Blended – Review

Blended_(2014)_Poster2001: A Space Odyssey, Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin, these are all films. In 2014 Adam Sandler has also made one I guess. Blended is a film that has actors in it and a script someone probably spent an afternoon working very hard on.

Starring Adam Sandler as Boring Adam Sandler, his dead wife used to work at Hooters so he takes Stuffy Drew Barrymore (Drew Barrymore) there on a first date where she immediately forgets how to eat food like a human and spits an entire meal down her front, then insults Adam Sandler. These two! They’re so different!

So Drew Barrymore’s full-time job is reorganizing people’s closets. That’s her full-time job that she supports her two kids with. She has a business with her best friend (Wendy McLendon-Covey ) called ‘Closet Queens’ because they’re the queens of organizing closets. This lends itself to some ‘comedy’ later because people assume that Barrymore and McLendon-Covey are lesbians. Look beyond the point that a closet queen is typically a term used for a homosexual man because gays, am I right? It’s funny! Are you having fun yet? Sandler works for Dick’s sporting goods which is funny because dicks.

So Stuffy Drew Barrymore and Boring Adam Sandler both have children of their own. Hooters Ghost Mom died (this is the only way Sandler knows how to get any empathy for his boring garbage character) leaving Sandler to raise their three girls on his own. His eldest daughter Hilary (which Sandler calls ‘Larry’) and the middle daughter Espn (Named after ESPN. Yeah) have short hair. Because Sandler works in a sporting goods store, the girls are dressed in sporting wear. So for the whole film there is a ‘funny’ ‘comedy’ ‘joke’ about the girls who look and sound absolutely like girls being referred to as boys. I guess this would be funny if you accidentally fell onto a rusty pipe that had broken through some unstable flooring in a factory somewhere and lobotomized yourself to the point where giggling was the only way you could verbalize any kind of thought or feeling. Honestly this joke reoccurs so often until Larry gets hair extensions and wears a dress. Then she’s finally an ACTUAL girl and Zak Henri (I AM STILL NOT OVER THE LOSS OF BUNHEADS) wants to throw it in her because finally she isn’t some disgusting amalgamation of a shorthaired, tit-less lesbian freak of nature with no discernable gender.

This is the kind of hilarity you can expect from Blended which was neither written or directed by Sandler, but features the most low-grade, uninspiring notion of what comedy is. I guess that’s the most depressing part about the film. Blended takes the comedy genre back ten years, sits it down and says “you been havin’ a lot of laughs recently haven’t ya buddy. Well maybe it’s time we tone it down, all right champ? How about we give your mother a rest and we just – we don’t do so many jokes in the house? Ok buddy? Can you look at me when I’m talkin’ to you? That’s a good comedy.” But it isn’t a good comedy.

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I am laughter already!

Anyway, boring plot fodder occurs and Sandler and Barrymore take their families on holiday to South Africa. Inevitably they bond and Sandler becomes the father figure to Barrymore’s sons and Barrymore shoves an entire mascara brush into the eyes of Sandler’s dudeghters to make them REAL CHICKS. Honestly one of my favorite scenes (DO I HAVE TO PICK JUST ONE?) was when Larry screams “I HAVE MY PERIOD” (DISGUSTING!!!) to her father, so he has to go to the store to buy tampons (GROSS!!!) and has a TERRIBLE TIME reading out all the product names. “Poise?” he pronounces like pussy. “Isn’t that a little close?” Yeah, sure it is, you illiterate bastard. You should be sterilized. Oh another highlight is when Barrymore puts on the ugliest black dress and all of a sudden Sandler is able to see her for the hot chick with tits and vagina that she is, rather than the boring plain-clothed normal frumpy pile of garbage she was before? More like Drew Bangmemore! Am I right? A really beautiful and wonderful (WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME CHOOSE!??) moment was when Barrymore finds out that the Hooters Sandler took her to on their first blind date was actually the Hooters his dead wife worked at and this is something she finds both charming and romantic…?

Sandler handles sentimentally with the subtlety of a syphilitic whore from the French Revolution. The over-the-top cheese of it all burns. He reminisces about his deceased wife while the woman he is currently on vacation with sings to his children in a tent- meanwhile Sandler is standing behind the tent- with his dick in his hand, mid-piss. And that’s how we as the viewer feel; like Sandler’s limp dick in the cold safari air, just hoping for this weak-as-piss excuse for a holiday to end.

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The cast’s reaction to the script

The only person in this film that shouldn’t be embarrassed by their desperate need for a paycheck is Jessica Lowe who plays Ginger. Yes, the character’s description probably was ‘Blond, boobs’, but Lowe is the only source of laughs in this film where you’re actually laughing WITH the film, rather than laughing at all the life choices you made leading up to you having to sit through this 117 minute fart joke of a film.

I almost feel hypocritical because I love bad jokes and I love a punch line that’s just the word butthole. But this film is so stupid that it actually feels the need to explain the stupid jokes it makes because it’s concerned you wont understand the intricate structure behind no one in Africa being able to pronounce a greek last name. This is such an easy movie to assassinate because it is stone cold garbage but I don’t do this in order to jump on a bandwagon, I do this because right now Adam Sandler is wading in a pool filled with cash money. In an interview recently, Sandler admitted that he sets his films in places he wants to take holidays. This is shocking because the camera exposes a side of Africa never before captured on film. Haha nah jk at one point to end a pointless they just cut to two rhinos humping. It’s what Kubric would have wanted.

I give this film two Rob Schneiders and half a David Spade.

Stop now Adam Sandler. Please stop.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Review

x-men-days-of-future-past-poster-2-x-men-dofpIn 2000 Bryan Singer directed X-Men, and launched a successful superhero series. X2 saw Singer revisit that world, and the lovable mutants he had dragged onto the big screen (also Halle Berry) again caused quite a stir. Then Singer took a step away from the world and everything took a tumble worse than having your entire body injected with adamantium – enter X-Men: The Last Stand. A film whose mutant power is being terrible.

In 2011, as an apology to fans of cinema and fans of not being punched in the face by a terrible film, X-Men: First Class re-launched the universe and – while it completely messed up the canon of pretty much every character – I loved it. And now we’re back. Back with papa Singer, back with the X-men, back to the Days of Future Past.

Days of Future Past works as a sequel to both First Class AND The Last Stand by functioning in several strands of time. Set in a dystopian future (which in the original comic was actually 2013. lol) where mutants are hunted and exterminated by über-weapon-soldier-robots: the Sentinels. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) sends the consciousness of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time in order to prevent a chain of events leading to this very bleak future of Shawn Ashmore’s patchy beard.

So Wolverine travels back to 1973 where he must confront a drunk Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and a goddamn sexual beast of a Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and they all attempt to convince Academy-Award Winner Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) that she shouldn’t assassinate the scientist and creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). While Wolverine attempts to re-write history, the old gang of surviving mutants still exist in the future, holding fort before an onslaught of Sentinels crashes down and ruins their awesome Cape Convention.

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As a massive X-Men fan (the original 90s cartoon series is still something I hold dear) I didn’t love this film and here’s why: In a film devoted to the idea that one man can be sent back in time to prevent a devastating future, it becomes abundantly clear that Days of Future Past is Singer’s attempt to go back in time to re-write The Last Stand out of public consciousness. This would be fine, but it isn’t anything new or interesting, he’s just relying on his old tricks plus heavy-handed injections of schlock and exposition. And Halle Berry’s garbage, garbage haircut.

This isn’t a case of a bad story – it’s just not a very good script. There’s so much elbow digging and self-aware winks to the audience. The films of the X-Men have never been incredibly subtle, but this seems to go above-and-beyond with hideously unnecessary digs. “You can control metal? My mom knew a guy that could do that…” CRINGE. Spoken by Quicksilver (you thought Halle Berry looked stupid? Who the hell styled Evan Peters?) to his father, this is all telling instead of showing, and that’s insulting to an audience. It’s not a good script. The film also boasts more cameos than a farewell to Barbara Walters, which again, is more a wink-wink-nudge-nudge to the audience of how LUCKY we are to see these actors reunited. But are we? What does it serve if in the end the mains are left filling in the gaps between heavy exposition and jabs at fans with half-hearted monologues and frowning (so much frowning).

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I also feel like the weighting of the story just seems off. There’s a genocide, there’s the Vietnam War, but forget all those because the focus falls almost entirely on the minor relationships of the characters. Even when everything comes to a head, it isn’t the chaos of trying to stop the Mystique that causes Wolverine to stumble; it’s seeing Josh Helman’s handsome, handsome face. First Class uses the Cold War as a backdrop for rising tension. Days of Future Past uses the Vietnam War, and to a lesser extent the future war against the Mutants, for lazy allegory and cute retro army outfits.

Did I mention Josh Helman is very handsome?

I guess I was underwhelmed because I had invested so much into First Class, the sleeker story, the new approach to the aesthetic and rebuilding characters –Days of Future Past just feels like regression. Sure it was nice to have the old gang reunited and Hugh Jackman’s bare ass, there’s something so familiar and overdone here that it became more of a labor to watch than a labor of love.

I’d also like to argue that it’s time to put Wolverine away now. Put him away. X-Men should have been called “Wolverine & The X-Men“, X2 should have been called “2 Wolv 2 erineThe Last Stand? More like Wolverin3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine? More like Wolverine Wolverine: Wolverine. That recent movie The Wolverine? WELL I THINK I’VE MADE MY POINT. There are a kajillion bazillion (some Brazillian!) mutants. Please stop making Wolverine the lead in every X-Men film. PLEASE. WE GET IT. HE GETS PUNCHED IN THE FACE AND THEN SLOWLY TURNS BACK, REVEALING HIS HEALING CHEEK TO A STUNNED ASSAILANT. WE GET IT.

When you break up with a mutant, he becomes your ex-man. Some might just be better left in the past.

Not so much Mutant and Proud as meh-taints and blahhhd. Been there, done that.

Godzilla (2014) – Review

Godzilla – or ‘Ya mum looks like she’s dropped a few kilos’

Godzilla-2014-Teaser-Trailer-PosterAs someone who watched TWO (!) classic Godzilla films last weekend and having seen a lot of Anne Hathaway movies, I am somewhat of an expert when it comes to monster movies (zing). And this one is 350ft of fun.

I’ll be honest I went in with high expectations for this film because all the marketing materials that were released, especially this trailer, have all been exceptional. Showing the film to not only be a monster film of epic proportions, but something more aesthetically charged. Called the ‘Monster film we deserve’, Godzilla is an impressive feat of effects, action and story that is just so enjoyable to watch. Definitely not the smartest or most challenging film you will watch, but hell it’s a fucking fun ride.

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lieutenant Ford Brody, Bryan Cranston as his father Joe, Elizabeth Olsen as a woman, Juliette Binoche as lady, Sally Hawkins as female assistant and the always brilliant Ken Watanabe as a Japanese.

The story follows the Brody family as Joe is at the helm of a disaster at a Japanese nuclear plant, reportedly struck by a natural disaster. But Joe seems to think otherwise. Fifteen years later, he has his chance to prove his suspicions with his now adult son. But when two massive creatures unearth themselves and begin to wreak havoc on the planet, they also awaken an old, terrifying force. This godlike creature known as the King of the Monsters; Godzilla, he’s pretty fuckin rad.

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On thing that always strikes me as interesting is the concept of Godzilla’s motives. In the earlier films I watched (more notably the 1964 Mothra vs. Godzilla) greedy industrialists wake Godzilla from a seriously good nap. He begins to trash Japan, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s doing it out of any malice, or if he’s just a dumb clumsy bitch. Seriously at one point he rolls his ankle and falls headfirst into a temple. Then smashes the temple. Girl, put the lime-a-ritas down you have had ENOUGH. Well in the 2014 Godzilla it seems pretty clear, as Ken Watanabe says 800 times – he’s there to restore a sense of natural balance. These two wankers wandering around, harnessing the powers of humankind and turning those forces against them throw-out that balance, so he has to coward-punch them back to the stone age. Or… gross-reptilian-slime-sack age. Whatever age they came from.

Gareth Edwards really only has a few smaller titles under his belt, most notably his 2010 film Monsters, so it’s interesting to see a film with such a clear and crisp aesthetic that so wonderfully marries to this scale of destruction and chaos. While I could have done with one or three hundred less location cards (seriously don’t allude to a character traveling to a place followed by a jump-cut to a title-cart of that place, I got it. I get how traveling works), the direction of the film is incredibly mature. The final action scenes are just totally wonderful and a real pay-off for the viewer, which isn’t to discredit any of the earlier set pieces that are equally as ace.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson is so, so dull, but he works perfectly as the bland, indestructible everyman action hero who is inexplicably and unfortunately at the center of basically every monster attack that happens. Cranston brings a really great vulnerability to the film, which is welcomed, and look – Ken Watanabe is really good at being a wise Japanese man. He just is. He also adds these incredible flourishes of camp harkening back to the retro films of bygone days.

This was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and it absolutely hit it in the nuts perfectly. I was not disappointed. I was – like the buildings in the film – totally blown away, or sat on by a giant gross glowing monster thing.

FOUR STARS from me. The only missing star is because there was no Matthew Broderick cameo with him standing by a gumball machine, winking slyly at the camera. Oh that would have been awesome.

Pompeii

Pompeii or Pomphay gurl, I lava you just the way you are or Mt Vesuvime, Mt Vesuviyou, Mt Vesuvius.

gsregesrnderson-1I don’t want to spoil the ending of this movie so I’ll have to try really hard to not mention the volcano exploding.

Oh wait. Dang.

Pompeii (or Pompe2 as it’s known in Ancient Rome) stars Kit Harington as Milo, who, as a young boy, witnessed the slaughter of his entire village of Horse Whisperers. Many years later, Milo has been traded from slavery into the life of a gladiator. By chance, he meets Cassia (Emily Browning) and kills her horse (not a euphemism). She is obviously immediately attracted to him but gross lol he’s just a filthy slave and she’s the crowned princess of Pompeii. Or the Mayor’s daughter… or something. Anyway, it is not long until the corrupt Senator Corvus (a sober Kiefer Sutherland) shows up and wants toget into Cassia’s toga, but don’t be fooled, he’s a giant ash-hole.

Corvus is like “why does she keep making eyes at that poor guy” and an extra is like “He’s from Game of Thrones” and Corvus is like “Um doesn’t she know 24 is coming back soon?” and the extra is like “no”. So Cassia hates Corvus, Corvus hates Milo and Milo hates volcanoes spewing lava onto his friends. Oh PS a volcano explodes.

Basically, Pompeii is what happens when you put equal parts of Titanic, Dante’s Peak, Gladiator and The Horse Whisperer into a bucket, and mix. But it’s not awful. I mean yes, it’s awful, but only in the sense that it’s exactly what you’d expect from it. I actually loved it and here’s why:

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Take a look at that poster. Is that not the most splendid thing you’ve ever seen? Kit Harington has a sword, which is wonderful because a volcano’s only weaknesses are swords and sassy insults. (“Hey volcano, u think ur so hot but ur not!”). Meanwhile, Kiefer Sutherland looks absolutely fabulous, like he’s about to battle the volcano by properly accessorizing that cape. It’s pretty clear he’s only trying to marry Cassia in order to distract from his giant bodyguard (Sasha Roiz). And finally, poor Emily Browning :(.

There’s also the subplot of Milo’s gladiator status. More like frowniator. There’s maybe one great fighting scene, the rest look like the cafeteria scene from Mean Girls. Milo’s Regina George in this case being Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Atticus. The two forge an unlikely friendship, that really is more interesting than the romantic storyline whatsoever.

A lot of the film’s effects budget went into trying to give Emily Browning emotions other than ‘vacancy’. There are also one or two really great set pieces that lend themselves to some pretty ok scenes. Director Mr Milla Jovovich (Paul W.S. Anderson) really only uses the 3D of the film effectively once, with plumes of smoke giving the scene a great sense of depth. Were you to see the film in 2D you’re not missing anything at all.

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Ladies, if you get a burning sensation when you kiss a man, that’s not always a good thing.

I feel like this is a film that will be unfairly bullied for doing exactly what it says on the box- but I have to be honest, there were a few genuine surprises for me, and I genuinely had a good time. There’s fighting for the boys, and there’s people being trampled to death and covered in lava for the girls! (I don’t know what girls like.) Was the film necessary? No. Dear god, no it definitely wasn’t. But as far as unnecessary blockbusters – this one will give you a good afternoon of enjoyment/mass murder.

 Not so much Volca-No as Volcan-ok.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Shouting at Everyone Then Lets Do Some Drugs and Put Our Wangs In Some Prostitutes

TheWolfofWallStreet_posterSo I saw The Wolf of Wall Street. I mean. It’s a good film. I know so many people are going to see it and love it. They’ll think it’s a great film. I just feel like I’m not those people. I think watching it, I finally figured out where my attention deficit disorder kicks in. Almost exactly 90 minutes into the movie and BOOM I just really needed to check my phone. And I usually NEVER check my phone in movies because it’s rude and no one ever texts me.

Look. Here’s the thing with The Wolf of Wall Street. There is about an hour of the film that I could happily cut out, and it would change nothing. There’d be no adverse affect on the film’s flow, meaning or statement. In fact removing some of the more repetitious content would serve to elevate a lot of that!

And I KNOW recently most of my gripes with films have been because they’ve been too long. But there are other films like Prisoners where I actually was really happy for the enormous run-time! But not when it’s as painfully repetitious as Wolf. You could defend the film by saying “oh but this is just fitting in the theme of indulgence and reflective of the lifestyle of the characters”. To which I say pah. PAH. It’s ineffective.

Here are things I would never complain about being too long:

  • All-you-can-eat buffet tables
  • Penises
  • Burgers
  • Time spent laying really still

Here’s my list of things I would definitely complain about being too long:

  • Movies for no reason
  • Penises
  • Queues to get to all-you-can-eat buffet tables
  • Sharks.

Wolf of Wall Street_Leonadro DiCaprio

So what’s the film about? Leonardo DiCaprio shouts at you for three hours and also cocaine is awesome and if you don’t do it you’re a loser and also chicks are basically great to put your penis inside of and how great are boobs and also money is great.

Just kidding but not really.  Based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who dabbles in corrupt practices on Wall Street in the 90s. The film tracks Belfort from his humble beginnings as a fresh-faced broker, following in the footsteps of his mentor Mark Hanna (played by the shrunken head of Matthew McConaughey under a Toddlers and Tiaras reject wig). Belfort soon becomes obsessed with sex, drugs and the rock and roll of hanging out with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). Eventually, Belfort’s debauchery attracts the attention of an FBI Agent and things begin to become tenser for the cashed up cutie in the classy suit.

BUT WAIT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE. It’s already such a massive story, which is really interesting, and the script by Terence Winter is sharp, dark and incredibly funny. But the amount of content they cover has a tranquilizing effect. Scorsese also employs every filmic device that has existed and inserts it in the film. What occurs is this frenetic vibe that mirrors the life of Belfort that so suddenly spirals out of control. Sure this is all well and good – but there’s only so much of the same ol same ol that we need to see in the film to get the idea.

worst. twister. game. ever.

worst. twister. game. ever.

Casting is perfection. DiCaprio shouts at everyone like they’re icebergs dead ahead. Jonah Hill is a brilliant kind of grotesque, I never knew if I was supposed to want him to get shot, or pull out his prosthetic penis again. Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia – Belfort’s wife – is beautiful and holds her own against the giant, screaming mass of DiCaprio. And from there, there’s just piles and piles of great supporting roles. The main brokers Belfort initially hires are a rag-tag group of misfits that are so hilarious and horrible. Cameos from Rob Reiner and Joanna Lumley were also welcome as they were, and always are, excellent (CHRISTINE EBERSOLE WAS ROBBED OF MORE SCREEN TIME!!!). Also they mention Belfort had two children, but they only ever show one of them??? What happened to the other one?? Genuine question, leave me a comment or tweet me or sky-write me.

Honestly I think so many people will love this movie. It definitely wasn’t my cup of cocaine, and because of that I feel like the length really brought me down, kicked me in the face, and tried to give me a lesson on finances.

Final thoughts: Stockbroker? I don’t even know her.

American Hustle

American Huh? Still Going?

american hustle poster jennifer lawrence jeremy renner bradley cooper amy adams christian baleI was trying to come up with a gimmick to write about American Hustle where I could completely avoid writing about it because I don’t get it. I mean I get it, it’s a film, whatever, but I don’t get it. Outside the A-list cast and funky fun styling, the bloated and misguided story runs for far too long. I’m not saying that I hated the film, I don’t think it’s a film that would be easy to hate, and it isn’t inherently bad. I’m just saying absolutely nothing in the film resonated with me and I don’t understand how someone can leave thinking that it was a good film? I don’t really get it.

The film stars Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a conman. Irving, along with his saucy mistress Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), is forced to work alongside FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) in order to expose fraud and corruption within Jersey politicians. That’s such a basic summary. There’s also Jennifer Lawrence who plays Irving’s wife Rosalyn, there’s nice-guy/nice-hair-guy Jeremy Renner as Mayor Carmine Polito, there’s Louis C.K., there’s five minutes of Robert Deniro exhaling through his nose. Such a giant cast, so many things going on so it’s no surprise that the film goes for 140 minutes.

But why does this film go for 140 minutes? Because it really shouldn’t. There’s no real extraordinary character development, there aren’t very memorable scenes, so what’s actually happening for the duration of the film? Mainly, it’s just Amy Adams changing into every possible outfit that existed to show her boobs without showing her boobs.

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American Hustle BUSTle, what’s all the fussl-e?

I can see why someone might like this film. It’s flashy; the 70s aesthetic is done incredibly well, a few of the actors have scenes where they are very actor-y and act a lot (acting!), and the cast all look great and funny with their wigs and potbellies (so great and funny!). But outside of that, the film feels directionless, messy and empty and I feel like that’s why I just wanted it to end. And when it DID end – I hated how it ended but I was so happy it had. Guys it was such a long film.

Christian Bale has very kind eyes, until you remember he’d probably shout at your mom in a restaurant. Bradley Cooper dances from his hips and I am very attracted to him even with a perm. Amy Adams is great in this. She looks great and she does a pretty great job with a pretty average character (TRIGGER WARNING: she’s doing a bad accent on purpose, so if you hate bad accents you will probably not cope). And of course, Jennifer Lawrence steals the show – but it seems like Director and co-writer David O Russell crafted the character of Rosalyn in order to suit Lawence’s incredibly charming, and accessible sense of humor. But her brief stint as the comic relief in the film is too few and far between to ultimately pull it out of the slog of its own GIGANTIC plot.

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Speaking of gigantic.

I guess you could claim that the film is a commentary on authenticity (the clever wink of the opening card: ‘Some of this actually happened’), you’re forever wondering how much of the tale is actually true. The skeleton is, sure, and had they stuck to that story it actually may have succeeded in being a fine con/heist/sting film. The addition of the unpredictable and volatile DiMaso, and two clashing love-triangles, plus plus plus all the other added elements makes the film unwieldy and unnecessarily complex. Ugh guys. There’s just so much going on it’ll cross your eyes (and when Cooper does his sexy 70s dancing it’ll uncross your legs haaay).

Similarly to August: Osage County, watching American Hustle I hated it. I hated watching it. But I only mildly dislike the film. As I said, it’s a hard film to hate because it’s not bad – it just doesn’t achieve much. Of anything.

Not so much American Hustle as it is American Bustle (because so much cleavage), and I just don’t get all the American Fuss-le.

See it. I would LOVE for you to tell me why you like it.

August: Osage County

The Play’s The Thing Wherein I’ll Catch The Conscience Of The Streep

august-osage-county-poster1August: Osage County brings together the Weston family under unfortunate circumstances. The patriarch is missing – soon to be revealed he’s committed suicide – and so the family must come together, and unravel together. There’s a lot of bickering, and there’s more bickering. Just in time for the holiday season, get ready y’all, it’s a film all about how shitty it is to be with family!

An all-star cast featuring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Demort Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch and Abigail Breslin, August: Osage County is based on the play by the same name, and adapted for the screen by the playwright himself (who I totally knew was a dude the whole time), Tracey Letts.

What I don’t think Letts anticipated was that the film really only led me to one conclusion: this would make a really great play. As far as films go it’s far from terrible. The performances and the writing are (on the whole) incredible. But it’s difficult to watch at times. 130 minute run-time of Meryl Streep shouting, contrary to popular belief, can be quite grating. (“Meryl could play batman!” you scream at me. Yes. Yes, we all saw that episode of Modern Family. Aren’t you clever? Also – no she couldn’t.)

Having not seen the play here’s what I imagine: all the action is set in and around the family home. There’s no leaving the house. Claustrophobic. You’re embedded in the action and the tension and because of that there would be so much more power behind certain moments. Especially the ending (no spoilers). I just don’t think it translated into a film so well. In fact the ending sucks. It’s such a nonevent. Having that openness they create in the film, the fact that characters come and go so freely, means that once they leave the home – be it temporarily or for good – it holds no emotional punch. There are attempts at highlighting certain characters leaving (screaming at cars as they drive around the seemingly labyrinthine driveway) but again, it lacks any kind of lasting punch. You’ve spent such a long time (oh god so long) watching a group of horrible people be horrible to each other, and then it just kind of peters out. Oh. Okay.

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Ladies leave your man at home, the club is full of ballers and they pockets full grown.

Streep, as the cantankerous, pill-popping Violet is fantastic. Her energy undulates throughout the film delivering these monologues that are cutting and so finely paced (again, no dust on Letts’ writing chops, the script is great). But it’s so much content that after a while it just seemed to wash over me. More surprising, and ridiculously brilliant is Roberts. She builds to the incredible crescendo that is so heartbreakingly entertaining, and unexpectedly funny but again this momentum is let down by the blah-as-hell ending.

The rest of the cast (Martindale, McGregor Cooper and Cumberbatch especially) are all equally well equipped to compete for screen-time, and with such a mammoth ensemble they all succeed in making an impression for better or worse. Abigail Breslin’s Jean is a horrible character. She sucks so much. Breslin plays the character well but it’s unfortunate because she’s so convincing as a human-shaped bag of ratdicks. Seriously, her parents Bill (McGregor) and Barbara (Roberts) are fighting over raising their daughter correctly and it’s like guys, you failed. She’s terrible. Don’t waste your time.

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you buggin’ what? you buggin’ who? you buggin’ me! and don’t you see it ain’t cool.

This was a weird experience for me. Because I genuinely didn’t enjoy watching it. I didn’t like it. But I can recognize how well it was written and executed by a terrific cast. And the more time I spend away from the film the less I dislike it. Roberts and Streep deserve every shred of praise they’re getting, sure. As I said, further I get away from it, the less I feel like it wasn’t too bad. But please don’t make me watch it again?

A little more kin and less than kind of okay,  sure I guess I get it I mean whatever; August: Osage County opens in Australia Jan 1.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

May the odds be ever in your favor? I don’t even know her.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire posterThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins right where we left everybody’s best friend Jennifer Lawrence as archer, sister, daughter, poet: Katniss Everdeen. After conning the Capitol in a scientology-esque relationship of convenience with co-victor Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss and Peeta must continue their facade while touring the various districts in order to maintain the safety of their friends, family and assorted other loved ones. Unbeknownst to Katniss and Peeta, their defiance of the first Hunger Games has sparked rebellion throughout the many districts, and President Snow is

NOT. HAVING. IT.

Every 25 years the Hunger Games take on a new rule, and for the 75th ‘Quarter Quell’, the tributes are reaped from previous victors. Cut to Katniss reaction shot.

Now, I’m a fan of the first two Hunger Games novels (the third book being the equivalent to a sack of kitten feces someone accidentally mistook for an airline sick-bag that they then spilled room-temperature orange juice on and left out in the sun for a few days), so I was definitely excited to see how they would follow-up the incredibly successful first installment of the series. And I genuinely think this is just as strong – if not stronger – than the first.

I want to get something out of the way first because it BOTHERED me, dear reader. I hate how this film ends. It drags its feet, losing all momentum and adrenaline. I wanted it to end with a punch to the gut, feeling that I may not survive the yearlong wait for the next chapter. Alas, lazily we drudge through more exposition than necessary for a conclusion and lo it ends. And this SUCKS because everything else had been paced well.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Katniss, Effie and Peeta

Collars by Georgia O’Keeffe

My only other slight complaint is that Catching Fire spends just as much time around Katniss and Peeta’s ‘Victory Tour’ as it does in the actual Hungry, Hungry Game. Which is great and some of my favorite moments actually occurred before the gun of the game goes off, but it also exposes the weak foundations of many of the supporting characters. Katniss’ sister Prim sucks. She’s a shitty character in the books, and she’s a shitty character in the movies. Prim is one of those characters that if you say “No! She’s not that bad!” you’re a liar. She’s just crap and I feel bad for the young actress that plays the character because I bet she sat in her trailer with a ‘Hang In There Kitty!’ poster, wiping away a single tear for having to go method with such a crap character.

Then there’s poor Liam Hemsworth. The Loki of the Hemsworths. Poor Liam has to grapple with one of the most wooden characters ever written. In the first and second books Liam’s Gale is an incredibly minor character – both because he doesn’t feature much and because he works in a mine (YOU’RE WELCOME). The love-triangle of The Hunger Games series is garbage because Gale is a tall pile of lumber, and Peeta’s jawline is the bicycle seat of your dreams. You just want to shake Katniss and scream HONEY! That man is NOT a L’oreal commercial and girlfriend he’s not HemsWORTH IT. Get over it already. I dread more Gale-time in the third, fourth and ninty-fifth film.

Lawrence and Hutcherson reprise their starring roles wonderfully and they are incredibly adorable to watch. Honestly, alongside the ever brilliant Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and Woody Harrelson as Drunk Woody Harrelson – the awesome foursome easily carry the first half of the film that had the potential to be a real drag. Brief moments of crappy exposition are punctuated with Stanley Tucci’s wig, Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s actory sinuses and angry monkey butts.

And yes, Sam Claflin is unbearably handsome and shirtless.

The Hunger Games Sam Claflin

More like the Thirsty Games

Catching Fire feels like it takes the world of The Hunger Games and expands on just how dark some of the themes actually are. I was actually impressed by the maturity of the film (except Prim, shut up Prim). Although there were also some moments that seemed oddly sexual for a film about people organized purges. You know – and this isn’t me trying to get political – but I feel like if President Snow looked at the distribution of funds, like how much money they spent on building a giant murderdome in godknows where – he probably could have just used that money to buy the people some breads and kraft singles? Wouldn’t that have just solved everybody’s issues? I humbly accept your nominations for Nobel Peace Prizes.

Everything you’d expect, PLUS all those fanfics I wrote about Magda from Sex and the City (Lynn Cohen) and Belize from the HBO Angels in America (Jeffrey Wright) finally and magically came true.

You know you want to see it. You know you love Jennifer Lawrence. Plus Sam Claflin gives Josh Hutcherson CPR and I gave myself a cigarette and a hand-towel to calm down afterwards.

ADDITIONALLY:

If you love The Hunger Games series then you definitely need to see Sesame Street’s Catching Fire trailer and also this BRILLIANT mashup of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games and Hunger Games.

Prisoners

Prisoners or: The Prodigal Blog Returns

Hello, hello. Is this thing on?

Dear reader I thank you for your patience, for the letters you sent begging me to return to my much abused and thoroughly unloved habit of coming here to complain about Anne Hathaway films. I thank you for sticking by me through the hard times, the times when I couldn’t stop watching Great British Bake-Off Season 2, or the times when I couldn’t stop talking about Great British Bake-Off Season 2. I thank you for coming here because we have much to talk about.

I’m always hesitant, good friend, to recommend films to people. I don’t like it because there’s such a heavy expectation that someone will feel the same way about the film that you did. They probably wont.  So believe me when I say, I think you should go see PRISONERS.

PRISONERS key art

I’m still slightly dumbfounded at the experience. It was thrilling, it was horrible, and it was one of the best films I’ve seen in months. Here’s the catch. I watched the trailer after watching the film. Do yourself a favor and avoid the trailer because it’s not very good. Just watch the film, okay? Please? Thanks.

I don’t want this to become a rambling rave of all the things I loved about the film because, in all honesty, there’s far too much for me to go into, and my thesaurus would quickly run out of synonyms for ‘incredible’. As the old saying goes: my thesaurus is terrible. And terrible.

Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend vanish one afternoon with almost no trace – except for a campervan that was inexplicably parked outside a vacant house. After the Detective that is assigned to the case (Jake Gyllenhaal) assures Dover (Hugh Jackman) that the camper is not the lead they’re after, Dover has no other option than to take matters into his own hands.

What follows is an incredible journey, a labyrinth of plot-twists that have you second-guessing the motives and morals of almost every character. At no point did I not consider each character to be a villain of sorts. But of what sort is the key.

I have forgiven Aaron Guzikowski for the incredibly shit CONTRABAND he wrote (co-starring the bloated runtime of 109 minutes and a never shirtless Mark Wahlberg). It’s almost difficult for me to consider the two films written by the same person. The script unfolds with such a menacing grace, it’s torturous. The film runs at 153 minutes, I know I just complained about CONTRABAND being too long, but runtimes are contextual. Contraband offers you nothing in terms of entertainment, PRISONERS takes you by the throat and forces you to look even when it goes against your better judgment. Just absorb. See what you think.

jackman-gyllenhaal-prisoners 2013

Jackman is electric. A performance unlike any he’s given before. In my eyes Jackman redeemed himself for spitting through all nine hours of Les Mis. I will even go so far as to say he even redeemed himself for BOTH terrible Wolverine films. And Gyllenhaal. He’s wonderful. He inhabits a space in the film that is comfortably underplayed, off-putting and mysterious all at once. Top all that off this with the always-stunning, borderline obsessively beautiful cinematography from Roger Deakins. The supporting cast can’t go without mention, as they’re fantastic. Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo. It’s like the answer to one of those hypothetical ‘who would you invite to dinner and what would they bring’. (They’d all bring vodka. And no children.)

Terrifying, heartbreaking and breathtaking. This is a film I want to sit down and discuss with all of you over a nice cup of tea in a well-lit room.

Dear friend. Will you do this for me? See it and tell me what you think.

Thanks.

PS did you get cuter and thinner and stronger and younger? You look great. Thanks for stopping by.

Prisoners opens Oct 17th in Australia, and I only tell you that because I want you to realize it’s COMING SOON. So you should SEE IT SOON. GREAT CHAT!

The Wolverine

THE WOLVERINE – Or ‘Japanese, Japanice, Japanasty’ or ‘A Dialogue Between Two Sad Mats 2″

movies_the-wolverine-posterHey guys. I’ve decided I have a lot of things to talk about for this review- so I’m employing the INCREDIBLY popular (with my mom) dialogue format that I featured back in my Great Gatsby ‘review’.

A summary of the plot: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is sad because he killed Jean Grey in that shitty movie. He lives in Canada where everyone sounds Texan and no one says ‘sorry’. A Japanese girl tells him that a guy he saved during the Nagasaki bombing wants to say thanks. They go to Japan. The guy offers to take away Wolverine’s healing powers. Shenanigans.

the-wolverine-svetlana-khodchenkova-hugh-jackman

Hey.

I missed you.

Okay so. Where to begin?

Firstly- did you hate it?

No! I don’t think I did? I didn’t hate the movie – but I hated watching it.

Why are there so many Wolverine movies?

I DON’T KNOW! I honestly don’t think there are two characters in the Marvel universe that I care less for than Wolverine and Jean Grey. And I feel like that has just been exacerbated by this constant demand for Wolverine to be the central figure of every X-Men film. To me, he’s such a one-note character. Oh his life is so hard because everyone he loves gets killed and he can heal. Oh look he got punched in the face and has a cut on his cheek. I hope he turns back slowly, revealing his healing powers and then he punches someone.

So I guess the intriguing part of this film is that there’s an opportunity for Wolverine to be vulnerable – because he does lose his ability to heal.

Right. But this is what I didn’t understand because he loses his ability to heal- and then is shot six million times, and still is capable of having a very intense fight on the top of a bullet-train.

My assumption was that his adamantium skeleton was protecting his vital organs so no real damage could be done, but he could still get shot?

I thought about that, and then I thought about all the flaws in that logic, so I just assumed he was a big ol’ toughie! Able to run very quickly with six to eight million bullets lodged in his chest.

And because of that – at no point did I actually think ‘Oh he’s in danger! So much danger!’

No. And I think that’s a major flaw of the film. It’s just another Wolverine movie where at no point are you ever too worried that he’s vulnerable. And an invulnerable hero is really dull. There’s no risk or real threat. I think that’s why Hulk movies can be so dull – you really have to find a good storyline to fit these kinds of characters.

The-Wolverine-Hugh-Jackman-as-Wolverine-in-Japan-Courtesy-of-20th-Century-Fox

I’m trying to think of a single character that I didn’t hate in the movie…

Yukio (Rila Fukushima) was cute. I liked her. She was all right. Everyone else I was absolutely uninterested in.

I hate Jean Grey so much on a usual basis, but in this film she really just became two pillowy breasts that would float in and out of scenes. “Wolverine, in heaven all I wear is this slinky nightgown! Oops it fell off!”

That whole situation was so awful. The film would have been no different if they had removed it. In fact it would have been a lot shorter which is what it needed. It’s over two hours long.

But to juxtapose what essentially is a very strong female character that was then boiled down to talking tits, we have Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). What a sucky villain. Honestly so sucky –which is ironic because she spends most of her time in the film spitting at people – and everyone knows a lady always swallows.

The issue with Viper wasn’t the character insomuch as her dialogue was almost pure exposition.

There’s that one bit where she says ‘Wolverine is weak now. I did that. That was me.” Like… We know… we saw it. Calm down.

Shitty characters aside – I just didn’t get it. I felt like the film dragged, like it was trying to be a lot more than it actually was, and like for the millionth time; we were watching a film that does not need to be in 3D. Not even slightly. No one benefitted from that. Also – I feel like the whole Japanese cultural thing was a bit poorly handled.

I liked when Wolverine stuck his chopsticks in his rice and Mariko (Tao Okamoto) has her Pocahontas moment where she’s like “No, white devil. Not like that. Paint with the colors of the wind, rest your chopsticks on the table”. But like he genuinely had no reason to just pick up his chopsticks, stab his rice, and then pick up a spoon to eat something completely different?

Also when Mariko was on the train, and she’s wearing a Kimono-  they had to run away from a battle – and she just pulls out headphones from her Kimono. Where is she keeping her iPod in a kimono?

More like Kimo –NO GIRL.

That actually bothered me!

What did you like?

Well. This is where we’ll get in trouble if we say too much. But they decide to do a little sneaky package in the end credits teasing the next X-Men film: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

You liked the end credits sneak?

Yeah. That was the first time I was actually excited in the whole film. Even though I thought that was directed poorly (felt a little too much like we saw a parody of Dr. Scott’s entrance in Rocky Horror) it was the only time I was actually amped.

And why is that

Because Wolverine is a really boring standalone character. X-men are an ensemble.

I’d recommend people just wait until that has been leaked online. I don’t know if sitting through the whole film was worth two minutes of okayish setup for the next film…

We did get free gum at the end though. That was ace.

Another reason why we shouldn’t be making Wolverine the star of the show just beclaws we can. THE WOLVERINE is a drawn-out, boring rehash of everything we’ve already seen from this character in the shell of what is essentially a fine film. Will be quite enjoyable for some. If you’ve got ADD, bring a Sudoku.