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.

Miami Blues (1990) Film Review


Junior (Alec Baldwin) has just got out of prison and gets himself to Miami where he meets a young prostitute, Susie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and sets them into a delightful house and ‘normal’ life. But there is a fly in the ointment: Sgt Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward) is after him.

So, I watched this film because I felt like watching a young Alec Baldwin, and I have to say that, being so familiar with the older version, it’s kind of odd. But Junior is a great character and Baldwin is fantastic in the role. Is it a good film? Well, yes, I kind of think so. Nothing in the film seems overly original, but yet it all comes together. I liked it. I liked it a lot.


My Sister’s Keeper (2009) Film Review


For so long, I’ve avoided this for one single reason: I am prepared to cry at a movie. Hey, I cry at all almost every film. I am a film crier. So, give me a film about a family with one daughter who has cancer, who have a second daughter to provide bits and pieces to kept the first daughter alive and the second daughter decides she’s had enough? Ah, the tears!

Actually, I always thought that it might be somewhat cheesy. I suspected it would be, I don’t know. And it probably is, but I totally loved it. It is absolutely a cheesy series of flashbacks and what have you, but it was great. What’s more, it is not just what happens to a sick teenager dealing with life, but what happens to the whole family. The young, donor, sister. The mother, having her entire existence be about keeping her older daughter alive. The father, pained through the constant fight. The brother, all but forgotten.


Pearl Harbor (2001) Film Review


Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) were best mates through childhood, and ended up fighter pilots together in the US military. Rafe met a nurse, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) and fell in love, but then went to Europe to fight for the allies. It seemed he was dead, then Evelyn fell in love with Danny. But, Rafe turns up and things get bit awkward. Luckily, before anyone has to deal with their feelings, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and everyone is a bit busy. At the end of the attack, heaps of people are dead, but not Danny, Rafe or Evelyn. So they still need to deal with their issues. But then there is more.

There are heaps of films I haven’t seen but intend to for a variety of reasons. For me, Pearl Harbor was one, purely because it has a reputation for being a terrible film. And oh, it is so terrible! There is a pretty fabulous cast, Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Ewen Bremner, Jennifer Garner, Jon Voight, Michael Shannon, Dan Ackroyd, Tom Sizemore, Cuba Gooding Jnr… And there are some pretty fabulous special effects. But I guess, with all they spent on all of that, they should have spent a bit more on scripting. It goes from being extremely average to being just plain terrible.

Pearl Harbor won an Oscar for Best Sound Editing


To Rome With Love (2012) Film Review

To Rome With Love


Ovbiously, set in Rome, To Rome With Love follows several plot lines that flow over each other and could easily be separate films.

There’s the opera plot, with Woody Allen and Judy Davis playing parents to Hayley (Alison Pill), a visiting American student who falls in love and becomes engaged to a very handsome Italian. Allen’s character discovers a talent in Hayley’s soon-to-be father-in-law that, I recall, was a plot from the Brady Bunch back in the seventies. This plotline was ridiculous and drove me nuts, but luckily I felt the rest of the film made up for it.

There’s the mysterious character plot, which covers architect Jack (Jesse Eisenberg) having to entertain his girlfriend’s best friend Monica (Elliot Page) who is visiting. Jack’s girlfriend is studying and has exams, so leaves the two of them alone despite the number of men who have fallen in love with Monica over the years. Alec Baldwin plays the mysterious character of John, a highly successful architect who is hanging around like an imaginary friend to Jack, pointing out how pretentious Monica is, and how inevitable the story is. Despite the fact that I have no inclination to assess and interpret this character, I liked this plotline.

Then there’s the newlyweds who are planning to move to Rome for the husband to work for his family, but through a series of misunderstandings, he ends up taking a prostitute around with his sombre relatives and she ends up in the hotel room of a famous actor.

And finally, Roberto Benigni, ah, the wonderful Roberto Benigni, who plays an average office worked who suddenly has extreme fame thrust upon him for no reason. Too wonderful, and delightful, and fabulous.

I quite like short stories, and this film was just like a collection of little short stories. It’s not a big, important piece of work. It’s just delightful, and what a beautiful and amazing setting. I’ve not yet been to Rome. Now, I really, really want to.


It’s Complicated (2009) Film Review

It's Complicated


Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) are happily divorced. Their children are grown up and have left home, Jane runs a successful bakery (very overly successful judging by in insane excess of her life) and Jake is now living with the woman he left Jane for. At their son’s graduation, they end up having a few drinks and fall into bed together. Suddenly, Jane is having an affair with her ex-husband – and all the while being pursued by the architect who is redesigning her perfect house.

I had a lot of trouble getting past Steve Martin’s lack of facial expressions and the utter ridiculous decadence of the way they all live (such as the insane renovations that this woman is having put in for a house where she lives alone). But once you get past that, it’s a fun film with a lot of laughs.


Blue Jasmine (2013) Film Review

blue jasmine

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) has lived the life of a high-society woman in New York for years, married to financier Hal (Alec Baldwin). However, he was busted for running some schemes that lost a lot of people all their money.  Broke, Jasmine has gone to stay with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) until she gets back on her feet. Despite her own situation and ruin, she constantly criticises Ginger for her choices in life and in men whilst struggling to maintain a semblance of sanity.

I’ve not seen a lot of Woody Allen films, but I think this is a pretty good one. The characters are believable in all their insanity and the emotional discomfort created is quite intense. Cate Blanchett is wonderful in the role of Jasmine, seemingly in control much of the time yet totally incompetent in so many ways.

Blue Jasmine won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Cate Blanchett) and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Sally Hawkins). It was also nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Cate Blanchett), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Hawkins) and Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Woody Allen) and nominated for BAFTAs for Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen), Best Leading Actress (Cate Blanchett) and Best Supporting Actress (Sally Hawkins)

The Departed (2006) Film Review


Two young men enter the police force in South Boston. One is a young kid who has been groomed by local Irish gangster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) to be an insider in the force. The other, Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an honest guy with a bad family background, who is supposedly booted from the force and turns to crime, but is actually deep undercover. The only people who know that he is undercover are his two police contacts – Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) and Queenan (Martin Sheen).

This is based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, and is almost exactly the same, shot by shot. So much so that I wondered if I had already seen this – but it is that I watched Infernal Affairs only recently. Yes, it is a good film, but it’s not the type of good film that is really worth watching two identical versions of. Even if the language is different. The Departed won a whole heap of awards including Oscars, and I wonder if there was any acknowledgement of Infernal Affairs or if it has been forgotten along the way. Jack Nicholson was nominated and won a series of awards for his performance which I really cannot understand as I thought his performance was very average. Mark Wahlberg, however, was amazing and absolutely deserved the recognition he got.

The Departed won Oscars for Best Achievement in Directing (Martin Scorsese), Best Achievement in film Editing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (William Monahan) and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Wahlberg).

The Rise of the Guardians (2012) Film Review


What happens when Pitch, the bogeyman, decides to take over the world to make every child scared of the dark by taking away their belief in the magical characters that make their lives better? The Guardians must assemble – Santa (called North, a massive, Russian, knife wielding dude voiced by Alec Baldwin), the silent Sandman, the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Aussie Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman). Not only battling Pitch (voiced by Jude Law), the Guardians must welcome the new and reluctant Guardian, Jack Frost (Chris Pine).

It’s a really good kids film. It’s beautiful, even when watched in 2D on a television. There is some good humour, a splash of emotional schmaltz and a pretty cool storyline. If you are around kids and need something to watch, this is a decent watch with quite a few laughs.

The Rise of the Guardians was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature.

Fun With Dick and Jane (2005) Film Review


Lately, for no known reason, I have been re-watching films which I didn’t much like the first time. Seems ridiculous, I know. Having spent an hour and a half of my life watching something crap, why repeat it? Yet, several of these films that I didn’t like first time, I’ve really enjoyed second time around. Like this film.

The story goes that Dick (Jim Carey) and Jane (Tea Leoni) are a wealthy couple with a small child in a suburb where everything is about keeping up with the neighbours. Then, Dick is put into a position of being the face of a company that suddenly crashes due to nefarious dealings by the company head, Jack McCallister (Alec Baldwin) and their lives unravel.

It is much more cleverly written than I recall. I think that it could have been a far better film with the same premise had it been a lot less over-the-top, however perhaps losing the physical comedy and ridiculousness would destroy any way of making the film work. I do like Jim Carey, although this is far from his best role. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, but if it comes on telly and there’s nothing else on, I’ll probably have a chuckle or two.