This was a surprising movie. One which seemed like a production too cheap to be any good, but it actually works. The movie is written and directed by Jeff Baena (I Heart Huckabees, 2004) centres around attempts to cheer-up Joshua, Joshi, our eponymous hero. The movie covers the events of a “Batchelor” weekend a group of his friends had planned for Joshy (Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley, 2014). However, four months prior to the weekend, joshy’s fiancée, killed herself. While at home one evening, Josh arrives home to fine her in a funny humour, he goes to the gym only to return to find her dead.
As the bachelor party date falls due, the landlord of the property they hired contacts them to remind them of the booking, they decide to go ahead with it, in order to cheer Joshy up. And now enter the 21st century; the weekend was planned by email, and as a result various of the people on the weekend do not know each other, most know Joshy.
An so our group of soon to be friends gather, each, as it happens with their own issues also. Josh’s pall Ari ( Adam Pally, Happy endings , 2011) looked after the booking and is the central point, he seems to be the level headed one, he is met by Adam (Alex Ross Perry, Queen of Earth, 2014) Adam is in a break-up situation with his girlfriend and is sharing his grief with everybody. Adam is one of those up-tight individuals who will not use a hot-tub because of the disease risk. They a joined by the very enthusiastic Eric, (Nick Kroll, “I Love You, Man” 2009)who has everything planned out, much to Adam’s disgust, who intended for everybody to play his extremely complex Co-op board game .
As the weekend moves on, various others join the group as they attempt to sail through the weekend and help Joshy. We see Adam eventually get in the pool after a long conversation with the repair man (Jake Johnson, New Girl 2011). Not helping matters is the visit by his dead fiancee’s parents who blame Josh for their daughter’s death. We also see Ari, possibly falling for one of the girls they met on the first night, despite his own family dynamic.
In short this is one of those “road” movies where the stars are on a journey through their lives, without actually going anywhere.
This is truly one of the saddest comedies you will ever watch (premise-wise). I’ve deliberately not mentioned many/most/all of the gags and situational comedy, suffice it to say it works well. You spend much of the movie thinking just how lucky you are – not to be any of these people, even though we can all recognise elements of ourselves in most of the characters.
What a relief to watch some good old fashioned fun. Written and directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, 2011) the premise of the film is simple; the bad guys have a bomb they want to sell and the good guys have to stop them. Sounds easy but there are some problems. The star of the show is Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy, The Heat 2013) a desk bound CIA analyst who works with her super-suave field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law, Sherlock Holmes 2009).
However things go badly wrong when the daughter of the terrorist they were tracking (and accidently killed) takes out Fine. In the process The agency discovers there may be a mole and the identities of its field agents may be compromised. The CIA section head responsible for recovering the situation is Elaine Crocker (Alison Janney, The West Wing, 1999). Opinion is divided on how best to continue, their other super-spy (self-professed ) Rick Ford (Jason Statham, Wild Card 2015) Ford adds a comedic balance to Cooper providing us with a character more like Inspector Clouseau, than James Bond. Knowing that all of the best agents have been compromised Cooper volunteers to go into the field.
Despite initial objections, Crocker eventually agrees to put Cooper in the field. It turns out Cooper is actually quite good at what she does regardless of what here friends and foes think of her. Ordered to track only their main suspect in order to find where she is selling the bomb and who to. Pretty quickly all of her plans collapse, largely as a result of no fault of hers.
Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne, Insidious 2010) has the bomb and has engaged Sergio de Luca (Bobby Cannavale, The Station Agent , 2003) as her middle man to sell it. Out in the field Cooper is supported back at HQ by her friend Nany Artingstall (Miranda Hart, Miranda 2009) an equally frustrated analysis.
Through a whole host of challenges Cooper repeatedly survives and gets closer to the bomb, despite the best efforts of colleagues who through their general incompetence or in-experience prove to be more than a hindrance. Agents like Aldo (Peter serafinowicz, Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014) sent in to help here continue to provide chaos.
This is a cut above the usual spy comedy. It quite happily pokes fun at itself without compromising the production. There will of course be the inevitable comparisons with 007, James Bond with the movie itself contributing to this with some subtle and not-so-subtle homage to the above names super-spy. Casino Royale springs to mind – not just the 2006 version by Martin Campbell (Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench) but strangely enough the 1967 version by Ken Hughes staring David Nivenm Peter sellers and Ursula Andress.
The cast is excellent, the script witty, the jokes (including the visual ones) are fast and many, this movie quite simple works where other descend in to a swap of stupidity.
I saw this movie as a preview and the audience loved it. so it should do well.
I came to this movie with an open mind, having read mixed reviews. I can see now why they were mixed. In essence we are looking at two movies, the horror-comedy-thriller and the romance. Although fresh and original, there were moments when I felt the film was deliberately playing to an audience segment, probably the younger audience who wanted to watch Harry Potter.
There is also an element of the old morality play about the film. I’ve noticed that a number of Hollywood productions carefully throwing in a moral lesson for the younger audience members, something, I’m not overly in favour of, there is a difference between entertainment and learning.
Directed by Alexandra Aja (The Hills have Eyes, 2009) and based on the screenplay by Keith Bunin (In Treatment, 2009) and the novel by Joe Hill. Following the death of Ig Perrish’s (Daniel Radcliffe, what If, 2013)childhood sweet-heart, Merrin Williams (Juno Temple, The Dark Knight Rises, 2012) under mysterious circumstances. Mysterious circumstances which have him as the prime suspect in her death. Pretty soon he notices he is growing horns. And this is where the film takes its first twist. We learn that Ig’s horns actually come with a gift/curse people do not notice them unless looking at them and then have an urge to focus on anything else but them. Being in Ig’s proximity also causes those around him to reveal their darkest secrets and desires. Using this he works through, the night of the accident and his various friends, people he has been friends with since childhood.
His best friend Lee (Max Minghella, The Social Network, 2010) seems to be immune, he is also his defence lawyer as nobody in the town believes him, his closest friend in the town is his brother Terry (Joe Anderson, The Grey, 2011) who he thought he could rely on, but there may be an issue. His parents are not much help and the horns allow him to hear so home-truths which don’t help him much. Indeed the relationship he has with Merrin’s father (David Morse, The Green Mile, 1999) is a far more honest one which despite what is happening actually develops.
The childhood relationship shared by the main protagonists helps us get a feeling of who and what is involved pacing the movie just one step ahead of us, not far enough to lose us, but not sufficiently far away to have us suffering from the suspense.
The horror elements come to the fore as the movie progresses, one of the things which make the horror element work is the non-use of stylised cinematography, the seeming normality of it. There are some specific comedy plot devices but it does not take from the presentation. The Role of Eric Hannity (Michael Adamthwaite, Sucker Punch, 2011) gives us both background to the childhood but also how it plays out in adult life as Eric is also the local sheriff, under the spell of the horns, Eric reveals certain facts about himself which play to the movie. His own parents Derrick (James Remar, Dexter , 2006) and Lydia (Kathleen Quinlan, Event Horizon, 1997) are no support to say the least, his father cannot relate to him and although trying to help may be doing more harm than good, while his mother is painfully honest with him.
Well worth watching, in only falls slightly in the extended “romantic” memories – fine we get the message, move on…David Morse, by the way, is notable for his understated approach, working well against his more usual type.
6/10 worth watching even if possibly aimed at the teen/twenties market. Who is telling the truth? Sometimes what we think of as a curse may be a blessing…
Some movies can have a long review just to explain them, others can be written in a few short sentences, this is one of the latter. This is not because of it being bad, but rather the opposite. It is a straight forward, well written and calmly directed piece which drags you in from the start and keeps you entertained until the end. Having watched it once, you will find yourself happy to repeat the experience as it pops-up from time to time.
Written and directed by Bill Forsyth (Gregory’s Girl, 1981) the cast is made up of some very understated stars. Peter Riegert (We Bought A Zoo, 2011) stars as the hard pressed executive sent to Scotland by Burt Lancaster’s (The Leopard, 1963) character Felix Harper. Harper the company’s CEO (Knox Oil & Gas) sends Riegert’s character (Known as “Mac”) partially because Harper thinks “Mac” has Scottish ancestry. This opening also shows how Harper can be truly narrow minded, focused on a result and dragging everybody else along, regardless of how they feel about it.
Harper has plans for an oil refinery and the townland of Ferness in Scotland is the perfect place, only problem is, he does not own it. Mac’s job will be to go to Ferness and convince the locals to sell-up. Adding an extra angle to the story Harper gives Mac an additional instruction to watch the clear night sky in Virgo and let him know back. Mac having a life in Texas tries to organise for all this to be done over the phone, but Harper insists on him being in Scotland.
Upon arriving he meets with Knox’s local man; Oldsen (Peter Capaldi, Dr. Who, 2014) and of course to add interest there is the local marine biologist, Marina (Jenny Seagrove, Judge John Deed, 2001)
Not being the biggest town in the world, Mac stays in the local bar/hotel which is owned by Gordon Urguhart (Denis Lawson, The Machine, 2013). As with many of these films being exposed to the locals and their way of life causes Mac to start to have reservations about the refinery project and the impact it will have on the local population. Of course things are never quite as they seem. Gordon not only runs the hotel but he works with some of the various fishermen who visit the port to actually manage their investments, none more so than with Victor, (Christopher Rozycki, Truly Madly Deeply, 1991) the Soviet trawler man who is a regular visitor to the town. Using parallels to Whisky Galore (1949) we see that life is hard enough for the locals and to be honest, they would be more than happy to sell up, but being who they are, they are putting on a long face and trying for as much more money as possible.
Mac and team soldier on with all the usual love and commercial complexities as the movie progresses, but then there is a twist, it turns out buying-up the town is one thing but when it comes to the beach and foreshore, there is a complication. The owner. He happens to be an old beachcomber by the name of Ben, (Fulton Mackay, Porridge, 1974) who actually lives on the beach in a self-made shack. Caught up in this and what looks like increasing issues with the locals it is starting to look like the purchase may not take place. In to all this Harper arrives and through a series of pleasant misunderstandings and his ability to effectively ignore what is being said to him, he actually manages to progress things. The dialogue with Ben, Mac and Harper is fantastic with some great one-liners. Sides are set, Ben does not want to sell, Harper wants the land and Mac is caught in the middle. Negotiations look like going nowhere. Faced with this Ben and Harper start to talk on the beach and well kindred spirits reveal themselves and a solution is found.
Movies like The Grand Seduction (2013) clearly owe a lot to Local Hero. Such is the quality of this film that it is one of those which is used as a bench-mark against others are measured. This is a case-study in how to write a story, direct the image and not over complicate or distort the output to a level which ruins and causes a lesser offering. This is simply a well-crafted story with a great ensemble cast.
A lot was made of the potential content of Fifty Shades of Grey ( I saw it and refuse to write a critique of the tripe), this movie, being Japanese does not concern itself with western tastes and just gets on with the film. Takafumi Katayama (Nao Ohmori, Ichi The Killer, 2001) is a husband and father struggling under the pressures of life. His wife is in a coma with no prospect of waking, he deals with this while bringing up their young son (Haruki Nishimoto), with the help from his own father-in-law (Gin Meada, Midsummer’s Equation, 2013). To release some of his own pressures he joins a Bondage club. This club is not like any other. On entering he is met by a lone man (Suzuki Matsuo, Otakus in Love, 2004) behind a desk (in a very seedy looking building interior) who introduces Takafumi to the club and its rules; all contact is outside, none in the actual club, at mutually agreed times. Membership is only for 1 year, contact is non-sexual. Through a series of flashbacks we see the various girls from the club (various Queens specialising in S&M/Bondage disciplines. He is forced to eat squashed sushi in a bar when one queen makes him eat it, another attacks him in the street, at a fountain etc. As the time goes on, the visits get darker and his home/family become involved. This is beyond the limit for him. He goes to the police to complain where he meets a very jaundiced police officer played by Hitoshi Matsumote who also directed the film (Saya-zamurai, 2010) who basically tells him that at this stage no laws have been broken. Things go down hill from there. Not long after a Queen visits him at home, ties him up and begins sensory torture on him. At this juncture the film take a very disturbing turn, Takefumi’s son witnesses events and in the next scene we see the boy tied up in rope, suspended from a ceiling and gagged with the bondage gag. Thing go south with the accidental death of another Queen (Queen Saliva..) With the help of a mysterious government agent who shows up (Atsuro Watabe, The Flowers of War, 2011) and helps with his son. Knowing that his son is safe he goes to his father-in-law’s home believing he is in danger form the group behind the Bondage Club. He is. Indeed things have gone so badly wrong as far as the club is concerned that their CEO flies in to deal with things. Before I describe the closing scenes, it is only right to say that this movie is so far “off-the-wall” that the director engineers breaks within the movie, we are not told what these are first and are left to wonder, it quickly becomes obvious by the second “break” that these are producers coming out of a screening of the movie and are in shock, they cannot understand some of the more strange aspects of the movie – This is an interesting vehicle as it shows the director is still in touch with the viewing public and this adds to the comedic nature of the film. The denouement is a battle scene at Takafumi’s father in law’s house (at this stage it should be pointed out that both his wife and father-in-law have been killed by a “Queen” who ate them (yes!). The CEO of “Bondage” (Lindsay Howard) having flown in an struck fear in to all involved now leads the attack on the house. The scene is at times a mix of “Monkey” (1978) special effects with an approach which (to my mind at least) is nothing short of an homage to the works of Akira Kurosawa, particularly reminding me of (Ran, 1985) . The culmination of this is a 1:1 fight (not shown) between Takafumi and the CEO, it turns out he might be more of a sadist than a masochist and as a result a new sadist is conceived in him – you can guess what that means. Allow yourself to accept the cultural differences and you will enjoy the film. An interesting aside which make the movie work on another level is that it is set in the 1980’s/90’s so no PCs, laptops, smart phones or neon all over the place. A challenging but quite good comedy which will not be for everybody. The title itself “R100” is a view on the Japanese movie rating system (R18 etc.) and indeed near the endone of the “producers” during a break explains to his boss that the fictional director (himself aged 100) sys you have to be 100 to understand the movie – which of course causes them to ask how many 100 year olds are there who would go see the movie . Entertaining, funny and very watchable, if you are able J
I’ll start of by saying I enjoyed this movie and only saw it on the recommendations of a friend. I say this because one or two others have not been too kind to the work. Directed by Max Nichols, this is directorial debut, and a good one at that. The premise is quite simple. Out of work and out of love Megan (Analeigh Tipton, Warm Bodies, 2013) is cajoled by her flat mate in to going out to a party, only to find she has no ID and cannot attend so back home. At home she decides to take the advice offered by everybody; get on line and find a guy.
After some time dithering about, she eventually cobbles together an on-line profile and enters the fray. Following a few minutes of the usual jokes she comes across “Alec” (Miles Teller, whiplash, 2014) who seems like a genuine guy; he does live on the other side of the city though, however she goes for it and heads over to Alec’s. after what is presumed to be a satisfying night Megan decides to slip out.
There are two issues with slipping out, firstly the front door is alarmed and causes here to jump back to bed before the siren sounds. This gets fixed only to have the morning after discussion with Alec rr as she mistakenly calls him; Alex. Many of the jokes/scenarios here are not new, but they are not hammed either. Indeed is their very recognisable nature which contributes to the scene, as we inevitably identify with various parts of the discussions. Finally leaving the apartment Megan has one last major obstacle to overcome; the New York snow, unfortunately the snow won as she is trapped inside , with no further option Megan returns with Alec to the apartment. What follows is the traditional awkward silence following the discussion they had earlier when they thought they would never see each other again. This is of course an ages-old gag; people insult each other only to be forced in to a situation together. What makes this work is the ability of both cast members to work well together and have a snappy script supplied to them by the screen writer (Mark Hammer, Skins episode 2011).
Having checked the weather , it looks like they are trapped together for at least another night, remember this is early morning. Eventually they settle done to a delicate “truce”, a truce which is put in jeopardy by Megan when she is in the bathroom and reads an article on the type of women who use dating sites for one night stands, she identifies as #2 – Damaged. Clearly still hurting she rips out the page and flushes it down the toilet. The only problem is the flood that follows. From here the disaster mounts. Alex has no plunger, but his neighbours have. The neighbours are away and Alex does not have a key, so the two of them gear-up and via the fire-escape go round to their neighbours’ apartment. The windows are frozen solid, normally a problem with the building’s windows would have meant they were open. Megan does what she needs to do and they get in, much to Alec’s shock and amazement.
Once the piece is recovered from the toilet, they have a discussion and the issue quickly passes, or does it? Following a smoke of a certain herb, they relax and after making a “blanket tent” relax for the evening. While talking they decide that their situation might allow for some Science – namely feedback on where they went wrong the night before. Queue night two. In the best traditions of love’s labours being lost, Megan leaves for home the next day, but under a cloud.
While Megan has been open about her relationships, Alec has been less so. What seemed like a budding friendship might just have failed at its second hurdle. Back at her apartment Megan’s flat mate, Faiza (10 Cent Pistol, 2014) and her boyfriend, Cedric (Scott Mescudi, Need For Speed, 2014) have news for her – she has 4 days to find a new place. Alex now has a similar predicament owing to items left in his apartment (see for yourself). So nothing else to do, it is time for the New Year’s eve party, which needless to say, is a bit of a damp squib for her, or at least it is until the police come looking for her. The consequences of her entry to Alec’ neighbour flat come back to haunt her. It seems as if this is Alec’s doing, she is in a holding cell and he’s trying to bail her out, unsuccessfully. The last few minutes of the movie you can check out for yourself.
This could very easy have been a painful saccharine affair (no pun) but with snappy script and delivery it turned the movie in to something well worth watching regardless of whether or not you are trapped behind a wall of snow.
Over the years Australia has managed to produce some excellent cinema, not least of all in comedy. Straight away The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Stephen Elliott, 1994) or The Dish (Rob Sitch, 2000) spring to mind, indeed talking of Elliott, another movie comes to mind first; The Castle, which Scott directed in 1997.
The Kerrigan family headed by the father of the house, Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton, the Sullivans, 1976/77) are happily living their lives. Life is not perfect, but together they overcome any challenges that might pop-up. This is about the “typical” ordinary Aussie family.
Home, to the Kerrigans, is their house and “Castle” nestled between the airport runway and a high-voltage power line. Darryl’s wife Sal (Anne Tenny, Dead Heart 1996) is his perfect partner. With their three sons, one of whom is in prison and a daughter, newly married.
Life, however takes a side-step however when the airport next door announces its intentions to expand. And just where do they plan to expand? Exactly. Darryl and neighbours spring in to action and after trying some of their own actions, resort to the Courts. With this in mind they hire local solicitor Dennis Denuto. Dennis has one major failing; he is useless as a lawyer. With Dennis fighting their already seemingly hopeless case, there is not much they can do.
After trying things his own way and acquiring a set of “bloody good gates” along the way, they look to see what else they can do and just as when all seems lost, along comes barrister Lawrence Hammill, (Charles Tingwell, Breaker Morant, 1980). This is very much a Little-Man versus the Machine movie and for the little-man to overcome the fight ahead of him he needs a very capable mechanic, in this case a first rate QC. Despite being completely different people from totally different backgrounds and against all odds Lawrence and Darryl overcome their social differences. This is perhaps just as important a part of the movie as the overall fight to protect a person’s home.
Darryl and Lawrence are two very different people, one schooled and polished, the other a diamond in the rough; one a working-class man who will not accept what he see a bullying, while the other is firmly a member of the establishment. Darryl’s naivety, or lack of diplomacy contrasts with the careful reserve of his barrister, but the two hit it off.
It will not be too much of a spoiler to know Darryl and family win their case, but watching the journey to the end point is a very enjoyable experience. I had seen this movie some years ago and have watched it since, enjoying it every time. Some evening when the world needs to be kept away for an hour or two, get the DVD or stream this movie and by the end (most certainly before that) you will have a smile on your face.
**** A simple honest classic. As I have mentioned before, I like situational comedy, comedy when despite the seemingly straight acting of the cast and their script in response is the comedy. The more mindless, slapstick type rarely works for me. This situational scenario works just nicely. Oh and have a look out for a young Eric Bana.
Once more the folks from New Zealand have managed to provide anotherclassic and as with much of the output from New Zealand, there is a calm “home-grown” feel to the work. Mocumentary films have generally left me feeling unsatisfied whilst the Point of View or “discovered lost footage type films also generally do very little for me; although As Above As Below (2014) was a notable exception. Often these films try to be too earnest or try to achieve too much on too small a budget to disastrous effects.
What we have here is a perfect example of knowing what you can do and making it work. As the film starts we are introduced to the cast of characters through Viago (Taika Waititi, The Green Lantern, 2011) a 350 year old vampire who, we learn, came to New Zealand in search of the love of his “life” after she moved there. The fact that his servant put the wrong postage on the coffin meant that it took him 18months to reach there, by which time she had fallen for another. Such are the stories which brought Viago and his flat-mates to where they are. We have Anton (Rhys Darby, MIB 3, 2012) and Vladislav, (Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords) the lothario or the group, but we learn his powers have been seriously weakened by his crossing paths with “The Beast” and Petyr (30 Days of Night, Heron, 2007) who is the oldest vampire and resembles the classical “Nosferatu” given to us by Max Schrek ( Nosferatu, 1922). Deacon (Jonathan Brugh The Almighty Johnsons, Mascot man, 2011) the youngest and most rebellious of the group, he has serious issues about doing the washing-up.
Together, they make up a “normal” group of flatmates who are basically trying to get on with life (or death) as normally as possible. We see the flatmates through various stereotypes ; organised & controlled, sloppy , “divil may care” etc. The plot as such is that of a camera crew following the guys in the weeks leading up to the Un-holy Masquerade Ball. This film should not be funny because many of the standard vampire gags which you might expect are all there and in many cases are well sign-posted. But for those that are sign-posted there are many other gags which also work just as well which are fresh to the production. We see the guys go about their lives and join them on their night’s out and feeding habits. Their feeding is facilitated by Jackie (Jackie van Beek, Shortland Street , 1999), Vladislav’s human Familiar who through her not very competent efforts finds them two not very virginal virgins to feed on, they subsequently end up turning Nic (Cori Conzalez-Macuer (Eagle v shark, 2007) in to a vampire, much to Jackie’s disgust as she has been wanting to be turned for quite some time. Nic has a friend Stu who he invites over to meet the guys and against their better judgement the they strike up a friendship with Stu who heads out with them on their nights’ socialising.
Such is the friendship that he is invited to the Ball by the guys, the fact that he is alive does not go down well with a number of the guests, including “The Beast”. A subsequent run-in with some of the local werewolves provides for a minor comic twist near the end, capping out the story.
The movie works for a number of reasons, the script is sharp and flows well with some quit finny lines spread through-out. Dealing with a subject matter of vampires one might expect hugely expensive visual effects or indeed attempts that are so pitifully awful they make us cringe. Not having the budget for the former and too much class for the latter Clement and Waititi who both directed the film struck the right note. The special effects are kept to a level which does not over-extend their abilities while at the same time restricting them for best comedic effect.
This is not an overly long movie, which moves quickly while bringing you with them all along the way. The jokes follow the situations with some excellent delivery. **** movie.
Ah, yes, you can always trust the New Zealanders to do the right thing. Housebound is one of those rare events; a comedy horror movie which actually delivers on all fronts. We start off at a bank, where our star Kylie and her boyfriend are failing miserably to rob an ATM. The court later sentences her to 8 months home detention. And so she arrives home to her Mother’s house far out from her city life. As it happens the security guard, Amos, (Glen-Paul Waruto) monitor her is a local, something that proves useful. As she begins to settle in, or not settle in she also has to talk with Denis, her court appointed counsellor , yet another annoyance. One of her biggest annoyances is her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata, Sons and Daughters, 1982) Miriam runs an ordered house along with her second husband, Graeme (Ross Harper, The devil Dared me to, 2007) and both “lazy” daughter and “uptight “ mother are having to come to terms with each other.
In to this mix is her mother’s belief that the house is haunted, she accepts this as a fact and is not too bothered by it, by standards. Kylie is having none of this nonsense, or at least nothing until she notices some strange sounds and happenings. Through the usual disasters Amos is brought in and together they eventually go ghost hunting.
What they find is a mystery which might involve a young girl who died many years ago when the house was a care-home, maybe she is the disturbance, or is it the strange boy/man who used to live next door, the same boy nobody has seen for over 10 years.
Kylie is now convinced there is something in the house, there is, and on one particular night when Denis and her doctor are present, there is an attack, Denis is injured and taken away to hospital.
Kylie and Amos try to find out what happened, as they do the mystery deepens – but here is the important part, never overly darkens.
This is not a big movie with a huge story line, loads of sets and special effects, no it is a simple ghost story type movie told well and with a sense of humour. The sense of humour is important, it is excellently carried through without changing the essential nature of the movie or taking away from the suspense.
I’m deliberately not giving too much away. The cast is typically understated and calm as is with many of the ANZAC offerings, the suspense works and the story never gives too much away before it needs to. You will sit down and enjoy this film. It is good old-fashioned fun, with perhaps a subtle message about appreciating what we have and not rushing to judgement.
7/10 purely because it kept me entertained without having to get too bloody or too silly.
Set in Ireland it is the story of three perpetual losers, who despite their many schemes are still as broke as ever and find themselves driving the length of the island trying to pull of that One scam which will set them up. Events kick off in Belfast where the guys, looking for a few pounds, agree to interfere with a greyhound race, in return for a greyhound to them from a local bookie, the kind of bookie (Sean McGinley, Republic of Doyle, 2010) who you do not want to owe money to and things go downhill from there. Directed by Paddy Breathnach (I went Down, 1997) and staring Allen Leech (The Imitation Game, 2014), who is nominally the brains of the outfit, Ciaran Nolan (dead Men Walking, 2008) the superstitious and unlucky unfortunate who at least tries to do something; and of course “Cerebral Paulsy” the grass smoking, brain fried one of the three constantly catching up.
Having been sold a pig-in-poke as it were, the dog they were given is useless and not capable of doing any good. This of course provides a whole set of challenges for the boys. Their luck might be changing though. They have been noticed by others. The wealthy widow of a former dog owner has a dog that can do what is needed, she gives them the dog, as a means to destroy their not so friendly bookie.
They enter the dog I a race only to find it did not even leave the box at the start. As if their day could not get any worse, the bookie finds them, kidnaps them and lets it be known that he finds them personally responsible for the race they nobbled and demands £50,000 from them. Not having this, they need to produce it fast. They head south to the Republic to try the dog but to no avail. About to give up, they sell the dog to travellers (Pat Short, Garage 2007) where they quickly realise the dog is actually guite good, it is just that he does not chase plastic hares, only real ones.
They guys decide to rob back the dog. Needless to say this does not exactly go as planned and a night of mayhem ensues. The rest of the film is about the three boys making their way south to the coursing fares and in the process trying to raise cash to enter the dog in the necessary races while at the same time avoiding Belfast bookies and various travellers.
Eventually as they get set-up at the Clonmel Coursing festival, their bookie and the travellers are also there and all want their share of the guys. The dog proceeds to win its races and of course draw the attention of said folks. Ultimately the boys are trapped in to a corner which Scud manages negotiate themselves out of. The negotiations work for them, and the film closes with us seeing how the guys are finally seeing some success.
What Breathnach manages to do is not only to pull together the story by Pearse Elliot (Shrooms) who he wrote with a number of times, but managed to do it so well. There are a number of set-piece situational gags, some excellent one liners and even a couple of continuing character jokes. The movie works well, some of the gags are sign-posted but that possibly adds to the enjoyment as we have a certain sense of expectation. It might be tempting to compare this movie to others such as RocknRolla (Guy Ritchie, 2008). On the surface they are both drama comedies but are very different styles, Dog is more of a series of well stitched together sketches while with RocknRolla the humour flows differently, bit excellent comedies, but both very different comedies both is style and nature. Man About Dog needs to be viewed as an Irish comedy and with the associated style.
This has proven to be a surprisingly controversial movie, dividing many as to whether or not it is a great comedy/drama or an insulting pastiche of stage Irishness. At first glance the insulted side of the room may have the case, however if you actually watch the movie for the nuances it is more complex than the first glance might suggest. I fall in to the camp that suggest the movie is a classic.
Despite the famous scene of Wayne grabbing O’Hara and kissing her, we should remember that the female characters are quite strong in this film, Not only do we have her but also “The Widow Tiillane”, note the title of “The” Widow Tillane. Some reference sites simply give the character’s name, this is to underplay the title. In Ireland the prefix of “The” was and is still used to denote a person of singular importance; for example a not dissimilar work, The Field by the late John B Keane gives us the main character of “The Bull McCabe” again reinforcing the impact of the person. This is by way of commenting on the attention to detail in the movie which is often over-looked.
Directed by John Ford (Rio Grande, 1950) and starring just about anybody in Hollywood who ever claimed to have an Irish connection. The story is a steel-worker and retired boxer, Sean Thornton, played by John Wayne (She wore a Yellow Ribbon, 1949) who having had enough of the violence of the ring (event become clearer as the movie progresses) where he was a champion boxer who once killed an opponent in the ring, something which weighs heavily on him. He is returning to the place of his birth, a small cottage just outside the town of “Inisfree” after growing up in Pittsburgh. We don’t know much about his background, it was poor and likely that of tenant farmers.
On returning he engages the services of local hackney driver , Michaleen Oge Flynn,[ Michalín Óg Flynn – in the correct form] (Barry Fitzgerald, The Naked City 1948) who as it turns out, is also the local match-maker. Life is never as simple as it might otherwise be.
Shortly after returning Thornton spies the fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara, Only the Lonely, 1991), who is very much the red-head in looks and temperament. Pretty soon Thornton expresses an interest, only to be told by Michaleen that there are rules to follow, Thornton does not have much time for the rules, but goes along with the customs. Now, Mary Kate lives at home with her brother, known by various people as “Squire” or “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLagen, The Informer, 1935) , and Squire Danaher has his eyes on two things, a piece of land next to his own and the widowed owner of that land. Needless to say he’s not only unhappy about his sister being associated with the “Yank” but also majorly upset when he hears that Thornton is buying the property.
The film progresses with Thornton settling in and getting to know the locals, not least of all the Reverend Cyril Playfair (Arthur Shields, The River 1951) who as an enthusiastic sports fan was aware of Thornton’s history and the fight that caused him to turn from boxing. These friendships allow Thornton to get an understanding of where he is and what he can do. One thing he is intent on doing is buying the old family homestead, which The Widow Tillane (Barefoot in the Park, 1976) is happy to do. This is the land Squire Danaher wanted and the selling of the land to Thornton makes for trouble.
Danaher may not be able to stop his sister from marrying Thornton, but he can withhold her dowry of cash, furniture and heirlooms . This causes Mary Kate much upset, who is made even more upset by Thornton not being overly bothered by the dowry, not appreciating the importance of it. All this tension rises set against the backdrop of a small Mayo village where life goes on, or at least tries to. This is where the attention to detail is important, such as the attempts to by rounds in the bar, as funny as they are, it is the character of the “Brigadier” who shows the understanding Ford had for the times and the people, because in the pub with also was the local [old] IRA commander, the War of Independence is over and there is no malice between them (there might never have been). An important part of the village life is the part played by the local clergy, both Catholic and Anglican.
Father Lonergan (Ward Bond, Rio Bravo, 1959) is the local Parish Priest who is assisted by Fr. Paul (James O’Hara, Suddenly 1954 – James was the brother Of Maureen). Fr. Lonergan must be the voice of reason advising and plotting to get all the right people married and happy. His plotting extends to helping the local Anglican Minister when his Bishop is visiting; Fr. Lonergan hides his collar and tells the parishioners to shout like “good Protestants” cheering when the Bishop passes, Rev Playfair’s parish is small and he fears he might be moved to another Parish, so Fr. Lonergan’s help is much needed. This should not be seen as anything special, there was never any issues between the vast majority of Catholic and Anglican clergy at this time with many working together to face common challenges.
Needless to say all the tension between Danaher and Thornton reaches boiling point, here Thornton brings Mary Kate back to Danaher, no dowry, no marriage. The money is forthcoming, he would accept the wedding over the disgrace of forcing his sister’s marriage to be annulled. We see that the money was not important to Mary Kate despite all the tension, it was the principle of the matter.
Given the people in question, it is only a matter of time before there is a fight, today we have car chases, then there were the fights up and down the length of the main street, here was no better. Adding to the comedy of the situation, the fight will be under “Marquis of Queensbury” rules. I’m not sure if the good Marquis such a lose interpretation of his rules. The local train is delayed as the locals all rush to follow the fight as it makes its way through the village, even Rev. Playfair has a bet with his Bishop as to the possible winner. At one stage the fight breaks for a drink in the pub before continuing.
As is often the case in these situation , the fight ends with both men starting to become friends, Mary Kate returns home with her integrity intact and ultimately we see Squire Danaher eventually courting with the Widow Tillane; happy endings.
This film is rightly regarded as a classic. Having won a Oscar for its director, Ford, it is still as fresh today as when it first appeared. What makes the film works is the light-hearted approach to the situation. The cinematography is magnificently suited to the locality, the script is tight and nuanced. Usually only appearing every Christmas of St. Patrick’s Day, dig it up, sit back and enjoy. By the way, as a trivia exercise you might want to look at who is related to whom; The Shields Brothers, the O’Hara family, the Wayne family and also Ford’s only family members are all involved in one way or another.
Some great quotes from the movie:
I knew your people, Sean. Your grandfather; he died in Australia, in a penal colony. And your father, he was a good man too.
There’ll be no locks or bolts between us, Mary Kate… except those in your own mercenary little heart!
I’ve been catching up on my notes and publishing a few reviews as I find them. One such is The Family, which I had almost forgotten about until I was reminded of it in a conversation. My earlier post here was of Predestination, a film which I almost overlooked, except for the cast caught my attention, this one caught my attention straight away when it was released. With Robert De Niro (The Godfather Part II, 1974) and Michelle Pfeiffer (People Like Us, 2012) leading the charge as the husband and wife team leading their family to various safe-houses for their own protection after turning against their mob background. They are supported by Tommy Lee Jones (Men In Black, 1997) a long suffering US Federal Agent who must ensure their safety, something which is a lot easier said than done, given the Blake family’s inability to put mob-style habits behind
The family is completed by son, Warren (John D’Leo, Wonderlust, 2012) who together with his sister Belle (Dianna Agron, Glee 2009) must settle in to a new school, by now this is “old-school”. Quickly both apply their talents to settling in. Warren has a knack for identifying potentially financially rewarding situations while his sister proves to be more than able to look after herself, either with the local boys who want to get to know her or some of the more light fingered students.
What we have is a comedy of errors, associated with the family trying to settle into rural France, Normandy to be exact. As various challenges crop up, they must struggle to cope with them as a normal family rather than apply mob-style solutions.
This can have its own difficulties, but with the family being hunted by the Mob, things get even more difficult. Eventually just as the family is starting to settle in , after the barbeque, the pummeling of a plumber who tried to rip them off and the father, Frank, sinking himself in it by describing himself as a history writer and sparking the interest of the village movie club.
The Mob get to find the family and descend on the sleepy village removing the police and fire-brigade before they attack the family, unfortunately for the mob hit men, they are recognized by the kids traveling to the house what ensues is a typical Besson style action sequence, namely one which has no reflection on reality but is fun to watch.
To sum-up “The Family” is a lighthearted romp through the often cliched mafia movie genre. De Niro has settled in to the comedy role as he matures, a role which suits him, hopefully we will get a few more. This film is never going to win best movie or any of number of would-be awards but it is entertaining and delivers what it set out to do. When you get a Besson film, you get entertainment and fun, not necessarily always too conventionally, but always in a way that enures things get blown up and people die loudly.
Ah yes. This was the movie that convinced me that Jean Reno (Empire of the Wolves, 2005)is one of Europe’s best actors. Equally as comfortable in high-octane action roles as he is in comedic roles such as this. Classed as an America film, it was directed by English man Paul Weiland (City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, 1994). This is not the most important movie of the 20th century and does not overly challenge us with deep insights into the human condition but it does entertain. You will laugh (deliberately), possibly cry but certainly enjoy this movie. This is another one of those “under the radar” movies which deserves to be remembered, watched and appreciated.
For Roseanna is a bitter-sweet comedy, set in a small Northern Italian town. Our Hero, Marcello, Loves his wife and will do anything for her, theirs is a happy marriage, which unfortunately has been touched by more than its fair share of sadness. After the loss of their only daughter some years earlier, they are now faced with the news that, Roseanna (Mercedes Ruehl, Doubt, 2013) is dying, her heart can give out at any time. Marcello who adores his wife, will do anything for her. The only problem is that he has to do anything. There is one very serious issue. More than anything Roseanna wants to be buried in the same graveyard as her daughter and there are only three graves left. The graveyard is full, there is no room for expansion.
There are a couple of options to solve this, firstly buy the land next to the cemetery and expand. This of course is the obvious solution, except for one issue. The owner of the land knows exactly how important the sale is to Marcello and point blankly refuses to sell the land; many years ago was in love with Roseanna, but she had only eyes for Marcello, decades later he still burns a torch for her and refuses to allow Marcello a final happiness, he still regards him as his love rival.
Added to this is Marcello’s one man mission to save everybody in the village. Not from any altruistic love for humanity but rather to ensure there is a grave left for his wife. This mission obviously causes some great comedic moments which also manage to add to the emotion of the total production.
So, faced with caring for his dying wife, ensuring the town-folk don’t die and trying to get the land for the cemetery, Marcello is under pressure. So much so that Roseanna decides he needs help and so enlists her sister Cecilia (Polly Walker, John Carter, 2012) to not only help around their bar, but also to “take care” of Marcello once she is gone. Marcello is having none of it.Marcello is running himself into the ground trying to make life as easy as possible for his wife, while saving the locals from their various dangers, often to the amusement of the villagers.
As Marcello struggles to find a solution for his ailing wife, there are multiple challenges thrown their way, with Marcello and Roseanna deftly overcoming them and never losing sight of the future. As with all good movies, there is a twist near the end, one which perfectly compliments the overall production and finishes the movie off nicely.
A good movie can be like a good meal, made of simple, but perfect ingredients, well produced with care, the end product is unassuming but excellent. That’s what this movie is like. Ask anybody to name a few Jean Reno movies and the usual selection will appear, but look to his credits and you’ll notice a number of films you may not recognise, the vast majority of them excellent, this first among them.
From 1997, the film is set in the dying days of the old Soviet “empire” in what was then Czechoslovakia. It is about 15 years since I first saw this film and it still brings a smile. Directed by Jan Svĕrák (Dark Blue World, 2001) and staring his brother Zdenek SvĕráK. It was written by Zdenek and Pavel Taussig. Our hero is Louka (Jan SvĕráK, Empties 2007). Louka used to be a cellist with the Czechoslovak Symphony Orchestra but was removed for reasons falling somewhere between deliberate and mistake, this was in the days of bureaucratic decisions being made by the technocrats regardless of the effects. Light-hearted and warm it tackles the events of the time in a manner which might just bring your finger to your eye to wipe away something…nudge nudge. You will laugh.
Being unemployed, our confirmed bachelor, must have an income. He manages this by performing at weddings and funerals. He also supports himself by painting tombstones. In with all of this is his relationship with his on/off girlfriend. Between performances which to say the least, he has no interest in, he talks with his friend the gravedigger. It is here that he learns of a way to make some money fast; marry a Russian bride so she gets her visa out of Russia. Sounds like it could be done, so he agrees.
The arrangements are made and before long, Louka is married to his Russian bride. At this stage we could say they lived happily ever after, but then there would be no film, in fact things go down-hill at an appreciable rate. His Russian bride has her heart elsewhere, namely with her boyfriend I West Germany. Before long she leaves Louka and heads to Germany leaving her son, Kolya behind. Kolya goes to live with his grand-mother for a while but she dies and the authorities decide the child must live with his step-father; Louka
After some resistance, from all side, Louka and Kolya begin to settle down together with room being made in his dingy garret flat. The fact that neither of them speaks the other’s language doesn’t help either. As they progress slowly coming to terms with each other, fate throws another spanner in to the works, Kolya contracts meningitis which requires specific medication for him. This all brings the situation for the two into focus with the authorities. Louka is threatened with prison.
As the world is about to come tumbling down around him, events in the outside world gather pace and the old regime is swept away by the Velvet Revolution. This together with the events in Germany, Kolya’s mother is able to be reunited with him. Things end well for Louka also, he and his girlfriend soon have a new family member to care for.
This is an easy going film, looking at life from the point of view of somebody who despite having things go against him, is determined to get on with things. There are some great moments of simple verbal and situational comedy scattered in here, which make it a cut above the rest. Dig it up, watch it and feel better about life.
This is one of those movies that allows you to just sit back and enjoy it. The plot is straight forward a small fishing harbour in Newfoundland is dying, there are only about 120 people left in the harbour (it is not a village!) and they need to do something about it. That something hinges on there being a doctor in the harbour community.
In the middle of all this is Murray French, (Brendan Gleeson) one of the locals who lives his life in the harbour, like all the other men of the village, he is on the social welfare. The routine of welfare payments and cheque cashing punctuates the life of the town. As it happens a petrochemical reprocessing plant is looking to open, but has not selected a site yet. The towns-folk need to act fast. The latest person to leave is the mayor. In the absence of the mayor, Murray steps in and becomes town mayor, assisted by Simon (Gordon Pinsent, Beachcombers 1975-1978) a neighbour who fully understands what needs to be done and Henry Tilley, (Mark Critch, Republic of Doyle, 2010-2014) who is the local bank manager/clerk, who is very conscious of being only one step away of being replaced by an ATM. The big stumbling blocks are the need to have a resident doctor in the Harbour and the $100K “personal assurances” that the head of the petrochemical company wants. It to the mix is Murray’s view of ethics, he’s very much a “end-justifies
What follows is the discovery of a doctor, who might be persuaded to stay for a month and then possibly longer. Sound familiar? I could be cruel and say this movie is largely unoriginal simply throwing a fresh twist on a plot that has been done excellently a number of times previously. Not least of all, the Gold standard for any such comedy: Whisky Galore, (1949, Alexander Mackendrick) where we see the village come together to plunder a ship full of whisky which has come ashore. The more immediate comparison would be with Doc Hollywood (1991, Michael Caton-Jones) where our hero is sentenced to work in the town as a doctor for a short while following a minor car accident. As with This movie, our hero (Michael J Fox, Back to the Future, 1985). There is also one particular sequence where they are trying to “inflate” the harbour’s population, that reminded me of Ward Bond’s call in The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952) for his parishioners to shout like good Protestants, as the Anglican Bishop was passing through (to save the Anglican Minister’s parish by having the Bishop think it is somewhat larger than it is).
So, you may be tempted to say we’ve seen it all before. That would be a mistake. What we have here is first class situational comedy. Taylor Kitsch (John Carter 2012) plays Dr Lewis, the up and coming young plastic surgeon whose career has hit a pump by being found with cocaine – as it happens by the former mayor, now working as a customs official, he has an idea!
With that, the town begins to tidy itself up so as to make it look like a place he would want to stay. What follows is a series of rolling jokes like the cliff-top cricket match, the phone monitoring and a dozen other standing jokes. Which all combine to make this a very entertaining movie with gags for all of the family.
What makes this movie work is a concentration on the senses, Director Don McKellar (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, 2010) uses Douglas Koch’s cinematography to its fullest capturing the rugged beauty of the location and of the Harbour, the richness of colour adds to the positive nature of this movie. As well as the visuals, the script itself is razor sharp, much to the credit of Michael Dowse and Ken Scott. Whether or not this is a good thing, the sound track supporting the movie also got itself noticed and favourably.
Sit back and enjoy a light-hearted situational comedy which will leave you feeling as if the world is not all that bad. I’m not going to go through the movie gag-by-gag, but suffice it to say this is a tightly directed ensemble production which works well on every level. Before I finish, in case you think I forgot it, yes there are parallels with the Bill Forsyth’s 1983 classic “Local Hero”, in both cases the movie sets out simply to entertain, and it both cases they did perfectly.
I was tempted to give this a perfect score, I have not laughed with a movie as I did with The Grand seduction in a long time. Nothing is perfect so 9/10.
The great thing about Dead Snow is that it follows the formula necessary for such productions and sticks to it. Possibly one of the most influential Nazi zombie snow movies ever made. You get the gist. When making a movie in a genre that has been hackneyed to death (sorry!) , as you may know, there is a formula for these movies – an abandoned cottage , or dark basement/castle or some other deserted/creepy place. A handful of students ranging from the sporty to nerd, male and female – you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. Anyway, in this case we got a group of Norwegian students, up in the mountains, miles away from civilisation and nothing there for them except their cabin. Plans all made for a busy weekend of “studying”. I’m not mentioning what happened in the outhouse, you’ll have to watch for yourselves.
The film was directed and written by Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, 2013) he also gave himself a cameo role as one of the dying zombies. Our seven heroes are all settled when they have a night visitor, who has a simple warning for them “there’s an evil presence here”. The first thing you notice when watching is that there’s not much of an original thought here, but it is done well. There’s even a reference to “Friday the 13th”. They learn of the Nazi past and the missing soldiers believed to have frozen on the mountains. Not long after, we get introduced to our resurrecting zombies, disturbed by the students. In the course of this all the usual happens, they split up, one has to amputate his own arm and so on.
The ensuing zombie chase to kill our Norwegian friends provides us with all the glorious blood splattering, intestine spewing gore expected of such a movie. But it is done so well… There are a few directors who have managed to perfect this sub-genre (zombie Horror movies), Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead 1981) and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, 1968) are the obvious examples. Wirkola knew what he wanted and went for it.
The plot is as it is – holidaying teenagers alone in a cabin discover an evil nasty (in this case Nazi Zombies) and then spend the best part of 90 minutes largely failing to escape them, indeed not only failing to escape but also perhaps failing to survive. There are of course some glaring plot holes, but these are made up for by the one of the students who actually knows his movie trivia and drops in the appropriate one liner when needed, a good writing move.
It should be pointed out that these are no ordinary zombies, they are Nazi zombies and as such are a determined bunch (either that or hungry), chasing victims up trees (forcing the victim up the tree), of course in her case if she had not being wearing a bright red jacket in snow, or climbed up the only tree with a crow’s nest – the trouble with disturbing crows is that they make noise, al lot of it. Telling them to sush is not very productive or helpful when there is a zombie just below you. On the bright side, when falling off a cliff, their intestines are more than strong enough to catch and hold on to (take note in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation).
You will note that I’m not listing off the world famous Norwegian movie stars who played the hapless victims, being honest, they were fodder, for script and zombies. Some people have damned this movie as derivative and unoriginal, sure, but was it meant to be new and original? I will however credit Ørjan Gamst as Colonel Herzog (who will be in the sequel). This movie is not about Shakespearian monologues, or slow sweeping vistas Ang Lee would be proud of. No the camera work is rationed, each second of screen time is there for a reason, ala Guilermo del Toro. I’m going to stop on this point right now. Well just adding that in fairness this movie was not done on a huge Hollywood budget, but managed to use its finances well and produce a well-crafted offering. Just because a movie is not big-budget doesn’t mean it has to look cheap and dated.
This movie works quite simply because it is a comedy, designed to put a smile on our faces and not take itself too seriously. That said I’ve developed serious bouts of the giggles at other horror flicks but often because they were so poorly produced, regardless of budget, they were always going to be bad. What makes this movie actually watchable is that it was technically made well, all things considered.
The plot is thinner than the ice they are on and like most things in the frozen Norwegian mountains, needs time to warm up, but after about the first 15 minutes things get lively with the appearance of the zombie Nazis. Leave your brain in the bedroom, and just sit back and enjoy. Yes, it is derivative; no, it is not very original; but maybe you’ll enjoy it.
There’s not much more you can say about students being chased around a deserted mountain by zombies. Just as Cabin Fever worked because of its satirical approach, this works because of a similar approach, but no so much satire as light-hearted homage to those movies which went before it.
Three stars – a respectable score, especially given the starting point.
This is the film the French are really proud of, and rightly so. Some critics have panned this movie as overly safe, and not challenging the issues and stereotypes that need to be challenged. It ignored them, or dealt with them in a way that said we do not consider this a problem. American critics have been overly sensitive to the race issue; poor black man working for a rich white man. The Parisians would probably see it as a guy on benefit, needing to have a paper signed who ends up with the job he did not expect.This movie is simply about two people who despite, or perhaps because of their differences become friends.
We should not look for issues, where there are none. Indeed, I think central to this movie is the very noble though that, we as humans are all to be treated with the same respect regardless of colour, race, wealth, background. Sure we see people from different backgrounds trying to adjust to the lives they currently live, but we see them succeeding.
T his is not a movie which sets out to challenge us and force us to live good and decent lives being nice to all of those about us. This is a movie about some fundamentally decent people who happen to hit off a mutually beneficial friendship which provides us with a very rewarding movie along the way.
In many ways this is a road movie as out two heroes Driss (Omar Sy, Micmacs 2009- Sy won France’s César Award for Best Actor, 2011, ahead of Jean Dujardin in the Artist – see below) and Philippe (François Cluzet, Tell No One, 2006) an extremely rich quadriplegic who needs a new carer. Philippe is restless and sees something, a spark, in Driss which intrigues him. Philippe’s other staff eventually warm to Driss and friendships are formed when all realise he has his employers best interests at heart. Never trained as a carer there are moments of great humour as his new duties unfold. As with his discovery of his living quarters, the luxury contrasts with the crowded squalor from which he came.
This movie does not set out to change the world. If it has a perceived failing it is that it may lead some people to think that was its aim. However if you sit back and let the journey unfold, travel with them you will be rewarded with some great urban cinematography as well as great areal gliding shots.
This movie is nothing more than a well made light hearted comedy, there are no hidden agendas. It is based, so the credits say on a true story. This I can believe because only a true story of two people crossing paths could generate a further story with no particular aim other than to retell the history of their relationship.
The use of genuine situational comedy is excellent we are almost in tears looking at scenes, which in another context would never have come near provoking a laugh. Driss’s thoughts on modern art, together with his attempts to engage with the same are smartly used to culminate in a second joke, Philippe is able to poke fun at his society friends and in the course of events do the right thing.
Rating 9/10, it is not perfect, after all there were a couple of shots where Sy, was hanging off the dolly-grip, some careful editing might have avoided them, also, a slight pet hate – the sub-titles should actually translate what was being said rather than add a particular English (or American ) turn of phrase. The context of the wording does not always works ( I say does not always work, I only noticed the differences a few times and it only jarred once.
Go see this movie – no ifs, buts, ands or maybes, just go and watch it, enjoy it. This movie is France’s second highest ever grossing film and is the French nomination for Best Foreign Film at next year’s Oscars; there is a reason for these two events.
Okay, as soon as I saw reference to this movie at the Galway Film Fleadh, I was hooked. This movie has been described as a B-movie comedy. “B-movie” does not mean bad, just that it does not have studio millions behind it. This is a comedy and as you probably know by now, I like my comedy to be properly constructed, following ancient rules, this movie does that, indeed following rules and convention is something director Jon Wright (Tormented, 2009) and newcomer to feature length work, writer Kevin Lehane do throughout the movie.
I’m going to get the obvious connections out of the way; Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990); this is very much in the same style but probably more funny. It is probably more in line with Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) with the community feel to the ongoing story. I mentioned rules earlier and Wright seems to follow very closely some Irish rules of thumb when it comes to comedy. 1) an outside in the village, usually a slightly eccentric Englishman or German such as the character of the General (Sam Harris) in John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) or Major Yates himself (Peter Bowles) in The Irish RM (1983). The Irish RM brings us to the second necessary character – the town drunk who also happens to be quite smart and more than capable of coming out well from any situation, we see this with the Character of Slipper, played by Niall Tobin is the series. Such a character might be described (using the Hiberno-English vernacular) as a “cute whore” which is a cunning but good natured person. Another movie which comes to mind is The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973) given the sense of isolation.
Being so formulaic can often destroy a movie as the team concentrate on the formulae and not the heart and soul of the movie, here however they capture the comic essence needed, indeed the casting was perfect as soon as you saw the actors in a number of cases you knew what you were in for.
Headed by Richard Coyle (Going Postal 2010) playing Garda Ciarán O’Shea with Ruth Bradley (Love/Hate, 2011) playing the Garda sent in to support O’Shea while the sergeant is on vacation. The pair seem totally mismatched and polar opposites. As strange things begin to happen such as whales washing up on shore, they meet up with the English marine biologist working on the island, Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey, Being Human, 2008) who brilliantly plays the reserved and very proper scientist trying to do things the right way. SO here is the village outside needed by the “rules”. The team deserve credit for knowing just how far to take a character such as Smith, stopping short of cliché. Pretty soon people start to go missing and alien creatures start to appear.
One is captured by the town drunk/small time fisherman and general smart-arse (again using the H-E vernacular) played brilliantly by Lalor Roddy (Game of Thrones, 2011). An experienced stage and screen actor he know exactly what was needed. I could continue with the rest of the support cast , but sufficient to say they were all first class. I should also give a mention to the excellent CGI, evidence of the work that can be done on a budget.
The plot, in short is; alien creatures crash in to the sea just off the island and quickly make their way ashore. Strange things start to happen and people begin disappearing. Eventually one of the octopus like alien creatures is captured and killed (possibly). This bring more trouble in the shape of the alien’s (far, far larger female partner). Ultimately our heroes and the rest of the village have to make a stand in the village pub (probably another rule there) for reasons most enjoyably left to the movie to explain. Here they battle to save the community, the island and of course all mankind. The battle tactics make the movie.
I’ve avoid reference to The Guard (John-Michael McDonagh, 2011) so far, so it is about time I did the inevitable. I enjoyed The Guard, I really enjoyed Grabbers. Wright has placed the McDonagh brothers on notice. In short this movie is Father Ted (Channel 4, 1995-98) meets Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) and as good as either of them.
A lesser effort would have been wholly predicable, this was not. This is The Birds (Hitchcock, 1963) as a full comedy.
Rating 9/10, I look forward to more work from this team.
The trouble with being a Disney/Pixar creation is that a lot is expected of the output. Some critics have said this movie is light on plot while others have said some of the background animation is too good…too good! well that’s all as may be. The truth in my opinion, is that they have again produced a kids’ movie suitable for adults. The story line will appeal to kids while keeping adults entertained, the script will appeal to adults while keeping kids entertained. I saw this movie with two friends, both admitted to watery eyes at various stages during the movie, me, I laughed a lot.
So what about the movie? It is based on a Scottish king Fergus (Billy Connolly, Mrs. Brown, 1997) with a proud and correct queen; Elinor (Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day, 1993) , a rather willful 16 princess; Merida (Kelly MacDonald, Intermission, 2003). The opening scenes are of the family picnicking celebrating a young Merida’s birthday, only to have an infamous bear attack. The movie then moves to about 10 years later, the King as it turns out, lost a leg in the attack, burt has gained many years of story telling embellishing what happened on that day. There are also the three young princes. These are a interesting plot tool, providing some of the best humour and convenient plot devices when needed. Merida is now 16 and must have a husband found for her from amoung the clans, the clans arive at the castle to win her hand, she chooses an archery competition, which she then enters and well wins. All kinds of chaos ensue and ultimately Merida runs away after arquing with her mother and ends up in the cottage of a wood-turning witch (Julie Walters, Mo 2010) who gives the girl a spell to change here mother. THe spell is administered and it does change her mother; into a bear.
What follows is a voyage of Merida finding a solution, growing closer to her mother and ultimately saving the day (it is Disney after all). There are some excellent comedic moments scattered throughout. Was the plot suitable for adults? Yes, it was not overly taxing but highly entertaining. The overall movie works with some speed and manages not to sag in the middle, end result we were kept entertained till the end. The soundtrack is also quite good, I might have to look into a CD
This is a cartoon aimed at kids but with adults firmly in mind. There are a couple of kilt jokes which while predicted were well executed. The scenes in the great hall firstly where the suitors are introduced and later when all are fighting are both excellently executed and quite funny, little things like the characterisation of Fergus’ hounds were much appreciated.
Rating 8/10, nothing is perfect – for the first few minutes every time I heard the princess’s name being called I was put in mind of a certain piece of French but; C’est la vie!
The Chef, written and directed by Daniel Cohen (Les Deux Mondes 2007) who is better known as an actor has acquitted himself well here. This is probably best described as a romantic comedy in the sense of a light nice story line regarding the following of one’s dreams and aspirations; there is at least one marriage proposal, but that’s only in support of the overall story.
What we have in this movie is a young self-trained chef “jacky Bonnot” ( Michaël Youn, Les 11 Comandements, 2004) who cannot keep down a steady job because his standards are too high and as such often takes offence at the eating habits of his customers when they order the wrong wine or side accompaniment to the main dish. With a child on the way and a large overdraft he needs to find regular work, his girlfriend manages to arrange a six month contract painting windows at an upmarket retirement home.
Meanwhile Alexandre Legarde (Jean Reno) is a multiple starred chef in the restaurant holding his name. The only problem is that he no longer owns the establishment, having sold it to in international restaurant chain. The chain wants Legarde to modernise his menu and include a selection of modern gastro dishes which he is totally against. The powers are bringing in a new English chef to provide a modern ambience . With only a matter of days before he has to launch his spring menu the pressure is on – can he keep his stars and reputation.
Circumstances bring the two chefs together at the retirement home where Legarde is visiting his old mentor who also happens to be the father of the owner of the restaurant chain now in command. Jacky has struck-up a friendship with the home’s chefs and they have tried some of his recipe suggestions, one of those recipes is one developed by Legarde some years previously but with some slight modifications which actually work. Legarde offers his the job as his deputy immediately ( the company owning his establishment has offered his deputies head chef roles in restaurants around the world which they obviously took, leaving him short key staff)
I’m trying not to give too much away here, as it is one of those movies which just swims along and it is best if you just follow the current with it. The two men start working together, along the way they must save relationships, create the new menu, keep the restaurant out of the English chef’s hands and keep their sanity.
The long awaited/feared arrives and a menu is presented; but does it work? Watch and find out.
Reno is one of those actors who can turn his hands to different characters from hard, in-control assassins, police investigators to hapless husbands. Best known internationally for his roles in productions such as Leon (1994), Ronin (1998) or Crimson Rivers (Les Rivières Pourpres, 2000), I would consider Roseanna’s Grave (1997) as one of my favourite of his roles.
Michaël Youn who plays Jacky is a well known comedian in France and his talent shows. Typical of what I think is a very French way the comic hero is almost manic with his straight man being calm and solid but no less flawed and open to the help of the junior partner. Such is the nature of this movie that you know the ending almost from the start, you know it is going to be a happy ending, the only question is how do they make it happen? This movie answers that question in a relaxed almost comfortable manner which brings the viewer along with the offering.
Rating = 6/10, a firm 3 star rating, it entertains as well as making you hungry, just perfect for a night in with that special somebody.