Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Film Review

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I’m pretty sure this is a terrible film. But it’s a pretty good terrible film. Can I justify these two sentences? Let’s see.

Firstly, the plot. Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a thirty-something man who has just been released from a psych ward after a stint of eight months. He is returning to stay with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver)while he gets himself back on track. His goal is to see his wife, who has a restraining order against him, and get them back together. He starts spending time with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister-in-law of his best friend who is recently widowed and going through her own mental challenges.

Why is it a terrible film? I didn’t believe the choices that people were making. I didn’t believe their behaviour much of the time, and it felt that it was just playing around with the concept of mental illness. It was schmaltzy and almost predictable, although when any supposed twists are revealed, it is not clear whether they are hugely important or not. Despite my complaints that Hollywood films are often too obvious in painting pictures for the audience, in this case, I think the painting was only half-finished. Why is it a pretty good terrible film? I actually think the performances were generally great. The female love interest could have very easily been a manic pixie dream girl, but instead was somewhat more complex and damaged. What I really liked was the way information was given, especially at the start. It was a very slow reveal, and it really made me concentrate and become a part of the world.

Have I contradicted myself? Probably. I don’t want to see the film again. I don’t think it was good at all. But it was a bad film hidden behind lots of good devices and techniques, and I think it will trick a lot of people into thinking it’s a good film.

Bradley Cooper has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) and a BAFTA for Leading Actor

Robert De Niro has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor

Jennifer Lawrence has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress, a BAFTA for Leading Actress and won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)

Jackie Weaver has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress

David O Russell has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Director, An Oscar for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay (Motion Picture), a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay

Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers have been nominated for an Oscar for Best Editing

Silver Linings Playbook has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture

Failure to Launch (2006) Film Review

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A romantic comedy with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey – what could go wrong? Well, with my cynicism, I expected this would be awful. I was pleasantly surprised.

McConaughey plays Tripp, a thirty-something guy who, like all his close friends, still lives at home with his parents. Parker plays Paula, a girl who has made a business becoming romantically involved with guys who are stuck in this situation and giving them the confidence to move on out into the real world. However, despite her plans seeming to go well, everything turns bad, and it is up to the parents and friends to save the couple.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’m not a massive fan of romantic comedies. But, when they work for me, they really work, and this one worked. Why? I’m not sure. It surprised me. I’ve always liked Sarah Jessica Parker and I think she worked extremely well in this role. Plus Zooey Deschanel played her housemate, and was not bright and perky as usual, but dark and moody, and I liked that too.

Look, if you don’t like Hollywood romantic comedies, don’t try this one, it won’t be worth your time. But if you don’t mind them, give it a go. Just try to ignore the stupid animal attacks scenes. They were crap.

Limitless (2011) – Film Review

Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a writer who is struggling with his life and his relationship. He’s reaching his deadline and has nothing to show for it, and he’s not coping well. Then he bumps into his ex-wife’s brother, a drug dealer who used to supply Eddie in his wild, young days. He has a new drug, NZT-48, which allows the user to access 100% of his brain potential and they can then do just about anything. Eddie starts to take these, quickly becomes addicted and falls into a world of danger and violence.

It’s not bad. The concept in itself is pretty good; the idea of someone being able to see all possibilities at once. I think the key problem is the structure. It starts about three-quarters of the way through the film, which is a pretty common structure. Then it immediately flashes back, and once I’m in to the story, I’ve forgotten the first bit. When it gets back to it, I cannot see any reason for them to have started at this point. Why not just tell the story? Playing with structure can be totally amazing, but it shouldn’t be done for absolutely no reason. The other problem is the end. It feels totally anti-climactic, and just when I thought it was going to get interesting again, it finishes. Just like that.

Essentially, this film got me annoyed. There was so much potential which I think it failed to meet. Still, if you’re sitting at home on a Sunday night and dreading work the next day and this film comes on, it’s worth a watch.