Edge of Seventeen (2016) Film Review

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a teenager who has never felt she fits in. Her father has died, her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) is erratic in a similar manner to Nadine, her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner) is a super cool footballer who seems to get whatever he wants, especially popularity. Luckily she has her best mate, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) to get through life with… until Krista and Darian start dating, and then Nadine’s life starts to fall apart. Will her grumpy teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson) be enough to get her through?

There’s a lot to like about this film – the cast firstly, especially Hailee Steinfeld who carries the film well. She’s got that wonderful self-centredness common to teenagers, so that the whole world is against her and she cannot see beyond her own problems. Which is also what totally annoyed me about the film – I just wanted to shake Nadine and her mum and say stop it! Look around – things aren’t great, but you’re still quite wealthy white folks in the US, you’ve got the world at your feet and the things that you are unhappy about actually can be changed! Oh and don’t get me started about the way she treats Edwin (Hayden Szeto), a quite hot geek who gets tongue-tied around her and she knows it and yet she treats him like… that. Annoying.

Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

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Deadpool (2016) Film Review

Whilst I love comic book films, I’ve never really read many comic books. Well, okay, I did love Asterix as a kid, and MAD magazine, but not really more than that. So, I have no idea who this Deadpool guy is. Luckily, this film is an origin story film, so I learnt that there was a guy, Wade (Ryan Reynolds) who was a bad guy but with a wild sense of humour who fell in love with this chick, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) but then he got a terminal illness and put himself through an experimental process to heal him which made him immortal, but also scarred him a lot, so he was unwilling to show his now ugly face to his beautiful woman. And then there are bad guys and a couple from the X-Men (I think) turn up and there are a whole heap of fights.

It’s funny. The type of funny that is often offensive and didn’t really need to be as offensive, but I found myself laughing more than being annoyed… I guess I’m saying that a lot of people will be offended, and it wouldn’t have been hard for me to be more offended, but I wasn’t. And I’ve used that word way too much. I think that the film is worth seeing for the insane extreme slow-mo first sequence, but stick around. I look forward to seeing more of Deadpool in sequels and hopefully in some other films.

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Balls Out (2014) Film Review

There’s a bunch of guys who played some sport game in their first year of college and one of them suffered a spinal injury and ended up in a wheelchair, and then a couple of years later one of the other guys is getting married to some girl he doesn’t like and they get the team together and… stuff happens. And it’s not good, and is that surprising with a title like Balls Out? This is what happens when you are sick and have been on the couch for days and decide to go for something totally random. Bad decisions. Just don’t. Not only is it not funny, it’s a terrible storyline and quite often, offensive.

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The Song of Us by J. D. Barrett – Book Review

Zoe was a concert harpist playing internationally until an incident put her career on hold and she returned to her home in Bondi to regroup. Five years later she is having a relationship with a man unable to leave his ill wife, watching the affairs of those around her and playing music to those in hospital dying. It is one of her clients who challenges her, forcing Zoe to make some tough choices. How is she going to live her life?

It’s always fascinating to me how a good writer can create a character who is making terrible choices (especially choices that are quite immoral or just plain nasty) and still have the audience on side. Barrett creates great characters who have these dilemmas and don’t always make the healthiest choices for themselves, but you can’t help but be by their side. I was cheering Zoe on – well, at times, I was just yelling at her to sort herself out, but the whole time, she was my gal and I wanted to see her treated right. Oh, and June? And Clem? Gold.

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Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan – Book Review

Levithan contrasts the different lives lived by several gay teenagers in contemporary America in a series of stories that are held together with a Greek chorus of gay men of previous generations – most in particular, the men who lived through the rise of AIDs during the 80s and 90s and watched many of their number fall ill and die. It’s beautiful and sad and hopeful and wonderful altogether.

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Two Brothers by Ben Elton – Book Review

There are two boys growing up in Germany in the years before the Nazis come to power. What they don’t know is that one has been adopted into the family; one is Jewish and the other isn’t, and both are in love with a local beauty, the daughter of a rich Jewish man who owns a department store. As Hitler rises, they need to find ways to survive, with or without each other.

I really enjoyed this book – although I find that ‘enjoyed’ is always a problematic word when describing a book that covers these kinds of tough times. It’s odd, because I didn’t write this straight after reading as I usually do, but a few months later when I realised I hadn’t reviewed it. I had to do a quick look online to see if I could find the character names, and it seems that this book was not very well accepted by the critics. I’m surprised, as I thought it was great – at times tough. It was less funny that most Ben Elton stories, but that’s hardly surprising given the material.

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Tropic Thunder (2008) Film Review  

How do you deal with making a film about a daring rescue of a soldier from the enemy camp during the Vietnam War when your cast is a group of over-paid spoilt brat actors who are more interested in their own careers than the film they are working on? Chuck them in a jungle filled with landmines and hidden cameras and see what happens.

I hated this when I first saw it, and there are still several scenes that seriously shat me watching it again, but I can let go of these and enjoyed the rest – the way the characters are set up to be overly earnest, or taking themselves far too seriously beyond what is acceptable, and then to have them called out on this – it’s a film that surprises me by having a layer that I hadn’t really seen first time around. Provided you can get past the dumb bits.

 

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