Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review Round Up 10th August 2013

There was some entertaining films released this week and last.  A little something for everyone and a couple of true life stories that seem too bizarre to be true—but they are.  You could see any of these films I’ve reviewed and enjoy yourself.  Next week my calendar is filled with previews.  If you see a square-eyed woman slumped in a cinema seat that could be me.

(My movie Pick of the week)
Pain and Gain ★★★ ¾
Opens in Australia: 8th August, 2013
Other Countries: Release Information

OUR THOUGHTS
Michael Bay (Transformers, The Rock, Bad Boys) channels the Coen Brothers ‘Fargo’ in a true story of three good reasons (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) not to take steroids, do drugs or boast about your wealth to your fitness trainer. It’s such a bizarre story that in certain scenes they had to splash across the screen, “This is a true story” and later, “This is still a true story”.  It’s politically incorrect and the characters are so awful, you feel no sympathy for any of them and yet I liked it a lot.  It’s classified as a black comedy but it’s a tad short of the brilliance of a Tarantino or Coen Brothers ‘black’.  You will definitely walk out thinking what the heck did I just witness and it’s fun enough and certainly crazy enough to justify a watch.  “Hands down” (you’ll get this pun if you see the film) one of the most outrageous true stories you will see.
STUDIO BLURB
From acclaimed director Michael Bay comes "Pain and Gain," a new action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Based on the unbelievable TRUE story of a group of personal trainers in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong. (c) Official Site

The Bling Ring  ★★★
Opens in Australia: 8th August 2013
Other Countries: Release Information
Perth, Australia: See at Luna Cinemas

OUR THOUGHTS
Okay, I admit I have a slight fascination with Hollywood and all the gossip—not enough to break into the houses of anyone famous, mind you.  Based on a Vanity Fair article, this true story is of a bunch of High School kids who actually did take that extra stalking step.  And not just once!   Over and over again, they snuck into Paris Hilton’s digs (she left her key under the mat, so some might say she invited them in).  Other celebs hit big time were Megan Fox, Orland Bloom and Miranda Kerr, Lindsay Lohan (as if the girl hasn’t got enough on her plate) and more.
It’s reasonably engaging, although, the thieves are portrayed as soulless characters and I do wonder if it was as simple as that.  And as this is, supposdedly, Director Sofia Coppola’s study on the dark side of our fascination with celebrity, it is quite a shallow and sensational view.
The main question on my lips is: Does Paris Hilton really have self-portrait photos and paintings all over her house and dozens throw pillows with her image? If so, I think she may have more problems than the ‘Bling Ring’ kids.
STUDIO BLURB
In THE BLING RING, Oscar Winning filmmaker Sofia Coppola takes us inside the world of these teens, where their youthful naivete and excitement is amplified by today's culture of celebrity and luxury brand obsession. The members of the Bling Ring introduce us to temptations that any teenager would find hard to resist. And what starts out as youthful fun spins out of control, revealing a sobering view of our modern culture. (c) A24

NOW YOU SEE ME ★★★ ½
Opens in Australia: 8th August, 2013
Other Countries: Release Information

OUR THOUGHTS
There is a stellar cast here and I really enjoyed this film.  It’s a little different and there is a bit of fun to be had trying to guess who the magician’s have on the inside of the FBI that allows them to be one step ahead. 
It moves along at a cracking pace and you will be wondering how the heck they do all those tricks.  All the actors play to type. So, if you like Mark Ruffalo as the unkempt, frustrated guy, Morgan Freeman as the wise, smooth know-it-all, Jesse Eisenberg as the unemotional, disrespectful guy, Woody Harrelson as the untrustworthy dude nobody likes, and Isla Fisher as the throw-in girl causing friction, then you will enjoy this film.  It’s a solid three and a half star, good date night film.
STUDIO BLURB
NOW YOU SEE ME pits an elite FBI squad in a game of cat and mouse against "The Four Horsemen", a magic super-team of the world's greatest illusionists. The Four Horsemen pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances, and then funnel the millions of stolen profits into their audiences bank accounts, while staying one step ahead of the law.
FBI Special Agent Dylan (Ruffalo) is determined to make the magicians pay for their crimes—and to stop them before they pull off what promises to be an even more audacious heist. But he’s forced to partner with Alma (Laurent), an Interpol detective about whom he is instantly suspicious. Out of desperation he turns to Thaddeus (Freeman), a famed magic debunker, who claims the bank heist was accomplished using disguises and video trickery. One thing Dylan and Alma agree on is that the Horsemen must have an outside point person, and that finding him (or her) is key to ending the magicians’ crime spree. Could it be Thaddeus? Or Alma? Or could it really be… magic?

The World’s End ★★★ ½
 Opens in Australia: 1st August, 2013
Other Countries: Release Information

OUR THOUGHTS
As coincidences go this is a quasi-English version of Seth Rogan’s film ‘This Is The End’ currently in cinemas. Same set up; a group of friends partying and drinking to excess only to discover that it’s the world which will succumb to a bad hangover.
Director Edgar Wright adds the final film to what he’s labeled his "Cornetto Trilogy”— the first two being ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (2004) and ‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007)—starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost who are also co-collaborators.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) has not done well for himself and we meet him in rehab. He believes by rounding up the old school gang and reattempting the challenge of drinking their way around a home town pub circuit ending at ‘The World’s End’ pub, he will somehow put things right in his life.
He gathers his childhood pals, now well settled into middle-age, Andy (Nick Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Steven (Paddy Considine), who reluctantly agree to join him in his booze goal.
The further into the pub crawl they go, though, the more they realize things are not quite right in the village; people who should know them don’t remember them and the behaviour of some of the inhabitants is beyond unusual. Amidst this there is an unresolved love triangle with Oliver's sister Sam (Rosamund Pike).
Pegg fabulously portrays an off-the-rails but somehow loveable misfit with some darker moments hinting at his ability to take on deep, dramatic roles. There are some solid laughs, along with introspection on living life in the past and the value of our humanness. It’s also a great advertisement for not drinking to excess.
However, it didn't give me the “Hot Fuzzies” like Pegg & crew’s previous collaborations. My husband found this film far more amusing than me. It could be a guy thing or it could be the other two films raised my expectations a tad too high. It’s still fun and, somehow, the end of the world does go down better with a drink. 
STUDIO BLURB
20 years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hellbent on trying the drinking marathon again. They are convinced to stage an encore by mate Gary King, a 40-year old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their hometown and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub – The World’s End. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s. Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries.


What have you seen this week? Did you find our comments helpful or do you disagree? Share your thoughts with us.