Frozen (2013) Film Review


Two princesses are inseparable until the older, Elsa, cursed with the ability to turn anything she touches to ice manages to injure her sister. She is then locked away for everyone’s safety, but this cannot last forever, and eventually the gates are opened and both Anna and Elsa must face their greatest hopes and fears.

I know I go on about it a lot, but gee it is nice to have some strong female characters in animated films. Sure, Anna needs the help of a man, a male reindeer and a male snowman to find her sister, and both women are manipulated by men throughout… oh, hang on. Don’t tell me I’ve been fooled into thinking there are good gender representations here? It would have been a real shame to not have Olaf there, but what if it had just been a humourous reindeer, or even just the snowman? Snowwoman? Am I too caught up in this?

Gender politics aside, the music is awesome. The story is great – the fact that a lot of the film has no real villain is very interesting. And that it is not a typical tale. And really, the songs are ace. Perhaps a little too catchy – finding myself singing ‘Let It Go’ all over the place is a bit insane making, but still. Fun and ace.

Frozen won Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (Let it Go). It also won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film and was nominated for Best Original Song – Motion Picture (Let it Go) and won a BAFTA for Best Animated Film.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Film Review


Here’s another of the films I watched over and over as a teenager. The humour, the action, and of course, the sticking it to the Nazis – it’s got it all.

Indiana (Harrison Ford) finds out that his father, Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) has gone missing whilst tracking down the Holy Grail for collector Walter Donovan(Julian Glover). The Holy Grail has been Henry’s life’s passion, and luckily his research helps Indiana track him down, but of course the Nazis are about and that doesn’t make anything easy.

Watching it again, I think it is Sean Connery that makes this film; he and Harrison Ford together. I can’t recall another film where he gets to be so funny; I think of him as suave and collected and sometimes angry, but not funny. This film truly got Indiana Jones back on track after the disaster that was Temple of Doom. Even the opening sequence, with River Phoenix as the young Indiana gets his morals back on track – it’s all about getting things in museums, not making a profit. Onya, Indy.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade won an Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing and was nominated for Best Sound and Best Music, Original Score.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Film Review


Some films you need to watch again to remember how truly magnificent they are. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of these, without a doubt. It’s got everything; running, explosions, fighting and humour – oh, the humour. Here’s a recap if you have no idea of what I’m talking about.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is an archaeology professor at a university. But he also obtains hidden ancient treasures. Now, if he was just taking things for the sake of taking them, or for money, that wouldn’t be so ace. But he’s getting them before the Nazis, and so he is a hero. Oh, yes, it’s set pre-WW2. Hitler is about, but the war hasn’t started yet. Indiana Jones needs to get a pendant from the Marion (Karen Allen), daughter of a fellow adventurer. He then needs to get the writing on it deciphered, make a rod, go to a map room in the middle of a dig run by the Nazis, find the location, dig up the ark and escape with it. The only help he has is Marion and his mate Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and he is against a nasty archaeologist, Belloq (Paul Freeman) and a whole heap of Nazis.

The whole thing is action, action, action, with a tiny bit of romance for fun. It’s awesome and fun, and if you haven’t seen it, do. I don’t know anyone who does not like Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Ark won Oscars for Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects and Special Achievement Award (for sound effects editing) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Cinematography and Best Music, Original Score.

Up (2009) Film Review


Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) has always dreamed of being an adventurer. As a young child, he meets a girl who has similar aspirations, and the two build a life together. But, in a beautiful and moving montage, we see that life gets in the way, and before he knows it, Carl is an old widower with only his memories to keep him going. A construction company want his house and he does not want to go into a home. What to do? How about tie thousands to helium balloons to the house and fly it to South America to the place you’d always dreamt of living? But things get complicated when it appears that a boy scout has ended up accidentally hitching a lift, and once they arrive, they discover a plot that threatens their lives.

Kids films are often just so good these days. Storylines are strong, characters are entertaining and they can be totally beautiful. Just ask anyone seeing the first ten minutes of Up; the story of the life of Carl and Ellie is just so sensitively portrayed. It is a shame that the brief time that Ellie is in the film is the only female character for the whole flick, and she’s a pretty ace character.  (Is there a responsibility for films for kids to have good female characters? I say yes, and am so disappointed that I can think of very few kids films that have even one half-good female character)

The rest of the film is pretty good; quite ridiculous as only an animated film can be, but it is the first section that makes this great and sent many adults to the cinema to watch it.

Up won Oscars for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and Best Animated Feature Film of the Year and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, original Screenplay (Bob Peterson, Pete Docter and Thomas McCarthy) and Best achievement in Sound Editing.

From Here to Eternity (1953) Film Review


It’s 1941, just before the bombing of Pearl Harbour. In the naval base in Hawaii, Private Robert E. Lee (Montgomery Clift) has transferred in, bringing his reputation as a bugler and a boxer. However, after a recent tragic boxing accident, Lee refuses to box regardless of the punishment dished up to him by Captain Dana Holmes (Philip Ober). Meantime, Karen (Deborah Kerr) the wife of Holmes has, in a quite disturbing, almost assaulting manner, commenced a relationship with First Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster). And then there is also Private Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra), a mate of Lee,who is constantly tormented by Sergeant James R. Judson (Ernest Borgnine).

The film is possibly best known for the sexy beach kiss between Lancaster and Kerr, but the romance is not really the main player in the film. In fact, it was the other storylines that I enjoyed more; the abuse of power and bullying, the moral stance taken by Lee, and the way everything is abandoned when, at the end, the Japanese attack.

I’ve seen this film several times, each time thinking that I had not seen it previously. For me, it’s worth watching for Frank Sinatra. I love the comic characters in old films; especially when the main drama is so theatrical.

From Here to Eternity won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Frank Sinatra), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Donna Reed), Best Director (Fred Zinneman), Best Writing, Screenplay (Daniel Taradash), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Montgomery Clift), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Burt Lancaster) Best Actress in a Leading Role (Deborah Kerr), Best Costume Design, Black-and-White and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

The Hurt Locker (2008) Film Review


Bloody hell. This film is a dramatic torment from beginning to end. Following Sergeant JT Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) as they deal with a new and seemingly reckless Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner). The three work in bomb disposal in Iraq, specialising in IEDs, and every event they go to is a tense situation with the potential to kill them.

The film is just so incredibly intense and wonderful. I’m not sure if it is an accurate representation of war, but it seems like it probably is. And it is awful and hot and dirty and repulsive. And wonderful.

The Hurt Locker won Oscars for  Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Kathryn Bigelow), Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Mark Boal), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jeremy Renner),  Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Music Written for the Motion Pictures, Original Score.

No Country for Old Men (2007) Film Review


When out hunting, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across a group of dead bodies at what was a drug deal gone bad. He tracks down the money to take he and his wife, Carla Jean (Kelly MacDonald) to a different life, initially unaware that he is being hunted down by psychopathic killer Anton Chugurh (Javier Bardem). Meanwhile, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is following, trying to make sense of what he sees.

This film is totally and utterly brilliant. Tense and scary with the odd edge of humour, weighed down by morality and the lack of morality. I expect a  lot of the Coen Brothers, and more often than not, they produce solid, strong, good films. Every now and then, they chuck out perfection. Big call, I know, but I’m putting it out there.

No Country for Old Men won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Javier Bardem) Best Achievement in Directing (Ethan and Joel Coen) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Joel and Ethan Coen) and was nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

A Man for All Seasons (1966) Film Review


Most of us know the story of Henry VIII. He married a lot of women and either divorced or killed them off as he saw fit. Fewer of us know about Thomas More, one of the officials in Henry’s court whose silence brought about the fury of the king. After getting a decree from the pope to marry his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, Henry now wants that marriage dissolved as she cannot produce a male heir. Henry wants to marry Anne Boleyn, Thomas is the one person of importance around who will not support Henry, and sticks to his guns to the bitter end.

It’s funny to think of this as an Oscar wining film – at least from the technical standpoint. There are so many things that just don’t quite work in the way we are used to film working today – most notably for me was during the key speech toward the end where Thomas addresses the court, a hugely dramatic moment, and the film is cut to an extremely wide shot showing the back of Thomas and with no chance of even seeing any of the reactions. Still, it is an excellent adaptation of an excellent play, with fabulous performances. And, how nice it is to see an age-appropriate, non-glamorous wife for Thomas. Wouldn’t happen today.

A Man for All Seasons won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Scofield), Best Director (Fred Zinneman), Best Writing: Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Robert Bolt), Best Cinematography, Color, Best Costume Design, Color. It was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert Shaw) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Wendy Hiller).

Million Dollar Baby (2004) Film Review


Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) wants to be a boxer and she wants to be trained by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman), an ex-boxer trained by Dunn who retired after a fight that cost him his eye and works in Dunn’s gym, sees her passion and helps her out, and eventually Dunn agrees to take her on as his first female boxer.

I don’t think I like Clint Eastwood. There, I’ve said it. There seem to be many things in the world that it, for whatever reason, is sacrilege to dislike. Why? I don’t know. He’s considered to be an American icon, but I’m not American, so why should it matter if I like him or not?

For me, this film was quite tedious. Dunn wouldn’t train Fitzgerald because he didn’t trust himself after what happened to Eddie. She wears him down. He trains her. *Spoiler Alert* Something bad happens to her. He can’t forgive himself. Blah blah blah. I know I was supposed to cry and feel all kinds of emotions; perhaps that was just it. Perhaps it the attempts to manipulate my emotions were just too blatant. I just didn’t like it.

Million Dollar Baby won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Morgan Freeman) and Best Achievement in Directing (Clint Eastwood). Million Dollar Baby was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Clint Eastwood), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Paul Haggis) and Best Achievement in Film Editing.

Chicago (2002) Film Review


Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) wants to be on the stage, but is in a tedious life married to a boring mechanic, Amos (John C Reilly). When she discovers the man she is having an affair with is not only unable to get her an audition, but is going to leave her, she shoots him and is quickly arrested for murder. She joins Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a famous singer and dancer who killed her husband and sister after she caught them in bed together. The two use Mama Morton (Queen Latifah) to obtain the legal services of Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) to set them free. And all this whilst singing and dancing.

I have no idea if this is a good film or not. It certainly is a very interesting interpretation of a stage show to film, with it flowing from cabaret performances in a club to scenes of reality. What I know is the music is fabulous. The other thing is that we did Chicago as a high-school performance long before the recent stage (and then film) revival and I still know pretty much every word of every song. It was just as well that there was no one home at my place and my neighbours were away, because I watched the film singing at the top of my lungs. And no one needs to hear that.

Chicago won Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Sound. Chicago was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Renee Zellweger), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John C. Reilly), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Queen Latifah), Best Director (Rob Marshall), Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Bill Condon), Best Cinematography and Best Music, Original Song (I Move On).