The Hours (2002) Film Review



Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is battling her mental health issues and attempting to write Mrs Dalloway. Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is a mother of a small child, pregnant to a second in the 1950s, reading Mrs Dalloway and struggling with depression. Her doting husband Dan (John C Reilly) seems to not notice how much she is struggling, even though her small child, Richie (Jack Rovello) seems acutely aware of it. Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is a woman living in present-day New York who is throwing a party for her closest friend, Richard (Ed Harris) who has just won a literary award. He is ill with AIDS and between the illness and the medication, he is not mentally all that aware of what is happening around him. A long-standing joke between them is that he refers to her as Mrs Dalloway.

The film is beautiful and tragic and wonderful and only ruined by one thing – that nose. Nicole Kidman has a prosthetic nose, presumably because she is considered to beautiful to portray the plain Virginia Woolf. Bullshit. She does some decent acting here, but it is all taken away by the constant staring at that stupid lump on her face. If they really couldn’t handle having her with her normal face playing the role (and hey, if they wanted to make her Hollywood ugly, doesn’t she just need a frumpy dress, bad hair and glasses?), then perhaps they should have cast someone plainer. The whole nose thing made me so angry, because it treats the audience like morons. Grrr.

If you can get past the nose, do. Oh, and the unrelenting, too loud and melodramatic soundtrack. All three storylines have pain and sadness and so much depth in a short amount of time. The supporting cast is pretty fabulous as well, but it is the three main women who carry the weight of this heavy film.

The Hours won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Nicole Kidman) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ed Harris), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Julianne Moore), Best Director (Stephen Daldry), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (David Hare), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Score.


Snowpiercer (2013) Film Review


In a bid to combat global warming, a chemical was released into the air. It worked too well, killing all life on the planet except the people and animals who were on the Snowpiercer, a very long train with an eternal engine that moves non-stop. The lower class of the rear carriages are sick of being fed protein jelly, and start a revolt against the upper classes in a bid for survival.

I was very surprised to like this film as much as I did. It is extremely violent, a very ugly violence, but it is just a bit more than an action film set on a train. Perhaps it is because it is a South Korean production, or based on a French graphic novel. Some of the performances were quite good, but many were pretty average. I think if you are after a slightly depressing film with stunning shots and graphic violence, this could be the film for you. Oh, and did I mention Tilda Swinton? No? Wow. What a magnificently horrid character.

Pain & Gain (2013) Film Review

Pain and Gain

Based on a true story, this follows bodybuilder Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) and his two sidekicks, Paul Doyle (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) as he attempts to become rich of the back of his extremely unpleasant personal training client Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub).

I wonder how much of the story has been changed to make this film. The violence is quite unpleasant, but as long as you can get through that, it’s extremely funny. The characters are insane, extremely unbelievable and over-the-top, but fabulous. And then Rebel Wilson turns up, and she’s just doing so darn well. And Ed Harris. And Ken Jeong. It’s a pretty darned funny film.

Apollo 13 (1995) Film Review


Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) are astronauts on the Apollo 13 trip which is meant to land on the moon, only things go wrong. Back on Earth, fellow astronaut (Gary Sinese) who was supposed to be on the flight works with mission controller Gene Krantz (Ed Harris) and the whole team to find ways to bring the men in the broken ship back home to his family.

Ron Howard usually gets it exactly right. This is an amazing story, told with magnificent tension and torment. It’s a melodrama, a real melodrama, along with all of the swelling music and tight close-ups, and gee, that is wonderful. I loved it when I watched it in the cinema back in 1995 and I loved watching it on DVD just recently.

Apollo 13 won Oscars for Best Sound and Best Film Editing and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ed Harris), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kathleen Quinlan), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Best Effects, Visual Effects and Best Music Original Score.

Gravity (2013) Film Review



Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first trip into space, mid-way through a spacewalk where she is investigating some issues with a computer system thingy, when disaster strikes. Insurmountable damage occurs to their shuttle, leaving Stone and Kowalski (George Clooney) the only two survivors, trying to find a way back to Earth.

It’s tense from the word go.

As someone who can find herself connecting to characters and really living the experience, the feeling of hopelessness, of being out of control and being in such a totally surreal environment was close to overwhelming. There were certainly aspects of the film that were clearly about manipulating the audience reaction, but I had no issue with that at all. I just wanted them to be home, safe.

The one thing I found it very difficult to get past was Sandra Bullocks zero-gravity-defying hair.

If you are wondering about what life is like in space (and see some pretty awesome hair), there are some amazing clips from the ISS from previous resident Commander Hadfield and more recently, Commander Suni Williams. Once I allowed myself to let go of the hair issue, I really enjoyed the film. It’s crucial that the film is seen in the cinema and in 3D – I think if you did not have the whole experience, it would be just an average suspense, only in space.

That’s What I Am (2011) Film Review



Andy is 12-years-old in 1965. He is dealing with bullying, rumours, girls and the natural hierarchy of the schoolyard.  And 101 minutes later, he comes through, wiser for it all.

I’m not quite sure why this film exists. I’m not saying it’s a terrible film, but if you want to watch a coming-of-age story from the 60s, watch Stand By Me. If you want greater depth, watch The Wonder Years. That’s What I Am doesn’t bring anything new to this genre, and it’s not that flash.

The Truman Show (1998) Film Review


Truman Burbank is born into a perfect town – he has people who care for him and everything seems to go his way. There’s a reason for this – he is the star of the longest-running reality television show. The world has followed his life from his birth through his childhood, teenage years and marriage, but he is beginning to realise that things are not as they seem.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this, so I was pretty happy to have it turn up on television. It is an excellently structured film, extremely well written and directed, and the acting is marvellous. I really appreciated just how quickly the premise of the film was set up, showing Truman in his daily life, yet very quickly showing his questioning of his life when a light falls from the sky into the street near him. So concise and perfect.

It’s funny and emotional without being overly cheesy. For me, any film that I’ve seen several times that can still make me cry is a top flick.

The Truman Show was nominated for Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Ed Harris), Best Director (Peter Weir) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.