Category Archives: Film Reviews

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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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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Alex Cross (2012) Film Review

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Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a psychologist who currently works for the police as a detective. Picasso (Matthew Fox) is a serial killer who enjoys torturing his victims to death. Cross investigates Picasso with his partner, Thomas (Edward Burns) despite a lack of support from his boss, Captain Brookwell (John C. McGinley in a ridiculously not funny role). And things get nasty.

The Alex Cross series of books were written by James Patterson, and while the character is clearly based on that of the book, this doean’t seem to be Patterson’s work.Essemially, this is the Alex Cross origin story. And it is pretty darn awful. The script is a bit cheesy and has some good shoot up bits, but the directing, the acting, even the make-up and special effects are all awful. I’ve not seen either of the films based on this series and can only suggest that if you want to see Alex Cross brought to life, go for one of those. Avoid this one like the plague!

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The Wedding Singer (1998) Film Review

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Robbie (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer, very popular on the circuit because he and his band do all the latest hits – of the 80s, when the film is set – and also because he is a true romantic. Then his fiancé, Holly (Christine Taylor) dumps him and he becomes depressed. Then there is Julia (Drew Barrymore), a waitress engaged to Glenn (Matthew Glave), a sleazy, cheaty, Wall St guy who ropes Robbie and all his mates into helping her plan her wedding.

A lot of people love this film for its kitschy eighties-ness and stuff, and there is some good stuff in it. Unfortunately, it is ruined by being that kind of Adam Sandler film – you know, the kind of film when the character George (Alexis Arquette), an alternative band member who dresses like Boy George, takes the stage, everyone is mostly repulsed by the cross dressing, apart from one character, the loser character (played by Steve Buscemi) who is even more of a loser because he finds George attractive – and the joke is on him, because he is such a loser that he doesn’t even realise that George is a guy! (Oh, so offensive!) The type of Adam Sandler film that, when Robbie hilariously sets up the fat loser kid to dance with gorgeous Julia at the Bar Mitzvah, when the kid grabs and holds her bottom for a long time, it is a laugh, and there is no mention that that is actually assault, it’s not funny and not make funny when Robbie then makes a young girl grab his arse. Clearly, I have no sense of humour about this. But it’s nasty comedy, and there could have been reactions to George that were funny and not mean, and the right of a woman to dance with a man without being groped didn’t have to be turned into a joke.

I used to really like Adam Sandler, but then I started to really notice how horrible and mean his films in general are, and how much they just laugh at those in lower status positions, and I’ve gone right off them. Is there a chance for him to come back – he is going to have to do something pretty darned amazing to get me – and I don’t think that he has any interest in winning me over.

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L.A. Confidential (1997) Film Review

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The LA Police Department is crooked – beating confessions from the criminals, setting them up, being on the take – and they’ve been getting away with it for a long time. Then along comes clean-cut, glasses wearing Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), a man who is going to do things by the book. Then there is Bud White (Russell Crowe), a thug of a cop who does what he is told, but has a depth that he only exposes to his girlfriend, high-class prostitute Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger). Several conspiracies start to come to light, exposed by or involving celebrity cop Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), tabloid reporter Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) and the big police boss Dudley Smith (James Cromwell).

Watching this twenty years ago, I didn’t get why it was so loved and so respected. It’s got a lot going on, but I just couldn’t engage. I felt that way about it this time until about half an hour from the end – and then everything seemed to click. Now, a day later, parts are still popping into my mind. I can’t say that I loved the film, but I get it. And there is a lot to like and respect about it – very clever and interesting. Definitely worth it.

L.A. Confidential won Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Basinger) and Best Writing, Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Curtis Hanson), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Music – Original Dramatic Score.

 

 

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