The Sessions (2012) Film Review

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Mark (John Hawkes) is an academic who spends much of his day in an Iron Lung helping him to breathe. His nurses are able to take him out for hours at a time, but he has very limited movement. After learning about sexual surrogates, people who work with the disable to allow them to have sex, he engages the services of Cheryl (Helen Hunt) and discusses the process with his priest, Father Brendan (William H Macy).

It’s a fairly gentle film, really. There is little drama or action – it almost feels as though the filmmakers decided that it was enough for people to learn that these services exist and can improve the lives of those involved. Having said that, I don’t think that the film would have been improved by adding unnecessary drama; as it was, it was interesting and beautiful and fascinating. And does raise the debate of disabled actors playing disabled roles – John Hawkes is wonderful in this, and is generally quite wonderful in most things that he does, but why not have a disabled person in this role? (Money, for one. John Hawkes is a respected actor who would be a draw to producers. But still…)

Helen Hunt was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a supporting Role in The Sessions .

 

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Rosalie Blum (2015) Film Review

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Vincent(Kyan Khojandi) lives a life stuck in a rut – he runs the hairdressing salon that he inherited from his father, takes care of his needy mother, Simone(Anemone), and has a long-distance relationship with a girl who keeps cancelling their visits. Then he sees Rosalie Blum (Noemie Lvovsky) in a grocery store outside of his usual routine and recognises her. He cannot place her, but becomes obsessed with trying to recall why she is so familiar. Things are not as they seem, however, and when Aude(Alice Isaaz) comes onto the scene, everything changes.

It’s a delightful French film. Somehow, even the kind of creepy stalking parts have an innocent charm to them. And people are raving about this film. Yet.. I wanted to like it, but just didn’t. It seems like the type of film I absolutely should love. The characters are great, the setting is beautiful, the story is quirky and fun with a hidden depth. But I just didn’t really like it. I still recommend it – I think most people will enjoy it more than I did. The guy behind me in the cinema loved it!

 

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Once (2007) Film Review

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There’s a Guy (Glen Hansard), busking in Dublin who meets a Girl (Marketa Irglova) who plays piano, and they start making music together. That’s pretty much it, and yet it is a beautiful and lovely film. It’s partly because the music is just so good. The tag line for the film is “How often do you find the right person?” Which suggests to me that it is a love story, and I felt that it pushed to go that way a few times, but that the better and the real story was that of the creative partnership. It’s a really great film, quite lovely. Very low budget, very unexpected.

Once won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

 

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The Good People by Hannah Kent

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Set in the Ireland in the early nineteenth century, The Good People takes place in a small town where religion is pushing out older pagan traditions. Nora Leahy is raising the child left behind when her daughter died, and suddenly, her husband also dies. The child is disabled – unable to walk, talk and constantly upset. Though talk of the villagers and the local herbalist, Nance (considered by some to be a witch), Nora becomes convinced that her child is a changling – a fairy child, left when the fairies took the real child. If she can find the right process, she will be able to get rid of this fake and get her one grandchild back – and the bad luck of the area will be reversed.

Hannah Kent’s previous book was Burial Rites, which I also loved. She is able to capture an essence of a time and find the characters who lived there. Her books are touching, leaving the reader desperately wanting to help the characters who seem unable to help themselves. It’s not a light walk in the park, but I’d highly recommend this wonderful book.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) Film Review

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Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a tough pre-teen who has been in and out of foster homes and finally, is given his last chance with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). One thing leads to another, and Ricky and Hec end up living in the wilds of New Zealand with a man hunt chasing them.

Director Taika Waititi did the most wonderful and fantastic film Boy just a few years ago, and this has that similar effect of gently pulling your heartstrings whilst making you laugh A LOT. It’s a great film, Ricky is fabulous, as is Sam Neill (no surprise there) but for me, the highlight was Rima Te Wiata. She’s adorable, very funny and ace, and I want to see her in more, please.

 

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As You Wish – Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden and a foreward by Rob Reiner – Book Review

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If you are like me, you grew up with The Princess Bride on VHS and watched it a lot. It has fabulous characters, great lines and you love it. You may have even read the book, and been lead to do online searches to try to figure out if it is real or not. You may be happy to watch the film over and over again, and are happy to ignore the dagginess of it – ridiculous ROUS or the obviously fake sets.

If you are like this, then this book is for you. It’s not some freaky reveal of secrets that will ruin the film for you – it’s just a whole bunch of stories from Carey Elwes punctuated by little stories from other cast and crew members. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s nice. And it is definitely for the fans.

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Gilmore Girls & Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life– TV Review

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It’s amazing – seven seasons plus the recent bonus season and nothing really happens. How is that possible? Well, yes, there are engagements and marriages and divorces and babies and yet, it felt like nothing much was ever really at stake.

So, what is it? The Gilmore Girls are Lorelai (Lauren Graham) a thirty-something who had her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) at sixteen, choosing to strike out on her own rather than relying on the father of her baby or her mega-rich family. The premise that is set in the first episode is that they have had very little contact with Lorelai’s parents, but now she has the chance to go to a very prestigious private school and so she needs money, and so in come the parents, Emily (Kelly Bishop) and Richard (Edward Herrmann), and everyone argues and stops talking to each other and then make up and then fight again. And yet… why does it feel like nothing has happened? Perhaps because the stakes are not that high. There is never any sense that anyone’s life will end, or that they will end up on the streets. I think this is because there is just so much money in this world, even randomly Rory’s father suddenly ends up mega rich. On top of this, the writers seem to really dislike women, because the set them up as allegedly strong, independent women who will not compromise their personal beliefs for anything, and yet they are constantly compromising those beliefs. And the way they treat the romantic interests – and the way the romantic interests treat them! I take it back, the writers don’t just hate women – they hate people. It’s set in almost the whitest town in America (apart from a black Frenchman and a Korean family who are intensely stereotypical) with a whole cast of quirky locals.

So if I disliked it that much, why did I watch it? A couple of reasons: I actually quite liked the characters, so while the plot may have been tedious, I quite liked the interactions. Second: Melissa McCarthy and Yanic Truesdale (the Frenchman – actually Canadian). I really liked their ridiculousness. Third: I was painting my house and wanted something on that I didn’t need to watch closely. A friend from school’s mother used to call this type of entertainment chewing gum. As chewing gum stimulates your digestive system into thinking that food is coming and leaves it disappointed, this type of entertainment stimulates the brain into thinking it will be needed and leaves it disappointed. Oh and the music? I was ready to throw my television out the window!

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