For those who are constantly complaining about Johnny Depp's latest run of films, Mortdecai isn't for you. For those of you who like fine films, Mortdecai isn't for you. And for those of you who have any self respect, Mortdecai isn't for you. For those who don't fall under any of those categories, however, Mortdecai is most certainly for you. The film follows the story of Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp), a British billionaire who's hired by Mi5 to track down a piece of stolen art, the back of which contains the password to a bank account containing millions of dollars.
I love Johnny Depp as an actor, I really do. I'm lenient towards many of his over the top and repetitive characters because he was my favourite actor when I was younger. His over the top characters, such as Willy Wonka, were what I grew up watching day after day. So I don't mind seeing him do those sort of characters every once in a while, which I will acknowledge as being an unpopular opinion. With Mortdecai, maybe it's time for him to stop. Maybe his caricatures have gone too far, so much so that he's finally landed a role that's as embarrassing as this.
It's a film that tries to be a parody of British spy movies, but lacks any humour, satire or action. Sure, the film tries to incorporate all three of these things, but it does so in the most unentertaining and cringe-worthy way possible, causing the final result to be a film that's not only awkward to look at, but it's also awkward to watch. I was ashamed to be seated in my seat, watching this movie, but hey, at least most of the other people in my cinema were too.
There was never once a moment in this film where I thought "hey, this is actually quite an entertaining scene." There just wasn't. Every line of dialogue, while delivered well by the cast, just didn't feel right. It felt off-putting and out of place, even discussions of the events at hand felt like a mix-match of one liners, none of which seemed to work in the least bit. For the first act, there seemed to be some potential, despite none of the jokes really working, but then this potential fades away and we're left with nothing.
Surprisingly, there was actually one scene towards the end that could've been rather funny, but it wasn't until after the scene was done that I realised this. I'll take you through the moment. Alright, so Mortdecai is laying in bed and we hear a bunch of moaning coming from the room behind the wall. Naturally, I just presumed that this was Jock's room, Mortdecai's man servant who's played by Paul Bettany, as he's set up to be a nymphomaniac of sorts. Mortdecai rings his neighbours, insisting that they have quieter sex and it's Jock who answers the phone.
The problem with this scene is in the set up. What usually makes a joke like this memorable is how it's set up. With the scene in Mortdecai, they're not clear in the set-up, resulting in the joke, which could've been funny had we not known Jock was in that room, falling rather flat. This is far from the only example, but it's certainly the one that's easiest to explain. Mortdecai, really, just isn't a good movie at all, but it seems that's always the case when Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany team up.
To sum up, Mortdecai wastes its decent cast with unfunny and awkward jokes in a parody of British spy movies that lacks in any sort of humour, satire or action.
Wild is the second true story to be released in cinemas this week, the other one being American Sniper. With Wild, however, there's only two guns, and they each have about three seconds of screen time and aren't aimed at anyone. But anyway, the film follows the story of Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon), a woman who, after the death of her mother (Laura Dern) and the divorce of her husband (Thomas Sadoski), decides she wants to walk a thousand miles all alone in the desert.
Wild is brought to us from director Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of Dallas Buyers Club. With Dallas Buyers Club, I was a big fan. I thought the direction was sublime and maybe even a tad underrated. Everybody seemed to be blinded by how brilliant the performances were that the directing seemed to skim past their minds. With Wild, he's done it again, providing us with yet another entertaining bio-pic, even if it's not nearly up to the standards that were set by last year's Dallas Buyers Club. Well, 2013's Dallas Buyers Club for most, but obviously, Australia didn't get it until last year. Whatever. I'm drifting away from the topic yet again. I am seriously making a habit of this.
Reese Witherspoon is absolutely fantastic. She manages to give one of the strongest female performances of 2014, because yes, this film is technically a 2014 released movie. She's so dedicated to the role and to the character and this obviously payed off, scoring her a much deserved Oscar nomination. But she's not the only cast member to score one either. Laura Dern claimed her second nomination for this film, which to be honest, is quite shocking. Her performance is fine, but she's nothing Oscar worthy, especially with her very limited screen time. But hey, nobody really knows what the Academy are thinking when it comes to the Oscars.
Throughout the film, we're told two different stories. The first is about the walk Cheryl is taking, the walk to sort out and move on from her past. We know the basics from the get go, but we don't honestly know a lot. That's what the second story tells us. The flashbacks. We're given a look back at the events in her life that got her to this point, including both a drug and sex addiction. To me, the flashbacks told a much more interesting story. It's not that the walking storyline falls flat, it's just that it's a bunch of walking alone in the desert. It's intriguing, but there's not a lot of story to be found. The flashbacks are the opposite, hence the reason why I enjoyed them more.
There's also something really fascinating about the way Wild is filmed. It perfectly captures the beauty of the wilderness, but at the same time it manages to feel bland and desolate, as if everything is hopeless and human contact is impossible. The cinematography shines off of the screen, revealing everything in a very subtle way, because Wild is an insanely subtle movie. It doesn't blast things in your face, but instead, you need to pay attention. It's not easy to miss things, but the details aren't glaringly obvious either. It's a very mature movie and I like it for that.
To sum up, Wild is another successful bio-pic from the director of the brilliant Dallas Buyers Club. Reese Witherspoon is brilliant in the lead, giving a rather dedicated performance, the direction is solid and the cinematography fascinating.
3 1/2 Stars
American Sniper is the true story of Texas man, Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). After a series of terrorist attacks towards America, Chris decides to join the Navy, working as a sniper. He trains, he prepares and when it's time for him to go to war, he does whatever he can to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. But between wars, Chris also tries his hardest to be a loving husband and caring father to wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and his two young children. It's a film that shows the impacts war can have on people, both in the war and out.
American Sniper is a film I've been looking forward to for quite some time. I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood, both as an actor and a director, although especially as an actor. I've enjoyed most of his films, even plenty of the ones that were universally trashed on, such as Hereafter and Jersey Boys. Granted, my review for Jersey Boys saw me trashing on it, but after watching it for a second time on a plane (don't ask me why I did, but I did), I discovered that I enjoyed the film. A lot, actually. With American Sniper, it seemed like Clint Eastwood was making another great movie, after a series of just fine ones. And did he? Why yes he bloody well did. As a matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say he made a much better film than Birdman. Yep, I went there, and I'm probably the only one who ever will go there. Hopefully not.
Bradley Cooper gives the performance of a lifetime as Chris Kyle. I've been a big fan of Cooper's ever since The Hangover, which I feel is the film that really got him noticed. Alright, sure, he was memorable in Wedding Crashers, but I never would've picked him to be the one who would go on to be insanely famous. Now just look how wrong I was. In American Sniper, he gives his best performance to date, successfully showing both the fear and pride this man has for his country.
This man was quite a complicated figure, although I'm sure the same goes for everyone who's ever been to war, and Cooper doesn't disrespect him in the least. Bulking up to suit the part and adding a Texan accent on to perfect it, Cooper not only feels like the man himself, but he acts like him too. He's a tough man who's practically leaking with masculinity, but deep down, there's a lot of horror, stress and anxiety to be found. He's more than just a killing machine and this film shows that.
When you look at Eastwood's recent run of films, American Sniper is a bit of a change up. It's not that he hasn't done war films before, just look at Flags of Our Fathers, but it's more so that this just feels different. It feels fresh for him. It's like the Eastwood of old, and I couldn't be happier. It's far from his best directing work, that spot is currently reserved by Gran Torino, but it's just refreshing to see him taking on something as different as this.
When the war sequences are on, Eastwood handles them well, providing us with an intense and visceral experience. While the film can sometimes switch between glorifying war and showing it in a negative way, as a whole, Eastwood has done a mighty fine job. I hate war, yet on film it can make for some damn good entertainment. In American Sniper, the war sequences are as gripping as they are loud. They had my eyes glued to the screen, not wanting to reach for my MnMs in fear that I would get distracted and miss something important.
Unfortunately, however, American Sniper is not without its flaws. The film, which clocks in at two hours and ten minutes, is rather long. Too long, as a matter of fact, but so many of Clint Eastwood's recent movies have been, so I'm not surprised. There's also a rather fake looking baby. No, scrap that, an incredibly fake looking baby that's so fake that you can see Bradley Cooper trying to move its arm up and down. But other than those couple of flaws, American Sniper is one hell of a movie.
To sum up, American Sniper may have mixed feelings towards war, is a tad too long and feature an obviously fake baby, but with Eastwood behind the camera and Cooper in front, this is a war film that stands up above the rest.
With 9 Oscar nominations, a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.5 score on IMDb, a bunch of five star reviews and my friend saying that it was his favourite film of all time, I guess you could say I wanted to like this film just a little bit more. Birdman follows the story of a washed up actor named Riggan (Michael Keaton), a man who's career has gone downhill ever since he hung up the cape for his iconic superhero role, Birdman. To redeem himself, he decides to put on a play. This film follows his story throughout the few days beforehand, and what a story it was.
If I were to say just one thing about Birdman, the first word that comes to mind is ambitious. There's no denying that this film tries. My god, does it try. It's a technological masterpiece, evident by the fact that the film has been edited to look like one continuous moving shot. Yep, you read that correctly. One continuous shot that spans over the course of multiple days. It's an achievement of cinema, and it's quite an experience that's worth seeing at least once. While it's fairly obvious where the cuts are, credit must be given to the editors for doing their best to hide these cuts. Credit that the Academy clearly didn't recognise, but whatever. I'm here to talk about the film, not the awards that it won or did not win.
The fact that this film actually got pulled off is rather impressive, but it leaves me wondering, how successful would the film have been without it being one long shot? Sure, there'd still be some love towards it, especially in terms of performances, but would the reactions be quite as positive? Who knows. Who cares? The point is that they pulled it off, no matter what the reasoning behind it is. While it took a little while for me to get used to it, once the shot gets going it really gets going.
The movement of everything is just so fluent. I'm not just speaking about the camera work either, but the pacing and runtime too. They just smoothly manoeuvre from scene to scene and without interruption. The time passes by rather quickly and by the time its all over you can't help but feel as if you've been on a journey, of sorts. Whether this was an extraordinary one, a mediocre one or a terrible one, that's up to you. I seem to be hearing all three of the mentioned reactions.
While all of the cast do terrific jobs, in particular Edward Norton, it's Michael Keaton that truly stands out. This is his film and his alone. He's the star of the show and his character is easily the most interesting of the lot. Still living off the fame of a superhero he once was, his character has been driven into madness, living a life of boredom and depression. He's interesting, to say the least, and in some ways, he's even reflective of Michael Keaton, who as we all know was once famous for playing Batman.
Another piece of reflection present in the movie is the actual play that Riggan is trying to put on. This play, in more ways than one, is a self reflection on his own life story, and it's the details like this that I loved about the film. Constantly wanting to be noticed and to fit in, his character manages to ambitiously write that into his own play, and this is at one point mentioned by Edward Norton, who straight up tells it to Riga's face, beginning a feud between the two characters that lasts for the entire movie.
The real problem with Birdman is that it thinks of itself too highly. Sure, it's a technological achievement, but beneath the surface it's not really as incredible as it wants to be. I really really really did not want to use the word pretentious when describing this film, but peer pressure has sunk in and it seems I must. But yes, there are certain scenes that I will admit are rather pretentious. There's multiple celebrity name drops in Birdman that I feel add nothing to the film except for the "look at me" reaction it was trying to get from them. It's a very showy movie, and while I enjoyed it as a whole, this showiness does take its toll.
To sum up, Birdman is an ambitious movie from start to finish. While it's a technological masterpiece, if you take away its one continuous shot, I don't feel that it would earn as much praise as it's currently receiving.
3 1/2 Stars
Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell), an American athlete who, just a few years after competing in the Olympics, goes to war. Voluntarily or made to, who knows. This was, after all, the 40s. Following his arrival on the battlefield, Louis and co. are sent on a rescue mission, but it's during this trip that they crash down somewhere in the middle of the ocean. Just three of them survive, barely escaping onto the lifeboat with their lives. For the next 47 days, the three have to survive in the ocean, only to be captured by Japanese soldiers who treat them as enemies of Japan. It's quite a story. As a matter of fact, the story told is an incredible one, but the film presented is not.
Unbroken isn't a bad film, I'll say that. The story, of course, is unbelievably powerful. We've seen it and heard about it dozens of times before, but the fact that people actually went through things like this just blows my mind away. When you look at the way these people were treated, it's inhuman. Based on the story alone, Unbroken is a film that suddenly appeared on my radar. Add in Angelina Jolie to the mix and it really grabbed my attention. Then you put in that it was filmed here in Sydney and wow, I'm all for it. It's not a terrible film by any means, but it's certainly not a great one, nor an overly entertaining one. If you were ever looking to find something to classify as "Oscar bait" then this is the film you need to look to.
Angelina Jolie, who doesn't once appear in front of the camera, really proves that she has a knack for directing. Having not seen her debut film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, I was curious to see how she could handle being behind the camera. This camera moves swiftly through all the scenarios, although I have a feeling that this also may have something to do with one of my all time favourite cinematographers, Roger Deakins, who was the cinematographer on this film. Jolie, however, can really get a good performance out of her actors, and she approaches the subject matter in a mature manner and with a lot of respect.
The screenplay, which is co-written by a bunch of people, helps to keep the film moving. Unbroken rarely ever stops. It's a film that just keeps on keeping on, constantly moving in a forwards direction. The dialogue works, even if it's a little heavy handed in certain scenes, but there's no lines that ever come out forced. Something new is always happening in the story, whether it's a flashback to before the war or a shark revealing itself from the water in a way that's almost a replica of a certain scene in Jaws. It's a constantly moving film.
Jack O'Connell brings this film to new heights. Without him in the lead, I really doubt that I would've found too many things to enjoy with this film. It's not a film that screams for a rewatch. It's two hours of depressing depictions of torment, abuse and fighting for survival, with the last ten minutes dedicated to making the audience feel uplifted. It's not as powerful as it wants to be, but it could've been worse without O'Connell. He's easily the best thing about this movie.
However, with this being Oscar bait and all, it does tend to become a bit too biopic-y. It's not anything to do with the true story, but with Unbroken, the film does tend to follow through with a few conventions. Not just in style, but in substance too. It takes us through the entire life of Zamperini, even dedicating the final closing titles to explaining what happened after the events of the film. It plays it safe, taking us through every crucial moment in his life, but doing it without adding anything new to the table.
To sum up, Unbroken takes its powerful true story and somehow turns it into something that's nowhere near as powerful as it could have been. The performances are excellent, especially from Jack O'Connell, and Angelina Jolie feels right behind the camera, but the film just plays everything really safe.
Into The Woods is the film that'll satisfy the hungry, fairy tale loving five year old in all of us. It follows the story of a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), a married couple who are unable to have children. One day, the two are visited by their neighbour, who is also a witch (Meryl Streep). This witch announces that for a number of years she's had a curse placed on the baker's family that forbids him from having any children, but it's here that she also informs them of a way to remove the curse, which leads them on a wild, entertaining and magical adventure that combines all of your favourite fairy tale stories into a two hour long movie.
Honestly, I didn't go into this movie with high expectations. I enjoy musicals a lot, so don't go pulling that card on me, but I just wasn't really buying into the advertising, or word of mouth, for that matter. It was fine, but nothing special. Nothing really jumped out at me and made this a must see. I knew I was going to see it, like I do with almost every movie, and that was enough for me. So I sat down in the cinema, not really dreading the film, but not really bursting with enthusiasm either. I have to say, this film really surprised me. I wasn't expecting much and what I got was actually very entertaining. It was a pleasant surprise!
In terms of performances, all of the adult cast are stupendous. There's not a single adult performance that weighs this film down, they're all fantastic. Meryl Streep, who's character continuously pops up every so often, is great, but when is she not? Chris Pine may appear to over act, but trust me, that's just his character. There's other impressive cast members too, such as Anna Kendrick, James Corden and the brilliant Emily Blunt, but Johnny Depp is the only other one I feel I need to comment on.
Depp's character is odd, but like Meryl Streep, when are they not? His performance is, well, the usual Depp performance, except he's not given the spotlight this time. His character only plays a minor role, and it's not even too crucial a role either. As a matter of fact, he may give the funniest performance in the entire film, especially when he's seen dressed up as Red Riding Hood's grandmother. The only problem is that he collects about three minutes of screen time all up.
The child actors, on the other hand, aren't so fabulous, although there's only two that take centre stage. The rest of the cast members tend to step back and watch. The actors who play Red Riding Hood and Jack, from Jack and the Beanstalk, aren't too good. Sure, they're not excruciating, but they're nothing special. It may be Chris Pine's character that overacts, but it's not theres, and my god do they overact. Hey, at least they can sing... occasionally.
But the songs, yes, I should talk about the songs. To put it simply, they're good. After the film finishes, there's not an awful lot of words that'll be stuck in your head, with the exception of "I wish" as that appeared in just about every song sung. It's really just the tunes that are catchy. It's not as though the people singing these songs aren't great as the whole cast can sing rather well, it's just that they're not singable songs.
And finally, the film stays for just a bit too long. The film clocks in at approximately two hours and five minutes, and while everything that was told was mostly entertaining, the film really didn't need to be that long. This is a ninety minute long movie at most, and at one point it could've been. The film wraps up at about the ninety minute mark and it's a rather satisfying conclusion, but it then decided to continue the story on for another half an hour. While I liked what they did with the final act, it really wasn't necessary.
To sum up, Into The Woods was a pleasant surprise, full of enjoyable songs and stupendous performances from the adult cast, however the child cast aren't quite as amazing, the songs aren't singable and the film's just a little too long.
I'm just going to get this out of the way, I love every single second of the first Dumb and Dumber movie. I've seen it plenty of times over the years and it's just as funny every time I see it. Dumb and Dumber To picks up the story twenty years later, with Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in a mental institution. Harry (Jeff Daniels), who's been visiting every week, lets the paralysed Lloyd know that he's in need of a kidney transplant and can't visit anymore, to which Lloyd reveals he was joking about being insane for the past twenty years. This is when the real fun begins, with Harry discovering he has a long lost child whom he intends on chasing down with the hopes of asking for a kidney.
I wanted to like Dumb and Dumber To a lot, and while I think there are some legitimately hysterical moments, as a whole the film just doesn't work very well. Dumb and Dumber is one of my all time favourite comedies, alongside Anchorman. I'm not sure what that says about me, but I don't care. I love them and have watched them both numerous times. We recently got a sequel to both these films, and while Anchorman 2 was an absolute blast from start to finish, Dumb and Dumber To is an occasional blast, with more than a few not so entertaining moments.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of fun to be had here. Seeing these characters come back on screen is a good enough reason to go see this movie, but the only problem is that they can't sustain the laughs very well. The first thirty minutes is almost a complete bore, if it weren't for a few cameos. There were some small chuckles here and there, but most of this was stuff from the trailer, a trailer I've watched way too many times. Then the laughs start to pick up a bit, and we're given about forty minutes of non-stop hilarity. Then we're introduced to a few more characters and the film goes back downhill.
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are great at reprising their roles. Carrey's last few roles haven't been up to stretch with some of his classics. A few of them are watchable, but for the most part, they're all a little underwhelming. Seeing him return as Lloyd is just as entertaining as you'd want it to be, but it's Jeff Daniels who comes as the biggest shock. I don't watch The Newsroom, but Daniels has drifted away from comedy ever since Dumb and Dumber. To my surprise, he gets straight into character, pulling off the dumb no other actor could pull off. Except maybe Jim Carrey.
There are a few characters in this film, and I mentioned this earlier, that just aren't funny. The two stand outs are Rob Riggle and Rachel Melvin. Rob Riggle's character, while important to the "story" at hand, just wasn't very entertaining to watch on screen. His character just looks and feels awkward and out of place. Then there's Rachel Melvin, who plays Harry's daughter. Her character is certainly in the right movie, I have no doubt about that, but she's just not very funny. She's on screen and she inspires some memorable Carrey jokes, but she herself doesn't do anything noteworthy.
To sum up, Dumb and Dumber To is a fairly mixed bag in terms of the laughs. There's a dull initial thirty minutes, a hysterical second act and then an underwhelming and unfunny third, full of characters that really bring the film down.
2 1/2 Stars
Taken 3 (or Tak3n, if you really want to go there) concludes the story of Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), an ex-CIA operative who, in the previous two movies, ran into a bit of trouble overseas, so to speak. With Taken 3, these films are almost completely neglected, only being referenced once in a blink or you'll miss it moment. Instead, we're given some predictable half assed story about the death of Bryan's ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and how the blame is unbelievably put on Mills. Whatever. Does anybody even care about these movies? I sure as hell don't. The first, maybe. The second, hell no. The third, well, the third can just piss off.
According to wikipedia, a film can be described as "a series of still images which, when shown on a screen, creates the illusion of moving images due to the phi phenomenon. This optical illusion causes the audience to perceive continuous motion between separate objects viewed rapidly in succession.The individual images that make up a film are called frames. During projection of traditional films, a rotating shutter causes intervals of darkness as each frame in turn is moved into position to be projected, but the viewer does not notice the interruptions because of an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed." If what wikipedia says is true, and I do believe that it is, then Taken 3 is not a movie. Let me explain why.
For something to be classified as a movie, the viewer, and I quote, "does not notice the interruptions" between cuts. Or they're not affected by the cuts. The cuts simply happen and we don't take any notice of them. In Taken 3, the cuts are everywhere. They're fast, shaky and occur three times a second, making this film completely unwatchable. There's action on screen, and this action could've been fun, but it wasn't. People say this with many films, but you cannot see what's happening on screen. The editing is infuriatingly bad, and that's an understatement.
What makes this editing even worse is the cinematography. I have no idea who was in charge of the cinematography in this film, but I honestly hope they never get work again. That's harsh, I know, but wait until you see the film. Or don't. Yeah, please don't. The camera is constantly being thrown around, pulling me away from the story at hand. It's as if the cameramen were playing a game of rugby with the camera, constantly rotating it around in a circle, shaking it up and down and zooming in and out.
Editing and cinematography aside, what this film fails at the most, and this is insanely embarrassing, is in the audio. It's not the dialogue I'm discussing, nor the sound effects, although I would argue that they're rather shabby too. No, what I'm talking about is the microphones used to record the audio in this movie. The audio is, in certain scenes, impossible to listen to. Not because of how loud the rest of the scene was, but because it's muffled. It's freaking muffled. Yep, the audio is accompanied by a large cloud of static, which comes and goes as it pleases, making me at one point in the film laugh out loud.
Nothing that happens makes any sense, either. I'm going to give an example, and don't worry, this isn't a spoiler. There's an improbable scene that takes place around halfway through the movie that sees Liam Neeson in a bit of a tight spot. He's stuck in a car on the top floor of a building (or close enough to it) and he's surrounded by several police cars. So what does he do? He reverses down some gap and the car explodes. It was perhaps the only moment in the movie where I wanted to know what really happened, yet the outcome is unexplainable. Just thirty seconds later we see Liam Neeson on the roof of some building, talking to Forrest Whitaker via phone. Um, what? I saw this film five days ago and I still can't come up with a logical explanation as to how this happened.
While I should consider Taken 3 to be one of the worst films I've ever seen, and it probably deserves to be called that, it does have one redeeming factor. A redeeming factor that gave this film just an extra half star, seeings as how I don't give 0 Stars to films, although I do think I did to Jaws 3, but whatever. I've changed. This film does have two decent performances in it: Liam Neeson and Forrest Whitaker. Neither of them could make the film entertaining, but hey, they were the only performances I could stand to watch on screen.
To sum up, Taken 3 will undoubtedly be appearing on my Worst Of 2015 list come December. It's an awful pile of piss that shouldn't even be considered an actual movie. If you're going to see a movie this week, although I've been offline so this week's almost done, just wait for Birdman instead. That's what I should've been doing.
Continuing on with the many Paul Thomas Anderson films I intend to review is The Master, a film so deep and unusual that I had to wait until I saw it, let it sink in and then watched it again before I could review it. The film follows the story of Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix), a woman obsessed drunk and naval veteran who, when fleeing from an angered crowd, discovers a group of men and women who are dedicating their life to living in the ways of this sort of hypnosis they perform. It's difficult to explain, but just go along with it. They're led by a man named Lancaster (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who allows Freddie to come and stay with them.
The Master isn't a film that you can only watch once, which can be taken two ways. The first is that the film didn't quite convey everything it wanted to convey on the initial viewing. That Paul Thomas Anderson tried really hard to say the rather powerful things he wanted to say, but did it in such a subtle way that they're almost unrecognisable on first viewing. The second is that it's a film that's so intriguing that you want to come back again, and the second time around it speaks to you in a whole different light. It's a whole new experience. A better one, even. Both of these are correct, or at least in my opinion they are.
This is not a film for everyone, nor a film for any occasion. I must get that out of the way before I start to share my thoughts on it. There are people I know, and some of them are very big fans of arthouse and indies, who couldn't connect with this movie. But for the people that somehow find a way to be drawn in by this film and its unique way of telling its story, they will be blown away by what they will witness. It's a powerful movie that doesn't need to spoon feed you everything. It's very quiet in how it approaches its themes and subject matter, and it couldn't be any more brilliant at doing so.
Paul Thomas Anderson's screenplay is fantastic, putting in dialogue so grand and wonderful. It's quite a lengthy movie, but his screenplay doesn't make it feel so. It nearly clocks in at two and a half hours, but there's never an unneeded moment, or a scene that feels tedious or dull. Every scene adds a new layer to these characters. It gives them extra depth, making my overall experience of this film all the more profound.
But what really makes this film so brilliant are the performances. The actors make the film, and without them this film just wouldn't be quite as amazing as it is. It would be good, yes, but not great. At times it could be considered nothing more than an acting showcase, but once you start to think about these specific scenes you'll come to realise that it's not. It's a film that's more than that, and it's just the performances that help it get to where it wants to go.
I have but one problem with this movie, and it fractures the film quite a bit. The film is brilliant, I'm not saying it's not, but it's hard to connect to. I couldn't tell you how many amazing movies I've seen where the main character is either psychotic, unlikeable or just downright despicable. Many of my favourite movies fall under this category! What make these movies work so well is that we can connect with them, or we sympathise with what they're going through. When it comes to The Master, I couldn't connect with Joaquin Phoenix's character, no matter how perfect and unrecognisable his performance was.
To sum up, The Master is not a film for everyone, largely due to it's lack of personal connection between the audience and these characters, but it's a deep movie with some brilliant writing and unrecognisable performances, plus it's a film you'll find challenging to stop thinking about.
The Interview is a movie I'm sure everyone of you has heard of. It's arguably one of the most controversial movies of all time. There were death threats towards Sony, a hacking, a 9/11 type attack threatened etc. Then the film was pulled. Left behind. No longer. Gone. Then, on one sunny Christmas Eve (or Christmas day here in Australia) the film unexpectedly appeared online, legally of course. By the 26th December I'd seen it. That's when this review should have been up, but no. I got sick, the end of the year came around and I had to make a tonne of lists, but here we are. My review for The Interview is finally here, so enjoy.
The Interview follows the story of Dave Skylark (James Franco), a talk show host who covers such topics as Nicki Minaj's vagina flopping out at the Grammys. Dave's backstage man is Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen). Aaron is approached by a member of North Korea who informs him that their leader, Kim Jong-Un (Randall Park), is willing to do an interview with Dave Skylark as he is a rather big fan of the show. They accept, claiming that it will get them higher ratings. Shortly before leaving, Dave and Aaron are approached by the CIA, who request that they kill Kim Jong-Un. And so begins the controversy.
While the controversy surrounding this movie is a tad excessive, the film itself is well worth it. It's not a movie worth dying over, but boy is it entertaining. The 112 minute runtime may sound rather lengthy for a comedy, but I was never once not entertained. It's an outrageous satire, but it doesn't try to hide this. Don't go into this film expecting it to hold back. It's a balls to the walls crazy experience, but also one of the funniest movies of 2014. The plot itself is rather ludicrous, but when cut between plenty of anal sex jokes, people putting things up their butt and an abundance of Lord of the Rings references, The Interview's plot works.
Even if you're not a fan of Rogen or Franco, although I don't see why you're not, The Interview is still a film worth checking out. But seriously, with a film that has this much controversy surrounding it, how could you not want to see it? It's the James Bond film we never got, and it's arguably better than a fair few of the actual James Bond movies. Franco and Rogen bounce off of each other flawlessly, which seems to be becoming a common thing with their films, but hey, I'm not complaining.
While it may not be as funny, nor quotable, as 2013's This is the End, The Interview is still brilliant, largely thanks to Randall Park's portrayal of Kim Jong-Un. He's the best thing about the movie, portraying him in a fun loving, yet still diabolical way. He's a master manipulator, but in the best way possible. After all, who didn't love seeing Kim and Dave riding around in a tank, shooting things to Katy Perry's Fireworks? It's a scene that's impossible not to love.
What came as the biggest surprise with this movie was how thrilling it was. While the first two acts are a lot of fun, the third act is when the thrills really kick in. It's fast in pace, full of bloody violence and had my heart pounding. The advertising gives away practically everything that happens during this third act, and a scene that was leaked online prior to this film's online release didn't help either, but if you go in forgetting the advertising, then it's a damn good time. I probably shouldn't award this film 4 stars, but it's a controversial movie so I'm going to give it a controversial rating.
To sum up, The Interview is a controversial movie with a controversial rating from me. Playing off the bromance between Rogen and Franco, and the brilliant performance from Park, The Interview is a hilarious, shockingly violent and rather thrilling movie that you need to see no matter what.