Saturday, November 9, 2013

Film Review Roundup 9th November 2013

THIS WEEK'S PREVIEWS

A couple of true life films this week which I think will be touted in the awards season that is just around the corner.  The Butler will please most and Fruitvale Station, though a small indie film, packs a punch.  And then there’s The Counselor. What can I say, except it will be at the bottom of my worst list. I hated it. Don’t see it.  It only encourages these crazy people to keep making dribble like this.  It will hurt your eyeballs and put images in your mind that you don’t want there.
  
(My movie Pick of the week)

The Butler ★★★★ 

Opens in Australia: 31st October, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:        See at Luna Cinemas

OUR THOUGHTS
       The Butler is an enjoyable story of an ordinary man in a remarkable position to witness history as butler to the presidents of the United States. What is remarkable is that this humble man also influences history by just being himself. I found Oprah’s portrayal of Cecil Gaines wife a little shaky in the beginning. Once she gets her teeth into the role though, she really gives a winning performance.  Its an awards season film. And rightly so, nominations for Forest Whittaker’s portrayal will be well deserved.  If you enjoy true story dramas this one is well worth seeing. And yes, that is Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and it’s a fabulous cameo.
STUDIO BLURB
        Based on a true story, Lee Daniels (Precious) directs a stellar ensemble cast who between them have garnered 18 Academy Award nominations, including Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, James Marsden, Live Schreiber and Melissa Leo.
        For three decades, Cecil Gaines (Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker) served as the chief butler for eight consecutive US presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Working intimately with these world leaders at the White House, from his unique vantage point Cecil Gaines witnessed radical transformations in American history through the civil rights movement to the Vietnam and the Cold War - and how those changes affected his life and family.

The Counselor -117stars (the running time that it took from my life) 

Opens in Australia: 7th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information

OUR THOUGHTS
The Counselor is an unmitigated disaster, and I don’t say that lightly. I respect every person involved but, together, what the hell have they done? It’s easily the worst, most pretentious thing I have seen in several years. Don’t blame the cast. They tried hard. Blame the crazy, sometimes genius, revered author Cormac McCarthy (The Road) who wrote the incredibly ridiculous screenplay. Why Ridley Scott allowed his name to be attached to this may come out in interviews later.
Maybe they are friends. Maybe they are simply dirty old men who frequent sex joints together because the entire film seems to be about discussing sex while demonstrating the most bizarre ways you can indulge in it. Even though its full of sex talk, trust me there is nothing titillating in this one, just plain ugly thoughts. I will forever be emotionally scarred by the vision of Cameron Diaz on the windscreen of a car supposedly having sex with it (much to the horror of Javier Badem’s character and the audience I suspect).
At this point in a review I usually give you a short outline of the story but, sorry folks, there is no story—just an onslaught of long monologues delivered by A-list actors who were probably thinking, What the hell am I doing here?
It makes no sense, is horribly miscast, costumed by someone who mistakenly thinks they know how drug people dress (in poor taste, apparently, despite their wealth), and it makes no attempt to tell a story. Cormac McCarthy should never be let near a screenplay again. If this is what Ridley thinks is entertainment, then I hope his film rights lapse to my friend Hugh Howey’s brilliant Wool trilogy.
Don’t go near a cinema where it is showing. Don’t tell yourself, but it has my favorite actors. (You won’t be happy at how unattractive and dopey they made Brad Pitt or what they did to Javier Badem’s hair.) Don’t even rent it on DVD. If you want to watch a great drama about drug cartels, watch re-runs of Breaking Bad. I want my 117 minutes back (and why I gave a minus star for every minute I was stuck enduring it). I will never look at a windscreen the same way again and that is just not right.
STUDIO BLURB
Legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott and Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) have joined forces in the motion picture thriller THE COUNSELOR, starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt. McCarthy, making his screenwriting debut and Scott interweave the author's characteristic wit and dark humor with a nightmarish scenario, in which a respected lawyer's one-time dalliance with an illegal business deal spirals out of control. (c) Official Site

FRUITVALE STATION ★★★★

Opens in Australia: 7th November, 2013
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth, Australia:        See at Luna Cinemas

OUR THOUGHTS
There is something special about this story of a true shocking incident that shone through for me. However, my husband was left bored and wondering what all the fuss was about.  What I liked was the character portrayals and the way the filmmaker caused you to care about Oscar, through following him through the last few days of his life. When the inevitable shocking scene of the shooting occurs you feel it in your gut.  Not many films do that to you.  This is awards season, so I expect to see this one pop up in a few categories. However, I am not certain it is for everyone. I think many people will wonder “what’s so good about this?” while others will be like me, deeply moved and angered.
STUDIO BLURB
Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler's FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. Oscar's life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area - and the entire nation - to its very core. (c) Weinstein


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