Archive for the Drama 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:


Nowhere Boy – 2009

Posted in 2009, Based on True Events, Drama with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by filmglutton

Nowhere Boy is a film about the early years of John Lennon. Lennon (Aaron Johnson) is a restless teen who lives with his Aunt Mimi (Kristen Scott Thomas). This is not so much a film about the beginnings of the Beatles, but Lennon’s estrangement from his mother (Anne-Marie Duff) and his attempts to re-connect with her. His mother teaches him a few chords on the banjo and John is suddenly hooked on music, learning to play the guitar and forming his own band, The Quarrymen. A young Paul McCartney sees them play and joins the band, later bringing his friend George Harrison into the fold. But at the core of this is Lennon’s relationship with the two women in his life: his mother and his aunt.

If you’re expecting to hear any Beatles music in this, you’ll be disappointed. The unmistakeable opening chord from A Hard Day’s Night rings out as the film opens, but we aren’t treated to any more Beatles music. There is plenty of rock n roll, though, with young Lennon being inspired by Elvis.

The performances are quite good in this, with a particularly superb performance from Kristen Scott Thomas. But really, would expect anything less from her? Aaron Johnson is fine, but perhaps not the ideal actor for this part – he seems to lack the intensity or something. Anne-Marie Duff is very good as Lennon’s mother, and I think Thomas Brodie Sangster makes a very sweet Paul McCartney.

This is not a major movie. There are moments where it falters, both in the screenplay and in the direction. The climatic moment of the movie is handled quite strangely and doesn’t affect you as it should. It’s a well-made film but there’s nothing particularly outstanding or interesting about it. If you’re a Beatles fan you’ll get a kick out of it, and it’s worth catching if you get the chance…but I wouldn’t buy it on DVD!

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.


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!


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:

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: