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. 

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.  

THE PAINTED VEIL

Coming out in just a few hours in Australia (FINALLY!!), I was fortunate enough to make it to an advanced screening last weekend. And having waited a long time for this film, it came out in the US Boxing Day 2006, I was expecting good things…. and I wasn’t disappointed.

THE SET UP? (NB: Possible spoiler alerts – but nothing more than is in the trailer.) Twenty-something Kitty still lives at home determined to not be persuaded into marriage by her family, before eventually she is. Kitty marries Walter, a bacteriologist who is head-over-heels in lurve with her. She just wants to get away from her family. The couple move to Shang-hi (as all newly wed bacteriologists do) and it isn’t long before Kitty gets distracted and has an affair. When Walter finds out he volunteers his services to a cholera-infested remote town deep in China. Kitty is dragged along. Do they forgive each other? Do either of them die? But the most important question, do they grow to love each other?

 

CAST? 

Naomi Watts plays Kitty. I have come to expect a lot from this gifted actor and she is great in this. However she didn’t really ‘hit the nail on the head’. But a fine performance. 

Edward Norton plays Walter. I’ve always kinda liked Norton’s work but now I have a new appreciation for his amazing acting abilities. He is splendid in this. The audience totally gets Walter, his personality, his character and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Just like Margaret, I never thought of Norton as a romantic lead but he pulls it off with excellence. 

I’d like to give next billing to Toby Jones, who plays Waddington, a fellow-Englishman stationed at the remote cholera-ridden village. This guy is a fine actor, who’s acting range is only limited by his physical stature. I really liked him in this. Hopefully he’ll get some more meaty roles!

Liev Schreiber plays the distraction (Charlie). I’m so immature, it makes me giggle to think that Naomi Watts and Schreiber play characters having an extramarital affair in this film and in real life they’ve been together since filming this and have a kid together! He he. Schreiber does the suave playboy thing well. Check out his directorial debut if you haven’t seen it already, Everything is Illuminated (3.5 GOLD STARS). 


WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM?
Breathtaking cinematography. Well-spun dialogue. A beautiful, classic, old-fashioned narrative. And without giving terribly too much away – one of the best love stories I’ve seen in a film, ever. (Okay, that kind of gives everything away – but in my defence, no more than the distribution propaganda.)

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone really. I saw it with one of my best mates. Probably not your twenty-year old brother. But anyone else. Suggestions …. friends, partners, mothers. 

ANY BITS TO BE WORRIED ABOUT? From memory, I think some Chinese drugs and alcohol are involved, but, phhf! Oh, and the mild sexual activity usually involved.

THIS FILM GETS 4.25 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.  

AUGUST RUSH

poster I had high expectations from seeing the trailer for this film months ago. It finally came out in Australia on Thursday and we went and saw it last night.

To say the film peaked at the trailer wouldn’t be an overstatement.

THE SET UP? Evan Taylor is eleven years old and he lives at a boys home in New York state. He doesn’t want to be placed with a family because he is waiting for his parents to find him, deep down he believes that they always wanted him. He stays sane in the face of rejection and bullying through music. He doesn’t have an ipod or anything but he finds music in everything, the wind, footsteps, etc etc. The audience soon learns the genesis of this budding music protege is his parents. A Juilliard trained classical cellist mother and a blue-collar irish rocker father. And their musical romance is a one-night-stand. Evan leaves the boys home and travels to New York to find his parents. The rest of the film is the journey of Evan, his mother and his father to finding each other, unsurprisingly, music is their guide.

THE CAST?
Freddie Highmore is Evan Taylor (a.k.a August Rush). The London native does well in a near flawless American accent and few actors of his age are able to encapsulate pure joy as Highmore does in most of his roles, but excellently in August Rush. Surprisingly for a young actor, even if he is the central character, Highmore gets top billing and it is well deserved.
cellistKeri Russel plays Lyla Novacek, the cellist. I’ve had a girl-crush on Russel ever since Felicity. Just to look at her onscreen is a joy, but in this she actually pulls off the Juilliard trained cellist well. And in most parts, the seeking mother is well realised too. On a side note, there is something ridiculously sensual about cellists that I find totally alluring (in a 100% platonic way).
I wish I could say the same for Jonathan Rhys Meyers. (I’ve had the opposite of a crush on him since Bend it but I’m not letting that little thing get in the way of an objective assessment of his performance). Meyers falls short as the irish front man, Louis Connelly, and love interest to Russel’s character. Something about him seemed like it didn’t fit – a round peg in a square hole type situation. It seems Meyer’s is trying his best but it just isn’t working for him. I personally believe they needed a slightly more masculine ‘leading man’ opposite Russel’s sweetness. But Meyer’s isn’t the only mis-cast actor in this film.
Another is Robin Williams. Though I haven’t mentioned his character in the set up, Williams plays Wizard – a kind of Fagin (from Oliver Twist) who fosters Evan’s budding musical gift (for his own gain). Its kind of hard to express how Williams is a mis-cast here, but saying he is ‘faganesque’ would lead you to see my point.
Terrence Howard with his beautiful, dewey eyes plays the child services officer handling Lyla’s claim. Howard is not a mis-cast here and brings great depth to the amount of screen time awarded to his character.

fagan and oliver WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM? As to be expected the music is rather spectacular. There is some likable rhythmic editing around the better musical pieces. The performances, with the exception of Howard, all lack something, the something is less in Russell and Highmore than others. The characters are developed but Highmore’s character in the middle and towards the end seems to clash with what the audience has learnt thus far about him. Also SPOILER ALERT the ending is too abrupt, as the audience we have journeyed with these characters as they seek to find truth through the whole film and the moment where they find each other is over practically before it begins.
Its not a must see, let me put it that way. But it is a rather cute fairy tale style story of love.

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Preferably someone not like me, who will laugh inappropriately and snicker at the tragic lines.

one night thangANYTHING TO KNOW ABOUT? Not really. Although, just on a personal note, it bugged me how they totally romanticised and glorified what was a one-night-stand between Lyla and Louis. -But this is true to the fairy tale template.

THIS FILM GETS 3 GOLD STARS.