LEATHERHEADS

If you have missed this little gem you may have to wait until DVD. It got 2 weeks at the cinema I work at. Only 2 weeks. Indiana Jones has been on the “No Free Tickets” list for 2 weeks. Anyway, if you managed to catch the oddly titled Leatherheads you’ll know what I’m talking about, great wasn’t it? 

THE SET UP? Its 1925 and WW1 war hero Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) is rocketing to fame via college football. However with the professional game in a shambles it looks like his career will end when he graduates. Professional player and entrepreneur Jimmy ‘Dodge’ Connelly (Clooney) is trying to save the dying game and decides to somehow get the young star Rutherford to play in his team. Meanwhile reporter Lexi Littleton (Zellweger) has been commissioned to write an expose on Rutherford to discover the truth about his so-claimed WW1 heroics. In classic Hollywood style a love triangle develops between the three and so ensues a delightful romp.

 

THE CAST?

George Clooney – Dodge. He was great, without a doubt channelling the Hollywood leading men of yester-year (Cary Grant, Clark Gable etc). He does seem at times a little distracted – probably because he’s directing the piece at the same time.

Renee Zellweger – Lexi. She was gorgeous. A perfect leading lady opposite Clooney’s Dodge. The two have a winning chemistry that is just right for this kind of piece – not a sultry but a classic Hollywood love story.

John Krasinski– Carter Rutherford. Sigh. – A good sigh. I can’t really speak objectively here as I’m kind of in love with Jim from The Office. But his performance was good. He’s most definitely the 3rd player in thispiece and he knows it. Actually I’d go as far as to say he was the best in the film. Too bad he wasn’t discovered in the classic Hollywood era (too bad he wasn’t born then too). 

Jonathan Price is worth a mention too. He plays Rutherford’s manager. Typecast, again, as the rotten scoundrel who never had pure intentions, but he does it so well. 

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

Its just a fun film. A new film that really adheres to now-dead conventions, dialogue and shots. But that makes it rather brilliant. It’s like your watching a 1950’s or earlier film with actors you recognise because they were in Batman or Bridget Jones or License to Wed. Its just a cute piece, safe for the whole family and fun. 

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone. Its really totally “safe”. Young kids probably won’t enjoy it so much basically coz the themes will go over their heads but there’s nothing unsavory at all.

 

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS. 

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MADE OF HONOR

or “Honour” if you’re australian.

This was a mistake. But the thing was I knew that going in. I’ll blame it all on Laura who wanted to see this over Leatherheads (no matter, I’ll see that one today).

SET UP?

Tom and Hannah have been friends ever since Tom accidently “dry-humped” her at a college party (you won’t get that info in the trailer). But besides that rather intimate first meet the two developed a platonic friendship based on honesty! In the mean time Tom gets his “intimate-fix” from a barrage of girls who abide by his complex system of rules.

Hannah heads off to Scotland on business and while she is away Tom realises that Hannah is the girl for him. He plans to reveal his newly found affections when Hannah returns. But Hannah returns with a fiance!

Tom is asked to be the maid of honour! His buddies convince him its a good idea as he’s got a better chance of breaking up the wedding from the inside and here begins the trials of Patrick Dempsey as the maid of honour pursing the bride.

(that took a lot longer to explain than i expected – or than it deserves really).

 

THE CAST?

Mc Dreamy – his typecast character continues.

Michelle Monaghan – Hannah. Ever since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I’ve loved Monaghan. She’s a breath of fresh air and she is good in this.

Kevin McKidd – the Scotsman fiance. Underwritten part – but he plays within his small confines well.

I better also mention Sydney Pollack who sadly passed away (in real life) the other week. Fantastic director, of one of my favourites actually, Sabrina. Oh! In this he plays, Tom’s serial marrying father. 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

You probably shouldn’t.

Acting is barely on par.

Script is woeful. 

Oh, on second thoughts, girls, take your mother. If she’s anything like mine, she’ll love it and you’ll get to hang out together.

 

ANY BITS? Ummm… thunder beads??? – Could have done without that bit. Its more your M-MA romantic comedy than your PG-M rom com, if you get my drift.

THIS FILM GETS 2 GOLD STARS – they belong to Monaghan.  

TOMBSTONE

At our weekly movie night this week one of our party suggested we watch a western called Tombstone, I was like: never heard of it. Its kind of in that era from 1970-1995 where I was either not born, or not old enough to watch mature movies and then they kind of just disappear off into the abyss. Well we revived one of ’em last night! – To the great enjoyment of us all.

 

THE SET UP?  The Earp brothers – Law men and peace makers retire and head to the silver-mining town of Tombstone to seek fortune and a more relaxed period of life. Along with TB-suffering friend Doc Holliday, the brothers (along with their wives) prosper in the new town but gradually feel compelled to protect the town’s citizens from the cowboys who are the unofficial and violent powers of Tombstone. The results made the Earp brothers, especially Wyatt a legend. The main plot is buoyed by great one liners from Doc and a r(ather annoyingly realised) romance between Wyatt and Josephine Marcus.

 

THE CAST?  

A powerhouse ensemble with too many biggies to mention, but notably:

Kurt Russell as Wyatt – average performance (kinda the same character as Executive Decision)

Val Kilmer as Doc – brilliant! If I was ever in doubt as to Kilmer’s acting abilities this totally trashes that.

Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton as the other Earp brothers – both pretty good players in this piece (both receive considerably less screen time than Russell and Kilmer).

Dana Delany as Marcus – average, not helped by Russell. 

Check out IMDB for full cast. 

 

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM? Kilmer’s first-rate performance. The one liners. To have another western in your viewing resume – never a bad thing. The only real negative aspect is the woeful state of the soundtrack (not the music but the SOUNDS – voice, sound effects, etc etc.) but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking out this early 90’s western gem.

 

ANY BITS? Apart from subtle debauchery, reasonably excessive violence (but not gruesome – the state of the sound effects is likely to grosse you out more), and some addictive substance related behaviour, there’s nothing to worry about. Oh, come on! Its a western! -We all expect a bit of rough-and-tumble-type stuff – its all in context and true to the time.

 

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL

Once again this was as film that I had been looking forward to after seeing the trailer on apple months ago. The idea of this young, spunky, blockbuster gold-written-all-over-him male actor continuing to take on various art house roles makes me very happy!!!

 

THE SET UP?  Lars is a shy and reclusive young man who lives in the garage at his brother (Gus) and sister-in-law (Caron)’s  house in a small town somewhere in middle america. He pulls away from social interaction where it can be avoided. But a few months later all this changes when Lars brings over a lady-friend (Bianca) he met online to his brother’s house for dinner – oh yes she doesn’t speak much English (only Spanish), she is relatively wheelchair bound and all her luggage got stolen at the airport so she’ll need to borrow some of Caron’s clothes. Gus and Caron are very supportive and excited until it is revealed that Bianca is a lifesize doll – a sex doll. 

But sex is the furtherest thing from Lars’ mind – he even insists she stays in the spare room at Gus and Caron’s – Lars just wants a friend. What follows is a delightful exploration of how Lars’ family and community come to terms with his “delusion” and how to (as Gus puts it) “fix him”. 

THE CAST?

Ryan Gosling – embodies Lars. Gosling is SUCH a talented young actor. He is beautiful as Lars, fleshing out all the complexities and eccentricities we discover about Lars as his story unfolds. I’d even go as far to say oscar worthy (or at least nomination-worthy) but the best Gosling got was a Golden Globe nom. 

(I want to put Bianca next, but she’s not given a credit)

Emily Mortimer – Caron. Mortimer continues on her acting journey of “sweet” in this role. I do like her, and its nice to see a different kind of beauty on the screen in this capacity. But I’m yet to see her change her character. 

Paul Schneider – Gus. I’ve had a little crush on this actor ever since the little indie film All the Real Girls (check it out!) so its great to see him continuing to pop up in more films approaching the mainstream. His performance is rather perfect as the concerned brother but also as the male who just wants to “fix” the situation and not spend time exploring why Lars has done this (I hope no males take offense at this comment!).

The ever-lovely Patricia Clarkson is Dr. Dagmar, the family’s GP. Ahhh…. she’s just great.

I will also mention Kelli Garner   who plays one of Lars’ work colleagues, Margo. Its evident from the start she’s got a bit of a thing for Lars so its interesting to see how things evolve when Bianca shows up in town.

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE IT? For a vastly different film experience and one that will make you feel good and marvel at brilliant acting and loving community. The script by Nancy Oliver is a treat, with its twists and turns unexpected and beautifully realised by Aussie ex-pat Craig Gillespie

 

ANY BITS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT? I must PLEAD with you not to let the fact that this story is primary about a young man’s obsession with a sex doll stop you from seeing this film! (I didn’t help myself just there.) This film always stays above the myriad of connotations that would normally be associated with such a subject – the film’s only rated PG here for goodness sake! 

THIS FILM GETS 4 GOLD STARS.

 

recapping on all the movies I saw and forgot* to review

*Forgot more refers to a lack of time for such activities as writing on goldstars, or a lack of motivation, or a …. wanting to do other things (I’ve kind of hit that wall I usually hit after doing something for a while – the new and exciting thing [goldstars] is losing its shininess and I’m getting a bit bored with it). 

ANYWAY – Here for you are some goldstar mini reviews, I’ll give you the title and one or two noteworthy points, and the gold star rating:

RUN FATBOY RUN (Comedy)Plots along like a typical mid-90’s romantic comedy with the charming and very british humour of Simon Pegg and Dylan Moran. 

THIS FILM GETS 3.25 GOLD STARS.

 Feel free to ask for more… on this or any of the following “mini reviews”

 

 LEONARD COHEN: I’M YOUR MAN  (doco)

A well crafted documentary on one of the greatest song writers of the 20th century.  Though the vision switching in the concert scenes was very amateurish.

THIS FILM GETS 3 GOLD STARS.

 

DEFINITELY, MAYBE (rom-com) 

Adam Brooks tries to do a new take on a well-worn story we all know by heart – he kinda succeeds – at a pinch. A great movie to see to learn how NOT to focus pull (in one scene the focus is pulled correctly to the CHEST area of the female actor framed in a mid shot while her face is left somewhat fuzzy – Marita and I couldn’t stop laughing).

THIS FILM GETS 2.5 GOLD STARS. 

 

DEATH DEFYING ACTS (romance/drama)

I was fortunate enough to see this film with an introduction by its Australian director, Gillian Armstrong.  And I hope I am not tainted by that when I suggest that this film was well acted – Pearce is exceptional – and the narrative is warmly engaging and is nicely reminiscent of Armstrong’s other work.

THIS FILM GETS 3.75 GOLD STARS

 

Science des reves, La (or less fancily) SCIENCE OF SLEEP  (niche comedy)

My favourite director pulls another one out of his hat (of weirdness). Needs a few viewings, but if you’re a fan of Gondry’s other work, especially Eternal Sunshine (…) you’ll fall in love with this vision of obscurity and absurdity in the vein of a classic dream-like trance, as realised as only Gondry could.   

THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS

 

THE BUCKET LIST (comedy)

Hmm… Nicholson shows he’s still got the stuff. But using Freeman as narrator, surely this format is getting a bit weary. Oddly a feel good film despite (spoiler alert!) the death of both characters by the time the credits roll. Though I haven’t done any research to substantiate this claim I would assume that this film will be praised by Christian groups for its moral/family message. 

THIS FILMS GETS 2.25 GOLD STARS

 

VANTAGE POINT (comedy/action)

 I feel director, Pete Travis would be horrified at my classification of his first feature film as comedy but laughter was the predominant reaction in the audience I saw this film with. Certainly a very different cinema experience – and therefore I am reluctant to bag it out – Vantage Point should help you appreciate coverage and the choices of directors, editors and DOPs (director of photography/cinematographer) more. 

THIS FILM GETS 2.75 GOLD STARS.

 

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (period drama)A departure from history for the historically illiterate. Too harsh? Fine acting and a compelling script are this film’s strong points. Bana was slightly disappointing and the framing choices of director Justin Chadwick left me wondering (however they were imaginative). 

THIS FILM GETS 3.75 GOLD STARS. 

 

BE KIND REWIND (comedy)

Gondry’s latest offering was anticipated by yours truly for a good 8 or so months so its final revelation (on my birthday I might add!) was a bit disappointing, however it was rather brilliant. You always expect more from the best. Possibly too much Jack Black but the creativity of Gondry continues to blow me away.  

THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS

 

HORTON HEARS A WHO!(children’s/comedy) 

A highly enjoyable cartoon with great voice talents. The comedy is drawn out of the original story by the Dr. creatively and smartly. The coupling of Carrey and Carell was swell casting. The homage to Japanese anime was a treat!

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS.  

 

SEMI-PRO (comedy – Ferrell comedy) The highly anticipated (and publicised) next comedy from Will Ferrell & co was a disappointment, with the trailer showing its better parts. Not that I’m a swearing-nazi but there was a dramatic increase in the number of “curse words” used in this Ferrell film, and it therefore seemed to lack the creative writing and “wordsmithery” (if you will) of the likes of Anchorman or Talledega Nights 

THIS FILM GETS 2.75 GOLD STARS. 

 

Phew!!! Now I think I’m all up to date. From now on I’ll try and post a more substantial review (without going overboard). If you want additional info on any of the films listed PLEASE ask me.  

HOT ROD

poster INITIAL RANTING I have a confession to make, I really liked this film.Chances are you probably haven’t heard of it. It lasted about one week at Aussie cinemas and according to IMDB only grossed $14 mil in the US. I saw it for the second time on DVD the other night.I first heard of Hot Rod months before its release date here via the apple trailers page (which I highly recommend – especially if you’re on a mac coz they load so fast). It looked like a good goof-ball movie and sometimes they can be worthwhile so I looked out for it and managed to see it during its “limited” release. With next to no distributor promotion Hot Rod came and went without as much as a tv spot and when Dave and I saw the film we were the only 2 people in the theatre.But this is a seriously funny movie, well written (by a South Park heavy weight you probably haven’t heard of) and acted charmingly by a SNL guy and a deserving ensemble.

THE SET UP? Evil Kenevil wannabe Rod Kimble, supported by his “crew” (friends and a half-brother) attempts serious stunts that turn into jackass gold at every free moment. However when Rod finds out his step-dad is dying and needs a new heart they can’t afford (bloody American health care system) Rod endeavors to fight fight fight raise the money required for the surgery through pulling off a massive stunt. And the rest, as they say, is hilarious.However Rod isn’t just doing the stunt to purely save his step-dad, he wants his step-dad to be well so he can kick his ass in hand-to-hand combat — sounds like to stupidest thing ever, but trust me it totally works.

 

THE CAST? Andy Samberg is Rod Kimble. This guy kick-started his comedic career online, with Hod Rod’s director and the guy who plays his half-brother. From there the three were picked up by SNL. Samberg is adorable in this, he is so funny and obviously enjoys taking the piss out of himself and everything else – including Footloose.

Jorma Taccone plays Kevin Powell, Rod’s half-brother. He’s funny, but you can tell he’s not really an actor (he writes for SNL). But he sure can dance like a comedian – or maybe that’s how a writer dances.

Isla Fisher plays Denise the love interest in the film. Its one of those things where the girl thinks she’s just being a friend but the guy thinks its more and then eventually the girl falls for the guy. I don’t particularly like Fisher, even though she is an Aussie, but she serves her function in this picture.The wonderful

Sissy Spacek and Ian McShane plays Rod’s mother and step-father. McShane is particularly good.all american

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM? Because its good! And I doubt anyone else will tell you to see it because no one else has seen it. I do admit you do have to be a particular mood to enjoy its humor, preferably the same crowd you enjoyed Napoleon Dynamite with, but do see it! The writing and the way the film is edited, acted, and put together is gold! Oh and I won’t spoil the surprise but John Farnham’s 80’s anthem “You’re the Voice” is featured to radiant effect.

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Mentioned above.

ANY BITS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT? Hmmm….let’s put it this way, if you found jackass’ milder slap-stick efforts (such as tropical pole vaulting or night pandas) offensive sit this one out, otherwise you’re sure to enjoy it – unless you’re my grandparents.

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS

FOOL’S GOLD

posterThis was movie number two for Marita and I the other night, and after the mistake that was Jumper we thought anything would be better, we were mostly right.

THE SET UP? Benjamin is a treasure hunter married to Tess, they live in the Caribbean (Ben on their boat, Tess on her employer’s boat). Ben loves his wife, so its a shame she doesn’t feel the same way and at the beginning of the film Tess is in the process of finalising their divorce. Inevitably Ben, who has just found some information about a treasure the couple have been trying to find for almost ten years, arrives late for the court appointment so all assets are awarded to Tess. Ben sees the opportunity to win Tess back by telling her about the treasure he figures he’s almost found. Tess begrudgingly agrees to try and find it with him. What follows is a frolic around beautiful islands on Tess’ employers magnificent boat as the ex-couple try and find treasure and (you guessed it) salvage their love. They are helped and hindered by an entertaining supporting cast.

THE CAST?
Matthew McConaughey plays Benjamin. Now ladies, we all know this guy can’t act, right? He has the capacity to play about one character…the same one in every film he does. He just continues to get gigs because he’s a bit of eye candy. Well, unfortunately he was unable to even serve that measly little function in this. argh!The hair…its just ghastly – with such sleazy and trashy connotations it was impossible to develop a crush on the character (don’t deny it ladies, that’s the only reason why he’s in this). And he spends too much of the film half naked. Yes we all know he has a gorgeous fake tan and must work out whenever he’s not “preparing” for his roles to sustain THAT torso, but I just couldn’t help thinking about what Stephen Merchant said on the Ricky Gervais Show on XFM (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve heard it).
Kate Hudson plays Tess. I’d really like to give this girl some credit, but I just can’t. Like her leading man, the promise the young Hudson of Almost Famous showed was quickly squandered with a barrage of bums-on-seats, pop-corn-crazy, studio-loved-up rom coms, and now she’s a one-character actor. She is far from her best rom com effort (funnily enough also co-starring McConaughey).
Donald Sutherland plays Tess’ employer, Nigel Honeycutt (who owns the magnificent boat they go treasure hunting in). He’s a charming old English man who is looking for some spark in his dull, over-indulged life. Sutherland is rather adorable in this, and brings some class to the film. His performance is far from oscar bait, but its probably the best of the film.
Alexis Dziena plays Gemma Honeycutt, Nigel’s Paris Hiltonesque daughter who happens to be visiting her father when the treasure hunt begins. She plays a bimbo almost too convincingly. Actually, Dziena is rather good in this (not that I’ve seen her in anything else).
Other cast members include Ewen Bremner (of Death at a Funeral “Listen, Martha…”), an undervalued Ray Winstone, and Kevin Hart who plays the (rapper) villain.

the beach> WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM? Every now and then we all need a movie night that insults our intelligence. When that night comes around, this is a good one to see.

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone who is the same mood as you which should preferably be the one I described above.

ANY BITS TO KNOW OF? Nothing comes to mind, but I really don’t want to dwell on this film for too much longer, so let’s just say no. For specifics see here.

THIS FILM GETS 2 GOLD STARS