“I’m Going To Try And Conduct Myself In Such A Way That Does Not Risk Global Humiliation…”
Mixing together the almighty and Oscar winning talent of Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) with erm, Seth Rogen, (The Interview) Long Shot is the latest from American filmmaker, Jonathan Levine, who reunites with Rogen after their work together on the 2011 comedy drama, 50/50, for a romantic comedy which attempts to balance political and social satire with a well-worn tale of unlikely and improbable love. Based around a screenplay from the double-act of Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling, famous for their individual work on the likes of The Post and The Interview respectively, Long Shot is that rare sight in contemporary cinema, an American comedy which actually works, and whilst the central romance at the heart of the story does indeed venture into gargantuan levels of cliche come the end of the almost two hour runtime, Levine’s movie works predominantly elsewhere, with a mix of knowing, and at times, strikingly unintentional, modern-day satire, pleasantly supplementing a likeable and utterly charming core relationship, one which gleefully bursts with volcanic levels of chemistry and pushes the final product into something which although might not be at all memorable, is rather enjoyable.
Coined in the trailer by one of the film’s supporting actors, the one and only, O’Shea Jackson Jr., (Straight Outta Compton) as having a very familiar central narrative to that of Garry Marshall’s 1990 classic, Pretty Woman, Levine’s movie at least jumbles up the profession of the leading characters, with Seth Rogen’s Fred Flarsky not exactly the first person to come to mind when it comes to the prostitution business, with him instead being landed with the role of an idealistic, rough-edged journalist with a penchant for thinking out loud, a character trait of which soon finds him unemployed and penniless. Enter Theron’s Charlotte Field, the highly popular Secretary of State with eyes for the presidency who in her earlier teenage years used to babysit a young and lovestruck Flarsky, and the two suddenly reconnect after Field utilises Flarsky’s innovative written word to boost her appeal to the American public. With worldwide trips on the menu, the two suddenly become attached to each other by the hip, resulting in the film’s central and heartwarming romance, and with an abundance of hilarious set pieces, including one of the best inverted sex scenes in cinema history and a heavy night on the town which results in a majorly mistimed hostage negotiation, Long Shot goes along way to make you care for the film’s characters, and even with a runtime which does slightly drag come the final act, Levine’s movie is a solid slice of American comedy cheese with added Charlize Theron.
Overall Score: 6/10
“It’s Time To Make Some Wrong Things Right. Help Me Bring Supers Back Into The Sunlight…”
With the likes of Inside Out, Zootropolis and this year’s Coco categorically proving that the twentieth century has been open ground for a wide range of superb animation releases, the much anticipated return of the power-inflicted Parr family in Incredibles 2 after a prolonged fourteen year wait since their first appearance on the big screen back in 2004 mightily continues the winning streak which Disney is currently relishing in. Directed and written by Brad Bird, the brains behind the original, whose ventures in between the two films have included the rather enjoyable Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and the not so enjoyable Tomorrowland, Incredibles 2 is a uproariously entertaining animated blockbuster, one which attempts to balance two separate story-lines as it revels in reverting particular familial stereotypes and one which ties into the conventional superhero mould by blending action spectacle with an abundance of rib-tickling humour, and whilst at times the twists and turns are rather unsurprising and the movie carries an overall feeling that two hours is far too long for most movies, let alone an animated feature, Brad Bird’s fourteen year project in the making does have flaws, but thankfully the many positives result in his latest feature being a damn fun ride.
Ditching the real life time gap and picking up three months after events of the first film, Bird’s screenplay sees the Parr family attempting to rebuild their life after the outlawing of superheroes, and with the help of Bob Odenkirk’s (Breaking Bad) Winston Deavor, a superhero-loving millionaire, the matriarchal figure of Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter, The Big Sick) is placed front and centre of a scheme to reintroduce powered saviours back into favour of the world’s ever-watching eyes. With Helen’s absence therefore, the job of stay-at-home parent falls to Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson, Gold) who attempts to juggle the stress of managing his three children and wife’s new found success alongside the threat of the ominous Screenslaver, a tech-savvy terrorist type whose intentions seem to be aimed towards the newly popular band of superheroes. Jumping in and out of the two main narrative strands throughout the course of the movie, the primary superhero plot involving Elastigirl and her discovery of Screenslaver is solid enough fun, incorporating flashy and bright action set pieces including a high speed monorail chase and some epilepsy inducing boss battles, however the real winning streak of the movie falls in events back home with Mr. Incredible, particularly in the discovery of infant Jack-Jack’s new-found powers, an extended gag which offers a wide range of set pieces which genuinely land up there with some of the best on-screen comedy I have ever seen. With eye-catching animation, a heartfelt centrepiece message at the centre of the story and a heavy balance of enough there to fulfil both child and adult audiences alike, Incredibles 2 isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it offers enough of a good time to be more than worth a visit to see its’ ravishing pleasures.
Overall Score: 7/10
“What Are You Going To Do, Mrs Graham…?”
Working on its’ production during the latter stages of finalising the upcoming science fiction spectacle Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s first of two movies arriving within the space of just four months, The Post, arrives suspiciously close to the one year anniversary of a certain American President’s inauguration, and in a time when media scrutiny, both on paper and in the online stratosphere, is rife more than ever, Spielberg’s latest is a topical drama which not only manages to balance a hefty load of important and ever-present societal issues, but a film which captures quite brilliantly a moment in media history which ultimately turned the table for press freedom and solidify the right to question and challenge the decisions of our leaders and representatives to rule. Focusing on the high profile leak of the Pentagon Papers, classified documents detailing America’s involvement during the much maligned Vietnam War, The Post follows on the one hand, a Spotlight-esque narrative which features Tom Hanks’ Ben Bradlee as he battles to locate the sacred papers and subsequently publish amidst legal scrutiny and fears of incarceration, but more importantly, Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Katherine Graham, the owner of The Washington Post who attempts to balance the arrival of the scandalous papers with the survival of her family business after she is made heiress due to the death of her late husband.
With the two leads on top dramatic form, Hank’s confident, swaggering, editor in chief with a crystal clear view regarding the purpose of the press is brilliantly contrasted by the performance of Streep’s Graham, with her managing to convey the radical development of a figure who begins unsure and insecure in a world primarily ruled by men to a fist-pumping advocate for female empowerment. With the narrative funneling through conversations which tackle conflicted interests between the press and those that are meant to being held to account, the righteousness of war and the decision between what is right and what is easy, Spielberg’s latest is undeniably audience pleasing, with even a handful of cheese-twisted dramatic turns somewhat passable, but within all the flashiness and swirly whirly camera angles which convey a heavier sense of cinematic wantness than Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight ever did, The Post works best when the gripping search for the truth is front and centre of the story, and with the holy trilogy of Streep, Hanks and Spielberg, The Post is the slice of entertaining period drama you expected, just with added excellence.