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Showing posts from April 19, 2015

Review: The Butler

The story of former White House butler Eugene Allen, fictionalised as Cecil Gaines here and played by Forest Whitaker. Cecil grew up rather harshly in the 20s on a cotton farm where his supposedly ‘crazy’ mother (Mariah Carey) was raped by the evil plantation owner, who then killed his father right in front of the boy. Matriarch Vanessa Redgrave takes kindly on the boy (or just flat out hates what her son did) and takes him out of the fields and inside the house to work as a servant. Eventually a teenage Cecil leaves the farm, and hooks up with a wiser, older hotel butler (Clarence Williams III) who teaches him the tricks of the trade. Cecil even ends up marrying a hotel maid (Oprah Winfrey) before getting his big break as a White House butler, starting under President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin Williams) and working all the way up to Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman!). In the latter half of the film, David Oyelowo plays Cecil’s son Louis, who becomes interested in social activism that at…

Review: Dallas Buyers Club

Set in the mid-80s, Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a Texan electrician, womaniser, drug-user and rodeo bull rider who contracts the AIDS virus, and is given one month to live (This is 10 minutes into the film. Movies are fun!). Fired, evicted, and now friendless due to homophobic fear and ignorance, Ron (who in the film is aggressively straight and quite homophobic himself) illegally obtains an experimental drug named AZT for his treatment. That’s because the hospital where Ron was diagnosed is running a trial on AZT, but half the patients get a placebo, in order for the test to work, which isn’t good enough for Ron. Unfortunately, that avenue eventually closes up and it doesn’t seem to be working anyway, so Ron goes to Mexico and meets a disbarred doctor (Griffin Dunne) who tells him that AZT is poisonous and prescribes vitamins and drugs not approved by the American FDA. We now cut to several months later and Ron is much improved. Being an enterprising fellow, he sees do…

Review: Crimes of the Heart

Focussing on three sisters in Mississippi; The youngest named Babe (Sissy Spacek) has just shot her husband. This brings fledgling actress Meg (Jessica Lange) back home from Hollywood, whilst spinster Lenny (Diane Keaton) has apparently just turned 30 (going on 38 by the looks of it, but 11 intellectually it seems) and gets pissy over people half-eating her chocolates. Oh, and family patriarch Old Granddaddy (Hurd Hatfield) is dying, too. Tess Harper plays a nosey, judgemental neighbour, whilst Sam Shepard plays local Doc, a former flame of Meg’s she reacquaints herself with.

A talented Aussie director and several of the most respected film actresses of the 70s and 80s, and this is what they come up with? Based on a 1980 play and adapted by playwright Beth Henley (“Miss Firecracker”) herself, this Bruce Beresford (“Don’s Party”, “Breaker Morant”, “Tender Mercies”, “Driving Miss Daisy”) film from 1986 really should’ve been better than this, even if no one in the cast is among my favour…

Review: Frozen (Disney)

Set in the fictional town of Arendelle, where princesses Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voiced Idina Menzel) have always been close growing up, but something seems to be drifting them apart. That something is the fact that Elsa has magical powers, and these powers are very difficult for her to control. At one point she nearly harms her sister, inadvertently, and it is decided by their parents that the sisters shouldn’t see one another as frequently anymore. Their parents also have Anna’s memory of all this wiped by trolls (Yes, trolls). Years later, and the two girls are now adults, and Elsa is set to be crowned Queen in a big public ceremony. Anna attends and immediately attracts the attention of Prince Hans, who almost instantaneously proposes marriage to the young princess. Anna, presumably under the impression that this is totally normal, accepts, but when they tell this to Elsa, she completely flips out and once again her magical powers run amok, in full view of everyone…

Review: Going Overboard

Adam Sandler plays a cruise ship waiter (!) and wannabe stand-up comedian who has the annoyingly contrived name of Shecky Moskowitz. Scott Larose plays ship comedian Dickie Diamond. True to his name, he’s a foul-mouthed, arrogant douchebag who has no time for Shecky’s hero worship. When Dickhead…er…Dickie gets locked in the bathroom (!) with a bout of food poisoning, Shecky might just get his big shot, even if angry hecklers like Billy Bob Thornton (!) prove a tough audience. Liza (Lisa) Collins Zane plays Miss Australia, one of several Miss World pageant contestants on board the ship. She gets on the wrong side of dictator General Noriega (Burt Young. Yes, that Burt Young) who sends a couple of goons to assassinate her for insulting him. Billy Zane (in his second film on a boat from 1989) turns up as the god Neptune (!), Peter Berg plays a dork on board the ship, Adam Rifkin is an awful punk rocker on board, and Tom Hodges (Chip from “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise”) play…

Review: Don’t Come Knocking

Sam Shepard stars as a long-time cowboy actor and notorious long-time hell-raiser, who walks off the set of his latest B-film. He’s headed home to see his estranged mother (Eva Marie Saint) he hasn’t spoken to in years. Meanwhile, the film company sends a guy played by Tim Roth to bring him back to the set ASAP. He may be a detective, bounty hunter, insurance agent, figment of your imagination- take your pick. However, Shepard is more interested in tracking down a former flame (Jessica Lange), whom his mother said called for him decades ago…and pregnant. He finally meets up with her in Butte, Montana to find her running a restaurant. Gabriel Mann is the local crooner (somewhere in between Roy Orbison and Nick Cave, but crap) who is clearly Shepard’s son, and may be going down a similar wrong path as his father. Unfortunately, the surly young man doesn’t take kindly to the sudden appearance of his father after all these years, let alone interfering in his life. Meanwhile, Sarah Polley …

20 Movies That Sounded 'Can't Miss' (But They Ultimately Did)

20. Duplicity (2009) - For me, capers work best when they are light and fluffy, and this film is anything but light and fluffy. It's confusing, unrealistic, extremely unromantic, and incredibly dull. Even if you have more patience than I did and could end up following it, the plot was awfully stupid. I know corporate espionage goes on, but I didn't buy the over-the-top smartphone shenanigans in the later "Paranoia", and I found it entirely absurd that two rival soap companies would hire ex-MI6 and ex-CIA operatives to spy on each other. If it were funny, perhaps I could go along with it, but laughs do not exist in this dojo. It's a heavy slog, no fun at all, and although Clive Owen is perfect, Julia Roberts just seems to have lost her smile sometime around the late 1990s and has never regained it. She has a singularly unpleasant presence on screen. For a film that is meant to be part romance, that's fatal. Oh, and don't even get me started on the big secr…