“A Lot Of The Time We Feel That Our Lives The Worst, But I Think That If You Looked In Anybody Else’s Closet, You Wouldn’t Trade Your Shit For Their Shit…”
Acting as the first of two independently released coming-of-age dramas this month under the umbrella of the increasingly impressive A24 Films, a film company responsible for backing recent cinematic classics including Moonlight, Under the Skin and Hereditary to name a few, Mid90s sees Hollywood star, Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street, The Wolf of Wall Street) move from in front of the camera to behind it, working off of his own personalised script which sees Sunny Suljic (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) as thirteen year old, Stevie, a repressed, overly quiet teenage inbetweener who finds solace away from his violent and complex home-life in a group of skateboard loving misfits with a tendency for underage parties, drinking and other anti-social discrepancies. With Greta Gerwig’s masterful, Lady Bird, a film also released under the banner of A24 Films, the contemporary benchmark for the modern coming-of-age story on film, Mid90s takes a very familiar if surprisingly low-key approach to the age-old tale of troubled youth, but with a convincing sense of grungy realism and a superb central performance from one of Hollywood’s rising stars, Hill’s movie is a thoroughly engaging and emotionally stimulating ninety minute character piece which acts as an excellent kickstarter to Hill’s career as a director.
Shot entirely with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and on 16mm film, a cinematic technique used also on Darren Aronofsky’s, mother!, Hill’s movie takes the bold approach to come across as the most nineties inflicted movie ever, at least on an aesthetic level, with the letterbox framing and grainy cinematography actually quite startling and jarringly retro when it first appears on screen, but once the fancy gimmicks are taken in their stride, the drama takes its time to expand Stevie’s character, offering glimpses into his abusive relationship with both his fitness obsessed older brother and emotionally complex and very young single mother, with the only way out in the form of his newly found band of slackish outsiders led by the charming and morally conflicted figure of Na-Kel Smith’s Ray. With a variety of set pieces which tap into the self-destructive nature of a young boy’s journey into adulthood, Hill ultimately chooses to portray his own coming-of-age tale as one of extreme hardship and cruelty, tackling a variety of issues including loneliness, jealousy and despair, and whilst the script does feature elements of seething darkness, the optimism and sentiment you would expect from this sort of movie does eventually fall into place come the final act, and with added excellent supporting performances from the likes of Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts) and the A24 acting staple, Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird), Mid90s is a realist portrayal of youth in crisis with enough dedication from its’ creator to win me over completely. Plus, the soundtrack is freakin’ awesome.
Overall Score: 8/10
“I Am Who I Am Today Because Of You…”
Whilst it may be slightly harsh walking into a concluding chapter of a franchise after failing to see the previous two entries, my own personal admission as a failure of film criticism due to somehow missing the critically acclaimed opening chapter’s before heading into How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was aptly fixed with a quick Wikipedia search and a clear confirmation that dragons had indeed been trained effectively and that there really wasn’t that much to catch up on. Directed and written once again by Canadian filmmaker, Dean DeBlois, whose continued service throughout the franchise has indeed placed him in good stead in the land of DreamWorks animation, The Hidden World reunites the merry band of heroic and dragon loving Vikings as they continue their fight in attempting to rescue as many captured flying beasts as humanly possible from the grasps of the insidious and cold hearted dragon hunters. Led by the good natured figure of Hiccup and his dedicated flying follower, Toothless, the loss of his father in the previous installment still fleetingly haunts the young leader, resulting him in remembering the myth of “The Hidden World”, a utopian world for dragon kind which Hiccup attempts to locate in order to not only save his own race, but his ever expanding race of flying friends who continue to overpopulate his land.
For someone entering the movie with only a faint knowledge of the characters and the overarching set up from the past two installments, it is undoubtedly to The Hidden World’s credit that even with only ten minutes into the action, the characterisation of each of the primary players within the narrative is very much easy to establish, and whilst the pacing does take a good while to fully get going into second year, there is a clear commitment from the filmmakers that the movie is very much a solidified end point to the franchise, with a central screenplay which pretty much relies on a whole lot of filler, albeit interesting filler, before getting to the inevitable conclusion. Whilst there are elements of weariness throughout the one hundred minute runtime, the simply gorgeous animation means that when you do become slightly disconnected from the narrative, the design of the movie is so staggeringly wonderful that you take the time instead to inspect every single frame of the picture and oggle at its’ technical brilliance, with shots of soaring horizons, spectacular armies upon both land and sea, and of course, the sight of hundred upon hundreds of dragons taking to the skies really magnificent to behold. With an array of superb voice acting talent, with F. Murray Abraham (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Grimmel the Grisly the standout performance, and a final act which even made this cold hearted cinephile wipe away a flu induced tear, The Hidden World may not be as amazing as it might have been with the added involvement I may have got from a complete dedication to the series, but it is indeed a movie which has more than enough to sustain an interest for both children and adults as it rounds off in a rather pleasant manner indeed.
Overall Score: 6/10
“I’m So Happy The Gods Put Our Packages Together…”
Judging from the trailers alone, everyone knew what to expect with Sausage Party, the latest comedy venture from the Seth Rogen rubble, directed by Conrad Vermon and Greg Tiernan, with crude and vulgar humour set to being seeped throughout an animation which attempts to poke holes in the family-friendly works of Disney and Pixar by following in the footsteps of a supermarket-based sausage named Frank (Seth Rogen) who like every other food item in the store, believes being “chosen” by the “gods” results in a swift and joyous journey into heaven. Of course the reality of the situation is a closely-hidden secret, a secret in which Frank and his merry band of faithful food friends including Frank’s girlfriend, Brenda (Kristen Wiig) attempt to bring to light.
Although strangely hypnotic for the first ten minutes or so, Sausage Party does swiftly descend into plights of sheer boredom, with the one-note shine of relying on vulgarity and ridiculous levels of swearing not exactly managing to survive the full 90 minutes in which subplots aplenty attempt to hold up the animation into earning its’ reason to be on the big screen. Although the final act is one in which all involved must have been patting themselves firmly on the back after creating, its’ ludicrousness as a whole confirms that if made as a 30 minute sketch, perhaps the idea of Sausage Party may have been a successful one. Instead, the film is just another excuse for Seth Rogen to make penis jokes, and although occasional laughter can be created by such, Sausage Party isn’t the comedy I was hoping for. The animation is good though so you know, not all bad. Peace.
Overall Score: 4/10
“When Does Telling The Truth Ever Help Anybody…?
One of the most crystal clear components of War Dogs, the latest comedic drama from Hangover Trilogy director Todd Phillips, is the obvious and sometimes uncanny influence of Martin Scorsese, particularly that of Goodfellas and Casino, with the fast-paced formula and quick-fire editing of War Dogs being the staple within a blueprint which verges on the edge of daylight robbery. Saying that, although the principle layout of War Dogs is not exactly the most original, the film is saved two-fold by the inclusion of Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in the films’ lead roles, lead roles which are characterised clearly by each side of a coin, with Teller’s David Packouz being the twisted moral compass in partnership with Jonah Hill’s greed-infested monster, Efraim Diveroli. Adding to the Scorsese influence is the notion that War Dogs is essentially Lord of War meets Wolf of Wall Street, a film in which Hill also starred in and a film which too has a black heart at its’ core, showcasing the evilness of greed and the consequences certain actions inevitably lead towards. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun though.
In a year in which The Big Short gave us a comedic insight into the downfall of the economy and America’s presidential race being wholeheartedly in the spotlight, War Dogs does seem rather timely. A satire into the gun-ho nature of the US war efforts, War Dogs does feature some rather top-end black humour and although the movie does suffer when heading into the direction of vulgar, laddish type humour between our two leads, reminiscent of the director’s previous work, its’ the dramatic seriousness within the movie which makes the film work as a whole, particularly the third and final act in which we witness the inevitable downfall of our two leads who realise to what extent their “illegal” doings have had on not only themselves, but the country as a whole. War Dogs is by no means perfect, but it is very entertaining and a double-bill with a film like The Big Short would be a quickfire lesson into the politics and principles of the world as we know it today. Nihilism is a bitch.
Overall Score: 8/10
“Squint Against The Grandeur..!”
When it comes to the Coen Brothers, there is no doubting their ability in the art of film-making even if sometimes their films begin to dwell into the realm of complete mayhem, with films such as Burn After Reading showing their tendency to revel in too much kookiness being on similar wave-lines with cinematic sludges such as their remake of True Grit, a film that can be applauded for its’ cast but yawn inducing nonetheless. On the other hand, films such as No Country For Old Men, Fargo and my own personal favourite Inside Llewyn Davis showcase the brothers’ love for cinema, a love that is no doubt reciprocated within their latest adventure Hail, Caesar! a comedic drama focusing on a day in the life of Capitol Pictures fixer Eddie Mannix, portrayed in a near-perfect fashion by Coen mainstay Josh Brolin supported by a mind-boggling rafter of stars including George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlet Johansson, and Channing Tatum as well as Alden Ehrenreich as the “singing cowboy” Hobie Doyle. Stars galore right? But does the film match the greatness of its’ payroll? Not exactly.
Amongst the damsels in distress, replacement actors, an attempt to get a mother to adopt her own child and contemplating a move to another place of working life, all of which encompass one day in the life of Brolin’s Mannix, the core plot-line amongst the many that are brought to life within the film’s magical air of 1950’s Hollywood is the kidnapping of famous star Baird Whitlock, played in full-on comedic fashion by Clooney, by the mysterious cult calling themselves “The Future”. Although this particular plot-line establishes itself as the core of the movie, aside from the involvement of Clooney, it is strangely the weakest within the film, resulting in a through line that attempts to hold the film together but instead results in a film weaker than the sum of its’ parts. It almost feels like a Coenzian (I’m coining that phrase now) wishlist of stars playing their part in the dreamland of a Hollywood in the mid-20th century of which the brothers wished they were part of, something that on the face of it isn’t bad at all, but for some strange reason, the love I wish I had for it just isn’t there and Hail, Caesar! ultimately feels like something of a let down regarding the talent on display.
Among the great things in the movie is the introduction to Tatum’s character with an all-singing all-dancing routine which is bound to capture the hearts of most audiences whilst the story of Doyle is particularly captivating, with his confrontation with Fienne’s Laurence Laurentz easily one of the most quotable of the year so far. Hill barely has two words to say and is just completely wasted whilst Frances McDormand continues to cash in on her marital duties and appears ever so briefly in the husky air of the back-end editing room; a very strange scene indeed. Hail, Caesar! has a few laughs, a variety of chuckles and a tendency to bring out a smile on occasion yet the film just isn’t the masterpiece it perhaps could have been. Better than Burn After Reading? God, yes. As good as Inside Llewyn Davis? Not at all. It’s solid from the Coen’s, just not ground-breaking.
Overall Score: 6/10
Best Visual Effects
- Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds)
- Iron Man 3 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Dan Sudick)
- The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams, John Frazier)
- Star Trek Into Darkness (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton)
Prediction – Gravity
- American Hustle (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, Alan Baumgarten)
- Captain Phillips (Christopher Rouse)
- Dallas Buyers Club (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)
- Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)
- 12 Years a Slave (Joe Walker)
Prediction – Gravity
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
- Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
- Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
- Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
- Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
- June Squibb (Nebraska)
Prediction – Lupita Nyong’o
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
- Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
- Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
- Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
- Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Prediction – Barkhad Abdi
Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Amy Adams (American Hustle)
- Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
- Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
- Judi Dench (Philomena)
- Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Prediction – Sandra Bullock
Best Actor in a Leading Role
- Christian Bale (American Hustle)
- Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
- Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Prediction – Chiwetel Ejiofor (We are all rooting for you Leo!)
- American Hustle (David O. Russell)
- Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
- Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
- 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
Prediction – The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
- American Hustle
- Captain Phillips
- Dallas Buyers Club
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Wolf of Wall Street
Prediction – 12 Years a Slave
Lego stands as one, if not the greatest toy(s) in history. Everyone will remember playing with it at some point in their life and it’s creative pliability made it branch across the ages. It’s this extensive creativity that has continued to evolve to encompass boardgames, video games, theme parks and now a film! The wide access to Lego makes this movie an instant box office success, but does the movie stand up as a quality piece of entertainment to other audiences. Obviously, The Lego Movie is aimed at children. It’s a bright, colourful adventure with light humour that screams a child film that will deter many teenagers/young adults from seeing it. As I’m still a big kid inside with a lot of nostalgia, I felt I needed to go. Upon walking into the cinema, it was filled with children. I avoided looking at how many of the snotty things were actually around me but could easily hear the muttering of what felt like hundreds but could have been one. But, you know, one is enough.
Anyway. The movie is geared towards the younger audience through everything it does. The inclusion of Jonah Hill, Morgan Freeman, Charlie Day and Will Arnett appear more of a gimmick towards nabbing a few extra ticket sales from fans of those involved. It’s likely that the voices could have been done by other people without bringing in A list actors to fill the gaps. Jonah Hill doesn’t even have a big role so it feels as if the money spent on him could have been used to extend the length of the film. However, being that the movie isn’t based upon something already created, Lego didn’t have the foundations of Star Wars or Lord of The Rings to develop upon like their games.
Being that the film is targeted at children, the story could have suffered. However, it plays out much like a childs imagination would have played it out. The story of little Emmet in a world so advanced, he blends into the background and stumbles into a deadly situation that leads him on a rather enthralling journey that defies a lot of preconceptions. An evil, corrupt government and police force is quite a shock in a U rated film. Teaching that police are not always these good people is very difficult for children to understand for kids but nowadays the older generations are seeing this more and more. It’s an interesting choice that plays towards the demographic but maintains its child exterior. Obviously, there was going to be a love story and I noticed that this connection beats out so many like it that have cropped up in live action. Plastic figures with limited facial movement/expression had more emotion on their faces than Kristen Stewart and a better love story that Twilight could have ever produced.
Lego stands upon the idea of fun. It’s a ride that isn’t trying to provoke philosophical thoughts. The action was fast, a little jarring at points with the aggressive cuts but flows the way everyone imagines. It’s a genuinely good film with so much hard work and dedication that has to be applauded. Perfect for children and is entertaining to everyone else, apart from the god awful selection of music. That truly was horrific. But otherwise, the movie deserves an 8/10. It’s a kids movie made by Lego, what the hell did you expect me to say!? Tune in for Monuments Men review and Titanfall videos over the next week!
First post of the year and it’s only taken 3 weeks! Really sorry, once again. Essays suck and I will try my best to keep my Twitter updated and the new Facebook page! You may also like to know that I saw 12 Years a Slave, Walter Mitty and American Hustle in recent weeks but didn’t have enough time to give you my opinions but if you do want them, just let me know!
With increasing Oscar buzz, Golden Globes and DiCaprio’s blitzing performance, I’ve been anxiously waiting for the UK release. Instead of launching into a rant about why it should be a world wide release, I will simply say, it exceeded my expectations. Martin Scorsese’s ability to use small details to connote traits of a character or a drive to force the best out of his cast and the gloriously captured scenes add so many levels to the movie experience. A brief explanation describes it best –
“Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.” – IMDB
First of all, I’d like to talk about the cinematography. With each scene, each job and each place, the mood of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is captured. Through a blend of lighting, shading and the vividness of colours can show a distinct difference between anger and happiness. Although we consider it typically easy to use colour and lighting correctly, many do not use it to the potential and do not take into fact the placement of the shot. I cannot praise the endless detail that went into setting up shots and a personal favourite is Belfort’s meeting with a banker. There’s an element of stress of DiCaprio’s face but behind him; a vast city landscape, while behind the banker sits a small fish tank sunk into the black marble wall. Representing both of these characters with this device is great to see. Belfort’s desire to be richer than ever, his open minded thinking process compared to the formal shark banker whose closed-in scene demonstrates his emotional capabilities for anyone other than himself and his closed aspect mind. I won’t ruin it, but the final scene drags, it doesn’t bore but it connotes something really hard hitting and it would be great to see what some people took from it. This level of attention to detail could really push Scorsese ahead of the other Oscar nominations for best director this year, although stiff competition from Gravity’s Alfonso Cuarón and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave realistically will be the ones to capture the Oscar.
Swiftly towards the story. Based on the true story, doesn’t insinuate the extent of what actually happened throughout the life of Belfort, however, the embellishment and development upon a story is what makes it a movie rather than a simple documentary. Beginning with a simple entrepreneur who makes it rich, to the point he has no way of spending it fast enough with a drive to keep it that way that leaves him in the shit with the FBI. Stereotypically, a film has a set point within the story, something that pushes the tale forward and keep everything moving. Yet within this, it’s not till half way through we really understand that the trail starts when the FBI become involved but in very minor ways while Jordan works his way around life. It never felt like a linear plot, nothing had to be achieved apart from avoiding governmental attention and it detailed random points throughout the years to a point that some may perceive as useless but show a desire for character development rather than a simple story. As the movie grows, Belfort breaks down the 4th wall. Like Marvels Deadpool, he begins to narrate scenes, flowing through the sets like ghost as he describes the ins and outs of the market, his criminal actions and sells the story just as well as he sells stocks.
Essentially the Charlie Sheen of the Stock Market, Belfort is a character that can be incredibly motivational but his dependency on narcotics creates a demeanour that could only be described as malicious. His wealth and power is demonstrated through his flash cars, a white Ferrari 512 TR, Jag E-Type and the infamous Lamborghini Countach (fun fact – extremely rare 25th anniversary edition was destroyed on set!), then through an assortment of houses and a 150ft yacht. We see these items and at points I felt inspired. The vast sums of money, the ability to live life fast and drive fast is something that appeals to myself and probably many others out there. The role was built for DiCarprio. No one else could have played Belfort without loosing the flow or trying to hard. Effortlessly he shines throughout alongside all of his co-stars. Jonah Hill, who plays Donnie Azoff (Belfort’s partner) also nails it. His comedy heritage is such a great addition to him as an actor and with elements of comedy throughout the movie, he can rely on his true forte to convince and knock it out of the park. The rest of the main cast were very strong. Names that ring no bells and faces that are new is refreshing in movies, without using an excess of big names, The Wolf of Wall Street has room for true talent rather than gimmicks. In their stock empire, the amount of extras needed to fill the expansive room is enormous and some were a little over zealous at points and really distracted from scenes when you lock directly on the bell-end humping a desk or looking like they’ve just bitten into a Haribo sour soaked in Red Bull… Finally we must consider Naomi Lapaglia played by Margot Robbie. Naomi is the definitive love interest that has to deal with the back lash of her husbands addictions and that is no simple task. With her past as a Miller girl, Naomi was/is a beautiful women with a feisty and blunt persona. I’ve never come across her before and this being her most serious role is a lot of stress that doesn’t seem to affect her. She plays the scenes perfectly, she looks the part for the era and holds her own on the screen opposite Leonardo. With a collection of other big names popping up for minor cameos, the casting department did a brilliant job in their selections.
Speaking of comedy, the movie isn’t all serious. The comedy is so diverse and it’s all very entertaining. You will sit there and enjoy the crudeness of some jokes and then sit in shock at the extent the comedy goes when they are under the influence of any number of drugs. From light hearted jovial playing to sudden shock tactics is what makes this film very powerful and such a contender within many award ceremonies and already stands as one of my favourite films. With a 10 minute scene exclusively about throwing ‘midgets’ and there apparent super human strength being completely improvised, both the acting and comedic talent comes into play. To hold a scene for so long about something so obscene is just incredible and unbelievably funny. Bucking the trend of many American TV shows (Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and many more), there is a lot of nudity. When I say a lot, I mean enough to fill a 60 minute soft core porn. It’s something I’m growing used to but it’s vulgarity and brashness holds a certain shock value and typically ruins a story for me, however it’s held with a little more grace than simply throwing in a shag or two for those who fancy getting their rocks off.
To round it up, I’d like to point out a few little issues I had. One being continuity. When DiCaprio breaks up with his first wife, he was pulled out of a limo, every time the camera switched for a wider angle, the limo vanished and then returned. Alongside a few other errors, it was a bit of a grind not to notice them after a while. Secondly is some of the visual aspects. With some stunning set pieces, the punchy colours and lights, you wouldn’t think anything could go wrong. Yet if you look at the CGI, it can be really lacklustre and looks to have dropped out of an early 2000’s Call of Duty game. So overall, I’m extremely impressed. I can’t see it nailing many Oscars with the others about but each one it earns, it deserves. The Wolf of Wall Street is an astonishing thrill ride that grips you with brilliant gags, mind blowing acting and visually perfect. A riveting tale that you probably won’t want to see with your parents… 9/10!
This review here is going to have too be a quicky review for a few reasons.
1 – I didn’t find it funny
2 – I don’t like James Franco
3 – You can only write so much on a “Comedy”
So, This is the End is the tale of the world ending and a group of actors are fighting to survive in Franco’s new mansion. It’s premise is extremely simple and the focus is on the friendship between Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen. Except of world domination, it becomes American domination and the only way to survive the world ending apocalypse is to do all the drugs possible.
For a 15, this movie is unbelievably bad. With a general audience which looked to be 13, jokes which were penis related (Which had no style) and then the constant barrage of swearing and sexual references didn’t fit their target audience and was just an excuse for them to shout at each other. There was also a certain scene which c**t was used, So blatantly that it crossed the line for me. I can deal with swearing and sex jokes but they have to be done in style rather than a general attack. You will also notice something that niggles at you all the way through. Its never attacked, abused or joked about like everything else. It is Heaven and the Bible. A comedy about world destruction turns into a movie that preaches Christianity, America and how drugs are good.
Now, you would think that with such a huge cast, we would have some brilliant actors. Yet we have very little acting. The swearing and screaming doesn’t constitute acting and appears to make the movie a piss about project for all of them. However, all the way through, I did feel that they were all horrible people and if that’s what they were trying to portray, then they did it right.
The actors I did enjoy were Channing Tatum for his small cameo and Craig Robinson throughout. Craig seemed to be the most genuine of the bunch and had the funny moments that made you laugh rather than just a smile.
Visually, a movie with a huge budget for actors, should have a decent sized budget for all of the demons and various other evil dwellers. Yet everything seem blurry or pixilated with little time spent on them. The only good bit of VFX was Satan’s representation at the end. As much as it was phallic, it was clear and looked quite genuine.
Overall, I didn’t really like the movie, so it is getting 4/10. It was loud and obnoxious without any good jokes to make me laugh. I can understand jokes that the Ted movie uses, as it is all so silly, done with style and all around abusive to everyone, but when you compare it too this, you see that it is incredibly mediocre and dick jokes can only go so far. One of the reasons that I could stand it was the music used throughout. It was varied and even had a Backstreet Boys cameo at the end that was funny. Alongside some good cinematography, it deserves my ranking, but I find it hard to understand many of the critics that are praising it as the comedy of the year.