What If (2013)… “Look, one thing I like about getting married, is that you can stand up in front of everyone you care about and stay it for the record that you believe in the best case scenario.”

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What-If-Movie-Poster

My rating: 6

IMDB rating: 6.9

IMDB link: What If

Dearest reader,

While finding the image for this review, I think I finally realised what irritates me the most about this film… The fact that it claims to be “The best Rom-Com since 500 Days of Summer”. Not only will I not necessarily classify 500 Days of Summer as a romantic-comedy, this film is nothing like the seminal, heartfelt stroke of genius that is most often termed a romantic comedy-drama.

Now I am just ranting, apologies…

This film stars post-Potter Daniel Radcliffe and the quirky Zoe Kazan. Seemingly everyone’s best friend Adam Driver plays the supporting role and is of course the source of quite a few laughs.

The premise of the film is not something new… You meet someone, they are involved, you become friends while you wait it out… Still, as far as RomComs go nowadays this film definitely provides about an hour and a half of fun.

There are a few plot holes or maybe we should call it desperately grasping for action… For example when Chantry gets upset that Wallace respected her relationship and just remained her friend (not sure why she was mad, but she was!).

To me, there seems to be this trend among filmmakers nowadays to just feed the ending to the viewers. In other words, the much needed “open places” in a narrative are becoming fewer and fewer. This film could have ended with them meeting at the airport, but no! We have to physically show their wedding etc. just to be sure everyone got it. Are we reverting back to the melodrama, where everything is spelled out?

This movie is a good laugh, but definitely not for serious consideration.

Want to read more on What If? Try these…

Film Review – What If.

Movie Review – What if**.

Film Review: What If.

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Mr Morgan’s Last Love (2013)… You know when you love something so much you start to hate it?

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Mr Morgans last love

My rating: 5

IMDB rating: 6.9

IMDB link: Mr. Morgan’s Last Love

Dearest reader,

This film definitely had the potential to be great. It has Michael Caine and the beautiful Clémence Poésy who tackles the themes of loneliness, old-age and friendship.

Unfortunately, this film was nothing more than an almost two hour cliche. Loving art house films, I am no stranger to films that tend to drag along a bit, but this film was absolutely gut-wrenchingly slow.

Time, which is definitely an important part of this film, is implemented as a metaphor for the fluidity of time and its static state during old age. The problem is that the viewer is sacrificed in this metaphor.

Although we would not like to know this about ourselves, we have become highly commercialized and is used to a constant stream of action that is visually represented to us. Watching something this slow, undermines the narrative (especially with regard to modern viewers) in such a way that the filmic text is lost.

The movie could also have ended about 30 minutes earlier than it actually did. The last part of this film irrevocably pushes the film into the cliche category. One must never underestimate the power of an open ending as well as a surprise ending.

The film which is based on a book, must therefore to a certain extent stay true to its source text. For me it would be interesting to see how these two mediums differ and why he perhaps chose to stay true to the source ending instead of a more ‘mainstream ending’.

Want to read more on Mr Morgan’s Last Love? Try these…

DVD Review: Mr Morgan’s Last Love.

DVD Review: Mr Morgan’s Last Love.

Mr. Morgan’s Last Love is just too depressing.

The Other Women (2014)… pseudo-feminist take on revenge

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The Other Woman

My rating: 4

IMDB rating: 6.2

IMDB link: The Other Woman

 

Dearest reader,

I definitely like a good comedy, in fact one of my favorite comedies of all time is another Diaz classic What Happens in Vegas, but this film unfortunately was not at all what I was expecting, and not in a good way.

Except for the wardrobe and the laugh-out-loud performance by Leslie Mann, I cannot really recommend anything else about this movie. The problem, I think, is the fact that I went into this movie believing that it would be a kind of ‘taking back’ by the women of what they had been robbed of by this one man. Instead, what one finds is that it is a constant obsessive struggle masked by ‘friendship’ and comedy.

The other thing that was really a let-down was the fact that everything funny in this movie, was already revealed by the trailer. All the jokes and the pranks and even the entire plot was already laid out in the trailer, and to me that is most annoying.

Is this an enjoyable movie, though? Yes, it is perfect for light entertainment, maybe a girl’s night, but looking for anything deeper in this film would be futile. It would be interesting to see if this film passes the Bechdel Test, I would have to rewatch it, but my hypothesis would be- no.

Want to read more on The Other Women? Try these…

Movie Review: The Other Woman.

The Other Woman – 2014.

The Other Woman.

Frances Ha (2012)… maybe I just did not get it!

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Frances Ha

 

My rating: 4

IMDB rating: 7.5

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2347569/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

After having read so much about this film, I really wanted to see it. Disappointed just does not cover the extent of what I feel towards this movie, I just really hated it. I struggled through every scene where Frances pined and pined over Sophie. Then I watched as she, completely broke, packs up her things and flies to Paris for 2 days while not enjoying a second of it. I think I just totally missed the point of this film.

The other thing that I could just not understand was why this film was shot in black-and-white. It looked good, but it just had no function, or none that I could perceive. Maybe it was trying to add to the hipster-type of lifestyle that Frances and her cronies is living? I cannot find any significance for it and that inexplicable aspect is very distracting to me.

The last thing that I want to comment on (this is going to be a very short post, indeed) is the fact that this film is honed as an “uproarious comedy”.  Yes, the film had one or two little chuckles, but it most definitely is very far away from an “uproarious comedy”! It is by a long stretch rather a comedy-drama, based on a Peter-Pan type of narrative along with an obsessive relationship that is not explored as destructive, but rather rewarded.

Want to read more on Frances Ha? Try these…

Roger Ebert: Frances Ha

0152 | Frances Ha.

Frances Ha (2012).

Your Netfix: Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012).

 

Scoop (2006)… before Woody Allen fell in love

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Scoop

My rating: 7

IMDB rating: 6.8

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457513/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

I have to start by saying that I am one of the biggest Woody Allen fans out there. I do not, though, consider myself an expert on his oeuvre, but I have never seen one of his films that I did not like… But with this film, I cannot truly say that I loved the film, and my theory is that it is because Allen himself did not love the film….

Let me explain…

Woody Allen falls in love with his actors, his story and most importantly his setting and it shows. In Blue Jasmine, he is completely taken by the character of Jasmine. He loves her ignorance and her inability to have perspective on her own life, and it is clear from the story.

With both Midnight in Paris, To Rome with Love and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Allen is smitten with Paris, Rome and Barcelona. Critics can rave about his weak story lines or narcissistic writing, but they cannot say a thing about his love for these cities as portrayed by beautiful shots of, not only famous parts of these cities, but back alleys and lesser seen parts.

With Scoop though, it seems that Allen has hit a dry spell. His trademark off-beat comedy is still very present in the film, for example this hilarious line:

Sid Waterman (Woody Allen): “I was born of the Hebrew persuasion, but I converted to narcissism.”

But there is no sign of the love that is so essential to Allen’s artistic success.

And Johansson, who was once widely recognized as Allen’s muse following her three movie (Match Point, Scoop and Vicky, Cristina Barcelona)  run on his direction, plays a part that I cannot help but describe as a bit childish. The Nancy Drew-type of persona that Johansson portrays here is far below the really in-depth acting that we know she is capable of.

It really kills me to call this movie by Allen a “fluff-piece”, but unfortunately that is what it is. And in that sense, this film is really enjoyable, there are tons of funny moments, as well as some suspense and a bit of a love story. True to Allen form, the story is centered around a woman that eventually outsmarts the man.

Killing of his character at the end of the film, may be the most important part of this movie, because all the Allen films that followed is a step away from the narcissistic narratives that we have gotten so used to from him. In that sense he literally kills of the greatest burden to his artistic success and that is himself.

Want to read more on Scoop? Try these…

Roger Ebert: Scoop

Cinema Autopsy: Scoop

Popmatters: Scoop

Winter’s Tale (2014)… more like winter’s fail!

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Winter's tale

My rating: 5

IMDB rating: 6.2

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1837709/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

I am totally honest when I say that I have no idea what this film is about. The best way I can describe it, is as a mix of Cloud Atlas, nearly every princess-based fairytale out there and Supernatural (yes, the TV-series with the two hot brothers), does that sound good to you?

-Well, I am sorry, but it is not-

For the life of me I cannot understand why some of these actors took these roles… Did Russell Crowe’s career take such a plunge after the Les Mis disaster that this is all he has left? And what about Will Smith; we have not seen him in a movie for a while and suddenly he pops up as Lucifer, in this fairytale-knockoff?

Maybe I am just a fairytale ‘purist’ or maybe I just do not believe in true love and miracles in such an intense and overarching way, but this film is really something else (and not in a good way!)

In an attempt to understand, Akiva Goldsman, the director’s vision I then studied his filmography. To date he has only directed this movie, a few episodes of Fringe and Kings. But it was not his directing that caught my eye, it was his producing. Although he has produced his share of ‘fluff’ (Paranormal Activity 2-4, for example), he also produced some great movies like I am Legend, Poseidon and Deep Blue Sea.

The only thing that kind of saved this film was the absolute stunning beauty of the leading lady, Jessica Brown Findlay. I am a huge Downton Abbey fan, therefore seeing her again, for me, was a real treat! It is just a shame that the men does not step up to the challenge; except for Colin Farrel’s extremely bizarre haircut that fit neither the early 1900’s, nor 2014 (maybe a bit more, but still not really), it is Farrel and Crowe’s weird Irish accent that just does not fit. I have no idea why they have this accent, just as I have no idea why this film even has a supernatural element, if you completely excluded that, this film might just start to make sense.

Want to read more on Winter’s Tale? Try these…

Film Review: Winter’s Tale

Review: Winter’s Tale (2014).

Review: Winter’s Tale

Review- Winter’s Tale

Charlie Countryman (2013)… love, violence, violence, violence, love….?!

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Charlie Countryman

My rating: 6

IMDB rating: 6.4

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196948/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

I usually try my best not to read any reviews on a movie before watching it, but when I got this film I could not understand why I have not heard anything about it. It has some big (mostly upcoming) names playing the leads and the extended title, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, is quite intriguing. But what I saw was that critics were tearing this movie apart, for different reasons, so it could be that I went into this film not as objectively as I maybe should have…

The problem with this movie, is the fact that it just can’t seem to pick a genre. I have no idea if this was meant to be a love story, coming-of-age film, crime drama, or a coming-to-terms-with-the-death-of-a-loved-one type of drama… And it did not breach the confines of these genres in a way that makes you want to explore this newly formed genre. It just leaves you irritated with the director or writer for not picking something and sticking to it.

In this sense the film is so over-crowded with sub-plots, that together with the over-crowded setting of Bucharest, that it just leaves you feeling disconnected to both the space and the plot. The shots of Bucharest is amazing, don’t get me wrong, and there is a certain amount of romanticism applied to the filming of the city, its vibe and its people, but together with the over-stuffed storyline, it just is a disaster!

In previous posts I have talked a lot about violence; its necessity, our desensitization to it and its modern romantic portrayal. Instances, like this movie, where extreme violence is romanticized, truly disgusts me. The plot had no need for this extent of violence, and oddly enough the intimate scenes are cut short while these violent scenes are emphasised- again, it just shows the absolute chaos that prevents this film from sticking to a genre.

What saved this film, for me, is Mads Mikkelsen. I love this guy, in my eyes he can do no wrong. He is the perfect mix between violent oppressor and the obsessed lover. And, of course, he is devastatingly handsome! If you have not yet seen him in Hannibal, the series, do yourself a favour and see what happens when brilliant actors and even more brilliant writers decide to make a series.

Want to read more on Charlie Countryman? Try these:

A story of drugs, love and crime: Charlie Countryman.

Film Review: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013) ★★.

Bad deathbed advice, indeed!

Charlie Countryman Movie Review, Roger Ebert

Ebiri on Charlie Countryman