I’m Still Here (2010) Film Review


Remember when Joaquin Phoenix went a bit off the rails, seemed to stop showering, quit acting and announced he was starting a rap career, only heaps of people said it was a hoax and it was all for a film he was making with brother-in-law Casey Affleck? Yeah, me neither, but I suppose I’m not a great one for watching tabloids and stuff. I vaguely recall hearing something about an interview on Dave Letterman. Well, it turns out, it was a hoax, and that they were making a mockumentary type film, but kind of living it as they made it.

I think it was probably a lot of fun to film. But it wasn’t that much fun to watch. Perhaps if I knew more about Joaquin and his personality – I mean, is he that much of a wanker? He was very good at playing a wanker, but was that just acting? And the other big question – does anyone care?


Her (2013) Film Review


Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is in an unusual writing job and leads a mostly solitary existence after the break down of his marriage.  He purchases a new operating system is released which contains artificial intelligence, developing to meet the every need of the user, and quickly, he starts to fall for ‘Samantha’ (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). What are the limitations of a personality that is not human and has no real physical presence, and yet has the intelligence and ability to communicate in a real manner?

This film is beautiful. Theodore is a very sensitive character, flawed and hurt. His interactions are real, and his confusion and wonder at  the whole situation is genuine and totally engaging. The film really has me thinking about the moral and ethical limitations of this type of artificial intelligence, in a similar way to the excellent Swedish television series Real Humans.

Her won a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay (Spike Jonze)and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. It was also nominated for Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Acheivement in Music Written for Motion Pictures  – Original Score, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures – Original Song (The Moon Song by Karen O and Spike Jonze), Best Achievement in Production Design and Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze).

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).

The Master (2012) Film Review


Freddy Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) returns from war a broken and deeply alcoholic man. He is violent, finds it hard to hold down a job, and is surprised one day to wake up on a boat with a group called ‘The Cause’. This is a cult-like religion headed by ‘The Master’, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a charismatic leader who believes that current issues in life can be solved through processing past lives and experiences. Despite the belief of much of Dodd’s family, including his wife Peggy (Amy Adams) that Quell is not committed to the cause and is instead the source of many problems, The Master embraces him as a subject.

I found this a hard film to watch because Phoenix’s portrayal of Quell is so raw and aggressive, and there is the sense that there is no hope for the man. Director Paul Thomas Anderson tells epic stories laced with tragedy – including Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood. I’m going to have to revisit There Will Be Blood, which bored me to tears. I feel I must have missed something.

Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, a BAFTA for Leading Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, a BAFTA for Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Amy Adams was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, a BAFTA for Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a  Supporting Role in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Paul Thomas Anderson was nominated for a BAFTA for Original Screenplay

Gladiator (2000) Film Review


It starts with a huge battle in a wood in Germany. It’s Roman times, and there are shields and arrows and things on fire, and all sorts of stuff. It’s ace. There’s almost fifteen minutes of awesome fighting, with some boring slow-motion bits with dominating, dramatic music. And then they all start talking. Yawn.

Actually, I was well and truly surprised that I enjoyed this film. Years ago, I started watching it and turned it off with disgust. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I certainly don’t think it was worth all the awards that it gained when it was released, but it also was not a total stinker. It’s worth watching it for Joaquin Phoenix alone – he is so magnificently evil as the bad guy. Here’s a bad character that doesn’t set out to be evil, but is thwarted in so many of his attempts to be a great man that he ends up destroying himself.

Surprise yourself – if you, like me, refused to watch this because of the reputation that it has gained in your mind, give it another go. Clear your mind of expectations and just enjoy a good story.

Gladiator won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), Best Visual Effects, Best Costume design and Best Sound and was nominated for a further seven Oscars including Best Supporting Actor (Joaquin Pheonix) and Best Director (Ridley Scott).