Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Date Night *****

You hear "Date Night" and your automatic reaction is 'I'm not gonna sit through this rubbish spoof'... But this is actually so, so funny and a very well made film. It's not one of those Scary Movie type films, it's quite original and takes the conventions of a action film to a whole new level.

For a start this film has two of the funniest people around at the moment - Steve Carell playing Phil Foster and Tina Fey playing Claire Foster. They live a typically normal family life and feel the strain a little bit, until one night where they should be reconnecting they find themselves in trouble with the mafia. It does all sound a little far fetched but you'll be quoting this movie afterwards for sure. Some of the things Carell comes out with literally makes you LOL. And with Fey holding herself as a lead character amazingly, she definitely brings it alive.

Considering this is meant to be a comedy, its got one of the best car chase sequences I've seen. It all looks live action with reaction shots being the prime focus but still holds such a comedic value to it. The actual action is very good and you're never bored watching this. It starts off with laughs and just keeps them coming, building the action up as it goes along with a brilliantly satisfying finale. An action movie now will seem a little disappointing after watching this collaborating of laughs and chases.

The director, Shawn Levy (who also directed Just Married and Night at the Museum 2) has struck gold with this one. The film is just very original and a real enjoyable watch. The cinematography of it is done well so you're laughing at scenes which are meant to be intense and gaining a real feel for the story. It's not at all tacky though, which can be the trouble with comedies. Because of the pros on screen and the experienced filmmakers, its done properly with real attention to detail. The script is also brilliant is terms of building the relationship between the two also.

They obviously had great fun on set too. Stay whilst the credits are rolling because you get to see the gag reel which is always a bonus in my eyes. This really is just an easy, comfortable hour and a half of your life you're sure to find amusing. If you're a fan of Steve Carell or Tina Fey you definitely won't be disappointed.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Cemetery Junction ***

This is quite quirky and endearing, with some really captivating characters. Plus, it also has quite a odd sense of humour relating back to the 70s, but it just doesn't have a wow factor. Its not a bad film because you come out feeling quite happy, but it's not particularly inspiring either.

Written and directed by the powerful duo Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, they've created quite an odd little feature focusing around the life in the 70s, with young hearts wanting to break free from their quite frankly boring lives. It captures this idea really well. The characters (including a young insurance salesman, a female photographer and a factory working aggressive male) all are easy to watch. The odd thing is, you relate to the minor characters rather than the leads. This does make the life more believable but it's just a shame the main characters aren't captivating enough.

Yes, Freddie (Christian Cooke) is gorgeous, as is the lead female Julie (Felicity Jones) which offers that appeal to like the main characters. But the minor ones are just so enchanting to watch. The mother of Julie is weak, as is the father of Bruce (Tom Hughes - the aggressive one) which really makes you feel strong, hurt feelings towards them. And Ricky Gervais' mother played by Julia Davis offers some very quotable comments that are both quite shocking and funny. As for Ricky Gervais, he plays his usual grumpy character so fans of his will be pleased, he doesn't have a big part though.

I thought it was a bit odd that this film was a 15, but when you watch it you realise why. The swearing is quite predominant, and there is quite a lot of very real looking fights but it's not out of place. They've made these horrible features fit into the story really well, and with the counter balance of the quite lovely theme running the whole way through this film means that it's even more acceptable. But when you actually think about the story it is quite depressing. They're all either stuck or want to escape... Nice!

This film just needs something else to make it a little more entertaining. It's filmed well and the acting is great, but it just feels like its humming along gentle. Nothing grabs your attention, it's just there. It's not a masterpiece, but if you're a fan of Gervais or Merchant, give it a go.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Whip It ***

This is one of those films I wouldn't urge you to go and see, but I also wouldn't want to stop you from seeing it. Based around a girl in a small time town, this film focuses on her trying to escape and be a little more adventurous by taking part in a contact roller skating game. A bit random?

Ellen Page (the pregnant girl from Juno) again plays one of those indie type characters, and I guess this is an indie type film. But it's not the independent cinema like Lars Von Trier, its this fashionable indie that's actually quite mainstream but includes lots of vintage things and scene people so it makes it a little more alternative. Plus, it has one of those soundtracks with bands only cool people have heard of. Obviously, I was singing along to every song... (Or was singing along to Katy Perry stuck in my head)

This is Drew Barrymore's directing debut and she does know how to make a film. There's nothing particularly original or exciting about the cinematography but it's easy to follow and the settings are pretty good. She's made a film that really you can just sit back and take in. Although, it does become a little boring and you begin to lose interest in the characters a bit. Not because its repetitive or slow, but because this isn't a very exciting film. You can imagine it's going to be on Channel 4 a few times to fill in a couple of hours.

The only thing that does make this film a little more interesting is the uniqueness of the story. Whip It's quite metrosexual in the fact that the story could appeal to both genders. It's not particularly girlie but not masculine either. The women aren't your usual stereotypes as they're quite butch, and the lead female is very independent. Yet there's still a romantic lead and a dramatic climax that all women love to watch in films. And the fact that it's based around a brutal sport makes it more exciting than a rom-com.
Some of the characters are quite amusing too. We've got Drew Barrymore playing Smashley Simpson, Kristen Wiig playing Maggie Mayhem and Juliette Lewis playing Iron Maven. These three together, plus the other roller skaters make quite a female power team and are endearing to watch I guess. They haven't been glamorised either which is a nice break away from perfection on the screens.

So overall, this is pretty average. It's not good or bad, it's just... meh.

(It's hard to write a review when you're not passionate about liking or disliking it if you couldn't tell. Sorry, it's probably a bit of a boring read, but so was the film!)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Harry Brown ****

There's just something really appealing about a good, gritty, violent British film isn't there? They're so realistic and the acting is always so good. This is basically what Harry Brown is. It's shocking, scary and so believable. Plus, you get to see a bit of Michael Caine's vulnerable side too.

You see a lot of fighting, and I mean a lot. Some of it's so shocking it literally does make you gasp, but that's probably my view from a woman's eyes that's making me do that. Even so, these characters are frightening. You really gain a sense of their life because the setting and the acting is done so well. There's no way you can't get caught up in the action or the plot line. It's perfect for this type of underground life that goes on.

Ben Drew (from Plan B) plays one of the most chaviest, cruelest, sexist men I've seen on screen so flawlessly that it almost made me believe he's like that in real life... Lets hope not. And bless Michael Caine (Harry Brown), he has let his age play a real factor for this role and makes him so vulnerable to the whole surroundings. Yet, he can still play that cool guy who gets to shoot lots of people. It's a very clever little device for his character. Plus, adding to these two extremely well played roles are all the extras playing the gangs. Especially the drug addicts, you could believe they had just been taken from a rehab centre; the detail is just immense. The police officers (Emily Mortimer playing D.I. Alice Frampton and Charlie Creed-Miles playing D.S. Terry Hicock) were a little weak compared to the delights happening in all the other people involved but it doesn't particularly let the film down. It just dominates the other characters which probably wasn't the point.

This isn't a film for the light-hearted. The dreaded 'C word' is used countless times, along with wife beating, drug abuse and sexual scenes that really aren't appealing (unless you're into that kind of sick messed up Two Girls One Cup stuff). But that does not ruin the film. These things are used in a way that seems right for the situation. It never becomes accepted though which is the beauty of it. It remains intense and horrible the whole way through. The way you view the locations and the people aren't in a stylised way, it's done so you dislike it.

This isn't a gangster film, nor is it an action film. It's a representation of a life rarely shown in such a realistic way. It's brutal but so captivating. It doesn't use gimmicks or special effects, it just films the reaction of the scene. And that's why British cinema is so great because it takes film and really shows you a picture. The only let down of this is that it can be a little slow, and this film is to start off with. But once you get about half an hour in there's no way you're going to turn it off.

So, I'd suggest not eating much during this and not letting this be a first date kind of film. Just appreciate the way it's taking the devices of a gangster/action film and bringing it to a whole new level.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Kick-Ass ****

This film has the potential to be really bad. It involves children playing wannabe superheroes, with the mafia as the bad guys, and it has Nicolas Cage as a main character... But this is probably the best Superhero film I've seen! It breaks all the conventions and makes a very original story to follow.

For a start, the acting is pretty damn funny. It involves our favourite teen comedian McLovin' (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Chloe Moretz who is actually very controversial in terms of the swear words and the acting she has to play out. But as she stated in an interview "It's a movie, people shouldn't take it so seriously". And that's totally the way you need to go into the film. It's shocking but you just need to embrace it. The little star in this film is Aaron Johnson who plays Kick-Ass. He's new to film and plays the geeky, fantasy involved boy so well, and also creates a great role model for kids. He's also funny and attractive too so he's got the whole package! Plus Nicolas Cage is actually acting okay! (His voice is meant to be like that when he's in costume... You'll see when you watch the film)

Matthew Vaughn, the director, knows how to make a film. He's worked with Stardust, Layer Cake and Snatch to name a few. The gore is pretty extreme and slightly shocking as it's involving children but you just need to have that in mind before you go. Some people would think it's distasteful, but if you let yourself enjoy it, by the end of the film you're wanting as much slicing and dicing as possible! This is based on a comic book as well, so the little editing patterns used are pretty unique. It's just beautiful to watch. The fight scenes are filmed amazingly, and some of the techniques such as the strobe lighting really keeps your eyes glued to the scene.

The story of the film is the only thing that could have been a little better. I did find myself losing interest at one point half way through, but it definitely picks up. It's inspiring to watch these characters evolve and different as the children are little adults, but there just needs to be a little bit more push within it. But really, with all the pluses of the acting, cinematography and originality, the weaker storyline can be overlooked.

So, go into the cinema expecting to see lots of gore, to be shocked and you'll find this one of the most entertaining, original and satisfying films ever. You haven't seen a Superhero movie like it yet.