Spotlight (2015) Film Review

Based on a true story from 2003, Spotlight follows a newspaper investigation unit in Boston who are investigating the cover up of sex crimes by the Catholic Church, moving offending priests around rather than allowing them to be charged officially. It’s something that we take for granted now – this happened by the Catholic Church across the world and is still continuing to be investigated, and new allegations seem to constantly being revealed. What is fascinating is that the church had been able to get away with it for so long without it coming out, and that it was revealed in Boston, a very heavily Catholic City which raised its own difficulties in the investigation.

This was a fascinating film. It’s important to remember that it is a dramatisation, so it’s not necessarily all factual. However, it is a great story. I think while you wouldn’t want to use this film as a basis for an argument on the cover up of such behaviour, it isn’t the worst place to start, and then go an investigate the actual facts. It also didn’t shy away from the fact that mistakes were made, people were hurt, and that there are so many bad things that should not be covered up by money or power.

Spotlight won Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Ruffalo), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Rachel McAdams), Best Achievement in Directing (Tom McCarthy), Best Achievement in Film Editing. It was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture, Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. It won a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rufalo) and Best Film.

Midnight in Paris (2011) Film Review

midnight-in-paris-1-300x171

Watching this film makes me finally get Woody Allen. I’ve seen several of his films and have not understood why he is considered such a genius; often, I find them amusing and well made but they don’t grab me. And then, there is Midnight in Paris.

So, Gil (Own Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are holidaying in Paris with her parents. He is a screenwriter who is working on a novel; she really likes spending money and putting him down. When he is wandering, drunk, at midnight one night, he gets picked up by an old car that takes him off to a glamorous twenties-style party – only it turns out that he has actually travelled back in time, and ends up partying with Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso – oh, and getting writing advice from Gertrude Stein. Gradually, he realises that he has little in common with his fiancé and is living a lie – but is the life he lives at night as much of a lie?

I love the absurdity of the twenties scenes, of seeing these wonderful representations of characters from the past. Owen Wilson didn’t quite work for me; I’ve gone from being a huge fan of his to really disliking him onscreen to being somewhere in the middle. But, at least it wasn’t Woody Allen himself- I really cannot stand that man onscreen.

I didn’t like that Inez and her parents were so obviously awful to Gil. I’m sure it is making a point, but I found it annoying and would have liked it if there were more subtlety to them.

Midnight in Paris won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Woody Allen) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Woody Allen) and Best Achievement in Art Direction.

The Time Traveler’s Wife vs The Time Traveler’s Wife

timetraveler

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Henry has a condition – some kind of genetic mutation that causes him to time travel. Not by choice – it can happen at any moment; one second he’ll be in the present day, and the next he’ll find himself nude and somewhere else, sometimes fighting for his life. Then there is Clare. Henry appears in the meadow near her house when she is six, and then keeps appearing, and the two of them are closely connected. One day, they will marry. He knows this, she trusts this.

I love this book. It’s a romance and an action book all mixed in together. What I really love about it is the way it plays with time and the linear manner of life; how each of the characters at different times know different things to each other. The characters are flawed, and thank goodness. If they were not, how could you connect to them? But it is beautiful and wonderful and I really, really like it.

Timetraveler2

Then there’s the film. It’s not bad. I mean, there was really no way that the complexities of the book could all be included in a film – or, at least, not a film of a reasonable length. What they did was good; once I got past the idea that Henry was not the Henry I had in mind (Eric Bana was probably the perfect man for the role; fit, but not too buff; intellectual, gentle and caring and genuine), I quite enjoyed the film. It’s good if you want a romance with a bit of a twist. But if you want the full story, go the book.

Passion (2012) MIFF Film Review

Passion_feature

USA 100 mins

Christine (Rachel McCadams) is the boss of one branch of an international advertising agency, and she manipulates everyone around her to get her way. Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) is her assistant who is on the rise. When Isabelle seems to be reaching her peak, Christine will do anything to destroy her. But she has not counted on the human requirement for revenge.

Appalling. Absolutely appalling. There was almost no original idea in this film. Almost ever suspense film cliché was included, the characters were shallow and unbelievable, the plot was nonsensical, the use of musical stings to highlight the points of revelation were embarrassing and the noir lighting was overly obvious, even for someone who has never studied film. There were only two things that I genuinely enjoyed in the film. The first was the extremely creepy staring ballet sequences and the second was the scream that the woman behind me let out at one moment in the film.

It really was a fun cinema experience, only because the cinema was three-quarters full and it seems most people found the film as unintentionally comical as I did. Ah, dear.

Passion screens at the Forum Theatre on Friday, July 26 at 4pm and at the Kino Cinema on Monday, July 29 at 9pm and at Greater Union on Thursday, August 8 at 9pm. To book tickets, visit http://miff.com.au/

Mean Girls (2004) Film Review

images

Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohen) has spent most of her life in Africa with her zoologist parents, but has been brought back to the US for the final part of her education. She is unused to the politics and cliques of an American school, and quickly makes friends with a couple of outsiders, Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese). But when there is the opportunity for Cady to be included in the clique of the most popular and meanest girls in school, Janis and Damian convince her to bring them down from the inside. But things go wrong as Cady seems to be becoming one of them.

The screenplay for the film was written by Tina Fey based on the Rosalind Wiseman book Queen Bees and Wannabes, and I wanted to totally love it for this. There is certainly a lot to love about the film; it is witty and funny, and many of the characters are totally awesome. There was just something that didn’t quite work for me. Whilst she did seem very naïve and sweet as Cady, I did not buy the relationships that Cady was forming. Especially her crush on Aaron (Jonathan Bennett) – there seemed to be very little chemistry there. It’s always awesome seeing Tina Fey and Amy Poeler on-screen, and I’m a big fan of Rachel McAdams (who is the magnificently horrible Regina George), but the whole time I watched this, I wished I were watching Heathers.

Sherlock Holmes (2009) Film Review

images-5

Having recently enjoyed the sequel to this film (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), this film has been playing on my mind. I could remember some parts of the plot, but not enough. There were explosions, I recall, and some stylish depictions of London from the past (including a semi-complete Tower Bridge), but that was all I could recall.

Oh, I love these films. It’s thanks to Guy Ritchie. His early films were great in a crazy, violent but very funny manner (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) but then he seemed to disappear for a while. There was the whole marriage to Madonna that didn’t help – especially making a film (Swept Away) with her. Although, I haven’t seen that to judge if it is as bad as many have said. So thank goodness for Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law and Sherlock Holmes. This has given Ritchie the perfect vehicle for his humour and violence, along with strong plots and beautiful art design. More, please. Many, many more. (Oh, but not to ask too much, keep them clever, original and interesting. Thanks.)

Sherlock Holmes was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and Best Achievement in Art Direction. Robert Downey Jr. won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.

The Notebook (2004) Film Review

images-1

There are certain films that you know a lot about before you see them. I tend to find that it is not a great thing; I often wonder if I would have liked Dirty Dancing, Labyrinth or some other ‘classics’ of my youth had I seen them before hearing how much friends loved them.

Then, there’s something like The Notebook. What I knew about the Notebook before I saw it was that it was the film that made a million women fall in love with Ryan Gosling; and that if a guy wanted to seduce a women, cooking her dinner and watching this film was the way to go. I knew it was a romance; but that was about it.

The Notebook has an elderly man visiting a woman suffering from dementia in a nursing home and reading a story; the story of Noah and Allie, a young couple who fall in love one summer when they are young, but are forced apart. There are supposed twists, but it was fairly predictable. The romance itself, and the lovers kept separate; that wasn’t a bad little story. Jessica McAdams and Ryan Gosling are great as the young couple, but the performance of the film for me comes from Joan Allen as Allie’s mother. Perhaps it’s just my love for the 1998 film, Pleasantville, where she plays the repressed housewife who discovers love. Then, in this, she is the dictatorial mother who refuses to let her daughter follow her own path.

I was totally surprised to find that this was not the worst film that I’ve ever seen (although, thanks to The Butterfly Effect, no film will be the worst film I’ve ever seen). The music is far too over-the-top and dominating, but I guess that is true to the genre. I doubt I’ll bother to watch it again, but I don’t regret watching it.

Wedding Crashers (2005) Film Review

249823_det

Two adult men crash weddings to get laid. Then one falls in love.

That’s about it. It’s pretty terrible. Vince Vaughan is very funny for part of it. There are a lot of overly long and tedious montages, including one with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams being cute of bikes. It’s really dumb. I hated almost all of it.

Sherlock Holmes in A Game of Shadows (2011) Film Review

images

Ah, Robert Downey Jnr. Can you do anything wrong? (I suppose apart from all those things you’ve allegedly been arrested for and stuff, but that was a long time ago, and besides, I’m talking strictly films here) Sherlock Holmes has held a fascination for people for such a long time, and the recent BBC adaptation was, without a shadow of a doubt, brilliant. That doesn’t take away from the awesomeness of this film, however.

In this film, Holmes becomes involved in Moriarty’s scheming to unsettle Europe and start a war. With a lot of fist fighting, guns and even bigger guns, Holmes and Watson are out to solve the puzzle.

This is a sequel to the film Sherlock Holmes, for which Robert Downey Jnr was awarded a Golden Globe. I don’t believe that there is anything crucial from the first film that you need for this sequel. I wasn’t lost at any time. The Guy Ritchie directing is back, strong as ever, with cool filmic techniques (such as film speed changes during the fight sequences, highlighting the crucial moments).

Sherlock Holmes is another series of films featuring Robert Downey Jar that I want to see more of. More Iron Man and more Sherlock Holmes, please. On a side note, I am looking forward to Elementary, the new US version of Sherlock Holmes featuring Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as *shock horror* a female Dr Watson. I can’t see any way that it will measure up to the BBC series, but what I am hoping for is something like Lie To Me – an American cop drama type show, but with brains.

Morning Glory (2010) – Film Review

This film is an unexpected delight. It looks awful – a romantic comedy set in the world of morning television with a young, bright-eyed producer Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) attempting to get grumpy newscaster Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford) to be a cheerful breakfast hot alongside bitter and resentful Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). There are a few fairly awful moments in it, but generally, I really enjoyed it. It was fast-paced, funny, stupid but also annoyingly heartwarming. A really good and fun lightweight comedy.