The Wedding Singer (1998) Film Review


Robbie (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer, very popular on the circuit because he and his band do all the latest hits – of the 80s, when the film is set – and also because he is a true romantic. Then his fiancé, Holly (Christine Taylor) dumps him and he becomes depressed. Then there is Julia (Drew Barrymore), a waitress engaged to Glenn (Matthew Glave), a sleazy, cheaty, Wall St guy who ropes Robbie and all his mates into helping her plan her wedding.

A lot of people love this film for its kitschy eighties-ness and stuff, and there is some good stuff in it. Unfortunately, it is ruined by being that kind of Adam Sandler film – you know, the kind of film when the character George (Alexis Arquette), an alternative band member who dresses like Boy George, takes the stage, everyone is mostly repulsed by the cross dressing, apart from one character, the loser character (played by Steve Buscemi) who is even more of a loser because he finds George attractive – and the joke is on him, because he is such a loser that he doesn’t even realise that George is a guy! (Oh, so offensive!) The type of Adam Sandler film that, when Robbie hilariously sets up the fat loser kid to dance with gorgeous Julia at the Bar Mitzvah, when the kid grabs and holds her bottom for a long time, it is a laugh, and there is no mention that that is actually assault, it’s not funny and not make funny when Robbie then makes a young girl grab his arse. Clearly, I have no sense of humour about this. But it’s nasty comedy, and there could have been reactions to George that were funny and not mean, and the right of a woman to dance with a man without being groped didn’t have to be turned into a joke.

I used to really like Adam Sandler, but then I started to really notice how horrible and mean his films in general are, and how much they just laugh at those in lower status positions, and I’ve gone right off them. Is there a chance for him to come back – he is going to have to do something pretty darned amazing to get me – and I don’t think that he has any interest in winning me over.

Fargo (1996) Film Review


Having recently watched the television series of Fargo, I wanted to go back and revisit this film. Set in small-town America, we have Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) arranging to have his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrud) kidnapped to get the ransom from his rich father-in-law. The kidnappers: Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare). But things don’t go great, and things are investigated by heavily pregnant cop Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).

I love this film. It’s one of my favourites. It’s strange, sad, funny, odd, violent, wonderful, brilliant and I just loved it – I love it so very, very much, and will absolutely revisit regularly. Apparently, some people don’t get this film. I don’t get that.

Fargo won Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (France McDormand) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.

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.

Miller’s Crossing (1990) Film Review


Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) has worked for a long time as a right-hand-man for gangster Leo during Prohibition. But his loyalty is brought into question and he is left twisting in the wind, playing the sides off for each other and trying to stay alive.

It’s great. A complex film that you need to pay attention to, pay really close attention to. Along with all of the beauty and timing of a film by the Coen brothers. I do love a good prohibition film, and this, indeed is a good prohibition film.


Con Air (1997) Film Review


Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage) has just been released from service as an Army Ranger, returning to his wife, Tricia (Monica Potter). However, when they are threatened by some belligerent drinkers in the bar where she is working, he is forced to defend them. Oops! His military skills caused him to accidentally kill a man and end up in jail. Of course, Tricia is now pregnant, and after Cameron serves his eight-year sentence, he is ready to finally meet his little girl. He is being transferred across the country in a flight full of the nastiest nasties:  Billy Bedlam (Nick Chinlund), Ramon ‘Sally-Can’t Dance’ Martinez (Renoly Santiago), Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames), Pinball (David Chapelle), Johnny-23 (Danny Trejo), all led by Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovic). The transfer is being overseen by US Marshall Larkin (John Cusack) and the idiot DEA Agent Duncan Malloy (Colm Meaney). But, a few things happen and by the time they stop to pick up the new prisoners Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Greene (Steve Buscemi), Swamp Thing (M.C. Gainey) and a few others, the plane is run by the prisoners, Malloy is messing things up, and it is up to Poe (staying on the plane to help his mate, Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson) who is diabetic and requires insulin) to try to ensure that they don’t all die.

Con Air is most definitely amongst my favourite action films. It’s corny and terrible, but it is exactly that which makes it brilliant. Some of the best moments were when everything goes slow motion, Nicolas Cage strides across the screen and there is some wild eighties style guitar solo playing. Brilliant.

Con Air was nominated for Oscars for Best Sound and Best Music, Original Song (How Do I Live)

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Film Review

Reservoir dogs

A group of criminals are brought together for a jewelry heist, but things go badly. That’s pretty much the whole plot of the film, but there is much more to it than that. There is the coming together of the criminals, each given the name of a colour to avoid sharing personal information. There is the revelation of an undercover cop in the group. There is the slow bleeding out of one of the criminals as they wait, after the event, to see who survived. All told in though a combination of flashbacks interjected into the story.

It was considered revolutionary at the time; the clear voice of a new auteur, a bright new star on the Hollywood scene; Quentin Tarantino. How true; Tarantino quickly became known for his witty dialogue and extreme violence. Looking back on this, twenty years after its release, it mostly holds up. The script is good, although I always found some of the key scenes (the pancake house in particular) pretty annoying. My one criticism is that the acting is generally quite clunky, and I think that is thanks to the lack of experience of Tarantino at the time. I’d actually love to see him remake it now to see if the way he directs the actors would be any different.


The Big Lebowski (1998) Film Review


No matter how many times I see this film, I can watch it more. It’s funny, tragic, quirky and ridiculous, and is one of my favourites ever.

So, there’s a guy called Lebowski who is better known as The Dude (Jeff Bridges). He’s an old hippy who potters around, getting through life somehow until one day his house is broken into by thugs who threaten him and urinate on his rug. When realising it is a case of mistaken identity, his best mates and bowling buddies Donnie (Steve Buscemi) and  Walter(John Goodman) advise him on how to resolve this issue. And along the way are nihilists, artists, acid flashbacks, kidnappings, beating up cars and a lot of swearing.

If you’ve not seen the film, you may well not like it. Because if you have friends who like the film, they’ve probably forced it on you. If you didn’t like it, you may no longer have those friends – it’s one of those films that people get crazy passionate about. Use this as a test: watch this clip that shows the entrance of Jesus (John Turturro). If you don’t think this is the most magnificent introduction of a character in cinematic history, you may not like the film. And I’ll chuck it out there: what other character entrances are magnificent? (My second would be Ray Winston in the opening of Sexy Beast. Find that one yourself – I couldn’t find it on youtube. You need the full version with Peaches by The Stranglers)


Monsters University (2013) Film Review


So how did Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) become such a successful team? This takes some of our favourite characters from Monsters Inc back to their past at university –  with Sully as an arrogant jock, Mike a mega-swot desperate to become a scarer and Randy (Steve Buscemi), the future bad guy, as a geek and a nice guy.

I liked it. It was fun, the characters were as strong as in the earlier film, and it had the great sense of humour of so many of the Pixar flicks. It is a tricky task – to take characters that people love and put them in a different scenario. Especially as, for some parts of the film, the audience really doesn’t like Sully. I’ve heard many criticise that it was too similar to Monsters Inc and I reckon that is a stupid argument. Remember, this is still a film aimed at kids; if you expect something totally different, watch something totally different. Grumble over.


Monsters, Inc (2001) Film Review

Monsters Inc

There’s a monster world where energy is created by collecting energy from the screams of children when monsters visit them at night. It’s an industry. The stars are Sulley (John Goodman) and his sidekick Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), but things are changing and there are bad guys who want to change everything.

This is a fantastic kids film. Pixar have done a lot of good stuff. This is one of the best. If you need to, borrow some kids so you can watch this.

Monsters Inc won an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song (Randy Newman) and was Nominated for Oscars for Best Music, Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Animated Feature

Ghost World vs Ghost World


I recently discovered the Ghost World Anniversary Collection at my local library and could not resist. I remember when the film came out in 2001 and thinking it was not bad, but not amazing. I liked the characters, but didn’t really get who they were, why we were following them and what was going to happen. But nonetheless, I wanted to revisit it.

I loved the graphic novel. I loved the characters of Enid and Rebecca with all of their disillusioned, self-centred, misfit teenage angst. Each strip was about five or six pages long and told a self-contained story whilst sticking with a broader overall narrative. Reading the original graphic novel, I felt like I was entering into a special world.

The Anniversary Collection consists of the original along with other artwork (posters, advertisements, magazine covers and the like), interviews with Daniel Clowe and others involved in the motion picture and the full script of the film. I liked the script because it reflected a lot of what had occurred in the strip, but modified to be a dramatically interesting film.

Ghost World-01

Of course, I then had to watch the film. I was so disappointed, and I cannot explain why. Only a few scenes from the script in the book deviated from the book, and the portrayal of the characters was very close to how I had imagined them. The actors were great, in particular Thora Birch as Enid, Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca and Steve Buscemi as Seymour Somehow, though, the film lacked heart. Suddenly, Enid was as much of an annoying, angsty teenager as Caulfield Holden in Catcher in the Rye, and I could not bear her self-centred actions and disregard for anyone but herself. It was as though what came across in the book as silly mistakes that had unfortunate consequences seemed, in the film, to be heartless and cold. For me, I’m going to stick with the comic strip in the future.

The film of Ghost World was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.