30 May 2013

THE BIG WEDDING- Review

This doesn't look good. While our minds must always remain open, (no matter what might fly into it,) you'd be forgiven for swerving The Big Wedding on the basis of that trailer alone. Maybe it's just that I've deliberately swerved a lot of bad movies this year, but I was braced to be hit by a ton of badness when I sat down to watch this one. Things didn't quite pan out that way, and I couldn't have been prepared for quite how rude and grown-up this one turned out to be.

The basic premise could have come from a dozen other much worse romcom farce movies, but is actually based on the 2007 French-Swiss comedy Mon frère se marie (My Brother Is Getting Married). Don and Ellie are long since divorced, and are only really bonded by their grown-up children Lyla and Jared, and their adopted son Alejandro. Alejandro's Colombian mother is visiting the States for her son's wedding, and devoutly believes that divorce is a sin. And so, his adoptive parents jump through hoops to make her believe that they are still the happy couple to whom she entrusted her son, much to the consternation of Don's new wife.

23 May 2013

THE HANGOVER PART III- Review

I only laughed twice, while watching this movie. The first of those laughs came after a long spell of thinking I'd puzzled out how Mike Tyson was going to reappear, and I laughed more out of relief than anything else; Tyson isn't in the film, thank fuck. The second came in the end-credits stinger, which practically means I laughed after the film was over. Still, it's cool because it seems like Todd Phillips decided we weren't meant to laugh this time around.

Still, that's not the only aspect that's been discarded from the first two films. The Hangover Part III doesn't begin with one of the characters getting married, but with the Wolfpack being enlisted to take their spoilt man-child and founding member, Alan, to a mental institution in Arizona. There's no night of drunken bad behaviour, but there's a bunch of Porky Pig-masked drug dealers, led by the imperious Marshall, who side-swipe the gang en route and force them to track down Mr. Chow, the Chinese gangster who keeps running into them.

21 May 2013

FAST & FURIOUS 6- Review

Yep.
There are few franchises that get to six films and keep being interesting, even if most of us would have to admit that the change in creative direction behind the Fast & Furious movies is far more fascinating than the end result. Since his first film for the series, 2006's Tokyo Drift, director Justin Lin has been working on the one thing that none of us could have anticipated from this particular series- an arcing storyline. And in Fast & Furious 6, the endgame is in sight.

Having retired on the earnings of their successful heist in the previous film, Dominic Toretto's motley crew of expert drivers live lives of luxury, dodging extradition to the US. Meanwhile, agent Luke Hobbs is trying to run down a team of equally talented drivers, who've left a trail of destruction across Europe as they try to assemble a powerful technological weapon. Hobbs recruits Dom, and his crew, by showing him evidence that the late Letty is actually still alive, and collaborating with the villains, and a smashy battle of wits is set in motion.

20 May 2013

THE GREAT GATSBY- Review

In my younger and more vulnerable years, I saw a guilty pleasure film that I have been turning over in my mind ever since. Moulin Rouge is a film that I enjoy less and less every time I see it, to the point where I've definitively stopped watching it altogether, just to preserve some affection for it. Although his version of The Great Gatsby has some similarities to this film, it's his experience on a previous film, Romeo + Juliet, that should actually make him an ideal choice to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald's seminal novel.

While the director modernises Gatsby in the way that he did for Romeo + Juliet, but his big divergence from the source material comes in the same form as the frame from Moulin Rouge. In this version, Nick Carraway is a recovering alcoholic who is encouraged to write down his traumatic story by doctors at a sanatorium. We're transported to New York at the height of the roaring 1920s, via his narration, and see how he became acquainted with Jay Gatsby, a young millionaire who has a connection to Nick's married cousin, Daisy Buchanan.

13 May 2013

BERNIE- Review

It's tough to think of another true story movie that's as cheerfully bleak as Richard Linklater's latest, Bernie. In a similar fashion to Bart Layton's The Imposter, Linklater tells part of the story in documentary fashion, with the difference that the actors playing the real people here are more recognisable than in Layton's film. The result is a peculiar black comedy about Bernie Tiede, a man who was a pillar of the community in Carthage, Texas.

Aside from Bernie's general popularity, he becomes the apple of every old widow's eye in his capacity as an assistant funeral director, sincerely caring for the old dears, even after organising their late husbands' funerals. Everyone is puzzled when he develops a particularly close friendship with Marjorie Nugent, a mean old cow who lives on her own and scorns everyone else. Only a dogged district attorney, Danny Buck, seems to doubt Bernie's good character, after events take a surprising and sinister turn.

9 May 2013

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS- Review

This is a spoiler-free review- I'll be posting a more in-depth look at Star Trek Into Darkness in the next couple of weeks, but if you still don't want to know anything, proceed with caution...

When is a reboot not a reboot? In 2009, J.J. Abrams opened up the nebulous continuity of Star Trek to a bunch of new fans, without alienating the dedicated fanbase, by jumping into a parallel reality. These are the voyages of a different USS Enterprise, whose crew have been partly diverted from their destinies by the events that relaunched the series. They may also have inverted the rule whereby even-numbered Star Trek films are the best, (especially Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home) because this second (12th?) film pales by comparison.

Star Trek Into Darkness finds Captain Kirk at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, when he violates a crucial Starfleet regulation and is subsequently stripped of his command. Things look bleak for Kirk's promising career, until a mysterious enemy, known only as John Harrison, brings mayhem with meticulous terrorist attacks on both London and Starfleet HQ. On a mission of vengeance, Kirk is reinstated, and tasked with eliminating the culprit with extreme prejudice, but as he and his loyal crew venture into enemy space, his leadership is put to the test.

3 May 2013

THE LOOK OF LOVE- Review

It's tough to think of a British film that's received a wide release in cinemas this year, which hasn't seemed more suited to a prime-time slot on telly than a big screen. When I say a film is a bit ITV, I guess it's a compliment to ITV, whose two-part dramas are evidently up to a high standard of production, even if it's not a standard that feels at home in the multiplex.

The Look of Love feels more like the kind of star-led drama you'd catch on BBC Two, and that's surprising from a director like Michael Winterbottom. It's a film about the life and times of Paul Raymond, the business baron who "came from Liverpool with five bob in his pocket" (as he keeps reminding everyone here) and, by building a soft porn empire in Soho, became Britain's richest man. More than that, it's about his relationship with Debbie, his daughter and heir apparent, and how it all came to a tragic end.