So I’ve been incredibly slack in updating in recent months, and as such I’ve decided to compile some quick reviews for a handful of films I’ve seen recently. Please excuse anything vague, some of these go back three months!
Prisoners: BRILLIANT. Hugely powerful, exquisite character portrayals by both Hugh Jackman (playing a man dedicated to his faith and his family, who’s values are tested when his daughter is kidnapped on Thanksgiving) and Jake Gyllenhaal (playing the flawed, brutally determined Detective on the case). Cinematographically, the film moves seamlessly, and what takes this film to the next level is the way it leaves things to the viewer’s imagination. This film is all about what isn’t being said, and just quietly, I was absolutely floored by the ending. Pure genius. I would hope that both Jackman and Gyllenhaal are recognised by the Academy come awards season — both give sublime performances, as does the beautiful and totally creepy Paul Dano (one of the suspects in the case.)
An absolute must see for anybody who likes an emotionally-charged guessing game. I was blown away.
Only Lovers Left Alive: Disappointing. What I knew about this film before I walked into it was that Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton played crazyold vampires with a kickass wardrobe and a collection of badass guitars. How the fuck could it go wrong? I’ll tell you — have it written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. What could have been a really fucking cool movie with some badass murders and remorse and passionate sex was essentially a pointless nothing-story. I can’t even tell you what the plot was because I don’t think there was one. The soundtrack was magic and the costuming unbeatable (TILDA’S HAIR OMG) but seriously, that doesn’t make a film redeemable. Would have walked out had I not been with a friend… Ugh.
Don Jon: An amazing debut from Hollywood’s new golden boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Jon Martello (played by JGL himself) is a straight-up player. Goes out with the boys to clubs to score one night encounters with women based on their T vs A ratio. And I mean, good on them, they’re young and vibrant Italianos with good bodies and egos twice the size. But then Jon meets Barbara (enter Scarlett Johansson’s voluptuous glory) and things change. He wants her and her only, meaning his whole persona and who he is comes into question. And that his little porn addiction secret needs dealing with.
Don Jon tackles some really interesting modern issues about the porn industry and what it means to young men and women in this generation who’s culture and daily life is saturated with sex. Julianne Moore provides some incredibly profound insights, and Tony Danza is hysterically funny. This movie is a perfect mix of rom com and reflective social awareness, full of punchy one-liners and a great soundtrack. Good Vibrations is just…. man what a great scene. As usual, JGL astounds with his levels of talent — he both wrote and directed Don Jon as well as starring in it — and I think we’re going to continue seeing fantastic work from him.
Definitely a film I’d recommend for just about anybody (would make for an hilarious date night flick too!)
Short Term 12: Glorious. Brie Larsson and John Gallagher Jr are gorrrrrrrrrrgeous together in this heartbreaking tale about a foster care facility for “at risk” kids. Larsson and Gallagher play both a couple and facility staff, working on providing a fun and stable place for the kids to live in. Every day they tackle new issues: runaways, suicide risks and victims of abuse. They struggle to find grounding in their own relationship as Larsson’s character slowly retreats into her work when she gets some news that affects both her past and her future. As much a romantic drama as it is a piece on what it takes to work with troubled kids, this is a real heart-puncher that looks at the kinds of relationships you can have when you’re broken.
A truly moving film, and a must-see for those who don’t mind if it rains on your face.
Filth: Well look, this is certainly a film. I don’t actually know how I felt about this film — even now, a month later. Quintessentially Irvine Welsh, as you’d hope since it’s adapted from his novel, this one isn’t quite Trainspotting, but then again it sort of is? I don’t know. James McAvoy plays a fucked up dude with an ex-wife, a potential promotion on the cards and a suicidal-esque addiction to cocaine. Slowly and scarily, he descends into this weird flash-backy madness, and let’s be honest, it’s all kinds of messed up. But some parts were quite funny, and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy Filth. I just can’t exactly tell you what I liked about it.
A totally odd film. And probably not one I’d see again.
Catching Fire: Yeah look sure. I really didn’t love the book, in fact the first instalment was the only good one. But this film makes me want to re-read in case I missed something. I really enjoyed the visual version of Catching Fire, and in fact I feel like the Hunger Games trilogy should always have just been films. I think the story is much stronger in the visual medium. I’m a big JLaw fan, and heard a few reports that she overacted in this one, but I have to say I don’t think she did at all! There’s something spectacular about seeing this Hunger Games Arena come to life, and it pretty perfectly matched my imaginings.
Better than the book, two thumbs up.
About Time: A new favourite. So much more than just a romantic comedy, this will touch your heartfeels and leave you wanting to rewatch immediately. Domnhall Gleeson (you’ll know him as Bill Weasley or Levin from the recent Anna Karenina adaptation) plays the beautifully average Tim, a man unlucky in love, who discovers at 21 that the men in his family can travel in time. But not the “let’s go back and bang Marilyn Monroe” time travel, the kind where you can only go back to a time in your own life, a time that you’ve lived. Rachel McAdams plays Mary, a gorgeous American who walks in and out of Tim’s life as his travelling changes his future.
This film was made by the same people who did Love Actually, so right off the bat you know it’s a winner, but this one takes it to another level. I really don’t want to give anything away, but this is a real love story. Not a romcom love story. True, real, proper love. The kind that kills you. About Time is about the love that you feel and the way the loss of it affects us, and how to focus on what’s important while you have the time.
A classic, I cried for dayyyyyys.
Mystery Road: I really wanted to like this. I have a soft spot for Australian film, and I always try to give it a go if it looks interesting enough to sit through. Mystery Road is a crime thriller set in central Australia, and with Aaron Pedersen (oh dear god can I have one of my own?) at the helm, I had a lot of hope that this would be a great piece. Sadly, it just got a bit weird. The scary bits got less scary as it went along, and really, the only thing I remember are the pointless SuperDogs. No, don’t ask.
Tasma Walton (Rove McManus’s wife) does a pretty great job as a drunk bitch trying to get her shit together, but essentially, this film could have been so so so much better.
Gravity: WOWSERS. So this is the film to end all films. As a non-fan of Alfonso Cuaron (I still can’t handle him after he ruined Prisoner of Azkaban), I was a bit skeptical. But this is one of the greatest films I’ve EVER seen. Visually, I have never experienced anything like I did whilst watching Gravity. I saw this in 3D (which I try to avoid if possible) and I was definitely not disappointed. From what I’ve heard from other friends who saw it in 2D, half the reason I loved this was because of the experience the 3D viewing provided me.
Clooney and Bullock amaze, and the suspense really hits home. Simply put, Gravity is unmissable.
American Hustle: Right. Now I’m all for quirky oddball films. But I was not expecting this to be one of them. All five of the big-name cast give fantastic performances (BIG love for Bradley Cooper — calm your fucking shit son, you are an insane person) but this was just such an obscure film. Christian Bale, as always, thrills. Even with the pot belly and comb-over. Sadly Amy Adams british accent is appalling, and really jars you whilst watching. The ending really pays off the attention you’ve given to the rest of the film, but there’s just something I can’t quite put my finger on about it…