Guardians of the Galaxy


Peter Quill was kidnapped by aliens as a child and raised by a band of ruthless interplanetary thieves. Now all grown up, Peter is drawn into a struggle – along with a green lady, a tree, a literal muscle man (I mean that literal reference) and a talking racoon – to keep control of a strange orb that contains the power to destroy the galaxy. I think that’s it? There’s really not much plot to speak of. Instead it’s mostly glorious spectacle, loopy 80’s references and snappy one-liners. But boy is it a fun watch. It wasn’t a Marvel world I was aware of, at all really, but I thoroughly laughed-out-loud enjoyed it. Guardians filmed mostly in studio in Shepperton, although there’s a scene on Planet Xandar that’s actually shot on London’s Millenium Bridge – a great image via the link here. And Chris Pratt? Yes – all that.

American Hustle

How, oh how, does a film like American Hustle get to be an Oscar contender? Yes, it’s big and it’s brash and yes, it’s emotionally manipulative, but jeez it’s a mess of a film, and I’m not even sure it has a plot. Conman Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale, with a paunch and a comb-over) and conwoman Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams, lovely) cut a deal with FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper in curlers) to scam other small time criminals in return for clemency. However, Irving’s loose-cannon wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) threatens to derail the entire plan….


So: it filmed in New Jersey. It’s authentically styled. It tries very hard to be zany. It’s absolutely meaningless. It’s like Pain and Gain (a movie so bad I didn’t bother to review), a period piece – all sound and fury signifying nothing – that distinguishes itself by hair-styles and sound-tracks. Style over substance, style over substance. And again, I have to say this: Jennifer Lawrence is completely and utterly miscast in a role that she’s 15 years too young for. Yes, she’s brilliant here but she’s just too young. It must be a Hollywood Insider thing. It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes, and I’m the only one saying it out loud. Boring.


In Limitless, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a grungy, feckless, kind-of-despicable no-hoper, whose life is completely transformed on consumption of a teensie leettle pill. Said pill is engineered to activate the bits of brain that normally go unused – that’s quite a bit of brain for Mr. Morra – thus turning Bradley from homeless-looking dude (incl. ghastly frizzy ponytail!) to the smokin’ hot King of Awesomeness we secretly know for certain that he is.

There are complications of course – there’s a plot involving a number of corrupt businessmen and their lawyers, a zippy Russian mobster (stand-out performance – the actor’s Welsh for God’s sake), some rather deadly side-effects and a sweet-faced girlfriend, but I can’t tell you too much about that. Because once Bradley’s cleaned himself up a bit and is working the hand-tailored Italian suits, I kind of lost interest in everything else. Actually, that’s unfair; I thought it was pretty entertaining, and it’s visually interesting too.

Although there are a handful of establishing scenes in New York – most notably the Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park, site of a pivotal chase scene for the much-abused girlfriend – Limitless mostly filmed on soundstages in, wait for it, Philadelphia (of all places….) I thought it felt authentic. It also filmed a bit in Mexico – there’s a nifty racing scene through Puerta Vallarta involving a very product-placed Maserati: Continue reading “Limitless”

Case 39

What can I tell you about Renee Zellweger’s latest release Case 39? Renee plays a social worker who rescues a little girl from a grim assassination at the hands of her own parents. But all is not well with wee Lilith, and our Renee is going to regret inviting her into her home.

Case 39 filmed filmed in studio in Vancouver (with a brief sojourn to Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam) back in 2006 but it’s taken a while to get to our screens. Either the producers were just a bit embarrassed by their opus, or (more likely in m.h.o), they just kind of popped it on the shelf and completely forgot about it. You see it’s all rather silly, but mostly all rather forgettable. Not good, not bad, just forgettable.

On the plus side, it does co-star the lovely Bradley Cooper, who in the intervening years has of course gone all meteoric and super-starry. He’s also Mr. Zellweger for the moment; I do hope they didn’t meet on set, because that really wouldn’t bode well.

He’s Just Not That Into You

I’ll start right out by saying that He’s Just Not That Into You is set in Baltimore, and that’s perhaps the most interesting thing about it. A wry-ish look at the pitfalls and pratfalls of dating amongst an extended Chinese Whisper of friends and acquaintances, He’s Just was clearly conceived as some modern When Harry Met Sally – complete with mockumentary vignettes from completely unrelated people. Unfortunately it fails.

He’s Just Not Into You stars just about everybody except Cameron Diaz, but only Jennifer Aniston and that spunky little Irish-looking guy from Entourage come across as even vaguely authentic. I remember there was a lot said in the blogosphere about the heinous portrayal of the male gay best friends in the film but I didn’t find it at all troubling given that EVERYONE is a Twitter Update rather than a fully formed character. I’m not saying it’s not amusing. It’s just that there’s really nothing to work with, and nothing to hang the humour on except some really rather sorry social pathologies. I guess, I really just wasn’t into it.

And again smokin’ Bradley Cooper as an adulterer; I shall clearly have to have words.

The Hangover

I finally got around to seeing the Location Movie of the Year – The Hangover. Buying entirely into the mythology of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, The Hangover features three friends who lose the groom at a riotous bachelor party involving drugs, strippers, hospitals, tigers and Mike Tyson. (not entirely sure which is scariest.) A lot of iconic Vegas locations appear – Caesars Palace, The Bellagio etc. And some other lesser known ones too. Location pics here.

But did I like it? Well, yes, sort of. I think I was a bit disappointed actually, given the hype surrounding the film. I was expecting fall-about belly-laughs, but ended with just smiling at most of the japes. I also think it’s partly because the main characters are actually all pretty unlikeable – one’s a dubious hen-pecked husband, one’s a scary pedophile who’s too close to the edge, one’s an adulterer. A very goodlooking, Bradley Cooper looking-smokin-in-every-scene-adulterer, but nasty nonetheless. Only Justin Bartha’s character emerges unscathed. So: funny, just not always funny ha-ha. Vegas will score some travellers though.