The Martian (2015) Film Review


On Mars, things can be unpredictable. Like, you may just be doing some routine things, collecting rocks or whatever and then a big storm can hit and you have to get out. But what happens when one of you gets left behind? Well, if you happen to be Mark Watney (Matt Damon), you are a lucky guy. You’ve got a whole lot of brains, and you can do stuff to keep yourself alive in the hope that your awesome crew and the folks back on Earth can figure out that you are still alive and try to work out how to get you back

Apparently a lot of the science is based on real science, but really, I don’t care. It was a good, fun film. Matt Damon gets to play a character who has a lot more personality than I’d expected. The supporting cast are pretty terrific, just check out these names: Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor and it goes on and on. I loved the suspense, the fear, the making things work -it was like a whole new and exciting Apollo 13.

The Martian was nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Matt Damon), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Writing (Adapted Screenplay). It won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Matt Damon) and was nominated for Best Director – Motion Picture (Ridley Scott). IT was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Director (Todd Hayes), Best Actor (Matt Damon), Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound and Best Special Visual Effects.


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.


Pleasantville (1998) Film Review



A brother and a sister in 1990s America. Jennifer is far more interested in boys and partying than schoolwork. David is a geek, unseen in his own way, and obsessed with a 1950s Leave it to Beaver type television show called Pleasantville. A little bit of magic and they end up in the world of Pleasantville; 1950s America, with all the hot apple pies, sodas, sexual stereotypes and racism that anyone could want.


I really like this film. There’s not much that you would not expect from this film; fighting injustices as people discover who they really are. I found it clever and entertaining the first time around, and I’ve watched it several times since and really enjoy pretty much everything about it.


Pleasantville was nominated for Oscars for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Costume Design and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.



Dumb and Dumber (1994) Film Review


I’ve been looking over the films I’ve reviewed and wondering what my opinions say about me. There are so many films that seem to be artistically acclaimed, telling deep and meaningful stories and bringing a lot to the world, yet I find them boring or a waste of time. And then something like this; a very stupid, low-brow, slapstick comedy with plenty of poo and fart jokes, and I love it. Whatever it says about me; I don’t care.

Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) are two men with extremely low intellects who keep each other entertained and somehow make their way through life. They find a briefcase that they need to return to Mary (Lauren Holly) and so take a road trip across the country.

I love it. It’s stupid and ridiculous and I just totally love it. Though I’ve never attempted the prequel, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry met Lloyd (not by the same directors, writers or with the same actors) and I am vaguely dreading the sequel Dumb and Dumber To  -due in our cinemas 2014.


Looper (2012) Film Review


The concept is way cool. In the future (2074) time travel has been invented. Murder is no problem, and so when the bad guys want someone dead, they send them back in time to where a ‘looper’ is waiting. A looper is an assassin. They set up a sheet in a field, then the victim shows up bound and wearing a hood, and the assassin blows them away. With a really big gun. The looper then collects the payment, silver bars, from the victim’s back, and burns the body. Job done, everyone’s happy. Only the looper is not happy if the bars on the body’s back are gold, because that means he has just closed the loop – he has shot himself.

That’s all really cool. Then, one of the loopers, played by Paul Dano, does not close his loop, and things go horribly and horrifically wrong for him. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) understands this, and is thrown into a panic when his older self (Bruce Willis) is sent back and escapes. The remainder of the film has the two men in a battle of survival.

It’s definitely a good film. There is no doubt about that. But I didn’t really enjoy it. That’s not strictly true. I didn’t mind it. But, I really didn’t like the task that the older Joe had to undertake (I don’t want to spoil it, I’ll just say that I found it quite distasteful, although it was certainly totally logical to the story). I possibly wouldn’t have minded it that much if I wasn’t totally distracted by the awful make-up on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I get that he needed to be the younger Bruce Willis for the storyline. However, I think that I am smart enough to make that connection through the plot and acting without requiring a distracting amount of make-up – especially given what a fabulous job Gordon-Levitt did matching the mannerisms of Willis. If only the producers/director/whoever could have just trusted in the acting, perhaps I would have enjoyed it.

The Newsroom – TV Review


I love Aaron Sorkin television shows. The West Wing, Sportsnight, even the short-lived Studio 60 on Sunset Strip. The characters are real, the storylines plausible and the shows don’t treat the audience as if they are idiots. Which is refreshing.

The Newsroom is based on the set of News Night with Will McAvoy, a late night news show on a cable channel in the US. Will (Jeff Daniels) is a conservative who feels that America has lost its way, being distracted by the posturing of the tea party movement and bad journalism. Luckily for him, along comes MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) a producer who passionately wants to change the face of the news. Unluckily for him, she is also his ex, and he is clearly still hung up on her. Guided by the news president of the station, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) and supported by a huge and very strong cast, they face the onslaught of pressure from the cable company, tabloid scandal and their own relationship issues.

The show is held together by the personal storylines, and they are important, but who dates who and who wants to date who and, indeed, who used to date who… I’m not too fussed. What I like is the other stuff – how do they work together (and against each other) when the push comes to the shove? The show is based around real events – the first episode has them covering an event that most other shows are writing off as a less-important issue – the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In my (admittedly minimal) research for this review, I learnt that apparently HBO and Aaron Sorkin are still negotiating a third season. I hope whatever the issues are that they figure it out, because I feel this show still has a lot more to offer.