Joy (2015) Film Review


Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is an adult who is divorced but whose ex-husband lives in the basement of the house she shares with her child (children? I think there was a son, but he was very insignificant in the film), mother and grandmother. Her father, Rudy (Robert De Niro) has moved back in after breaking up with his girlfriend, and then there is her sister who is a bitter a twisted woman. Joy was told as a child that she was super special, and now she feels let down. But she has an idea – could this turn her life around?

I wanted to like this so much. I’m a fan of many of the actors and, while I didn’t love Silver Linings Playbook, I have enjoyed many of David O. Russell’s previous films. But it was just flat and everyone was annoying, and they were annoying all of the time and there was even a scene where *slight spoiler* Joy cuts her own her with a pair of scissors and then it looks amazing the next day, and that’s clearly crap. In fact, I’d go so far to say that the amazing looking haircut done at a moment of emotional desperation/breakdown that looks amazing the next day is as tedious in a film as ‘I woke up and it was all a dream’. Even if this is a totally true story and that is really what happened.

Joy was nominated for an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence). It won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Jennifer Lawrence) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.


The Godfather: Part II (1974) Film Review


The Godfather: Part II tells two stories – firstly, the early days of Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather and Robert De Niro in this film) as he arrives in America as a child and his rise to power in New York; secondly, Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) rise and rise as he has taken over the family after his father’s death.

This was another mammoth effort of a film – two hundred minutes long. And really, it could easily have been two films. Actually, it would have been awesome as a series. Or a couple of series. As a whole, it was long, but great. I really enjoyed this one a lot more than the first. I especially enjoyed the scenes in the early days in New York. Some of the scenes in Cuba lost me a little, but I didn’t mind it too much.

The Godfather : Part II won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material (Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo), Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino), two nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strassberg), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Talia Shire) and Best Costume Design.


Jackie Brown (1997) Film Review


Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant who does some casual smuggling of cash for dodgy dude Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson). Then she gets stopped by the feds, and ends up working with Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) for the big bust. Along the way, she ends up being bailed out of jail by bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster), a man contemplating his future. And there’s also recently released from prison dodgy dude Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and Robbie’s white girlfriend (to differentiate her from the others), Melanie (Bridget Fonda).

It’s okay. No, it is far better than okay, but it’s not super amazing. It has many of the things we expect from Tarantino – playing with time, a kick-arse soundtrack, a bunch of great actors and violence. But it just didn’t quite do it for me. It seemed… shallow. I think it was that, apart from Max Cherry, we don’t really see more than a façade for any of the characters; we don’t really get what they are about. Even Jackie Brown just comes across as a stylish woman who wants more.

Jackie Brown was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert Forster)

Analyze That (2002) Film Review


In jail, mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) is the target of someone who wants to kill him. He fakes mental illness to be released into the care of Dr Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal). Then all matter of crazy happens (again). He’s also a lot meaner and nastier than in the first, and that’s not so enjoyable.

If it works once, doesn’t mean it needs to be revisited. It just was not that good. It had some of the humour and heart of the first one, but there wasn’t enough, and the storyline wasn’t that great. In fact, watching this almost ruined the first one for me.

Analyze This (1999) Film Review


De Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) is a psychiatrist who accidentally ends up treating mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro), with all kinds of crazy results.

It’s a good, strong Hollywood comedy. The story is actually vaguely believable, the characters are unlikable but in a very human way, and it’s pretty funny. Something about it seems extremely dated, but it is still worth a watch. Ah, I see why it works – Harold Ramis. He was a great comedy director, and while this wasn’t his best, you can certainly see where it worked.


Cape Fear (1991) Film Review

Cape Fear

This Martin Scorsese remake of the 1962 film has Robert De Niro playing Max Cady, just released from prison after serving fourteen years for beating and raping a young girl. Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) was his lawyer who buried evidence that his victim had been promiscuous, concerned that this may have reduced Cady’s sentence. Cady begins to stalk Bowden and his family, wife Leigh (Jessica Lange) and fifteen-year-old daughter Danielle (Juliette Lewis). When the law cannot help him, Bowden tries to take things into his own hands.

The heavy influences from Alfred Hitchcock are most obvious in the unnerving camera angles and intense music, but for me, instead of making it a classic, strong thriller, it was fairly absurd. I’m generally not great with thrillers, but this really didn’t bother me too much at all. Although I found it a bit difficult to get past De Niro’s accent.

Cape Fear was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robert De Niro) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Juliette Lewis).



Sleepers (1996) Film Review


Hell’s Kitchen, 1960s. Four boys, best of friends, hang out, are altar boys together until they play a prank that results in them being sent to juvenile detention. Inside, they are abused horrifically by four of the guards. Fourteen years after they are released, two have become notorious gang leaders and killers, one is a journalist and the other is an assistant DA. A series of events lead to them attempting to get some justice.

At the end of the film, there are statements from several places stating that the several official channels deny the events of the film, but the author of the book it is based on claims that, with changed names and dates, the entire story is factual. Even if this series of events is not true, it is not that much of a stretch of the imagination that such abuse would happen. I think it is an excellent though very tough film; one hell of a cast doing top performances.

Sleepers was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Score


Little Fockers (2010) Film Review


The ensemble is back; first, it was meet her parents, then meet his. Now, there are kids and they are having a birthday party, but things go astray. And crazy astray.

I was on board for the first two. Yes, there were a few things that I needed to suspend my belief for, but I went with it. But for this? They lost me totally. From the moment Jessica Alba arrived as a drug representative and stepped in for a bottom-related procedure in the hospital, it lost me. Not even a fist fight between Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller across a series of kids equipment was worth it.


What Just Happened (2008) Film Review


Ben (Robert De Niro) is a film producer whose latest film, staring Sean Penn (playing himself) tests poorly – especially the killing of a dog at the end. He needs to fix it, which takes all kinds of maneuvering. On top of this, he is dealing with the end of his marriage with Kelly (Robin Wright), his teenage daughter Zoe (Kristen Stewart). Plus, the star of his next film, Bruce Willis (also playing himself) has grown an ugly beard and will not listen to pleas to sort himself out before shooting. Even his manager, Dick Bell (John Turturro) cannot sort it out (in-between his serious stomach issues).

It’s a film that is full of stars and Hollywood inside stuff, and I reckon that it is entirely possible that people within the industry would relate to it a lot, even if they may not like it. Me? I found it a bit interesting, and somewhat entertaining, but it didn’t totally grab me.


Meet the Fockers (2004) Film Review


Now that peace has been made between Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his soon-to-be-wife Pam’s (Teri Polo) parents Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner), they must meet his family. They are far from ‘normal’ – sex therapist Rozalin (Barbra Streisand) and house-husband Bernie (Dustin Hoffman). Of course, it is a whole weekend that they must have to get the maximum ridiculousness of the situation.

It is totally silly, much like the first. And while it is a similar creature to the first, it is different. Not better, really, and not worse as such. Actually, probably a bit worse. But adding Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand was just a nice addition. If it’s on telly and you can bear slapstick, go for it. I wouldn’t race to hire it, but I also wouldn’t switch channels.