Marty (1955) Film Review


Marty (Ernest Borgnine) is a 34-year-old butcher plagued by his singledom. His mother, his customers, his friends all ask whether he is ashamed to be single, with his younger brothers married and happy. One night, despite his reluctance, he goes to the dance hall where he meets Clara (Clara), a teacher who has been abandoned by her blind date because she is such a ‘dog’ (as he keeps reminding her).

The basic story is quite nice; unhappy single man hassled by all around him ends up finding love by lowering his standards. Oops, did I mean that? The fact is that Clara was very pretty, but a little quiet and shy. But Marty is so annoying. At the start, I felt sorry for him, searching desperately for love but never finding the right one. Then he started talking to Clara, and he drove me nuts.

I wonder about other films of the time – Marty was very much about Italian-American families in contemporary, urban life.

Marty won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ernest Borgnine), Best Director (Delbert Mann) and Best Writing, Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky) and nominated for Oscars for Best Actor is a Supporting Role (Joe Mantell), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Betsy Blair), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White.

The Five-Year Engagement (2012) Film Review


I was completely convinced that this was an awful film. When will I allow myself to recognise that I quite like romantic comedies and that I like pretty much everything that Jason Segel does. It should not have been a surprise to me that I enjoyed this film. Yet it was.

Tom (Jason Segel) proposes to his girlfriend Violet (Emily Blunt) a year after they meet. But her academic career and opportunities take him away from his work as a chef. Life is passing them by and gradually, their resentment for each other grows.

Romantic comedies are changing; or at least, there is now this other branch of romantic comedy. A branch where the characters are extremely flawed. Where affairs or break ups are bigger. And where you really question why characters are doing any of the stuff they are doing. But, for me, I like the messiness of these films. Especially when they have lots of ridiculous slapstick. I really like slapstick when it’s done well.

Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010) Film Reviews


Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) is the egomaniac head of Stark Industries, a multinational corporation that deals with a variety of technology, including arms dealing. In Afghanistan, after demonstrating the power of a new weapon to potential buyers, Stark is captured by a terrorist group who want him to build the weapon for him in a cave. In the capture, he is wounded by shrapnel which has left large amounts of metal in his body, and a fellow captive has created a powerful magnet to keep the scraps from entering his heart and killing him. Instead of building the weapon, he improves the magnet so it is self-powered and builds a suit of iron – the first stage of Iron Man.

Escaping and returning to the US, Stark removes arms sales from his company, causing share prices to drop. His passion becomes using his technology for good, but he has powerful enemies who are not happy with the path he is taking.

Iron Man is a great action film, with lots of explosions and big fights combined with humour and the delightful charisma of Stark. Of course, as all good action films should, it leads up to a massive battle between Stark and his nemesis.

Coming back in Iron Man 2, Stark has outed himself to the world as a superhero, and this has brought the wrath of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) the son of a Russian scientist who worked with Tony Stark’s father in the fifties and sixties. Vanko wants revenge and uses the same technology that Stark possesses to create great big huge electrical whips – big enough to cut a car in half during the Monaco Gran Prix. The US government wants to own the technology that Stark uses for his Iron Man suit to create an army, but Stark refuses to sell, even after a formal governmental enquiry. Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is an arms dealer who wants to develop Iron Man suits, and manages to get Vanko on board. Unsurprisingly, Vanko does not share the vision of Hammer, and a massive battle ensues, with Stark paired up with his army contact  Lt. Col. Rhodes (Don Cheedle) to fight the final battle. This second film takes the fight sequences to a ridiculous height, and I loved every moment of it. I believe there is a third Iron Man in the making, and I can’t wait. Even with Gwyneth Paltrow totally miscast as Pepper Potts (and I’m a Paltrow fan, I just didn’t buy her in this role) it was a wonderful and ridiculous piece of cinema.

Hang about until the end of the credits to see the teaser for another Marvel flick.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) Film Review


There’s a guy called Jeff and he lives at home. That much is clear. Jeff (Jason Segel) is in his late-twenties and spends his time watching Signs (the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan film) and smoking dope. He is convinced that he is on the earth for some greater purpose, much to the despair of his mother (Susan Sarandon) and his brother, Pat (Ed Helms).

It’s fairly ridiculous, really. However, the last ten minutes or so blew me away – I guess I’d been lulled into such a state of boredom that when something actually happened, I got a bit too excited. For most of the film, I couldn’t really see the point of the Susan Sarandon sub-plot.  In fact, even looking back, it’s not really necessary. Plus, Ed Helms really annoyed me. He’s fantastic in The Office; an over-the-top character blends in there. This film seemed to generally be pretty realistic, and his portrayal of Pat for much of the film didn’t blend well. It was only in the final sequence that I really believed that Pat could have been a real character, and not simply comic relief.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is a great title, but not a great film. Worth watching, but not really worth going out of your way for.

The Campaign (2012) Film Review



Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) has held a position as congressman in North Carolina for years, and is again running unopposed. But he continues to make major political gaffes, and uses spin to get around it. The Motch brothers (John Lithgow and Dan Akroyd), who are the faceless men behind politics, need to get someone more respectable in office to ensure their illegal Chinese labor plans get through congress. They find the most unlikely candidate, Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), an eccentric director of a small town tourist centre.

There’s a lot to love in this film. Seeing Will Ferrell punch a baby was definitely a highlight – horrifically detailed slow-motion CGI that is oh-so-wrong, but just worked. Plus, whilst Galifianakis plays an eccentric, the portrayal doesn’t seem to have that cruel edge that a lot of comedy has had over the last few years.

Whilst I enjoyed the film, I felt it didn’t stay strong for the full 85 minutes. The story just seemed to drop off by the end. Good for a laugh, sure, and a lot funnier than I had expected, but not totally grouse.

The Butterfly Effect (2004) Film Review


This is one of the worst films I have ever seen. It’s just awful. And it’s long, or at least, it feels incredibly long.

As a child, Evan had moments of blacking out. He would lose anywhere from a minute to a few minutes, waking up unaware of what had happened. Each of these moments had an event of some significance happen, from a letterbox prank gone wrong, to a dodgy home movie by a friend’s dad. Starting college, Evan discovers that he can go back into these moments by reading the diary he kept as a child, and whilst there, he can change events. But oh no! It’s a disaster!

The start of the film may have you fooled – the kid actors are pretty good, and the idea of this kid blacking out is kind of interesting. And then, in comes Ashton Kutcher. Ashton Kutcher is awesome in That 70s Show, and it’s entirely possible he’s done other great things. I don’t know, I haven’t followed his body of work. In this, he is appalling, but it’s not just him. The script is terrible, especially the ending. I cannot think of any redeeming features of the film. Oh, ok, one – the reappearance of Eric Stoltz. Admitedly as a creepy pedophile, but still. At least that’s something. Don’t watch it. Ever.

Conviction (2010) Film Review


Based on truth, Conviction is the story of a working-class single mother who puts herself through university to become a lawyer to get her brother, Kenny, released from jail. Kenny was always a bit of a wild child, in and out of trouble, but is innocent of the murder that has put him behind bars.

This is one of those genres of stories that I hate to love – the wrongfully committed. I can’t explain why, although I suppose it is seeing an injustice overturned. Perhaps it is watching someone reach their goal; that would explain why I love a good sports film too.

Conviction has a very strong cast, not least of all Sam Rockwell (who I think I am developing quite a crush on after Seven Psychopaths) and my old favourite, Juliette Lewis. Oh, and Hilary Swank and Minnie Driver. It’s not the best true-life prison film I recall seeing, but it’s pretty darn good.

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) Film Review


Matthew McConaughey  plays Mick Hailer, a lawyer in Hollywood who plays hard and defends nasty, nasty criminals. He’s a smooth talker and has a reputation for getting the guilty off. Then he gets the case of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a very rich young man who has been accused of beating a prostitute. But, as he investigates, he comes to believe that his client is guilty and capable of a lot worse.

This film has an awesome cast – William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston, and so many more. But a good cast wasn’t going to save it. I just didn’t believe the emotions that McConaughey’s character was supposedly feeling. Ryan Phillippe was surprisingly good – I say surprisingly, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything he’s done before, so I didn’t have any reason to think that he wouldn’t be good. But the way he switches from playing the innocent victim to the evil control freak was pretty impressive. Still not enough to save the film.