In Time (2011) Film Review *Spoiler Alerts*

In a world where there is a limited amount of resources, a built-in computer chip allows people to age up to 25 and then they have a year on their clock. They gain time by working, bartering, stealing, fighting… and pay time for goods and services. A pretty decent system. Of course, it’s not fair. In the ghetto time zones, people like Will (Justin Timberlake) can barely keep enough time on the clock to stay ahead, and in the wealthy time zones they have years, decades, centuries.

So, there’s a guy with over a century on his clock, and he’s had enough, so he heads to the ghetto to let himself be robbed and killed. (There’s pretty much my first issue – there are so many ways to give time away, why let the criminals get it?) Will steps in and saves this guy, so he explains to him how the rich live, gives will his time and drops off a bridge. Will is going to even the score, so he heads to the rich zone where he… goes to a casino? How is that going to give him justice? He plays cards against a very wealthy man, Weis (Vincent Kartheiser) who introduces Will to his beautiful daughter, Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) and invites his to a party the following night. When Will arrives at the party, Weis introduces Will to Sylvia by saying “I believe you two have met” (either a bad case of script editing or a change in script that wasn’t corrected, or just… bad writing). When the time police, lead by Leon (Cillian Murphy), turn up, Will kidnaps Sylvia and then quickly she falls for him and they start robbing banks and… then play strip poker when they know they are being chased? What? It makes no sense.

I was so disappointed. A pretty decent cast, but a terrible script, and so many major and minor flaws. Plus, the end just made no real sense. Oh, and if you’re a POC, please don’t expect to see any representation – no wait. A time cop who, despite apparently being second in charge, doesn’t know much. Also, if you are rich, you are horrible. If you are poor, you may have a flaw like alcoholism, but you’re going to have a heart of gold. Ugh, I just wanted it to be better.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) Film Review


Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have a steady gig in Vegas, playing the same show they’ve done a thousand times, and crowds are dwindling. Their boss, Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) is urging them to get interesting, like new face on the scene, Steve Gray (Jim Carrey). Gray doesn’t wear a flashy costume, and his tricks are more like endurance events, and tend to be way gross. After a failed attempt to compete, Anton walks away leaving Burt to reassess. And even though his new stage girl, Jane (Olivia Wilde) shows all faith in him, and wants to help him, it takes old-timer Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin) to bring his love of magic back.

Yawn. You know, I love Steve Carell and Jim Carrey, and I love that they get to play ridiculous characters every so often. But it is boring. Expert in something who is at the top of his field gets shafted in some way and falls to pieces, but with the help of a beautiful woman who has absolutely no reason to fall for such a misogynistic ass and a bit of willpower, he claws his way back to the top. It’s the same story as Anchorman, and Blades of Glory, and Zoolander and and and…. Boring. It was a nice touch having Steve Buscemi in it, but you can’t polish a turd. Not even Steve Buscemi can fix this.

August: Osage County (2013) Film Review


Beveley Weston (Sam Shepard) an alcoholic academic goes missing, and the three daughters he had with pill-popping wife Violet (Meryl Streep) return to support her. But each have their secrets and problems leading to a massively volatile time.

I saw this as a play by MTC a few years ago and loved it. I especially loved the set, but seemed to recall that the script was very impressive. Hence, I was concerned about watching the film; would it hold up? Would it be overwhelmed by the big names in the cast? (Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin and Benedict Cumberbatch as the main names)

I think it held up extremely well. It’s certainly not a happy film; if you are ever feeling that you are taking your family for granted, watch this. You will love them so much more. So many horrible people in one place.

It is surprising that the film has only been nominated for awards for acting in the Oscars and Golden Globes. With such a strong story and excellent performances, I would have expected it would at least be nominated for Best Film. It’s a far better film that The Wolf of Wall Street. But then, it wasn’t directed by Martin Scorsese, and the main performances are by women. It seems to be a bit of a pattern for the awards I’ve noticed; the films that have been nominated for best performances by actresses are less likely to appear in the best film category than the films nominated for best performance by actor. Sexist? Or are women just not getting leads in good films? Are male stories better? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Interestingly, just after I wrote this, I was sent a link to an article about sexism in the film industry featuring Olivia Wilde. Here it is. She took part in an experiment with some male actors reading aloud from the script of American Pie, only swapping male and female parts. The ladies got the laughs, the guys got bored. Interesting. (I should note that I don’t know anything about PolicyMic. It’s just the link I read. Lazy journalism? I’m not a journalist. FYI)

August: Osage County was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Julia Roberts), for Golden Globes for Best Actress in A Motion Picture,  Musical or Comedy (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Julia Roberts) and for a BAFTA Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts).

Cowboys and Aliens (2011) Film Review

Cowboys and Aliens 5

It’s the Wild West, back in the 1800s. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) has woken with no memory and a strange iron bracelet on his arm. Arriving in a small town, Jake comes across Percy  (Paul Dano), the drunk son of rich landowner Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) tormenting the town. But, their dispute takes a back seat when aliens appear, kidnapping townsmen and exploding a lot of stuff.  Together, Lonergan, Dolarhyde, the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown) and barman Doc (Sam Rockwell) take off to save not only their family members, but the world.

There is a lot of running and explosives, some pretty serious alien action, intense gazes just off camera and the odd cheesy line. What more could you want from an action movie? For me, not a lot. Plus, Harrison Ford – its been a while since I’ve seen him doing anything that’s been that great. Well, that’s not strictly true – I didn’t mind Morning Glory. But to get him at his action hero best – it’s nice to see.

Rush (2013) Film Review


Niki Lauda and John Hunt were apparently famous for their rivalry as Formula One drivers in the 1970s. I wasn’t aware of this, but that’s not really surprising given my lack of interest in sport. Two men with similar backgrounds but different motivations, both wanting to be World Champion. I don’t want to give away any spoilers for those, like me, who have no idea of the events that occurred in 1976, but it makes for a very exciting story.

Yet. A bit like the Senna documentary, the rivalry interested me, but not enough to be totally engaged. When it came down to the wire, I really didn’t care who won. Perhaps it was that I didn’t really like either character. They both had the arrogance that is possibly required to be elite in a sporting arena. James Hunt, depicted by Chris Helmsworth,  is reckless, hotheaded and annoying. Niki Lauda played by Daniel Bruhl, is calculated, precise and humourless (mostly. Ah, but when Lauda finds his humour, this was my favourite part of the film).

It’s definitely worth watching, and I think if you like cars and racing and especially if you are familiar with the story, you will love this film. For me, just a few too many cars.

Drinking Buddies (2013) Film Review


Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) work together at a brewery. They hang out a lot and are best mates. It is unspoken that there is the potential for much more there, but both are in relationships. Kate’s boyfriend is the upright and almost boring Chris (Ron Livingston) and Luke’s girlfriend is the chirpy Jill (Anna Kendrick). And then… nothing happens.

I’m not saying this is a bad film; just a bit, you know, dull. Like so many films that were part of the MIFF 2013 selection, nothing much happened. Director Joe Swanberg works using only a basic outline and letting the actors improvise the specifics of the scenes, and I think this can be an extremely effective way of working; provided the final product is well-edited. Instead, most scenes were long and rambling which meant that any great scenes were lost in the mix. There definitely was the sense that there was a good film struggling to get out; but it just couldn’t break free.