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.


Dan in Real Life (2007) Film Review


Dani (Steve Carell) is a widower who has three teenage daughters and a big weekend with his family, including various children and partners. In town, he bumps into a gorgeous woman, Marie (Juliette Binoche) who he has an immediate connection with despite her being in a relationship; and then he returns to the house and finds that Marie is dating his brother. He struggles to cope with the dynamic created between them and with his family.

It’s fine. It’s believable, apart from a few scenes (think the shower scene. Stupid.). I love Steve Carell, he really does play grief so well, and is able to balance it beautifully with humour. And it feels like a real family; perhaps it is because there is so many of them on-screen at any one time that there is no specific focus; even with the wonderful John Maloney and Dianne Wiest.

Parenthood (1989) Film Review


There are the original parents of the family; Frank Buckman (Jason Robards) and his wife Marilyn (Eileen Ryan) (oh, and one of their mothers is still around, played by the delightful Helen Shaw). They have four kids; Gil (Steve Martin), Helen (Diane Wiest), Susan (Harley Jane Kozak) and Larry (Tom Hulce). Gil, married to Karen (Mary Steenburgen) is dealing with an anxious son, a quite normal daughter and a crazy toddler and is trying to figure out how he feels about the fourth which is on the way. Helen has a son, Garry (Joaquin Phoenix) who is reclusive since his father left and a rebellious daughter, Julie (Martha Plimpton) who is dating drag- racing drop-kick Tod (Keanu Reeves). Susan is married to Nathan (Rick Moranis) who is desperate to ensure their daughter is a genius. And Larry turns up out of the blue being chased by gangsters who owe him money and with a surprise son, Cool, in tow.

A lot going on? Yup. Funny? Very. Heartbreaking? Yes, at times. Does it stand up to time? I think so. Some of the fashions are dated, but not in a bad way. I’d be interested to see how much would change if such a film were made now. Possible not a lot. It’s clever, entertaining and I totally enjoy it every time I see it.

Parenthood was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Dianne Wiest) and Best Music, Original Song (Randy Newman, I Love to See You Smile).

In Treatment -TV Review


HBO television series are great. I think I can safely say that I have enjoyed every HBO series that I have watched.

In Treatment consists of half hour (well, about 21 minute) episodes following the sessions of psychiatrist Dr Paul Weston(Gabrielle Byrne). Season one, which I have almost finished, goes through nine weeks, with each episode following particular patients. There is Laura (Melissa George) who has fallen in love with him, Alex(Blair Underwood) a pilot in the armed services who dropped a bomb in Afghanistan that killed a group of children in a school, Sophie (Mia Wasikowska), a teenage gymnast and Olympic hopeful who needs a psych assessment after a car accident and couple therapy for Jake(Josh Charles) and Amy (Embeth Davidtz),a couple who have fallen pregnant after a long series of attempts but are now considering termination. On top of this, Paul visits Dr Gina Toll (Diane Wiest) his own psychiatrist, to deal with his marriage which is in trouble, plus the issues he has with his patients.

It’s very, very good. Very, very, very good. All of the actors are magnificent in their roles, and the characters are frustratingly real. I found myself getting very annoyed at their behaviour and having to remind myself that they are in therapy for a reason. More often than not, this very annoying behaviour. The short drama format is great, too, especially with each episode generally based in one location and focused on one conversation.

I cheated a little and have looked to the episode titles of the next season, and was very disappointed to see that it is a whole new bunch of patients. I’ll miss these guys. But I look forward to the next two seasons.

Gabriel Byrne won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama in 2009. Blair Underwood, Dianne Wiest and Melissa George were all nominated for Support Golden Globe awards.

The Lost Boys (1987) Film Review


Michael (Jason Patrick) and Sam (Corey Haim) move in with their grandfather (Barnard Hughes) in Santa Carla, California, with their mother (Dianne Wiest) after she is divorced. Michael falls in love with Star (Jami Gertz), but she is already involved with David (Kiefer Sutherland). David spots the attraction and challenges David to a motorcycle race against him and his gang. Meantime, Sam meets the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) who tell him of the vampires that roam through the area. Sam doesn’t believe them until he discovers that David has turned his own brother Michael into a vampire. Only one this is left to do  – kill the leader of the vampires before the half-vampires Michael, Star and her young son, Laddie, make their first kill. But who is the leader?

This film was awesome when it was released in 1987 and is still awesome. Sure, the effects are a bit average, but the vampires did look pretty scary. Films these days really don’t have the same element of the kooky sidekicks that films of the 80s enjoyed – no wonder Corey and Corey have so little work.

Researching this today, I discovered that the film was directed by Joel Schumacher, who has made a number of films I enjoyed (including Falling Down, Flatliners and St Elmo’s Fire). I’ve also just discovered that Corey Haim passed away in 2010. Far too young to die. But, if you want to reminisce on Corey Feldman’s career, there is a place in Melbourne where you can do just this – and eat some magnificent pizza at the same time. Feldman’s in Fitzroy. Check it out.

I Am Sam (2001) Film Review



Sam (Sean Penn) is a mentally retarded man living in New York who has fathered a small girl (Lucy). The mother has disappeared and he is left to raise the baby. Seems implausible, but the scripting is so strong that it is totally believable. It is also believable that when Lucy is seven, she is taken into custody and Sam must fight for her. And somehow, the overworking lawyer-who-ignores-her-own-son character of Rita (Michelle Pfeiffer) ends up taking his case.

This is another film that totally challenged my prior expectations. To be fair, I had this film recommended to me by someone who also recommended The Butterfly Effect, which I truly believe to be one of the worst films ever made. I am Sam is an excellent film that was nominated and won a whole heap of awards, and rightly so.

Rabbit Hole (2010) Film Review


A husband and wife are in mourning months after their young child was killed in a car accident. This slow-moving character piece explores their grief and how they struggle to find a way through it.

It felt like it needed more. More plot, or more emotional connection, or something. This, perhaps, is exactly what the director intended. It is a film about how the inertia of grief has frozen them in their lives, and they cannot move any way. The big problem for me is that there were a lot of scenes that were clearly meant to be emotional scenes. Lots of staring into the middle distance and crying – but I felt nothing. I just didn’t connect with the characters. Was it the acting? Perhaps.

I always used to defend Nicole Kidman. For years, I’d tell people that she was a much better actor than they thought. But, I’ve really had to come to the conclusion that just because she is Australian, that doesn’t mean that she’s good at what she does. I mean, we’ve got Rachel Giffiths and Toni Collette, not every Australian actress is going to be brilliant.  I still think Nicole was pretty good in To Die For, and on the second watching, when I got past the prosthetic nose, I didn’t mind her in the hours. But generally, whenever I see her in a film, I just see Nicole Kidman playing some other character. I still have hope for our Nic. Not sure if it is misplaced or not.

There was little connection between Nicole Kidman’s character, Becca, and he husband, Howie, played by Aaron Eckart. Whilst this seemed really in line with the disconnection between them caused by their grief, I found it really hard to believe that there was ever a connection between them. There was no chemistry, not even that familiarity of a long-term relationship.