Into the Woods (2014) Film Review


If you’ve learnt nothing else from me, you should know that I love things based on fairy tales. I love a different take on the basics. And so, when you give me a bunch of different fairy tales and tie them together into one story, well, I was just going to enjoy it. However, the music, well it was altogether a bit heavy-handed and overly repetitive. Well, that’s what musicals are all about, aren’t they?

It’s a fabulous cast of people who I really enjoy watching, and I think that if you enjoy musicals, you’ll especially like this.

Into the Woods was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Meryl Streep), Best Achievement in Costume Design, and Best Achievement in Production Design, and Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Comedy and Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (Emily Blunt) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Meryl Streep). It was also nominated for BAFTAs for Best Make Up and Hair and Best Costume Design.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Film Review


The girls are back, and after a disastrous performance, they are banned from US competition, but can still compete on the world scene. If they win at the world champs, they can come back. However Beca (Anna Kendrick) is distracted with becoming a major record producer) and so has not got enough time for the Bellas. There are other things happening too.

I laughed. A lot. But like the first one, I suspect that I should not watch it again because it is perhaps a one-off laugh film. There is a lot that is totally insane about the film: about the characters, about the storylines, about everything. But, if you can, get past it and just laugh. If at nothing else, laugh at the German group. They are magnificent and hilarious and I love them.


ParaNorman (2012) Film Review


Norman is an odd boy. He sees the dead everywhere he goes (not just people, dead animals too) and can interact with them. His family wants him to be normal and kids at school tease him relentlessly. Then his uncle, Mr Prenderghast, passes away, and passes on the responsibility of reading from a book to please a dead witch and ensure that the dead don’t rise again. But it’s not that easy.

This is a great kids film. Probably a bit scary for little kids, but heaps of fun. The characters are well created on the whole (although, as with most kids films, there really is not much in the way of female role models… a put-upon mother, a stupid and a bit slutty teenage sister, a nerd with thick glasses and braces, a stupid cop and that’s just about it) and the story flows well. I love it when I’m watching a film like this and it turns things on its head – when the zombies hit town, the townsfolk have seen enough films to know what to do to killer zombies. Only these guys aren’t killers. It’s great.

ParaNorman was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and a BAFTA for Best Animated Film.

Drinking Buddies (2013) Film Review


Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) work together at a brewery. They hang out a lot and are best mates. It is unspoken that there is the potential for much more there, but both are in relationships. Kate’s boyfriend is the upright and almost boring Chris (Ron Livingston) and Luke’s girlfriend is the chirpy Jill (Anna Kendrick). And then… nothing happens.

I’m not saying this is a bad film; just a bit, you know, dull. Like so many films that were part of the MIFF 2013 selection, nothing much happened. Director Joe Swanberg works using only a basic outline and letting the actors improvise the specifics of the scenes, and I think this can be an extremely effective way of working; provided the final product is well-edited. Instead, most scenes were long and rambling which meant that any great scenes were lost in the mix. There definitely was the sense that there was a good film struggling to get out; but it just couldn’t break free.

Pitch Perfect (2012) Film Review


In colleges across America, there are a cappella groups who compete for prizes. Sort of like Glee, only in college. Pitch Perfect follows two groups from Barden University – the champion male group, the Treblemakers, and all-girl hopeful Barden Bellas. After a hilarious and gross disaster in the previous year’s event, Bellas members Becca and Chloe are struggling to put together a group, and end up with less-than-perfect physical specimens. But they have to find a way to pull together to win.

It’s corny and cheesy, but still a lot of fun. Really, it’s just like a singing version of Bring It On. No complaints here; I loved Bring It On. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of some of the comments Rebel Wilson made – I really liked her character but felt that the unnecessary racism was pretty tedious. I find racist humour just makes people look stupid. One could argue that Wilson’s character of Fat Amy is stupid and that’s why the racist comments should be allowed. Is that valid? Instinctively, I say no.

50/50 (2011) Film Review


50/50 is the chance of survival that Adam(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is given when his back pain is diagnosed as a cancerous tumour. Yes indeed, this is a cancer film. And a really good one. It covers the awful moments of diagnosis, and telling friends and family, and all of the times that people try awkwardly to help or relate in some way.

Adam is a pretty restrained character – he’s never learnt to drive because there is such a high risk of dying in a car accident. He has a love/hate relationship with his best mate, Kyle(Seth Rogan), a man who seems oblivious to almost everything and everyone around him. On top of this, he is in the relatively early days of a relationship with a beautiful photographer, and having to deal with an overbearing mother who wants to care for him despite having her hands full with his father who has Alzheimer’s.

There is a lot in there, but essentially, what you have is a strong and entertaining film with lots of black comedy and a few tears. Good times.