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Showing posts from November 30, 2014

Review: A.C.O.D.

Adam Scott stars as a successful restaurateur, dating the absolutely stunning yoga instructor Mary Elizabeth Winstead. He comes from a bitterly divorced couple played by Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara. They were divorced when he was young, and they still hate the fuck out of each other. So when younger brother Clark Duke is about to get married (to a real woman? Really? Did he chloroform her first?), it’s up to Scott to try and get his parents to put their venomous hatred aside for the sake of the impending nuptials. And that’s when things take a turn for…um, well something at least. He visits childhood therapist Jane Lynch for her insights into how to get the bickering oldies to simmer down temporarily. It’s here that he finds out that Lynch is not really a shrink exactly, but that Scott was placed by his parents into a study on the effects of divorce on children conducted by researcher Lynch, who then wrote a best-selling book about it that Scott somehow never found out about.…

Review: Nowhere Boy

The early years of John Lennon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), raised in 50s Liverpool by his tough Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas). And then his free-spirit mother (Anne-Marie Duff) re-enters the picture, encourages John’s musical pursuits, and all-round makes the boy feel very confused and conflicted between the two women in his life. Since his home life is a bit of a wreck, the young Lennon seeks refuge in the world of music, and tries to start a band, which after a line-up change or two, features the likeminded young Paul McCartney (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and a young George Harrison.

It’s often difficult watching a movie based on the life of a very well-known person, especially when that person is played on screen by someone who just doesn’t convince. This 2009 film from debut director Sam Taylor-Wood and screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh (“Control”, “The Look of Love”) is a pretty interesting film that almost fails because of the dreadful miscasting of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a fella named …

Review: Drinking Buddies

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are flirty friends and co-workers at a brewery (run by an uncredited Jason Sudeikis), who are nonetheless in committed relationships with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick respectively. However, a weekend away between the couples sees them questioning just how committed they are, and exploring the possibility that they might just want to steal each other’s spouse, who they clearly have more in common with.

I think I can see what everyone’s striving for here, but this 2013 indie romcom Joe Swanberg (“LOL”, “VHS”) gets it really, really wrong by not properly understanding its characters, the situation it has set up, and the genre within which it is working. Swanberg probably feels that his film is about the question of whether ‘drinking buddies’ and/or co-workers can/should become lovers. I get that. Unfortunately, the way it’s done, it doesn’t play out like that at all.

What Swanberg, intentionally or not, has done is set up two couples who would be absolut…

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Set in the early 90s (pre-internet, and mixed tapes were still a thing. Boy do I remember this period!), Logan Lerman stars as a 15 year-old with a whole lot of problems, including coping with the suicide of someone close, his own mental illness, an older sister (Nina Dobrev) whose boyfriend is physically abusive, as well as an overall feeling of not fitting in with his peers, and memories of a deceased Aunt (Melanie Lynskey) that still haunt him, and slowly reveal something very disturbing. A lifeline is thrown this young man’s way in the form of Ezra Miller and Emma Watson, two non-conformist step-siblings and all-round music snobs, who take the troubled, lonely kid into their fold. He also enjoys a student-mentor relationship with an easygoing English teacher (Paul Rudd), who gives him novels to read. Unfortunately, Lerman’s psychological issues aren’t going away, in fact, they may just cause him to crack. Johnny Simmons is a jock who is secretly dating the openly gay Miller, Dylan…

Review: Runner Runner

In order to pay for his tuition at Princeton, Justin Timberlake earns money by recruiting fellow students to sign up for an online poker site. The university dean (Bob Gunton) doesn’t appreciate the initiative and, concerned with the college’s reputation, shuts his operation down. Needing quick cash, he puts all of his savings into playing online poker and loses. However, Timberlake feels he was cheated, and suspects a scam going on. Angry, he travels to Costa Rica (which I guess you can fly to for free?) and presents the site’s rich playboy mogul (Ben Affleck) with the news that someone is rigging his system and screwing players over. Affleck apologises and offers Timberlake a high-paying gig working for him. He also meets Gemma Arterton, who is kinda sorta Affleck’s girlfriend, but quickly becomes involved with Timberlake. Unfortunately, it’s not long before Timberlake realises that Affleck is not entirely on the level, and it may be too late for him to break free. Louis Lombardi pl…

Review: Polyester

A neurotic view of American suburbia, focussing primarily on the dysfunctional Fishpaw family. Divine (somewhat successfully deviating from his/her usual persona) is the rather fragile Francine, whose pornographer husband Elmer (David Samson) cruelly flaunts his philandering in her face. Teen daughter Lu-Lu (Mary Garlington) is a proud slut (Hey, in Waters’ world, that isn’t a derogatory term, believe me it’s an extremely accurate character description) who is pregnant but wants to have an abortion. Both of these incidents start to drive poor Francine crazy. Son Dexter (Ken King), meanwhile, is apparently a foot-fetish pervert skulking about the neighbourhood. Bland former 50s heartthrob Tab Hunter turns up as Tod Tomorrow, a romantic stranger who may just be Francine’s dream man. Mink Stole plays Elmer’s grotesque mistress, whilst Edith Massey plays Francine’s one true friend, Cuddles Kovinsky. Yep, Cuddles.

Whatever you thought of John Waters’ trashtastic “Pink Flamingoes”, it was e…

Review: Dreamgirls

Beginning in the 60s, this is the story of The Dreamettes an all-girl African-American trio of singers comprising of headstrong lead vocalist Effie (Jennifer Hudson), outwardly beautiful and marketable Deena (Beyonce Knowles), and the other one (Anika Noni Rose). Smooth, Berry Gordy-esque manager Curtis (Jamie Foxx) hears them at a talent show and signs them up as the renamed The Dreams, starting as the backing singers for troubled singer James Early (Eddie Murphy), and eventually having them break out on their own. Their songs are written by Effie’s brother C.C. (Keith Robinson). Tensions arise when Curtis suggests that Deena would be more marketable to a mainstream audience as lead singer, angering the tempestuous Effie, who clearly has the more powerful voice. The record sales might sore, but the ‘family’ start to crumble, whilst James Early (who despite being married, hooks up with impressionable Lorrell, played by Rose) completely bottoms out due to wildly self-destructive behavi…

Review: Impostor

Set in 2079, where Earth is at war with an alien race who are now using replicants (android clones) that come equipped with bombs. The replicants don’t seem to know they are replicants nor that they carry these bombs. Gary Sinise plays an important weapons designer who is arrested by Major Hathaway (Vincent D’Onofrio) on suspicion of being a replicant (He’s basically the global version of an NSA guy). Sinise is adamant that his human and flees Maj. Hathaway’s torturous interrogation, hoping to prove to everyone (perhaps even himself) that he is truly him, and not an alien replicant. Madeleine Stowe plays Sinise’s doctor wife, Mekhi Phifer plays an underground revolutionary/mercenary-type who helps Sinise, Gary Dourdan is Hathaway’s second-in-command, Tony Shalhoub essentially plays Robert Costanzo from “Total Recall”, the late Elizabeth Pena is also seen underground, whilst Lindsay Crouse, Tracey Walter, and Clarence Williams III all have small appearances (the latter two being uncred…