K (Ryan Gosling) is a Blade Runner – tracking down the old robot-types who need to be destroyed as they went a bit feral and did some killing of people once. When he comes across a situation that no-one believed was possible, he needs to delve deep to find the truth. Helped by his holographic girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas), his boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) and various others, he needs to track down Deckard (Harrison Ford) and find out what is what.
I saw this at Imax, and it was so totally worth it. The soundtrack is amazing (although there were a few times where I was confused about what was diegetic and what was non-diegetic) and it is stunning beautiful. It is also three hours long, which is a really, really long time. I also found that the various twists and turns of the film where extremely obvious and nothing surprised me, yet that didn’t bother me. I enjoyed it for exactly what it was.
Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) is a private investigator who is also a bit of a stand over man. After beating Holland March (Ryan Gosling) to stop him investigating a missing girl, it turns out Healy needs his help to find that very girl. Along with March’s awesome teenage daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), they find themselves trapsing their way through Hollywood parties and all kinds of conspiracy to figure it out.
This should have been so much better. It’s a decent script with great twists, it’s a top cast, it just doesn’t quite get there. Perhaps it is because it was written and directed by Shane Black – looking over his writing credits, he’s a brilliant man – many of my favourite films including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Long Kiss Goodnight – but perhaps he shouldn’t direct as well? I don’t know what it is that makes this fall short, but it does.
Set in the months leading up to the financial crash in the mid-2000s, The Big Short follows several characters who predicted what was going to happen and used their knowledge to do stuff. I know that sounds vague, but I actually watched this a while ago, and now cannot recall the ins and outs – I just know that watching it, I found it fascinating, and now I recall it being interesting, but I can’t recall the details. The good news is that I’ll be able to watch it again and find it interesting. What do I recall? Steve Carrell playing another weird and fabulous character. Brad Pitt playing another annoying holistic kind of character. Christian Bale being playing an intelligent weirdo. Don’t remember Ryan Gosling in it at all. Right, I am actually going to watch this film again and then finish this review.
Okay, so Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, an oddball character who does a whole heap of research and discovers a flaw in the financial world, relating to bad mortgages and trading on them (technical, technical stuff… blah blah). Then Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett, which pushes this on to Mark Baum (Steve Carrell). When Mark and his mates go out to investigate, they discover NINJA loans (no income, no job, no asset) which are being packaged with the genuinely AAA mortgages. Then there are a couple of young guys who get in on it and turn to a retired guy, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) which knows a lot about the market and is quite suspicious about what is going to happen to the world of finance. The film sets all of these guys up, and while I may not have understood it all, I knew that it was not good. But the film? That is good. Brain challenging movie.
The Big Short won an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christian Bale), Best Achievement in Directing (Adam McKay) and Best Achievement in Film Editing.
There is a jazz musician, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is a bit grumpy and dissatisfied with life. He makes a living playing wherever he can, with dreams of owning a jazz nightclub. Then there’s an actress, Mia (Emma Stone) who auditions and auditions and never gets through. They meet and fall in love, and then settle into a life that neither are totally happy with, and then have to figure out what to do. All whilst singing.
Yawn. I wanted to enjoy this. this felt like the kind of film that I should love. Songs, style, the fun-time combo of Gosling and Stone. Yet I felt no chemistry between the two, I found many of the musical numbers forced and the end should have been something that I loved. But I didn’t. What it did inspire in me was the interest at watching some good old Hollywood films with great dancing – some Ginger Rogers and the like.
La La Land won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone), Best Achievement in Directing (Damien Chazelle), Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “City of Stars” and Best Achievement in Production Design and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Ryan Gosling), Best Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”.
The Ides of March is a film about politics and power, focusing on those behind the scenes – the campaign managers and interns who are working on the primaries. My understanding of the primaries comes from movies, TV and NPR podcasts, and I believe that the way it works is that the race for President is essentially between two people – a Democrat and a Republican. The primaries are how they decide who those two people will be – the various candidates campaign and then a caucus of the people from that party vote, and eventually someone is picked. There’s way, way more to it than that – for example, this film is set in Ohio, and that is apparently open voting, which means both Democrats and Republicans (and I suppose everyone in between) votes in the primaries. Look, ok, I don’t really know. All I know is, there is a lot of money in it, and the candidate who gets the most votes from delegates then goes on to campaign in the race for President.
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is second in charge to Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) on the primary campaign of Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). Meyers is a believer – he plays clean, he is honest, and he believe that the liberal views of Morris can really make the world a better place. During the Ohio campaign, a series of events happen that rob Meyers of his naivety and leave him difficult choices.
About three-quarters of the way through this film, I was trying to figure out what Meyers would do next. I felt that things were hopeless for him, but I was unsure whether I even cared. I decided I did, and was then trying to work out what paths he had left open – what was his goal and how would he achieve it. Then I wondered about whether I was enjoying the film or not. During films, I don’t usually think this much – or at least, not consciously. If I am aware that these are my thought processes, is the film not engaging me? This is why I can’t decide if I liked it or not – because I was just so conscious of the script and trying to dissect it. Writing this now, I realise I did enjoy thinking this way during the film – especially because it wasn’t predictable.
My main criticism was that the character of Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) was very under developed. I didn’t believe the choices she made, or the manner in which she made them. For me to believe that Meyers would react in the way he did (I’m trying very hard not to put in spoilers) I needed more about Stearns. She just seemed like an unfulfilled character, and given her importance in the story, the film could have explored her more.
As a director, I think Clooney shows a particular penchant for the eyes. Perhaps it’s because his are just so gorgeous, or perhaps it’s because Gosling is able to convey a lot with a subtle lift of an eyebrow. There was an awful lot of eye and eyebrow acting in this film.
It’s got a strong cast with the usual wonderful performances from Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giatmatti and Marisa Tomei. Clooney himself was a much smaller part in the film. I used to think he was a terrible actor – gorgeous, but terrible. That’s changing – between this and The American (which I did not like, but Clooney’s performance was very strong), I think there may be more to him than a charming smile.
As far as films about power and politics are concerned, I would recommend Wag the Dog (1997) and Primary Colors (1998) first, but the Ides of March certainly captures the filth of politics and power.
The Ides of March was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt motorcyclist working in a carnival. He sees Romina (Eva Mendes) a woman who he had a fling with previously and discovers that she has given birth to his son, but moved in to a relationship with Kofi (Mahershala Ali). Deciding to dedicate his life to his newly discovered son, he quits the carnival but discovers how difficult life can be without skills and with face tatts. Luckily, he meets Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) an ex-bank robber who scopes out Luke’s skills on the bike and they work together to start-up the old business. Things don’t go great, and in steps rookie cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper). The film’s focus turns to Avery and his life in a corrupt police force. After some stuff happens, the story jumps fifteen years. Avery and his wife, Jennifer (Rose Byrne) have split. Avery is running for political office, and Jennifer sends their son, AJ (Emory Cohen) to live with him as he is running off the rails. In his new school, AJ meets Jason (Dane DeHaan), Luke’s son. Without any knowledge of the connection between their parents, they begin getting in trouble together.
That’s a pretty difficult plot to tell without spoilers, but I think I’ve done it. I think. Apologies if I spoilt anything. The Place Beyond the Pines is like three different films stitched together. It is very much the old Shakespearean tale of the sins of the father being revisited upon the sins of the son; the story of Jason could be the early days of Luke, yet it is partly the life of Luke that caused Jason’s stories to go the way it did. I think I enjoyed the film, although it is the type of film that it seems wrong to describe as ‘enjoying’ – I appreciated it, I appreciated the beauty of the cinematography and the pacing. The characters annoyed me so much, making bad decisions, or living lives that are the results of many bad decisions. But I still wanted them to work it out. Like one of director Derek Cianfrance’s previous works, Blue Valentine, it’s not quite sadtacular for me, but it’s certainly getting there.
It’s post World War 2 in Los Angeles. Gangsters are rising across the country. LA is being taken over by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The police are corrupt, and their hands are tied by legal restraints while Cohen takes over every racket possible. The chief of police Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) decides he needs to go to great lengths to beat Cohen, and commissions Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) to pull together a squad of police who will work beneath the radar to destroy Cohen’s business interests, therefore ensuring not only his demise, but reducing chances of another gangster coming in to take Cohen’s place. The Gangster Squad they set about cleaning up the city.
There is some clichéd predictability (most notably the fact that Sgt Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) starts as a corrupt playboy who only joins the squad after an innocent shoeshine is killed in front of him and he wants to right this wrong), but generally, it’s a good concept. I have to admit, though, it just didn’t grab me. There was not a lot of emotional connection to the characters, so I didn’t care who lived or died. The tension wasn’t all that great either, and when there was tension, it was resolved quickly and easily. It’s a fun film and worth a watch, but I felt that it really could have been much more.
Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is devastated when his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) asks him for a divorce, seemingly out of the blue. He moves in a nondescript apartment and spends his nights sitting alone at a local bar moaning about David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon), the man his wife slept with. Ladies man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on him and helps him to reinvent himself, but all Cal wants is his wife and family back. Meanwhile, Jacob meets a woman that makes him question his life choices, Cal’s son is in love with his babysitter, and the babysitter is in love with Cal. It’s a complex series of plots, and that hasn’t even gone into half of it.
I make no apologies of my love of the performing of so many members of this cast; Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon; even Marisa Tomei has a hilarious role. Plus, the film is so well-structured that I did not pick the twist and I thought it was a doozy. It’s not an easy film to watch; there are elements that are like an emotional car crash, but it’s just wonderful.
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.
Surely, the name of this film just lends itself to bad reviews. Like ‘All Good Things – apart from the acting, story, directing and just about everything else’ or ‘All Good Things… All bad things, more like?’ or something equally as terrible. As it happens, it is not a great film, so unleash the terrible lines.
David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is the son of real estate tycoon Sanford Marks (Frank Langella). But he doesn’t want to follow his father’s footsteps. He and his beautiful young wife, Katie (Kirsten Dunst) move to Vermont and open a health food store called All Good Things. Life is great, but then David is pressured to return to New York and follow his father’s footsteps. He’s acting pretty weird, and then his wife disappears, then suddenly it’s 20 years later, David is dressing as a woman and his best mate dies, and the spotlight is put on him for both cases.
It is based on the true story of Robert Durst and his wife Kathleen McCormack who disappeared in 1982. It’s a pretty compelling story, yet not a compelling film. This despite the strong acting, especially from Kirsten Dunst in one of the best performances I’ve seen from her. The key problem was the structure and the script – it felt as though a lot of time was put into the set up of the relationship between David and Katie, but then the disappearance and all of the acts after this seem rushed, and given how exciting this part of the story is, it’s just a waste.