Archive for June, 2010

A League of their Own (1992)

Posted in 1992, Based on True Events, Comedy, Drama, Period Film, Sporting with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by filmglutton

A League of their Own is based on the first women’s baseball league in America in the 1940s. While the men were at war, somebody had the bright idea of establishing a women’s baseball league. Dotti (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) are sisters living in rural Oregon. Dotti’s husband (Bill Pullman) is fighting overseas. Dotti is the beautiful one of the family, and younger sister Kit always feels inferior. This feeling extends to baseball; when the league is scouting women, Dotti is the one they want. She encourages them to take on her sister. From here they make their way to Chicago where they try out for the teams. Here they meet some other women and future teammates. Their team is the Peaches, and they play alongside flirty Meg (Madonna), loudmouth Doris (Rosie O’Donnell), and plain Marla (Megan Cavanagh), among others. They are a melting pot of personalities that share a love of baseball. The team is assigned Jimmy (Tom Hanks) as a coach. He is a washed-up star that has spent the past 5 years drinking. He is rude and he can’t believe that he has to be with the women’s team.

 

This film was directed by Penny Marshall, and her husband has a small role as the head of the baseball league. The cast are well-suited, even Madonna. It’s surprising to see her in a film because she has such an enigmatic identity, but she is actually good as May (though it’s probably not too far from her real personality). Tom Hanks has the best part here. His character is angry and moody, so a lot of the laughs come from his over-the-top anger. Some fine comedy work from him here; actually, the movie just generally elicits some good laughs in addition to the more sentimental moments. 

Even though this is a sports movie it also has a strong narrative. I think it struck a good balance between the games, the characters, the humour and the drama. It has a lot of spirit and Marshall is obviously very enamoured by the idea of these strong women in the 40s. The ending is really nice, and the older versions of the characters look impressively similar to their younger counterparts. I may or may not have felt a bit teary at the end (it seems like I’ve been crying in films a fair bit lately), but this has been handled really well. It’s not too sentimental but just has a hint of nostalgia. There is so much to enjoy in this film. The baseball sequences are great and it’s interesting to see the characters’ relationships develop.

 

This is a great one for women of all ages (I remember liking it when I saw it as a child) but I think men will enjoy it too. It’s not too sentimental, and the women are really tough! Nice to see a woman directing this film also.

 My rating:

Twister (1996)

Posted in 1996, Action, Blockbuster, Drama, Romance, Thriller with tags , , on June 24, 2010 by filmglutton

Jo (Helen Hunt) was a child when an F5 twister ripped through their rural property and took her father with it. Fast-forward thirty years and Jo is a scientist obsessed with tracking twisters. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband Bill (Bill Paxton), a former twister tracker himself, arrives with his new fiance in tow to get divorce papers signed. Jo shows him the new machine they developed together, the ‘Dorothy’. Dorothy is intended to be sucked up by the twister and emit signals and data. Suddenly the plot takes off…there’s a twister to chase! Arrrrrrr!

Twister is the ultimate disaster blockbuster. I saw it when I was young, and after that I had an inbuilt fear of tornadoes. Luckily Australia doesn’t get any of those, but it didn’t stop me from being concerned.

The visual effects are incredible. My latest viewing was on blue ray, and the film holds up incredibly well. Sure, there are some effects shots that don’t look so great, but generally the twisters still look believable. I can’t help but think of all the work that went into making this film. This must have been an enormous undertaking, because they had to deal with weather situations, vehicles, remote location shooting, visual and special effects etc etc. Must have been a producers nightmare, but I think the filmmakers can still be proud of this film.

 

The same can be said of the actors. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton headline, and both are good in their roles, even managing to squeeze in that romantic angst. Hey, everyone knows that having ex-lovers always creates romantic tension. There are several recognisable faces here, both in Jo’s team and the team of their nemesis. In fact, he is played by Cary Elwes of Princess Bride fame. Among the recognisable faces is Phillip Seymour Hoffman in one of his first film roles. He is a highlight in this and he has some good one-liners.

A lot of critics panned this for its lack of plot. Um, WHO CARES??? Personally, I think it has just enough personal backstory to ensure that you are emotionally invested. Aside from the whole twister chasing thing, the main personal story here is the estranged relationship between Jo and Bill, and  I honestly think it’s done very well, even if it does take back-seat to the action plot.

Maybe the storyline is a little ludicrous, but it doesn’t matter. This is one I can watch again and again and again. It’s always exciting, and you always pick up new things along the way. Honestly, if you like disaster films or just ‘adventure’ish films, this is one to watch. Always reminds me of the 90s!!

My rating:

Sex and the City 2 (2010)

Posted in 2010, Drama, Romance with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by filmglutton

The ladies are back. This time Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is scared that she and Big (Chris Noth) are settling into married monotony, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is battling menopause with gusto, Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has hit the glass ceiling in her job, and Charlotte (Kristen Davies) is worried that Harry’s eye is wandering to the braless breasts of their young Irish nanny. Samantha is offered a work opportunity and the girls are whisked off to Abu Dhabi. Carrie runs into her ex, Aidan (John Corbett), who offers an exciting contrast to Big back at home. And…actually, that’s all I can really say about the plot.

Let me preface this review by saying that I loved the TV series, and even though the first movie wasn’t well-received, I was involved enough in the characters’ journey to thoroughly enjoy it. So it hurts me to say that this movie is a big pile of crap.

Honestly, this is just terrible. It goes downhill from the gay wedding at the beginning of the film in which Liza Minelli performs Beyonce’s Single Ladies. The whole plot was completely pointless. It was like they were happy with where they left the characters at the end of the last movie, but they wanted to make another film, so they created conflict out of nothing.

None of the characters have a decent story arc. Miranda was always my favourite, and she is given the short end of the stick here, with absolutely no story at all. Only Carrie and Charlotte are given real ‘problems’, but they are not interesting enough for us to care. Carrie has returned to her typical selfish self. Seriously, after all that time trying to win Big’s heart, what the hell is she whinging about? Charlotte whinges her way through the film without ever confronting Harry. Actually, the men only make a brief appearance at the beginning of the film. Only Big has a decent amount of screen time, but he is by far the most annoying of the spouses, so this is not particularly welcome. The dialogue is terrible, the cinematography is dreadfully dull…basically nothing about this is worth watching.

This was a true disappointment to me and the friend I saw it with. I’m not a chick-flick fan at the best of times, but the series was so great. Don’t waste your money with this one, it was a total waste of time…and very long, too, at nearly 3 hours. The clothes aren’t even nice, and don’t get me started on how racist and offensive it is. Blergh.

I unfortunately know women who enjoyed this movie. I only hope they get out and see some better films so they can learn to see the difference between a quality movie and this pile of junk.

My rating:

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Posted in 1986, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Teen with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by filmglutton

18-year-old Andie (Molly Ringwald) lives with her father on the wrong side of the tracks (literally). Her best friend is Duckie (Jon Cryer), a sometimes annoying/sometimes endearing pal since childhood. Andie is an intelligent individual, creating her own clothes from items she finds in second-hand stores. Of course, this makes her somewhat the outcast at school. Andie manages to catch the eye of wealthy boy Blaine (Andrew McCarthy), a sensitive type who is unlike his pretentious friends. He asks her out on a date, and from here the develop a relationship with many obstacles…

Of all the Brat Pack films, this is probably my favourite. It’s not as original as Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club, but there’s a real honesty here. This kind of story has been done over and over. Poor girl, rich boy, disapproval from both sides. However, it is, probably thanks to the king of teen cinema, the late great John Hughes, a wonderful teen romance. The film manages to be tender and feels fresh despite the apparent cliches.

A lot of the success of the film can be pinned on the wonderful performances of the leads. Nothing too special, but all of them are charismatic with good screen presence. Molly Ringwald really was something in those days. Several of the other main cast are still working today…see Two and a Half Men, my most hated TV show, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, another of my most hated.

 

It’s refreshing to see a film where not everyone lives in an upper-middle-class world where nobody seems to work but there’s always enough money for everything. Andie has real problems. Her mum left her and her dad. Her dad has been depressed and can’t hold a steady job. She is frequently ridiculed at school, but she is strong and faces her problems with dignity. This might not be the most original story ever but it is told sincerely and with heart.

 

I really liked this movie, I thought it was sweet and even though the concept is old I felt like I was seeing a ‘new’ story, one in which the outcome was not necessarily set in stone. A good teen flick.

My rating: