I didn’t see 2002′s Yossi and Jagger, though now I rather wish I had. That earlier film was about a pair of Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border who fall in love on the front lines and it ended with Jagger’s death. This film then takes place ten years later, where Yossi is now a thirty-something medical doctor, overweight, unhealthy, closeted, burying himself in work and internet porn, and completely crushed by grief and loneliness.
I felt for the man, really I did; the exhaustion his pain has brought him is so tangible. Finally, on a much-needed R&R trip to Eilat, he meets a cute soldier called Tom, and while what happens between them isn’t necessary 100% believable, it is redemptive and important and it still feels credible. That feat is mostly due to the fantastic performance of Ohad Knoller as Yossi. Brilliant. Anyway, Yossi filmed in Jerusalem and in the harsh desert towards the city of Eilat – which looks completely awful on film.
Sharlto Copley wakes up suffering from amnesia lying in an Open Grave surrounded by tens of corpses. A mute Chinese woman helps him out and he makes his way to a house where he finds a handful of survivors who’ve also forgotten everything about themselves. Who are they? Who killed all of those people? And why does he keep having flashbacks where he’s the one who’d doing the killing?
Add to that a few more puzzling questions: Why do they shout at each other all the time? Why aren’t they all entirely freaked out by the sickly-looking zombies all over the place? Why is the Chinese woman so generally unhelpful? Why is the film 40 minutes too long? And why do they shout at each other all the time? I mean ALL THE TIME. I’m not sure if Open Grave was a sensible move in Sharlto Copley’s ascent to stardom, since it’s long, overblown and not very engaging. The resolution, when it comes, is fine, but the by the time we get there it feels like a cop-out to do it in voice over. If Sharlto didn’t have such nice hair, I’d say meh. Open Grave filmed in Hungary.
Although he’s been around for about two decades, I didn’t really know much about Alan Partridge, the radio dj invented and played with conviction by Steve Coogan. I only knew he was crassly smug and self-satisfied, one of those dreadful early morning broadcast types who smile when they talk, and who fill the silences with complete inanity (“So who is the worst ‘monger’: fish, iron, rumour or war?”) However, I did know Alan Partridge worked at Radio Norfolk Digital, and that the feature film Alan Partridge Alpha Papa was shot in part on the North Norfolk coast and that was enough for me to be interested.
In the movie, Radio Norfolk Digital’s been taken over by some slick restructuring corporate types, resulting in the dismissal of Pat, one of the older, underperforming djs. Still mourning the death of this wife, Pat loses it, storms the station with a shotgun and takes everyone hostage. Alan’s outside the building at the time, and he’s therefore asked to become the gp-between between Pat and the police during the stand-off – which finally gives Alan the chance to get back on the telly and be the hero.
Not really knowing anything about the characters or how they fitted together, Continue reading
For some reason, I find this all incredibly emotional. I’ll go see it, of course, but expect copious amounts of weeping.
It’s my experience that we all choose our families. Sometimes they are relationships of blood (hej hej the Cuffs), but sometimes they’re not who we’re born with but rather they are families magicked together out of friendship or sex or shared experience or even of necessity. So I totally get the basic premise of We’re The Millers – finding your true family is a wondrous thing. It takes a while to get there though….
In We’re The Millers, Jason Sudeikis plays David, a self-absorbed, small-time Denver pot dealer who’s forced to make a drug run into Mexico on behalf of a gleefully amoral narcissist. To get through the border there and back, he enlists the help of a spunky teenage runaway, a geeky naif and the proverbial stripper with a heart of gold (Jennifer Anniston) to fake the happy all-American Miller family. Thus ensues an R-rated comedy that’s partly genius, partly stomach-cringing crass, partly funny, partly embarassing – but ultimately it’s saved from its gross-outs (I’m about 30 years too old for all the cock and vagina jokes) by a genuine affection for the mismatched protagonists.
Denver isn’t Denver of course, it’s Wilmington, and Mexico is New Mexico, but what can you do?
You know what I loved? Every single, uproarious moment of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End. It would still have been brilliant as a bittersweet, wry, finely observed Mike Leigh comedy about five school friends who reconnect for a pub crawl through the small country town they grew up in. But – a big but – add in some ink-blooded alien bodysnatchers, some brutally epic fight scenes, some Rosamund freakin Pike, and sixty pints of lager, and you’ve got a hilarious instant classic.
Simon Pegg is actually completely brilliant here, and the rest of the gang – Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan – are pitch perfect, It’s Nick Frost though, completely playing against type as the uptight lawyer who is standout here. And did I mention Rosamund Pike? Brilliant.
So I laughed out loud. A lot. And loudly, too. And do you know what? You can even do the pub crawl in Welwyn Garden City next time you’re in Blighty. Seriously. Fantastic.
Paranoia isn’t really about paranoia, it’s about corporate espionage, and a couple of greedy biznis bigwigs who are out to destroy each other by stealing each others secrets. The ill-considered tool they use for their shenanigans is flobby Liam Hemsworth. A hapless pawn in their nefarious intrigues, he’s forced to lie, cheat, steal and compromise his friends and loved ones for no good reason at all really.
It’s dreadful on the whole. And while Paranoia has the bling Manhattan locations and crisp, glossy styling of a movie like Limitless, it has little of the panache or feel, and none of the sense. Hemsworth in particular must be thanking his lucky gods that he’s got two more Hunger Games movies in his future, because if his career path was to be determined by his vacant, slack-jawed performance here, it’d be stalling like a 1982 Citi Golf.
I used to really love Hugh Grant. But then he bought into his own marketing and he trans-morphed into a vain, preening, self-satisfied hokey old ham of an actor. He’s essentially become unwatchable these days, so self-aware and inward-looking are his performances. As a producer of The Wolverine debacle, you can almost hear him sending daily notes through to the Director: “Mr. Grant thinks the audience would like more scenes where he’s shirtless….”
The whole movie smacks of his self-indulgence, and it is painful. I saw the extended version too. If you want those boys in Guantanamo to hurry up and confess, show them this on a loop. Seriously. And let’s not talk about the gaping plot holes, or the really really really annoying trend of giving us a Superhero movie, and then actually denying him his superpowers. (Yes I’m thinking of you, Spider-Man 3) Anyhoo, The Wolverine filmed in Japan, so it’s got some interesting-y locations, but the bulk was actually shot in Sydney, so it’s just not interesting enough. Honestly, I really wouldn’t bother.
I can’t remember why it’s Red in the first place. Code Red? Something like that. Anyway Red 2, the sequel, brings back the old guys from the rollicking first movie, and throws them into the deep-end of some complex and convoluted turmoil that necessitates random killings, transitory alliances and blowing shit up. The plot has something to do with an old British spy from the Cold War who’s buried a nuke in the Kremlin (because, you know, well, yes….) and the guys have to both rescue him and prevent the bomb from falling into the wrong hands.
The wrong hands is that revolting, moon-faced old gerontophile Catherine Zeta Jones, who’s supposed to act all sexy but spends most of the film being as big-boned and charmless as bad drag. Even the Mary Louise Parker character – so quirky and delightful in the first movie – has devolved into a bored housewife who basically gets off on guns and violence. Red 2 filmed in London and Moscow, amongst other places, and has a few nice aerial shots to prove it, but otherwise it’s fairly non-challenging in the locations department. It’s not a bad film, but it’s seriously disappointing after the promise of the first.
The Way Way Back tells the story of fourteen year old Duncan, painfully lacking in self-confidence, who’s stuck on a beach holiday with his insecure Mom, her new boyfriend Trent, and Trent’s snarly mean-girl daughter Steph. Fleeing the increasingly dysfunctional family dynamics (it’s no coincidence that their holiday home is called “The Riptide”) Duncan seeks and finds refuge at a rickety old waterpark managed by the cheerful wastrel Owen and a cast of lunatics.
So what can I tell you? Well, simply put: is one of the best films I’ve seen all year. Sensitive, thoughtful, sweet, touching and riotously funny, it’s packed with wry social observation, cringing coming of age embarrassment and magnificent force-of-nature performances. Alison Janney is stand-out, both teen leads are superb, and Steve Carrell as Trent is deliciously odious. But the heart and soul is Sam Rockwell. He’s fantastic here. The Way Way Back filmed in Massachussetts, specifically at the Water Wizz – seriously – in Wareham.