|By date||Most helpful reviews||By my score||By metascore||By user score|
Average User Score: 7.6Mar 21, 2014This movie falls under the widely insufferable romantic comedy genre, yet it is so much more than that (otherwise this review simply would notThis movie falls under the widely insufferable romantic comedy genre, yet it is so much more than that (otherwise this review simply would not exist). This film is a touching and wonderfully composed love story of a newly found middle-aged couple. Of course, there are various complications, but they are largely unforeseen. The writing is intelligent and the humour is pleasantly subtle and entertaining. Likewise, the social commentary is thoroughly engaging whilst being highly perceptive; this film almost becomes fascinating to watch.
The director, Nicole Holofcener, explores relationships in a mature and authentic manner providing a territory in a world that we wholly recognize. Enough Said is no exception, and may be her best work to date. This is held together by the two brilliant and fresh performances from James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Gandolfini retires from playing a hit man or a mobster and delivers a delicate performance of a middle-aged man (Albert) falling in love. Meanwhile, Louis-Dreyfus is utterly compelling as a middle-aged woman (Eva) who is unsure of a lot of things, including love. Albert and Eva are funny, smart and weary of the world around them. Therefore, they discover unexpected pleasure when they find themselves merging in a world where romance seems dead.
The scenes in which Albert and Eva get to know each other are delightful miniatures of emotional familiarity. They strike a cord; a cord that has clearly been twisted and bruised in the past, but has now sprung to life. They are on the same wavelength. It is joyful to watch.
Ultimately, this movie simmers down to a message of love: it shows us how rare love is and that we need to grab it and not let go.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Mar 21, 2014Short Term 12 gives itself time to take shape, but once we are on board it ends up becoming greatly powerful and passionate in its telling ofShort Term 12 gives itself time to take shape, but once we are on board it ends up becoming greatly powerful and passionate in its telling of vast emotional intricacy, determination and resonance. It is a simple film on paper, but overwhelmingly deep in life, body and soul. It is a heartwarming film and a heart wrenching film. By the end, we have a big smile on our faces and see that our characters’ lives come full circle for the best intentions. You can’t expect or want more from this film.
Brie Larson gives a most natural performance as Grace who is in general charge of the facility, though she is not the boss, a psychologist or even a therapist. She is simply a friendly, kind and interactive role model for these hardened kids. Larson has been a gem on the indie screen for the last few years and she certainly has a long and lustrous career ahead of her. She carries the show here.
What is so wonderful about this film is that we get to meet and follow more than one resident’s story. This isn’t a plot overdrive, everything adds up justifiably and we should, in fact, be grateful. The film is perceived to avoid the loophole of sentimentality and offer a window into convincing and manifold characters. Destin Daniel Cretton, the director, reportedly worked as a staff member at a place such like the one shown in Short Term 12. This shows through his material and ability to bring together multiple stories with such fluency and emotional impact. He ensures his characters are worthy of love and attention.
A new arrival to the foster home, Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) seems to be one of the most deeply troubled, and is a ‘cutter’ as they call it. It is through Jaydan that we learn more about Grace’s dark past, as they strike a sweet and subtle connection with one another. One may doubt Grace’s ability to stand in the position of authority that she holds; Grace is yet to see closure with her own issues, but she is great at what she does through her kindness of heart. It’s no surprise why she does this job: she doesn’t want anyone to have to suffer the same way she did.
Due to her deeply routed internal struggles, Grace struggles to give real intimacy; she cannot commit and is prone to sudden emotional bursts that seem completely irrelevant at the time. This is obviously a problem for her boyfriend of three years, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). Mason is a nice guy and does exceedingly well not to grab his bags and head for the hills; he will fight for what he believes in. Mason tells two wonderful stories that act as opening and closure for the film. One is funny and sets the day-to-day tone of conversation and spirit in the workplace, whereas the other is one of inspiration and romance that ends the picture suggesting that all the characters have taken a path of elevation.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.8Mar 21, 2014This film really excites me. Martin Scorsese is ‘back’ and more prevalent than ever. Not that he ever really left, his recent films Hugo,This film really excites me. Martin Scorsese is ‘back’ and more prevalent than ever. Not that he ever really left, his recent films Hugo, Shutter Island, The Departed etc. have all been fantastic and full of Scorsese, but The Wolf of Wall Street truly reverberates the man we love. There are vast swirling sets, sweeping cameras, explosive/implosive characters, assertive narratives told with an expressive pace, brimming bag of laughs and a wicked sense of underlying controversy. Scorsese is truly extraordinary at understanding and communicating his visual language: cinema.
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” Ray Liotta as Henry Hill at the start of Goodfellas is distinctively comparable to Di Caprio’s Jordan Belfort’s opening confession: “The year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.” Both characters can be interpreted as zealous apprentice wise guys. Belfort and Hills’ journeys are strikingly similar, though Belfort is in the stock market as a supercharged salesman on Wall Street and Hill is pursuing ruthless trades with gangsters on the street in Brooklyn. They both learn the ropes early on, initially innocent. This is soon surpassed by a fast rise through the ranks and become fixated with work, drugs and girls. Who would have thought gangsters and brokers would be so alike?
What everything boils down to for Belfort, is tasting the sweet smell of success. But, like most over-their-head entrepreneurs, he can’t get enough of the taste, even when he knows the feds are beginning to tread on his back. Lets talk about Di Caprio’s performance here for a second, mind-blowing. It could be the performance of his career, but that can be said for most Di Caprio performances, he is a great actor. However, as Belfort, Di Caprio has really unleashes a charismatic turn as he swings and swaggers through the frame. He was as invigorating and magnetic as Al Pacino playing Tony Montana in Scarface.
Of course, the soundtrack is entertaining and always tipping and topping and the editing is high-powered and frenetic making all the hustle and bustle seem ten times as ferocious. Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese’s long-term editing partner, has some interesting comments to say in this February’s issue of Sight & Sound. “Marty’s guiding principle in all his films is to never tell the audience what to think, but to make them engage with what they’re seeing and hearing.” As I touched upon earlier, this is Scorsese letting us engage in his visual language how we see fit, he is a master and commander of visual communication.
There is a particular scene in the film that I wish to note in this heady review. It involves Di Caprio dragging his face along a concrete floor and rolling down a flight of steps, literally. I won’t explain why, but it has to be the most hilarious scene I can ever recall seeing in cinema. “Marty was delighted to see that the actors could all improvise beautifully, and so he made the daring choice to give them lots of freedom to do that.” (Schoonmaker). Most certainly! The improvisation in this film gives it a fresh outlook whilst retaining a remarkably existent presence.
Lastly, it is important to recognize that this film is an absolute rarity for Hollywood. The Wolf of Wall Street should be cherished and watched over and over, with laughs becoming ever greater. It is a bold screwball comedy about the state of America, then and now, and it is, therefore, not your typical Hollywood package. And, neither is a three-hour film where every frame and beat is wild and virile with a lifetime’s accumulated genius.
If this film came out in 2013, it would be side-by-side with the other three-hour epic at my number one spot, Blue is the Warmest Colour. Lets hope there’s something else this year that can match the wolf; I’m looking in your direction 12 Years a Slave.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.1Mar 21, 2014If you enjoy watching family dysfunction on screen, then August: Osage County is heaven at your door step. This film offers incredibleIf you enjoy watching family dysfunction on screen, then August: Osage County is heaven at your door step. This film offers incredible performances, flamboyant set-pieces and a story that certainly won’t leave you hungry. If you have the energy to sit back and absorb a powerful and fiery set of performances then this film is perfect for you, if you don’t, then the film is still perfect.
Adapted from the Tracy Letts play of the same name, August: Osage County is his third to reach the screen, following William Freidkin’s films Bug and Killer Joe. On the surface, it may seem like his most straightforward piece, however beneath it rests the most perverse and violent truths. The Weston clan are a family located in the heart of Osage County, situated in the northern territory of Oklahoma. They are a family who withhold a panorama of unfulfilled lives and who do the most unforgettable things to one another. They’ve all gone a bit mad, but for reasons that are surprisingly rational.
Meryl Streep plays Violet, the electrifying woman of the household; she has mouth cancer and takes rather too many pills of varying extremities. She is one of the greatest characters I can remember ever seeing on the screen or stage; I’ll never forget Streep’s fine performance of her either. One minute she’s wearing a frightening black wig and bulging sunglasses, the next she is cursing uncontrollably and at other times she is a sweet and affectionate mother. She is always at the centre of attention though and nothing ever slips by her, as she says repeatedly.
Following up this astounding performance is Julia Roberts’s first big appearance for some time. She plays a confused, concerned and aging woman who seems dumbfounded by her family (who isn’t?), but at the same time she is clearly petrified of turning into her mother. She looks perfect in the role, her beauty trembling away as her character has to harden to various circumstances. Other members of the cast include Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Dermot Mulroney and Margo Martindale; it truly is a stand of ovation.
John Wells directs the film, he is best known for having produced some small-screen spectacles such as ER, Shameless and The West Wing. Despite not being a natural feature film director per se, his achievement here is mightily impressive. The tricky task of adapting a stage play is creating a satisfactory boundary between not feeling stagebound and remaining cinematically expressive. Wells does this by maintaining an integral claustrophobia within the characters and setting without making it completely stagebound; one is reminded of Hitchcock’s brilliant achievement with Dial M for Murder. The film is also shot magnificently within a hazy half-lit house suggesting all the dark demeanours that have come and gone and the vast out-back of Osage County is exposed it its full glory. Wells has managed to make this film highly stylized; I couldn’t imagine a better cinematic treatment for this play.
So what is it that renders this film as a must see? For me, it is the characters captivating complexity and development throughout the script, the mighty fine performances and the generally striking production.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Mar 21, 2014Sincerely powerful, it reminded me of John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood. These films are both earnest, striking and magnificent directorialSincerely powerful, it reminded me of John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood. These films are both earnest, striking and magnificent directorial debuts. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station is highly ambitious, it is for the hardened hearts and Coogler has articulated his deep-rooted connection with the story flawlessly. The film is based on the real-life tragic shooting that happened at Fruitvale Station on the New Year’s Eve of 2009. This irrefutable piece of reality haunts the film and makes it duly hard to watch. Yet, you are transfixed.
Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old man with lots of feelings, cares for many people and many people care for him. We spend New Years Eve with Oscar as he goes about his daily routine, struggling and searching over the various obstacles that many working-class people face. This is the side of the story that Coogler has decided to tell. SPOLIER. It is the day leading up to the death of young Oscar Grant.
We sample Oscar’s daily life; we get caught up in his agitated world. Michael B. Jordan gives a brilliant performance as Oscar, and understands the prejudice history that exists within the borders of the Bay Hill area. Nonetheless he gets on with daily life and is determined to make a difference. He doesn’t necessarily care about what others think of him, he has the “don’t give a **** attitude”, but this doesn’t make him a thug. It is the territory of young and black cinema, as was the term coined for the work of Spike Lee. It is promising that Coogler will have more heartfelt stories to tell that will contribute the past thirty years call for social justice in media, popular culture and sadly life.
Oscar is clearly troubled but events in his life. He wishes to share his inner burdens with others, he has a lot of close mates, but it is his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and mother (Octavia Spencer) who come through as most compassionate. Despite past hiccups, the family gets together and celebrates New Year’s Eve without controversy and with great empathy, as it is also Oscar’s mother’s birthday. The family is “lifted up” by God, as spoken by the radiant mother. It is soul-destroying when she blames the tragedy on herself. She only wanted her “baby” to do what would seemingly be safest: catching the BART train to town, rather than drink driving.
The cinematography is closing in, the train is entering Fruitvale Station, and my heart is already pounding. The scenes in which the incident takes place are harrowing and expertly crafted. It is mayhem and for no alleged reason; this is the lunacy of the incident. I’ve never quite felt so strung and wounded by the cinema.
This film deserves mass attention and should be honored for its courage.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Mar 21, 2014After what feels like twelve hundred lashings, we are left transfixed at the horrors on the screen as a poor young lady has been innocentlyAfter what feels like twelve hundred lashings, we are left transfixed at the horrors on the screen as a poor young lady has been innocently victimized by the sharp cane of a mean, powerful and perverted land owner. This is just one of the many harrowing scenes in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave – a fruitful and climatic dramatization of Solomon Northup’s novel of the same name.
This is a hard film to call, it is no doubt a grand dramatization in the life of a slave, but is it overtly so? Or does the film focus too much on this epic translation of Solomon’s life to the big screen that it forgets all the other impediments such a landmark should forge? When Brad Pitt enters the scene as a kind-hearted Canadian speaking out against slavery, it seems clearly convenient and perhaps too messianic. Yet, McQueen doesn’t send us half-hearted back to 1841 and rigorously achieves what a film must: let us experience the characters journey. So, despite occasional setback and concern surrounding my observations, this film is ultimately awe-inspiring and you’d have to be a fool not to feel its power and raw emotion.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (playing Solomon) is the eyes and soul of this film. It is a grandiose performance of tears, adoration, forfeiture and being. Often, McQueen will leave his camera resting on Solomon’s shoulder or waiting just around the corner. We are summoned to live and breath with this character, feel his pain and stare straight into his forlorn soul. A primary example of McQueen escalating tension in this sense is when Solomon is hanged but left dangling with his toes barely touching the ground. There he waits for help, as most ignore him. It is excruciating, we watch Solomon balance himself, as for not would mean death. But, the camera is not always lingering, sometimes it is swirling in circles, to contradict McQueen’s earlier method of creating tension. In this case, it is tension via action, rather than emotion. In this scene, Solomon is forced to whip Patsy (Lupita Nyong’o) – a fellow lady slave – it is a pinical scene and one that hammers home the diseased social order of their sick master Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).
McQueen’s two previous films have also addressed intense subject matter – In Hunger we experience the hunger strike against the British occupation in Northern Island, and in Shame, a man crippled by sex addiction. The insane acts that human beings carry out on one another is the limelight of McQueen’s work and one shouldn’t be surprised if he picks out subject matter related to Hitler, Stalin or Xianzhong as his next piece of work!… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Mar 20, 2014I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film and I am still not exactly sure what I think of it, but what I am certain is that MatthewI wasn’t sure what to expect from this film and I am still not exactly sure what I think of it, but what I am certain is that Matthew McConaughey’s performance deserves great respect and admiration. Any doubts of him as a truly impressive actor should be thrown off the prescription; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take home an Oscar alongside his Golden Globe for best actor in a drama.
And a drama it surely is, with McConaughey’s character Ron Woodruff prancing about like a scandal before being diagnosed with “full blown” AIDS. His journey to overcome this diagnosis is what makes this film so remarkable; his character fights with enormous passion and determination to turn his life around and the lives of thousands of others. Woodruff is a skinny, tiresome and dopey character, McConaughey shed 38 pounds and it shows, one is reminded of Christian Bale’s frightening bodily transition in Brad Anderson’s The Machinist. A stand of ovation for the man.
Jean-Marc Vallée directs the picture following the success off the back of his critically acclaimed Café de Flore in 2012 and The Young Victoria in 2009. Vallée works odysseys of magical proportions, his characters are mystical in their ways yet frighteningly grounded with realistic human behaviour. He is a director to definitely watch out for, and no doubt he has plenty more breath-taking dramas waiting to elope the screen.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.2Mar 20, 2014The problem with The Book Thief is that it feels as though Brian Percival (known for his work on Downton Abbey) has narrowed the whole storyThe problem with The Book Thief is that it feels as though Brian Percival (known for his work on Downton Abbey) has narrowed the whole story to the confinements of a stage play. Okay, one can still make staging methods effective (take Dial M for Murder), but the way the camera moves, the actors enter right to left, the design shuffles as time goes by, all feels robotic and even oppressive. There is a great war going on outside, agreed this film isn’t directly intended to expose the war effort, but to signify the unconceivable act of the Nazis in true force one might need to dampen the glamorization of this storytelling.
The structure of the film is designed in such a way that the final act is alive, theoretically, with all the acts. At least, you can be sure to be awoken by the final 30 minutes of tailored clichés interweaving disaster and relief. I can admire the day-to-day life of our book thief Liesel Meminger (played by Sophie Nélisse), the core of the story, and her fascination with what lies beyond and above (she finds in the written word). This is, in fact, the most enjoyable aspect of the film, not to mention how well Sophie Nélisse holds everything together with her perceptive performance. The Book Thief feels alive and then the final years of the war are crammed into one act, an act spreading an entire story arc, an arc that would be better suited to capturing a separate film. It was never going to be an easy book to adapt.
The film begins with the voice of death (narrated by Roger Allam), a voice instantly recognizable and a voice that will no doubt shadow the entire film. However, this voice seems irrefutably naïve to the story it is telling. It takes a nap for a few years before coming back and interrupting the film three quarters of the way through. The film has made every effort to immerse its audience only to be pulled out of the picture by the voice of death shrewdly reappearing, perhaps to remind us that there is indeed a war going on outside of the street where Liesel lives.
The cast is occupied with pleasantly accomplished performers (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson), however the Germanic approach of the film is inconceivable to any admirable performance. “Nein” is apparently a plausible word in the English language? My take would be that if you are going to speak any German, then I want to see the whole film in German. And, in fact, I would have very much loved to see this film in German. Part of the disposition from the horrors of the depicted reality is bred from the fact that our characters are reciting English (could you imagine watching Downfall in English?). Consequently, and for other reasons mentioned, this film doesn’t sink its claws deep enough. It balances on the rope of knotting together a less frightening past.
I must note that the ending is fatefully superfluous. The tracking of the camera, in a present day, past mature pictures of a prosperous Liesel is grossly implemented by an ostentatious white iMac pulling apart the skin of the entire screening before us. This concentrated product placement, led by the palpable apple logo, was scornful to the foundations of the story and was the only symbol reminiscent on my mind as I left the cinema. Couldn’t the final assemblies of the budget have come from elsewhere?
I wish to admire this film, but it doesn’t attempt the depth required of a child’s eyes on the horrors of a war; don’t look for such a powerful picture as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. There were moments in which I obtained a deep affection for the family, their love of the lost and found. Yet, I feel that all along I was perhaps searching for a different movie altogether.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5Mar 20, 2014You can either love or hate Wes Anderson, or you can love and hate him at the same time. Unfortunately, The Grand Budapest Hotel has torn meYou can either love or hate Wes Anderson, or you can love and hate him at the same time. Unfortunately, The Grand Budapest Hotel has torn me apart. It is undeniably perfect Anderson: obsessive and strict design, colour palettes, composition, framing and blocking. However, it is essentially missing something; my emotions traversed from sheer boredom to stifled laughter to disorderly admiration. My conclusion is that Anderson has become too overworked; I dislike him for this, yet at the same time a part of me admires the man for his precise ingenious.
The film starts and immediately you taste Anderson’s stop-motion style with precise camera panning and boxed framing. The film then jumps through three prologues of time, with the familiar Anderson narration and expose of shots, until we land ourselves at The Grand Budapest Hotel between the wars in a fictional state of Europe. What follows is a story of chapters with crimes, chases, mischief, rivalry, envy and even slapstick comedy. It is all tightly wound and then released like a chasm, the chapters seem somewhat disjointed, the acts become emotionally sterile and ultimately there isn’t a chance for the story to coerce.
We are presented with the same Anderson, but also a new Anderson. He presses on his comedic roots and concentrates on the physicality of funny. M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) is the prime consent for this, and Fiennes is brilliantly on key creating a few treasurable notes of laughter. On occasion, this isn’t just through material act, but also sharp, witty and almost obscene dialogue. In one scene, he utters to the new lobby boy (whose elder self is predominantly narrating the story – F. Murray Abraham). “When you’re young it’s all fillet steak, but as you get older, you have to move onto the cheaper cuts.” If you like Anderson for his melancholic charm and grounded representations of struggling individuals in a fantastical yet realistic world (think Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenenbaums), then don’t have high expectations for this, you won’t get what you came for.
This film is being highly applauded (a reason for my great expectations), yet for all the same reasons, the obvious stylistic reasons. I haven’t seen a single review commenting on how they related to the story on a personal or cultivating note. Are we focusing on a cinematic story here, or what appears to be a theatrical and all-too whimsically clever telling of one?
Lastly, I will mention what is palpable and largely unsettling: the ensemble cast of great name actors all battling for a screen spot. A great cast list can give a film much admirable credit, however Anderson has gone a bit overboard here, with Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson popping up for five or so minutes, the story becomes even more fictitious and preposterous. I won’t list the rest of the cast, simply search it on IMDB or watch the film, but it is certainly remarkable yet somewhat heedless.
It was a muddled evening, and to be honest I am still rather mystified amidst my contemplations on the film. Frankly, I was disappointed and the film is no more than what Anderson’s lavish style makes it. One might say you are better off trying to watch it inside out.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Mar 20, 2014This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Lets not take this film too seriously, if one was to do that they may break down and end up looking like Cate Blanchet did at the end of Blue Jasmine.
Liam Neeson teams up once again with Jaume Collet-Serra to play a grizzly, alcoholic, divorced, troubled and killing machine veteran. In this movie, he is also federal air marshal on a business class transatlantic flight. What is remarkable about Neeson’s performance in recent roles is that he manages to play it straight all the way through even as the events around him become drastically implausible. The audience will laugh aloud as Non-Stop ticks of its checklist of clichés. Is this necessarily a bad thing? It wouldn’t appear that way if we place ourselves in the seats of a mass audience after a virtual ride of entertainment.
The varied and actually rather interesting ensemble cast keeps us guessing as to whether they are good or bad guys. Playing the flight attendants we have Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave, who has about three throwaway lines of “What is going on?” and Michelle Dockery, our fantastic Lady Mary from Downtown Abbey. Among the passengers, Julianne Moore plays Bill’s (Neeson) seatmate as a relatively suspicious lady who becomes a female obstacle of wonder for Bill by the end. Corey Stoll from House of Cards plays a New York cop who is the first to take real test amongst Bill’s actions, though, of course, in the end they salute in brotherhood as fellow men of the law.
Liam Neeson provides the comedic relief in this movie. He is emotionally troubled as always and uses this emotion to fuel his brutal hand-to-hand combat in toilet cubicles and tight aisle spaces. We know everyone who tries to mess with him is making a big mistake, if only they had seen him take on the pack of wolves in The Gray and the callous villains in Taken.
The screenplay, written by a bunch of guys, has a few slapdash twists and a few touches of sentimentality amidst the fists and thrills. In light of modern technology, a boy on the flight is able to video Bill acting violently towards a passenger and post it online to a viral reception, which in turn stirs news reporters to broadcast the event and consequently alert the flight passengers on their TVs. Technology isn’t on Bills side here. Bill has also recently lost his daughter, at which point some of us may confuse what film we are watching, and consequently acts excessively mawkish towards the young girl who happens to be all alone on this flight.
So, this is yet another hijack movie in which the pay-off is frankly preposterous, but in which there are occasional heightened moments of action. It doesn’t match up to Air Force One or Con Air, but it does nevertheless have a powerful statement behind it. Lets just say it reaches for some sharp post 9/11 political commentary that entirely exceeds its grasp and becomes utterly excruciating.
I am not one myself for flying, but even if you are, certainly do not watch this film on a transatlantic flight.… Expand