Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I've Moved

I've moved all my new postings to my website: www.susanmaywriter.com

For three years I created content for four different blogs. Yes, four! 

Call me crazy. No, lets make that call me naive to think I could run that many blogs and keep up the fiction writing.

All my book and film reviews and musings on writing are now over at my blog/website An Adventure in Words. So there is nothing new here, but a lot of good old posts reviewing films, if you would like to hang around here for a bit.

Join me at www.susanmaywriter.com and see what's happening in the world of film and storytelling.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekly Review Round Up 25th October 2014

Such a difficult pick for movie of the week, as Whiplash is a phenomenal experience. However, close on its heels is Fury. The critics all loved Whiplash, but it’s also a smaller film than Fury. So if you have a choice, and want bang for your buck, I would see Fury, and then if you fancy watching filmmaking, scripting, and acting at its finest, then Whiplash it.

Shortly, those on my list will be receiving my sparkling new time travel book Back Again for FREE. (I know… I'm far too generous.) It’s at the formatters currently. So hop over to my newsletter sign up now and join: CLICK HERE


(My movie Pick of the week)
Whiplash  ✪✪✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               23th October 2014
USA: 10th October 2014        UK: 16th January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                   Luna Palace Cinemas

    The synopsis of this film is impossible to describe well enough to inspire you to see it, because the concept of watching 106 minutes of a kid taking jazz drumming lessons at an elite music conservatory in New York is never going to sound scintillating. However from the opening scene, where we are introduced to Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) during a solo drumming practice session interrupted by revered but feared teacher, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), you realize that this is no Glee.

    As Fletcher mentors Neyman and his fellow students, you viscerally endure their physical and emotional abuse. He uses increasingly more vicious and disturbing modus operandi to elevate their performances, and you become caught up in the questions the film asks: What price, success? The word “evil” flitted through my mind during particularly tense and harrowing scenes.
   When Fletcher invites Neyman to join his elite band, suddenly a young man, whose musical aspirations are not considered by his family to be a worthwhile pursuit, becomes convinced that he is on the road to greatness. But his aspirations to greatness come at an enormous price. Will that price be too high?
    The last twenty minutes are some of the finest acting you will see on film this year. In fact, the film is outstanding in not just the performances but in its unflinching commitment to deliver the ugliness and the wonderment of the magic of any art form. All I can say is how grateful I am to be a writer, where things rarely get physical. We might jokingly claim there is blood on our keyboards, but in comparison to this story and similar insights into the ballet world via the Oscar winning Black Swan, as far as the arts go, writers have it easy.
    Whiplash and its leads, Teller and Simmons, and Academy Awards will be mentioned in the same sentence in the coming months. There is blood on the drum kit, and you will feel your blood pulsing as you watch Whiplash, too. This film dares to march to the beat of a different drum, and for that it is a marvel.

Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man's life. Andrew's passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity. (C) Sony Classics

Fury  ✪✪✪✪ ½ 
Opens in Australia:               23rd October 2014
USA: 17th October 2014         UK: 22nd October 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                   Luna Palace Cinemas

   Fury is one of the finest war films in years. Not since Saving Private Ryan have we seen a war story in all its horror, along with the extraordinary bravery of the soldiers told with such passion and skill. Writer/director, David Avery (Training Day, End of Watch, The Fast and the Furious) is unflinching in delivering a sometimes tough-to-watch, but honest feeling tale. He certainly knows how to film an assured, tense action scene that will have you on the edge of your seat (or squeezing your partner’s hand, as in my case). The last time I watched a film and realized that I had barely breathed through the finale was during the Oscar winning Argo.
   It is also evocative of the wonderful war films from my childhood that I would watch on a Sunday afternoon—my favourite being the 1967 The Dirty Dozen. The ensemble of actors, led by Brad Pitt as army sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier who is lumbered with a new wet-behind-the-ears recruit Norman Ellison (Loman Lerman), give wonderful, performances. With the awards season just around the corner, the studios are bringing out their big guns (excuse the pun), and this is one of them. It was made for the big screen, so see it there. It’s worth your dollars.

April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany. (C) Sony

Love, Rosie  ✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               6th November 2014
USA: 17th October 2014         UK: 22nd October 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information

“It is, what it is,” was the consensus among the viewers at my preview. For me, it was predictable and dragged a bit in parts. A killer soundtrack helps it along a tried and true path, and the leads Lily Collins (Phil Collins daughter) and Sam Claflin are adorable. Romantics rejoice, if you crave one of those cute, bumbling, timing mis-sync but eventually-they-live-happily-ever-after stories, then here you go. Didn’t love Love, Rosie, but didn’t hate it either.

Rosie and her best friend Alex take a leap of faith, both on life and on each other, when they decide to go to the US together to attend university. But fate has other plans for Rosie. Over the next 12 years their lives change dramatically but the connection remains.

If you’ve enjoyed these reviews, please share with your friends and followers on social media and I will be very grateful. I love new readers who love film.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Film Review Round Up 18th October 2014

There’s a solid Australian film opening this week, Son of a Gun starring Ewan McGregor, filmed here in Perth. I hope the Aussies reading this will consider giving it a viewing. It’s very good, and we need to support our country’s film industry. My son has visions of working in this industry in the future, so I’m hoping in a decade there will be a vibrant one for him and the other budding filmmakers to enter.

The other two films are average thrillers, but if you haven’t seen Gone Girl or The Equalizer, then see those first. They are much better films. These two would be just as enjoyable as Friday night streams or DVDs. Don’t pirate them, okay! Pirating is naughty.

Shortly, those on my list will be receiving my sparkling new time travel book Back Again for FREE. (I know, I'm far too generous.) I’m just going through the final edits now. So hop over to my newsletter sign up now and join: http://susanmaywordadventures.blogspot.com.au/p/loading.html


(My movie Pick of the week)
Son of a Gun ✪✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               16th October 2014
USA: No release as yet         UK: 16th January 2015 
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                     Luna Palace Cinemas

We’ve had a few films recently released that were filmed in our little old town of Perth, but Son of A Gun is the first one that really nails it. Starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) it comes with a smart script and well-orchestrated action scenes. McGregor displays his versatility playing a hardened criminal, and Thwaites the newcomer matches him as the innocent kid drawn into his web in order to survive his stay in prison.

I liked the twists and turns; the script by Julian Avery, also directing in his feature film debut, proves that you can follow tried and true tropes, and yet still deliver good entertainment. My hope is that Australians will support this film. It’s a 100 percent better than a lot of the big studio produced rubbish thrown at us these days with big name actors and big budgets, which just don’t deliver on story or character. Really worth seeing on the big screen.

Locked up, 19-year-old JR (Brenton Thwaites) finds himself under the protection of Australia's public enemy No.1, Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor)... but protection comes at a price. Lynche's crew have plans for their young protégé and very soon the debt is called in.

Before I Go To Sleep  ✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               16th October 2014
USA: 31st October 2014 UK: 5th September 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information
Perth:                                   Luna Palace Cinemas

Nicole Kidman has not enjoyed a  good run of films at the box office. Most have tanked, and after the woeful Grace of Monaco, you start wondering if it isn’t her. Sometimes her acting feels distant from the character, as if you can see the mechanics of the process in her eyes. However in Before I Go To Sleep that distance works very well indeed.
It’s a Hitchockian Memento type thriller, Kidman playing Christine Lucas who, due to head injuries from a violent assault, wakes up every morning having forgotten everything from the day before. Her husband (Colin Firth) is supportive and loving, albeit it is clearly emotionally taxing and difficult to have to recount their years of marriage to her each morning.
Her doctor (Mark Strong) calls her every morning after her husband leaves for work to remind her that she is keeping a video diary on a camera hidden in the back of the cupboard. It is via the video that the mystery begins, with Christine telling future herself not to trust her husband.  Each day we learn a little more about her, as she searches for what really happened and who she can trust.

The first half of the film is intriguing and strong, however toward the end it devolves into less than it could have been had a little more thought gone into the conclusion and setting up of the red herrings. However if you like your thrillers a guessing game, you will enjoy this. It’s no Gone Girl, but the cast do a great job, and director Rowan Joffe (Brighton Rock, 28 Weeks Later) is certainly the master of creating a dark and claustrophobic mood on screen.
A taut thriller based on the worldwide best-selling novel by S.J. Watson, BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP is the story of a woman (Nicole Kidman) who wakes up every day with no memory as the result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, terrifying new truths begin to emerge that make her question everything she thinks she knows about her life - as well as everyone in it, including her doctor (Mark Strong) and even her husband (Colin Firth). (c) Clarius


Opens in Australia:               16th October 2014
USA: 19th September 2014    UK: 19th September 2014
Other Countries:                     Release Information
Perth:                                      Luna Palace Cinemas

This film is based on Lawrence Block's bestselling series of mystery novels. It certainly would be a good book, but it's not so good as a film.  It’s a tad tired and clichéd and is only elevated above a DVD watch by Liam Neeson. Although, there is a joke in our household of film aficionados, about the typecasting of Liam Neeson.  When we came home from the movie, our youngest, snarliest film reviewer asks: Did Liam Neeson play an ex-cop? Yes!  Is he a recovering alcoholic? Yes!  Is he divorced? Yes! Does he walk around looking as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders? Yes! Does he kill a lot of people violently, barely raising a sweat? Yes!

So if my twelve-year-old understands it's a clichéd plot, I am struggling lately to comprehend how these scriptwriters can’t see it. Perhaps they simply don’t see enough films to realize that it’s been done before, and done many times.

If you're looking for something new, this isn’t it. If you love Liam Neeson in Taken, then you will enjoy. However, if you haven’t seen The Equalizer or Gone Girl, see those two first. They are superior films by a long shot and fall into the same genre as this.  I will say that it has a fabulous opening sequence that hints of so much more than the film delivers.

Based on Lawrence Block's bestselling series of mystery novels, A Walk among the Tombstones stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. When Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and then brutally murdered his wife, the PI learns that this is not the first time these men have committed this sort of twisted crime...nor will it be the last. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, Scudder races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again. (C) Universal

If you’ve enjoyed these reviews, please share with your friends and followers on social media and I will be very grateful. I love new readers who love film.