harry Potter faze that most of my friend’s went through growing up. I was however a lover of the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Growing up I really enjoyed the Sword In The Stone and the tale of a poor young boy who was actually the King of Camelot, proven for his character more than his birth right. I love a good underdog story and so when I worked out that this was a King Arthur tale I was in.

Now from saying the above you would think that I would’ve been quite disappointed with the adaptation of Merlin, however the first episode really grabbed me because instead of Arthur being the underdog, it was Merlin. The character of Merlin and his noble cause of seeking to stand up for the rights of those who were undermined and disadvantaged was one that really appealed to me. The cheesy humour and character relationships didn’t hurt either.

Colin Morgan who plays Merlin is an outstanding young actor and his innocence, naivety, and compassion are abounding as Merlin. He brings a real earthiness and humility to the character which makes him a likable underdog. There is a fragility to his physique that makes him the perfect young wizard and also makes him believably strong in mind and heart. It is this heart of the character which is the core of this show. It is about how he struggles to help and protect those who cannot protect themselves and it is his battle with the arrogance of Prince Arthur (Bradley James) and his connection with him that helps create the conflict needed for the narrative.

The creators and writers of the show have really made the show develop and succeed through it’s twisting of the myth and although it holds the mythology well in it’s narrative there is also a lot more depth to it created by the conflict with the characters and the secrets of the past that come to light over the seasons. The playfulness of the the first season slowly becomes less prominent as the story continues and as more people turn evil, however it remains within the realm of “family entertainment” for the most part. The youthfulness of the lead actors and the growing up that they experience over the course of the show has made it appealing for both children and adults alike.

The latter seasons although a bit darker are also more interesting as the relationships between the characters develop. The rival of Morgana and Emerys (old version of Merlin, still played by Colin Morgan and is incredibly convincing as an old man, it’s actually a little concerning how well he acts this role, awe-inspiringly good acting) and the love between Arthur and Gwen start to give a new depth to the story.

The battle between good and evil continues and the wisdom to know the difference is something that drives the characters in this show as well as the idea of duty and responsibility which for our day and age is an interesting one to explore. We don’t have the same sense of duty as they did previously however this show deals with the subject in a balanced manner which shows both the ill and the blessing of fulfilling duty and destiny.

I really like this show for many reasons but mainly because of Colin Morgan’s superb acting in every episode. He is mesmerising on screen and brings Merlin to life in the best way possible. His compassion and strength as Merlin is gripping and his journey through the story is riveting.

This show isn’t for everyone, it is fantasy and can be a bit cheesy at points. It requires a bit of suspension of reality and you have to allow yourself to be taken back in time but if you can live with the fantastical nature of the show it is a beautiful show to watch.

Icky and Delightful – What To Expect When You’re Expecting

What To Expect When You're Expecting - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Official Poster – from IMDB.com

What To Expect When You’re Expecting (2012)

Director: Kirk Jones
Writers: Shauna Cross (screenplay), Heather Hach (screenplay), and Heidi Murkoff (books)
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison and J. Todd Smith

Pregnancy is one of those both wonderful and icky topics of life. It is wonderful because it means new life has been created, but icky because when you think about it, it means you’re parents have had sex, probably a lot of it too. And that thought is just well, disturbing for most. But when the movies portray pregnancy as just the simply wonderful then you miss the icky. This film shows the diversity of people’s experiences in pregnancy. It shows the ups and downs of having a baby and the ways you can get pregnant or have a kid. The best thing about this film though is Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, 30 Rock). She is the thing that makes this film work for me. Of course the wonderful different stories intertwining are great and the stories from miscarriage to adoption to twins is delightful but Banks portrayal of a pregnant woman is exactly what I expect myself to be like when/if I have kids, except probably with a little more crazy. She plays the part of a struggling pregnant woman so well and I love it. Yes pregnancy isn’t always a struggle but it’s nice to see someone fall apart and for it to be okay. There are just so many moments when I belly laughed at one liners between Banks’ character Wendy and her shop assistant Janice (Rebel Wilson). There is something honest and real about the crazy world of pregnancy that Wendy lives in that is truly humourous.

The other part of this film that really shone out was the Dad’s group. The slo-mo entrance of the dad’s at the beginning and end made me laugh so much, mainly just because of the kid, Jordan, who was just adorable and slightly bizarre. It made me want to be a dad but it also made sense to me to see these dad’s complain about every little annoyance when they are with the guys because where else can they do that kind of thing but the reality is that they love their kids more than anything and there is a real beauty and honour in that simple fact. Yes dad’s get all the crap thrown at them because the woman pushed the kid out of their body, and yes they probably should take the crap, but they are also very much in their own rights to have a safe space where they can do what the women do when they get together: bitch and whine about how annoying their kids are. Of course this is what I imagine happens when mothers get together but please correct me if I’ve been lead to believe.

The humour, the love, the bellies, and the sweet moments of this film made me really smile at the end. It was a really enjoyable and fun movie to watch. It’s not the greatest film ever made, and it’s not the best romantic comedy out there but it is fun and funny and it’s a great film to see with some friends.