The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) Film Review


Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have a steady gig in Vegas, playing the same show they’ve done a thousand times, and crowds are dwindling. Their boss, Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) is urging them to get interesting, like new face on the scene, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). Gray doesn’t wear a flashy costume, and his tricks are more like endurance events, and tend to be way gross. After a failed attempt to compete, Anton walks away leaving Burt to reassess. And even though his new stage girl, Jane (Olivia Wilde) shows all faith in him, and wants to help him, it takes old-timer Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) to bring his love of magic back.

Yawn. You know, I love Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, and I love that they get to play ridiculous characters every so often. But it is boring. Expert in something who is at the top of his field gets shafted in some way and falls to pieces, but with the help of a beautiful woman who has absolutely no reason to fall for such a misogynistic ass and a bit of willpower, he claws his way back to the top. It’s the same story as Anchorman, and Blades of Glory, and Zoolander and and and…. Boring. It was a nice touch having Steve Buscemi in it, but you can’t polish a turd. Not even Steve Buscemi can fix this.

Sunshine Cleaning (2008) Film Review

Film Title: Sunshine Cleaning

Two sisters, neither particularly good at being employed and keeping financially safe, start a business cleaning up crime scenes.

I really wanted to like this; Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, wow, what a cast. But it just annoyed me, watching people who are hopeless at doing what they are doing. Of course it was going to end in disaster. And because it was so obvious that things would have to go wrong, I could not get myself attached to the characters.


Edward Scissorhands (1990) Film Review


Avon Lady Peg (Dianne Wiest), in an attempt to move some units, discovers Edward (Johnny Depp), a young man with scissors for hands. She is so kind, and brings him home to her family, husband Bill (Alan Arkin), son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) and daughter Kim (Winona Ryder) (who is away with boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) and friends initially). He is accepted by the small community though things quickly turn ugly as he is unable to truly fit in.

Apart from the story device of the old woman telling her granddaughter the story (although without it, what would have happened to Edward?) it was so wonderful to watch it again. I forgot just how much heart the film had – and how much Burton is able to really capture the ugliness of suburbia.

Edward Scissorhands was nominated for an Oscar for Best Makeup.


Get Smart (2008)Film Review


Like Fun With Dick and Jane, this was a film that I re-watched after disliking the first time, and was generally, pleasantly surprised. Having loved the television series Get Smart, I wondered how on earth it could be remade with any credibility at all. The answer? Steve Carell.

The premise is that Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is an analyst at CONTROL, a secret spy agency. He is desperate to get out into the field and be an agent, despite being quite physically incompetent. A break-in results in Maxwell being one of the only agents able to be deployed, sent out with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).

It’s quite good, but certainly any weaknesses in the script are saved by the cast. Not only is there Carell and Hathaway, but Alan Arkin as the chief, Bill Murray in a delightful cameo as Agent 13, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (who I totally love playing comedy or action, but ideally both) as Agent 23 and Terence Stamp as Siegfried from KAOS. For me, I still didn’t like the last half hour or so. Perhaps it should have been a ninety minute film rather than a hundred-and-ten minute film. Or perhaps the last section just needed to be better.

If you are a massive Get Smart (the television show) fan, you may like the nods to the original that are in this, but overall, there was no way it was ever going capture the kitsch glamour of the original.


Argo (2012) Film Review


It’s 1979 and Iran hates the US. So much so that the embassy is raided and all of the staff are held hostage. Six diplomats escape and are hidden in the home of the  Canadian Ambassador. Back in the US, plans are being put together to extract them, including the absurd idea of getting them onto bikes and cycling 300 miles in the middle of winter to the Turkish border. Tony Mendez comes up with audacious plan of creating a false movie, Argo, and convincing Iranian authorities that these six US citizens are, in fact, Canadians, and are part of a location scouting group for the film. This is all true. And amazing.

Of course, the film is dramatized. There is no way that it could have happened exactly as in the film, but isn’t that why audiences need to suspend their disbelief? For me, I went to Wikipedia and had a look at the historical inaccuracies. It doesn’t stop this from being an awesome film; it just makes the story a bit less Hollywood.

I was extremely impressed with this film. It is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. There was tension, action and the fact that I knew that the plan succeeded did not stop me from feeling the tension of every moment the whole way through.

Argo won the Golden Globe for Best Feature Film – Drama and Best Director, and I say thank goodness. I really like it when I feel that the awards get it right. On ya, Ben Affleck.

William Goldenberg has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Editing and a BAFTA for Editing

Alexandre Desplat has been nominated for an Oscar for Music (Original Score), a Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture and a BAFTA for Original Music.

Argo has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, a BAFTA for Best Film

Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn have been nominated for an Oscar for Sound Editing

John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia have been nominated for an Oscar for Sound Mixing

Chris Terrio has been nominated for an Oscar for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), aGolden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Argo Won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Alan Arkin was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture and a BAFTA for Supporting Actor

Ben Alfeck won the Golden Globe for Best Director of a Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Director. He was nominated for a BAFTA for Leading Actor.