Saturday, April 19, 2014

Film Review Round Up 19th April 2014

Something for everyone this Easter week… An indie vampire film for adults which I absolutely adored; a wonderful biopic of Charles Dickens; a chic-flick that is actually entertaining—mostly thanks to Leslie Mann; and a Marvel superhero flick that gets tangled in its own web of sub-plots. Enjoy your Easter and I won’t say don’t eat too much chocolate, because I certainly intend to eat more than my share.
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Film reviews frm @susanmaywriter Last Lovers Left Alive, Spiderman 2, The Invisible Woman, The Other Woman

(My movie Pick of the week)
Only Lovers Left Alive ✪✪✪✪ ½

Opens in Australia:      17th April  2014
USA: 11th April 2014    UK: 21st February 2014
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth:                          Luna Palace Cinemas

Finally, there is a vampire film for us grownups. Forget Twilight’ perfectly coiffed Edward and the insecure, drab Bella, there are new undead in town and they are deliciously cool and sexy.

Indie director Jim Jarmusch, who also wrote this tale, provides a window into the world of the mature bloodsuckers so loaded with atmosphere that it practically floats from the screen. His scenes are beautifully staged and his lead actors Tilda Swinton as Eve and Tom Hiddleston as Adam are perhaps the most perfect casting as vampires there will ever be.

Adam lives as a reclusive, tormented musician whose melancholia has become so overwhelming that he contemplates suicide. Ian (Anton Yelchin) is his only human friend while Adam remains cloistered in his isolated house working on his music. He survives by purchasing his blood from a doctor at the local hospital.

Eve, his wife, lives a bohemian lifestyle in Tangier. Her blood supply—the good stuff—comes via the world weary Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt). When Adam appears severely depressed during a phone call, Eve flies to him (on a plane). They hang out enjoying each other’s company and haunting the streets of Detroit while ruminating on the misguided stupidity and ignorance of the human race (zombies as Adam calls them). All seems wonderful and romantic until Eva’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska) interrupts their reunion—she’s trouble with fangs.

Think of this film as a glimpse into an alternative culture as opposed to a film about vampires. All the vampire memes are there, but this film is more a languid drop-in on the world rather than an adventure, horror thriller. It’s sexy, dark, funny, romantic, and will be one of my favorite films of the year. These are vampires with whom you can fall in love. I certainly did.

Noted indie director Jim Jarmusch directs the vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive. Tom Hiddleston stars as Adam, a bloodsucker who makes a living as a reclusive musician. He reunites with the love of his life, Eve (Tilda Swinton) a fellow vampire who leaves her home overseas to be with him in the downtrodden Motor City. They eventually get a visit from Eve's irresponsible sister (Mia Wasikowska) who irritates Adam and eventually causes trouble with the one human - the vampires refer to the living as zombies -- with whom the depressed music hero gets along.

The Invisible Woman ✪✪✪✪
Opens in Australia: 17th April 2014
USA: 25th December 2014    UK: 21st February 2014
Other Countries:          Release Information
Perth:                          Luna Palace Cinemas

Having just been absolutely enthralled with Ralph Fiennes character portrayal in The Grand Budapest Hotel and then seen him play Charles Dickens in this, he is the man of the moment for me.
This is a fascinating portrait of one of the greatest influences in literature, Charles Dickens and his unknown mistress. Dickens writes such dark characters that it was surprising to see what a personable and gregarious personality he was—that’s if this film is a true representation. All lovers of his work will enjoy this. It’s a very good period piece. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ralph Fiennes is a fabulous actor, and Felicity Jones as his secret lover does a very good job, too.
Nelly (Felicity Jones), a happily-married mother and schoolteacher, is haunted by her past. Her memories, provoked by remorse and guilt, take us back in time to follow the story of her relationship with Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) with whom she discovered an exciting but fragile complicity. Dickens - famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success - falls for Nelly, who comes from a family of actors. The theatre is a vital arena for Dickens - a brilliant amateur actor - a man more emotionally coherent on the page or on stage, than in life. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens' passion and his muse, for both of them secrecy is the price, and for Nelly a life of "invisibility".(c) Sony Classics

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ✪✪ ½                 

Opens in Australia:      17TH April 2014
USA: 2nd May 2014        UK: 16th April2014
Other Countries:          Release Information

When you reboot a film franchise less than ten years after its inception and five years after the last installment, you’d better come up with something more to differentiate it than sticking “Amazing” in the title. Unless, of course, it’s just a money grab and you think it might be a good way to sell more spidey costumes and film soundtracks.

Sitting through numero due of this retreaded series, I wonder why it seemed a good idea to have another go at a perfectly decent franchise at a time when The Avengers’ and their individual characters’ films are setting the bar so high. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has so many stunted subplots the audience is left feeling as if they’ve had everything except the kitchen sink thrown at them in a desperate attempt to make the film “amazing.”

There’s barely anything new added here to the original Spider-man story except a glimpse at Peter Parker’s parents’ fate as they desperately try to upload data to somewhere unknown. By the end of the film I still don’t know what it was they were doing and why it was so important.

Jamie Foxx plays Electro the new villain who becomes electrified thanks to the lax safety protocols at mega-evil corporation Oscorp. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is still having trouble balancing his life as Spiderman and Gwen’s (Emma Stone) boyfriend. Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) finally enters the picture, arriving to take over Oscorp after the death of his nasty father.

Here’s where subplots go wild. Harry’s dying from the same genetic disease as dad, so he’s after Spiderman’s blood; Electro’s mad at Spiderman for not being his friend; Gwen’s annoyed because he’s always late, and Aunt May (Sally Field) is hiding a terrible secret—she’s studying to be a nurse.

In between this, there’s actually quite a nice love story going on and a few good Spidey fight scenes. What stretches the film to two and half hours are the repeated drawn-out paused shots and the tedious animated scenes of Spiderman swinging between buildings. We know he can do that, so just show us a couple of times, and then move on.

We could go on about “amazing” plot holes like Gwen being the only person in the city to come up with the idea to turn on the power grid again when Electro fries it, or why an electrical engineer thinks it’s prudent to climb on a many story’s high railing, grab two electrical cables and hold them together, or even how Aunt May or anyone in the city hasn’t worked out that Peter Parker is Spiderman.

You may not notice any of these shortcomings, and you might think this film is better than the recently released Captain America: The Winter Soldier. If you do, then that surely would be the reason for “Amazing” in the title. It certainly can’t be descriptive of the film.

We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead. It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp. (c) Columbia

The Other Woman ✪✪
Opens in Australia:               17TH April 2014
USA: 25th April 2014             UK: 23rd April 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information

The Other Woman is a pleasant surprise. I went along expecting it to be an ugly mess but, in fact, it was quite a fun chic-flick. Cameron Diaz, who normally grates on me, was very good. She can be a good comedic actor occasionally. Kate Upton, as another other woman, is pretty average or is she a good actress playing a dumb woman so well that she seems like a dumb woman?  

What gives the film its extra star and swings it into entertaining fare is Leslie Mann as the aggrieved none-too-smart wife. She really is sensational. I love her. She was also brilliant in This Is 40.  A pal of mine has interviewed her and assures me she is a lovely person, too. So all hail Leslie.

Grab your girlfriends and enjoy a night out with this one. It’s good value and there’s some laugh out loud moments.

After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman (Cameron Diaz) tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he's been cheating on (Leslie Mann), she realizes they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered (Kate Upton), all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB. (c) Sony

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