Category Archives: Film Reviews

Bad Moms (2016) Film Review *slight spoilers*

Amy (Mila Kunis) is the perfect mother, ensuring her children have access to everything from soccer to Japanese lessons whilst overworking in her part-time job and picking up the slack from her lazy husband. And inevitably, she loses her shit and quits – and ends up befriending Kiki (Kirsten Bell), a mother of four who is barely coping under the gaze of her overly critical husband, and Carla (Kathryn Hahn), a single mother with a hedonistic lifestyle. They drink, they stop doing every little think for their children and they take time for themselves, and learn that maybe being a bad mum is better for everyone.

I really enjoyed this film. After having huge rants about the female representation in Jumanji:Welcome to the Jungle, I was looking for issues, and was really surprised to find few. You could read it as a bit woman-hating the fact that the woman who enjoyed sex was depicted as a sleaze who was constantly leering at men and touching them inappropriately, but really she was just playing a ‘bro’ like character only female, and it was pretty fun seeing those roles reversed. Especially because it was Kathryn Hahn, who is just magnificently funny. I also had a bit of an issue with the fact that the relationship with the hot dad had to turn into a romance at the end and couldn’t have just been a bit of fun. But generally, I thought it depicted the nasty habit of mother-shaming (especially from other mothers) in an exaggerated but funny way, it had strong female characters and it had some of the best use of slow motion since 300.

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Much Ado About Nothing (2012) Film Review

Recently attending an excellent performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Pop-Up Globe in Melbourne reminded me of my teenage obsession with the Kenneth Branagh adaptation, but on the recent ridiculously hot day which forced much of Melbourne to literally Netflix and chill, I decided finally to watch the Joss Whedon interpretation. Filmed over a couple of weeks in his house, it’s pretty low-key. Black and white, hand-held and set in contemporary times, so little in the way of costumes and finery. And really fun.

It was interesting to see how differently lines can be interpreted, lines which were played for laughs on the stage and played with earnestness in the Branagh version were, in this, more serious, or more ‘natural’, or more cutting. The performances were fast talking – like an Aaron Sorkin script – but conveyed the meaning of the dialogue and the overall theme. The cast was great, though for me the real standouts were Benedick (Alexis Denisof) Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Dogberry (Nathan Fillion), though they are all the most fun and funny roles in the play, so it may also be somewhat my own bias.

 

 

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 War Dogs (2016) Film Review

David (Miles Teller) is a college dropout who is working as a masseuse and trying to find his way in the world when he comes across an old school friend, Efraim (Jonah Hill). Efraim is a success, supplying the US military with minor items for a huge profit. They start working together and things get out of hand.

A lot happens in this film, and yet I kind of felt that it didn’t really get started, and when it ended, I felt like the story had not run its course. I have been going over and over this trying to figure out why, and just cannot quite put my finger on it. All I can say is that despite being almost two hours, I felt that I wanted more.

War Dogs was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Jonah Hill).

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Film Review

Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is a wizard who works with fantastic beasts, and has come to New York in the 1920s. He discovers some strange happenings and accrues a small team of assistants to help him.

I loved seeing the magical world of Harry Potter put into New York in the twenties. Too much fun. And there were some great characters, and I loved the creatures. But I found the first half hour of the film really slow-moving and it was really hard for the rest of it to catch up. In addition to this, I’m not that much of a Potter fan, so any time there was a reference to something from the world of Potter, it went over my head, while I’m sure much of the intended audience would have been gasping and tittering with excitement. Also, I didn’t like the character that Redmayne was playing, and I think it’s pretty difficult to really enjoy a film when you are actively disliking the hero.

Fanastic Beasts and Where to Find Them won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design and was nominated for Best Achievement in Production Design. It won a BAFTA for Best Production Design and was nominated for Outstanding British Film of the Year, Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects.

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Jumanji (1995) Film Review

Having watched Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which disappointed me with the lack of women and the poor representation of women, I followed through on my commitment to re watch the original, and man, I was so glad I did.

Alan (as a child, Adam Hann-Byrd, as an adult, Robin Williams) and Sarah (as a child, Laura Bell Bundy and as an adult, Bonnie Hunt) discover Jumanji in a building site and accidentally start playing. On their first rolls, Alan gets sucked into the game and Sarah is chased from the building by bats. Skip to twenty-six years later. Orphans Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into Alan’s old and abandoned house with their Aunt Nora (the wonderful Bebe Neuwirth) and discover the game. Alan, now an adult, comes back and they track down Sarah so they can finish the game and everything will be restored to how it was. And with each roll, more threats come from the world of the game to torment them.

This is how you make a kids film. It’s a great plot, the characters are fabulous, there are several female characters, the teenage girl does what she needs to survive rather than squealing and wimping out. Having a brilliant cast, including the wonderful Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst helps, but it was clever, strong writing, and a real adventure. Looking at the credits, most of the production team were men. So, blaming the appalling nature of the recent remake on the fact that that production team was also mostly men is not valid. What’s happened in the last twenty years? I don’t watch as many kids films these days, but do we still have kids films that do better by us? I’d love suggestions.

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The Aviator (2004) Film Review

What did I know about Howard Hughes? Only that he was famously germaphobic and reclusive and rich. In all honesty, I didn’t even know why I knew of him. In this biopic of his early life, Leonardo DiCaprio the playboy, the film producer and the aviation pioneer. And it’s fabulous. DiCaprio was fabulous, as was Cate Blanchette and Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Jude Law… the list goes on.

I shouldn’t be surprised at how good it is as it is a Scorsese film. He is a master, even though I often find that I don’t like his films. But this, to me, is really as good as a film can be. Great pacing, and the cinematography is brilliant, capturing that kind of technicolour look of films from this era. Just fabulous.

The Aviator won awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Cate Blanchett), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Costume Design and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Alda), Best Achievement in Directing, Best Writing – Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing.

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Pitch Perfect 3 (2017) Film Review

First, this college acapella group were competing in the national competition. Next, they entered an international competition. So, now what? Unsurprisingly, the singing part of their college career has not left them with many skills for the real world (though didn’t they do degrees and stuff as well? That seems unimportant in the Pitch Perfect world). So, they get together and go to entertain the troops, but end up competing with a rock band, a maybe hipster/country group and a DJ and MC for… well, it seems for the opportunity to do exactly the same thing they’ve been doing the whole time?

Look, you shouldn’t watch this film for logical storylines, or real life, or any kind of actual plausibility. But if you like silliness and fun and singing and self-aware dialogue, you should definitely watch this. I loved it to bits because it is totally ridiculous and silly. I loved Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) as an action hero, trying to connect to her criminal father, Fergus (John Lithgow with the most terrible and strange accent ever). I loved the interactions between Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) despite there being no logical reason for them to be there at all. I loved seeing Ruby Rose rocking it as a kick-arse rock chick, but then joining in on the singing.

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