Archive for the 2010 Category

Letters to Juliet – 2010

Posted in 2010, Drama, Romance with tags , , , on December 12, 2010 by filmglutton

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a wannabe writer at the New Yorker who is about to get married to her boyfriend Victor. Victor is busy with preparations to open his own restaurant. They take a pre-wedding honeymoon to Verona, Italy, where Victor goes to a lot of wineries and food places and Sophie is left to explore the city alone. While at the House of Juliet in Verona – where women have been leaving lovelorn letters for decades – Sophie finds a letter written by an Englishwoman named Claire 50 years earlier. After Sophie posts a reply, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) arrives in Verona with her grandson Charlie (Chris Egan) to find her long-lost love Lorenzo. Sophie sees the opportunity for a good story, but doesn’t anticipate her growing attraction to Charlie…

 

It’s unfortunate that Amanda Seyfried is terribly dull in this film. I’ve seen her in other roles in which she had much more ‘spark’, so I don’t know if it’s her fault or the fault of the director/screenwriter. But what this film really needed was a strong heroine. It doesn’t matter if that heroine is unsure or confused, but it needs to be someone we bond with and want to succeed. As it is, Seyfried just drifts through the clichéd screenplay with little pizzazz and we can’t feel anything but ambivalent. Her co-stars are not much better. The usually wonderful Vanessa Redgrave has little to do here,  but she is the most watchable of the actors. Chris Egan manages a barely passable English accent.

 

The screenplay has all the usual clichés, but at least it has more heart than a lot of the romantic comedies that come out (you know, movies like Bride Wars with truly deplorable lead characters). There are no prizes for guessing how the film will end, and chances are you will be able to finish the characters’ sentences. The plot is pretty thin and most of the characters aren’t fleshed out very well.

This is not a terrible film, but it can never be better than mediocre because that’s all it aims for. Teenage girls will probably get the most enjoyment out of this, because they might be able to connect with the (shallow) romances in the film. That’s no offence to teen girls – I can just imagine myself enjoying this film 6 or 7 years ago. As far as a weekend out with Mum and Grandma, this film is not a bad choice because it appeals to the different generations. My mum and I enjoyed it a bit (I really only mean a bit – as in, we didn’t walk out). If you are a man, do not watch this. The sappiness might kill you. You have been warned.

My rating:

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Love, Lust & Lies – 2010

Posted in 2010, Australian, Documentary/Mockumentary with tags , on December 12, 2010 by filmglutton

In 1975, young director Gillian Armstrong made a documentary about 3 working-class teenage girls in Adelaide, exploring what it was like to be a 14-year-old girl. The girls were Josie, Diana and Kerry, and the documentary provided a brutally honest insight into their lives. What’s life like now that they’re pushing 50?This is the fifth in this documentary series which has followed these women since they were 14 years old. Don’t fret if you haven’t seen the previous ones, because we are given a recap at the beginning to bring us up to speed. I had seen the other instalments and I was very keen to catch up with these women.

 

Gillian Armstrong is one of my favourite filmmakers, and this is just a wonderful documentary, the best of the series (she won the ADG Award for Best Director of a Documentary in 2010 for this film). The women in this are so real, and we really see life unfolding before our eyes. All three women had similar upbringings in a poorer area, but their current lives are very different. Kerry is the most ‘normal’: she married in her late 20s, and has been with her husband ever since. She also had kids later, and as a family unit they all seem very happy. This has been a successful step up in life for Kerry. Diana is the most disappointing of the group. Always outspoken and vivacious, Diana was married with a baby at age 18, and has always struggled to gain her own independence. I don’t want to say too much about her and spoil to documentary for you, but there are a lot of revelations here about her marriage and her children. It’s like Diana is trying to re-live her youth; she is very thin (too thin) and dresses like a teenager. She has gambling problems and just generally seems to be very immature. My favourite throughout the series was always Josie. Josie is warm and honest with a truly beautiful soul. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to that’s seen this film has connected with Josie, and she’s also been the one with the most heartache. Some family skeletons are revealed in this doco (one of her revelations about her mother had me bawling), but generally we already know Josie had it tough. She had two children by age 18, and, in one heartbreaking sequence from 1980’s 14’s Good, 18’s Better, Josie revealed that she sent herself flowers when she was in hospital because everyone else had flowers, so why shouldn’t she? It’s this kind of honesty that makes Josie so endearing . She’s done it tough, but she’s a battler and really trying to make something of herself. Aside from the three women we also see their families, including the next generation. This invites an interesting comparison between the women and their children, and gives us some insight into what effect a lack of education can have on future prospects and happiness.

 

I enjoyed this film immensely. It’s so real and powerful, and I really care about these women and the choices they make. There’s a lot of sadness, a lot of laughter, and it’s an extremely interesting look at life. I made my whole family watch it and they liked it too. The issues here are universal, so if you are interested in documentaries, try to get your hands on this one. You won’t be disappointed.

My rating:

Inception (2010)

Posted in 2010, Action, Blockbuster, Drama, Reviews, Thriller with tags , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by filmglutton

Ok, I’m not going to write a synopsis, because if you haven’t seen Inception yet, you should be watching it without knowing anything of the plot beforehand…it’s all the more fun to discover it during the viewing! The only thing I’ll say is that it’s about dreams…

This is a movie that requires a bit of thinking from its audience…how refreshing is that? All of the actors are great, though some are given more to work with than others. Leonardo DiCaprio proves yet again just what an arresting screen presence he is. He carries this movie effortlessly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is swoon-worthy (ok, so I have a crush), Marion Cotillard (as usual) manages to bring something special to every scene she’s in, Ellen Page is great as the young architect…and many of the other supporting players are similarly good. This a a great ensemble piece and it’s an added bonus that all of them are great to look at too.

This is a blockbuster, which makes this film even better because it doesn’t cheat the audience; it shows us that you don’t have to substitute substance for explosions. It was written, directed and producer by Christopher Nolan…we must all bow down to him!  I wasn’t too fussed on The Dark Knight (don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a really good film, but not great. Definitely not 5 stars…) but this is fantastic. I was completely into it the whole way through and the movie just flew by. It’s a crazy ride…afterwards I was left with the sense that I’d been dreaming. Weird. Some people found this movie too confusing, but I just went with it. I hate it when people try to pick apart the logic of the movie after they’ve seen it. JUST ENJOY IT!

Inception has hardly any swearing and is not terribly violent (while there are plenty of gun fights etc, there’s no blood or gore), so it appeals to a wider audience. While the themes are quite dark (Marion Cotillard’s character, in particular, provides some creepy moments) it is suitable for teens and up. I won’t say any more about this. It’s a total crowd pleaser. Some have said this is an instant classic, and I might agree with them. Unless you’re one of those indie people that hates all commercial films (you know who you are!), I guarantee you will enjoy this one.

 My rating:

The Social Network (2010)

Posted in 2010, Based on True Events, Drama, Reviews with tags , , , , on December 7, 2010 by filmglutton

The Social Network is a film about Mark Zuckerberg, the man behind Facebook, and how he developed Facebook when he was a student at Harvard. As portrayed in the film by Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg is a man-child with poor social skills and extreme intellect. After getting dumped by his girlfriend, he drunkenly hacks into the college websites and creates a website where everyone can rate the hotness of undergrad girls. The website is extremely popular and is shut down quickly. Zuckerberg creates a name for himself and is approached to help create a a social networking website. Zuckerberg has ideas of his own and eventually launches The Facebook. It doesn’t take long for the website to take off, for friendships to fall apart, and for the legal battles to begin.

This is a wonderful film about recent events. Is it all true? Doubtful. But it does make for engaging entertainment. Mark Zuckerberg is a very interesting protagonist/antagonist. I came out of the movie thinking “What a douche!” But that’s not really the point. The point is that this brilliant student created the biggest website in the world. He is 26-years-old, and one of the world’s youngest billionaires. More than 500 MILLION people use Facebook. I’m one of them.

 The actors all do a fine job. Jesse Eisenberg is quite fantastic as Zuckerberg, managing to make you empathise with this largely unlikable character. The character you care about most is Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), probably because he’s a kind of naïve guy that gets totally betrayed by Zuckerberg. That’s gotta suck (but then again, don’t believe everything you see; it’s impossible to tell how much is fact and how much is fiction). Many of you may be wondering about Justin Timberlake. Well, JT is JT. He always seems to be playing a version of himself, and he hasn’t convinced me that he can act. But he’s fine in the role of Sean Parker.

I did come out of this movie wondering about my own involvement in Facebook. It’s the most addictive website ever created, and I find myself sitting in front of my computer, hitting refresh every two minutes. Seriously, how sad is that? But this is the phenomenon that Zuckerberg created, and it’s fascinating to get an insight into the origins of Facebook in this fantastic film.

It’s kind of a weird movie in a way, because it doesn’t seem like the kind of material that would make a good movie. Just imagine pitching this one to anybody! But the script is fantastic, and the film really works. It seamlessly moves between 2003, when Facebook was created, and 2007 during a lawsuit. It’s hard to rate something like this. It was totally engaging, and it was directed by David Fincher so of course technically everything was pretty perfect. But as far as emotions, it isn’t the kind of film that really moves you. I know I harp on about this a bit, but I think that’s the thing that makes a film stay with you long after you leave the cinema. I watched Frost/Nixon, for example, and thought it was a wonderful movie, but it’s quit forgettable because it doesn’t really move you. It’s the same with this movie. It’s great, but will I remember it in a year? Will I want to watch it again?

Only time will tell.

 My Rating:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part I (2010)

Posted in 2010, Action, Blockbuster, Drama, Reviews, Teen with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by filmglutton

This is part one of the seventh installment of the hugely successful Harry Potter series. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to know about Harry and his adventures, and this film sets the scene for the grand finale. The question is, does it live up to its predecessors?

With Lord Voldermort in power, the wizarding world is now a dangerous place, where a Nazi-like regime threatens muggles and mixed-blood wizards. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) are on the search for Horcruxes, objects that contain parts of Voldermort’s soul. Two horcruxes have already been destroyed, but they must find and destroy the remaining four before Lord Voldermort can be killed.  Finding and destroying the horcruxes proves more difficult than they imagined, and their friendships are tested and their lives put in danger….but hey, I’m sure you know all of this already!

There have been many mixed reviews for this film, but Potter fans will probably love it. It’s great to catch up with these characters and see them grow. Harry, Hermione and Ron really come into their own in this film, the first time they have been of age and away from Hogwarts. Their relationships with each other are more complex than ever, particularly in the confines of a tent as they move around the countryside. Apart from Harry, Ron and Hermione, not many of the other characters get much screen-time. We see the Dursley’s very briefly (which is a shame, because it would have been nice to have seen the scene with Dudley from the book play out) at the beginning, and also see the Weasley family at the beginning. We see Luna (the lovely Evanna Lynch), Snape (Alan Rickman), Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes), the Malfoy’s, a brief glimpse of Neville…but really, the primary focus of this film is the trio. This is essentially a road movie, and they won’t reach their destination until the next installment.

The performances are all fine. Alan Rickman is only in one scene at the beginning but he manages to steal it even when he says very little. His on-screen presence is impressive, and Rickman is certainly one of the best performers in the franchise (though he doesn’t have much screen-time in this one). Daniel Radcliffe is good as Harry, Emma Watson has really improved and is lovely as Hermione, and Rupert Grint gets some meaty angst that he plays it very well. Ron is a flawed character but he’s also very genuine, and I get the feeling he’s the firm fan favourite (but maybe I’m just biased, he’s certainly my favourite!)

Casual Potter fans will have trouble keeping up, and Potter first-timers will have absolutely no chance of understanding what’s going. The days of Potter being family entertainment are over; this is definitely not a film for children. It has got some scary sequences (especially with the snake) and mature themes. Romance blooms between Ron and Hermione (Yay! Adorable!) but it falters when Ron suspects that Hermione has feelings for Harry. DRAMA!

 The film has one main fault: it’s just too long. I really enjoyed the movie, but, as Part I of this book, 2.5 hours is much too long, it should have been 2 hours maximum. It tends to drag in places, particularly for people who haven’t read the book.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THE NEXT PARAGRAPH>>>>>>> 

The Godric’s Hollow sequence is the most superfluous in the film, and could easily have been cut. It worked in the book but only weighed the movie down. We didn’t need to see Harry at his parents’ graves, and we certainly didn’t need to see the sequence with Bathilda Bagshot. It added nothing to the story. The only thing that furthered the plot here was that Hermione found the book by Rita Skeeter, which led them to finding out who the boy in Harry’s visions was (Grindelwald), but they could have found another way to do this, because this section of the movie really drags, especially since Ron is MIA. Another thing: if you’re a softie, be prepared for a few tears at the end when our beloved Dobby dies!

 END SPOILERS

I saw this film twice in the cinemas and I will be buying it on DVD. This is not a masterpiece by any standards, but it is very competent filmmaking and fans of Harry Potter will really enjoy seeing the saga played out on-screen. I, like many others, have come to love these characters and this world, and I will feel sad to say goodbye to Harry Potter, a franchise that’s been in my life since I was 10-years-old, when the 2nd Part is released next year.

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: