Category Archives: Film Reviews

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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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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Masterminds (2016) Film Review

There are some films that I really think don’t need to be made – and I guess what I mean by that is that there are people who can be really fabulously clever and funny, and it’s disappointing when you see something that is less than great from them. Masterminds is one of those films. It’s a ridiculous film based on a real story. Though surely the real story is not so absurd.

Zach Galifanakis stars as David Ghantt, a man with a terrible haircut, not much brainpower and who works for an armoured car company. Engaged to the strangely insane Jandice (Kate McKinnon), he is briefly partnered with a woman who he develops a deep crush on, Kelly (Kristen Wiig). So when she, after leaving the job, decides to convince him to rob a van, he goes happily along to do this, in the stupidest possible way, with his unknown sidekicks lead by Steve(Owen Wilson).

There’s some humour here. Silly, bad hair, spider eating humour. But really, it’s a dud. It’s like this is a script that should have been workshopped a lot more, perhaps something could have been made of it. Instead, it’s a bit of silly fun that is several levels below what most of the cast can do, and it was really disappointing.

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Burn After Reading (2008) Film Review

Linda (Frances McDormand) and Chad work at Hard Bodies Gym in Washington DC and have a disc with what appears to be sensitive security information and decide to return it to the owner, Osborne Cox (John Malcovich), an analyst recently forced into retirement. However, Cox has a short fuse and having been booted out by his wife Katie (Tilda Swinton), he won’t tolerate this. Then there is Harry (George Clooney) who is having an affair with Katie, and then also with Linda but is married to Sandy (Elizabeth Marvel), and Ted (Richard Jenkins) who is love with Linda. And then the Russians are brought in, and the whole ‘cluster fuck’ is being overseen by a mysterious CIA figure played by JK Simmons. And being a Coen brothers production, it’s fabulous.

There are Coen brother films that are amazing (No Country for Old Men, The Man Who Wasn’t There) and Coen brother films that are weird (Barton Fink, A Serious Man, ) and there are Coen brother films that are hilarious (Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Big Lebowski). That’s probably simplifying it too much, but it seems to be the way I sort them in my brain – and the fact that they can do so many films across different genres and I love them all (or, at the very least, appreciate them all) is fabulous for me. Burn After Reading is a ridiculous film, for me in the hilarious basket. It’s pretty much my favourite ever Brad Pitt performance, and I just love all the weirdness, like Harry’s present in the basement (what?) or the amount of carrots cut up. Too good. Not for everyone, but certainly for me.

Burn After Reading was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picutre – Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picutre – Comedy or Musical (Frances McDormand), and for a BAFTA for Best Screenplay – Original (Joel and Ethan Coen).

 

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Snowden (2016) Film Review

Most people who live in the world with news services and the like will have heard of Edward Snowden. He’s the guy who worked for the US government and blew the whistle on the mass surveillance in place of all Americans – and indeed, kind of the whole world. This is the biopic of him. And it’s quite beautiful.

Snowden is played by Joseph Gordon- Levitt and Shailene Woodley plays Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills. I know that every film has to choose what they put in and what they leave out, but when the role of the girlfriend is to be sweet when falling in love and then to nag, nag, nag, it’s just not a great role. What’s more, the concept of the film is that Snowden creates and/or discovers the way different technology is being used against ‘the people’. But, in real life, I doubt things would have been explained in such simple terms. It made me think that this film is a very polite and nice version of what happened – and I don’t feel much closer to the truth. If I ever will be.

 

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