Archive for the Romance 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:

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:

Braveheart (1995)

Posted in 1995, Action, Based on True Events, Best Film Oscar, Blockbuster, Drama, Epic, Period Film, Romance, War with tags , , on January 15, 2010 by filmglutton

Braveheart, winner of the Best Picture Oscar, tells the story of William Wallace, the legendary hero who fought for Scottish independence in the late 1200s. This film has Mel Gibson in the lead role, a rugged and brave man with a keen intellect and sense of humour. Oh, just so charming. Anyway, as a young boy William has to cope with the death of his father and older brother, killed in a resistance battle. He goes away to live with his uncle, and when he returns he is intent on marrying and making a life for himself on a farm. He wants nothing to do with the violence that took his family away from him. He marries his childhood friend, Murron, in secret, but a tragic event causes him to retaliate against the English, and from here it escalates into full-blown battles led by Wallace and his loyal men.

It’s really strange to think back to the days when Mel Gibson sat on top of the movie making world. Think about it: this was an ACTOR who won best DIRECTOR for the film that won BEST PICTURE. It sounds like something from a screenplay. I do find it hard to believe he directed this, because I always think of him as an actor, but with Braveheart he proved that not only could he direct, but that he was very, very good. Because this is an extremely good film. The cinematography is beautiful, James Horner’s score is fitting, and the direction really is commendable. The battle sequences are amazing, it convincingly looks like there are thousands of men onscreen.

Besides William himself, other characters include love-of-his-life Murron (Catherine McCormack), best friend Hamish (Brendan Gleeson), evil Edward I (Longshanks) of England (Patrick McGoohan), insipid Edward II (Peter Hanley), his French wife Princess Isabelle (Sophie Marceau), and claimant to the Scottish throne Robert Bruce (Angus Macfayden). The actors are all fine, but this is really Mel’s film.

The battle scenes are violent and brutal. Perhaps not as gory as some more recent films, but they certainly have a raw brutality; and do be warned, we do see throats slashed and heads crushed. But Gibson does not dwell on these moments, so anyone who is a bit squeamish (like myself) will be fine!

The film has been criticised for its historical inaccuracies, corny one-liners, obligatory romance, for depicting only one side of the story, for supposedly being homophobic, and Gibson himself has been criticised for being too old (well, yes, especially when they want us to believe that Murron and William are almost the same age – yeah right!)  BUT Braveheart is not pretending to be a true historic account, it is presenting a myth. It is a piece of entertainment, a story of great breadth and excitement.

Braveheart is purely entertainment, a cinematic epic. And if you choose to look at it in this way, instead of an historical travesty, it joins the ranks as one of the great epic war films.
My Rating: 

Bright Star (2009)

Posted in 2009, Australian, Based on True Events, Drama, Period Film, Romance with tags , , , , on January 10, 2010 by filmglutton

Bright Star is about the last three years of John Keats’ life and his relationship with Fanny Brawne, the girl next door. Fanny is a strong-willed young woman with a skill for sewing, and she finds beauty in John’s poetry and personality. As the fall in love, however, we see that his health grows weaker, making for a sparkling yet doomed romance.

Bright Star has been hailed as Jane Campion’s best film since The Piano. I haven’t seen any of Jane Campion’s films other than The Piano, so I can’t really comment on that, but I will say that I think The Piano is the superior film.I think my problem with Bright Star was that it had very little plot. This is not a terrible thing, but it meant that the film felt quite, well, slow at times. I was still very engaged with the characters, but since you will probably know the outcome of the story (as spoiled by every review you read) there are no surprises in this film, nothing to keep you hanging on. And while I think the two leads had good chemistry, there is actually quite a lack of sexual tension (which was so prevalent in The Piano and is something which really draws the viewer in).

Abbie Cornish is really lovely as Fanny, she’s not a character you’ve seen 50 times before in period dramas. She has her own ideas but she’s not as headstrong as an Elizabeth Bennet or Jo March. She is a fantastic seamstress, creating a range of interesting fashions that are looked down upon by stuffy neighbours. Abbie Cornish gives her life and intelligence, I really like some of her work (although Fanny is supposed to be 18 and Cornish is clearly much older). Ben Whishaw as John Keats is suitably poetic and vulnerable…I don’t know much about Keats, so I can’t comment about his characterisation. Paul Schenider as Keat’s friend and fellow poet Brown is suitably irritating, I think he played this role really well (and probably had good fun with it!). Pretty good performance from this American actor in Scottish accent. The other roles are quite small; Edie Martin puts in a natural performance as Fanny’s younger sister Toots. And just excuse the animal lover in me for one second while I say I loved the cat. Cats in films = win.

The cinematography in this film is simply stunning. The locations are beautiful, and there are some shots that film fans will just drink in. At times one could get sick of that dreamy, overexposed look but it is just beautiful. Even if you aren’t interested in the film the cinematography is definitely worth the admission, beautiful photography. Also worth mentioning is the art design. The sets are good, but I really loved some of the costumes.

I want to see more from Jane Campion, I wish some directors wouldn’t take so long to bring out their next project. Bright Star is a lovely film with good performances. I think some people will abolutely love this, and most others will appreciate the talent displayed here.  Keats fans may particularly like it, but it is less about him than about Fanny and their relationship.

Worth watching.

My Rating:

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Posted in 2009, Animated, Comedy, Disney, Kids/Family, Reviews, Romance with tags , , , on January 10, 2010 by filmglutton

This is Disney’s first 2D animated film since Home on the Range in 2004, and the 49th in the canon list of Disney theatrically released animated motion pictures.

The film opens with Tianna (Anika Noni Rose), our herione, as a young girl listening to her mother read The Frog Prince. The contrast between Tianna’s modest home and the grand mansion of her friend, Charlotte La Bouff (Jennifer Cody), is stark, but Tianna’s home is happy. She has inherited her father’s gift for cooking, and one day she hopes to open her own restaurant.

Tianna grows into a beautiful, hard-working young woman. Her father went to war and never came back, making Tianna even more determined to fulfill her restaurant dream. Friends and social life take a back-seat to several jobs. Charlotte, meanwhile, is the belle of every ball, and she is sent into a frenzy when she discovers that Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) of Maldonia will be arriving in New Orleans. All she has ever wanted is to be a princess – here is her chance! Prince Naveen arrives (with manservant Lawrence (Peter Batlett) in tow), a slick ladies-man who loves to have a good time.

Things go awry, however, when Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by Dr Facilier (Keith David), a voodoo doctor. Naveen hops into Tianna’s room on the night of the ball and says if she kisses him he will be transformed and he will give her the money she needs to open her restaurant. The kiss, however, results in Tianna being transformed into a frog also. From here they must travel through the swamps and beyond to return to their human forms before it is too late, meeting an array of quirky characters along the way…

Well, I really enjoyed this film. The characters are really great (Roy the Firefly and Louis the Alligator are real scene-stealers), and it’s so good to have a Disney female character that works hard for what she wants, relying on her own abilities while still having faith in a little bit of luck and magic! There has been a lot of fuss about Tianna being the first black Disney Princess, but Disney wisely avoids race discussion in the storyline. The screenplay has the typical mix of sadness, humour, ridiculous situations, romance, finding ones-self etc. The jokes are light and witty, and many gags in this should draw a good laugh (particularly one flashback scene involving an alligator, a boat, and a trumpet). The songs are quite good but I prefer Alan Menken (most probably biased, though!)

I must be getting old, because my main criticism of the story is that Tianna and Naveen fall in love waaaaaay too quickly. Naveen doesn’t really have any particularly redeeming qualities, and most of the time he actually borders on being sleazy. Their relationship is not convincing, especially when Tianna is such a smart, hard-working girl…why would she fall for a ladies-man like Naveen? Yes, maybe they could change each other over time then fall in love, but over a couple of days? No chance.

Now I’m just getting picky. Go watch this and enjoy it. Young girls will absolutely love it, and young boys will probably like it too (even though they won’t admit it). This film is not a classic like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Memaid but it is more than worthy of joining the long list of Disney animated films.Yes, they fall in love too quickly, but just appreciate the film for what it is: a highly entertaining and charming family film that marks a solid 2D animation return for Disney. I can only hope this is a good sign for things to come, will definitely be going to see Rapunzel when it is released late this year.

My Rating: