Friday, 30 November 2012

Film review: Silver Linings Playbook

Director/Writer: David O. Russell (based on the novel by Matthew Quick)
Main Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Runtime: 122 minutes
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Brief Summary: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Upon first glance at the trailer, Silver Linings Playbook would appear to be a typical rom-com, starring hunky Bradley Cooper and rising star Jennifer Lawrence , but thankfully it is so much more.

David O'Russell's film is heartwarming and heart-breaking in equal measures, and present Pat's bipolar disorder through a raw depiction that is sometimes brutal, but always honest..

This is definitely Bradley Cooper's best performance to date, propelling him into a role with real depth and sincerity.  The film follows Pat's journey following his release from a mental health facility following months of treatment.  Determined to win his wife back, we watch as he tries to figure out ways to reach a reconciliation, despite the small problem of a restraining order. Cue Tiffany (Lawrence), a widow and recovering sex addict, who develops a wary friendship with Pat, promising communication with his wife, in exchange for being her dance partner for an upcoming competition. The film's mental health theme is not given the typical rom-com gloss with all their problems 'cured' and/or forgotten by the end of the movie, but they do show how the characters can use their vulnerability as a strength.

.The film offers really interesting and believable character studies and a true film of self-discovery through heartache and learning to love again.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Film review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Director/Writer: Lorene Scafaria
Main Cast: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley.
Runtime: 101 minutes
Certificate: 15 (UK)
Brief Summary: As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.
Tagline: The end is coming soon

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is the newest offering from writer/director Lorene Scafaria, (whose previous work includes Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), and is a tale of "unexpected romance blossoming between two strangers while on an impromptu road trip."  Oh, and is set in a world on the verge of an apocalypse - but that is very much a subplot...

The film opens with Dodge (Carell) being left by wife Linda (Nancy Carell) just as a radio announcer confirms that giant asteroid 'Matilda' is on her way and they have three weeks left until doomsday.  With no-one else left to spend his remaining time on Earth with, Dodge continues to carry on with his everyday life, whilst everyone around him engages in indulgent hedonism.  That is until he encounters flighty and flaky neighbour Penny (Knightley) who is in possession of a letter from his first love, Olivia. Together the pair embark on a road trip to reunite with their loved ones.

The film takes a while to get going, but eventually it finds its feet, and it works.  Seeking a Friend has grappled with some criticism, specifically that it seems to skirt around what should be the main premise of the film - the end of all things, which in turn takes a back-seat to what appears to be another road-trip movie, with all the usual romance/chick-flick clich├ęs.  Whilst this is true, it is actually quite refreshing to see an apocalyptic film approached from a different angle, that isn't extraterrestrial, full of huge explosions and/or extreme weather gone wrong.  This one is small and sweet, and paints what I believe to be a truer perspective of what most people would do if faced with 3 weeks left on Earth.  Yes there is rioting, but there are also pilgrimages, loved ones reuniting, and generally a lot of 'tying up loose ends'.

The character development is my favourite thing about the film.  The blossoming friendship between Dodge and Penny is endearing and entirely believable.  There is enormous depth to both characters and it is these performances that make the small moments so poignant, in particular the phone conversation between Penny and her family back in the UK.

If I had to give criticism?  The asteroid abruptly arriving earlier seems like an odd, unexplained and unnecessary plot twist and made the film suddenly feel jerky and rushed.

In the end, the film doesn't concern itself with THE end, instead with those important moments prior to the end, and what you choose to do with it.

My rating:3.5/5

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Favourite things this week

The Hunger Games

As I write this, The Hunger Games has now just taken over $300m in the US and topped the Easter bank holiday with $33.5. As an avid reader of the books, I had been bubbling over with excitement for the film release and I finally took myself to see it this weekend. For those who have taken their bank holiday under a rock, the basic premise of the film centres around Katniss Everdeen (played brilliantly by Jennifer Lawrence), who is selected to represent her district in a televised fight to the death, which is broadcast by the Capitol, the rulers of the country of Panem (or - dystopian America). The film draws comparisons from Battle Royale combined with today's obsession with reality television.

I've always advocated original books to their screenplay counterparts and whilst I still prefer Suzanne Collins's novel, this is an amazing adaptation and it is to [director] Gary Ross's credit that this has been spun into such a compelling cinematic success. There's nothing left to say on the matter other than, I implore you to see it!

Goofy's surprise visit

This year Disneyland Paris are celebrating their 20th birthday, and they're definitely celebrating in style. Their online stunt though, is particularly special. Teaming up with Google, Disney allows visitors to the site to enjoy a virtual visit from Goofy, having him appear right at their doorstep. It's hard to explain but just take a visit and see for yourself at: