Whiplash (2014) Film Review

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Andrew (Miles Teller) is a drummer who wants to be the best. He is at an elite music conservatory, desperate to become part of the top jazz band led by Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). When he does, he finds that Fletcher is a bully, physically and emotionally abusing top performances from his students, and Andrew drives himself to his absolute end to be the best.

The trailers gave me no inspiration to see this film. And I watched it, and found for the most part, it was good, tough, but a pretty decent and strong film. And then I got to the last fifteen-minute scene, and the film was transformed to a work of genius. Just thinking about it a couple of months later moves me. There is a bit of an issue with the almost sole female character in the film, though her character performs a necessary function. It raises the question for me – if a story is essentially about two male characters, should I expect women to be well represented? Some stories are just not about gender. Ah, feminism. I love most of you, but sometimes, you break my brain.

Incidentally, every I know who has seen this film has loved it a lot. That is rare.

Whiplash was nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (J.K. Simmons), Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published (Damien Chazelle), Best Achievement in Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing. Itwon a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (J.K. Simmons) and has been nominated for BAFTAs for Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), the David Lean Award for Direction (Damien Chazelle), Best Screenplay (Original), Best Editing and Best Sound.

 

Oz – TV Review

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It’s Oswald State Correctional Facility, and one unit within the prison is being run in an alternative manner – Emerald City. But despite the added observation and rules, things still go pretty bad in there. You know, prison. A whole bunch of serious bad asses with many of them trying to be top dog.

It’s violent, it’s angry, and it’s pretty hard to watch at times. But the structure is magnificent, with the story being narrated by Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau) . I’m not sure if it is only because of his fabulous performance as Mercutio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, but there was a really strong Shakespearean feel to his narration, such a contrast to the violence and abuse in many of the other scenes.

Yet another magnificent HBO show, oh HBO I love you so much. There are six seasons of it and I’ve just finished season two. More to come – wonderful!

The Ladykillers (2004) Film Review

The Ladykillers

For me, I think this was one of the few Coen brothers films that I have never heard of (there are a few, but they have made just so many). It’s one of my less favourites.

There is an elderly black woman, Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall), highly religious, who lives in a large house with a ‘root cellar’ (a cellar with dirt walls). A very odd man, “Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, takes a room upstairs and uses the root cellar for rehearsals of his medieval music ensemble. Without the knowledge of Munson, they are not rehearsing but planning to rob a nearby casino, tunneling in from the root cellar. Things do not go well.

It’s an excellent cast, and some excellent, over-the-top character acting from Hanks and many of the others. The story is alright, although it really only kicks in for me in the last half an hour or so. I learned that this is actually a remake of a 1955 film featuring Peter Sellers – I want to check that one out.

 

 

Juno (2007) Film Review

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Juno (Ellen Page) is sixteen and pregnant. She decides to have the child and adopt it out to couple she finds in the Pennysaver (I’m fairly certain this is like the Trading Post), Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman). The film follows Juno, the couple, Juno’s father (JK Simmons) and step-mother (Allison Janney) and the father of the child, Paul (Michael Cera) through the pregnancy.

Written by Diablo Cody who later went on to write United States of Tara. I know there are people who can’t stand this film – the whole extremely witty banter and constant sarcasm. I love it. I think the cast is marvelous, especially Ellen Page. The writing is marvellous. The only thing I find a little odd is the fact that Vanessa and Mark really seem to have absolutely nothing in common. I get that they kind of have to, given the way the plot unfolds. That and, like in The Easy A, the parents are ridiculously cool, supportive and delightful. But, I love them, and I love the quirky, silly music and the nifty little animations and all of that stuff.

Diablo Cody won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. Juno was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Directing (Jason Reitman), Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Page)