The Longest Week (2014)… How am I supposed to care about a group of over-privileged, affluent types who go gallivanting around without any sort of a moral compass?

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The-Longest-Week-2014-Poster

My rating: 8

IMDB rating: 5.4

IMDB link: The Longest Week

Dearest reader,

My one friend texted me after watching this movie saying that she is seriously developing a Jason Bateman crush… And I totally agree! He understand something about comedy that, to me, not a lot of people do and that is that there lies a certain amount of disconnection in the comedic.

First of all, this movie is director Peter Glanz’s first film, that had a limited release in 2012, followed by a more official release in 2014. As soon as you start the film, it becomes clear that Glanz is influenced by the “droll narration” (as the rogerebert.com review puts it) of Wes Anderson and the spectacular love for New York á la Woody Allen. Does this sound pretentious to you? Well, it is! And that is one of the films biggest charms…

Make no mistake, this film is extremely pretentious- but it never tries to be anything other than that. In fact, the film comments and reminds the viewer again and again that it is, well… pompous!

What saves the film, though, is the fact that it never, at any stage, takes itself seriously. The characters are overblown and their actions tend to be absurd, but to me the message in the film was still crystal clear…

Don’t take this film seriously, don’t take yourself seriously!

Of course, not all critics were as favorable to this showy way of film making. The aforementioned rogerebert.com review gave the film one star out of five saying: “Not even the able actors that Glanz somehow managed to rope into his project can do much with the draggy story and the vapid characters that they have been given to play.”

The A.V Club on the other hand describes the film as “clearly the work not of a lazy thief, but of a raw talent who’s still struggling to find his own voice. In the meantime, his impressions are pretty darn impressive.”

Therefore, I feel it is important to let this film talk to you as a comedy and not necessarily a comedy-drama, as it is often described.

Want to read more on The Longest Week? Try these…

Film Review: The Longest Week (2014).

Movie Review: “The Longest Week”.

Movie Review: The Longest Week (2014).

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We’re the Millers (2013)… You can buy a house and run away from it.

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My rating: 6

IMDB rating: 7.1

IMDB link: We’re the Millers

Dearest reader,

Full disclosure: this is not my type of movie at all! And after The Hangover, I cannot stand Jason Sudeikis. His type of comedy is just not that funny to me.

That being said, I watched this movie as a distraction from pre-conference jitters and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised! The jokes were quite original, the characterization (which in comedy is most important) was quite good and the dialogue very witty.

Thinking about it, there are quite a few comedies nowadays that challenge the position of the nuclear family. The typical American family is satirized, not only by the Millers, but also by the Fitzgeralds. Sexuality, especially, is one of the mediums through which this challenging of the traditional family is achieved.

In this sense these comedies, like this movie and for example Neighbors (starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen) is part of a sexual revolution which the traditional sealed marital bed is undergoing.

Back at home in South Africa, which is still extremely Calvinistic, these issues are still “sealed” and definitely never satirized. The emphasis on the sexual is seen as a very nasty Hollywood by-product that everyone should avoid as it compromises purity.

In this sense, I think that comedies such as this plays a big part in the sexual liberation of the US (and perhaps even the rest of the world). Being able to joke about these issues show a certain healthy distance from the problem that can aid in the liberation process.

All in all, I think this film is worth the watch as it does not only provide some much needed comic relief, it also forms part of a bigger picture that is certainly very important in my country.

Want to read more on We’re the Millers? Try these…

We’re the Millers Review.

We’re The Millers Review.

We’re The Millers review (Thuber, 2013).

Annie Hall (1977)… “Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat… college.”

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Annie Hall

My rating: 10

IMDB rating: 8.2

IMDB link: Annie Hall

Dearest reader,

Alvy Singer: [addressing the camera] There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The… the other important joke, for me, is one that’s usually attributed to Groucho Marx; but, I think it appears originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.

 I am starting and ending this post with quotes from the film, because I wish that I could memorise every single thing that is said in this film seeing that it is so honest and endearing that it speaks to both the neurotic and romantic inside of you.

You know how you read about a film again and again, and you just convince yourself that it simply cannot be as good as they make it out to be? Well, this film is nothing like that! I have been a Woody Allen fan from the first time that I saw Midnight in Paris. I fell in love with the way he not only sees the world, but with the intellectuality he uses to approach subjects such as love.

Then with his films To Rome With Love and Fading Gigolo I saw more of the original Woody Allen wit and I was mesmerised! Gathering up all my courage, I set out to watch Woody Allen’s most famous film and it made my year!

Relationships are hard, this Allen underlines again and again, and when you find that special somebody you have to hold on, right? What if you can’t? My favourite modern English writer, Elizabet Gilbert, says (describing soulmates): “A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.” 

That, for me, is the case with Alvy and Annie. They are a perfect fit; Alvy opens Annie up intellectually, while Annie works on Alvy’s narcissism. The un-chronological timeline supports this idea that although you can see these two people are a good match, you know that on some level they are disconnected- the one always expecting more than the other one is willing to give.

I think that it is often true, and the film also speaks about this, that on a subconscious level we believe that our significant other should either make our faults disappear or overshadow them with their own good attributes. In reality, a relationship highlights our bad qualities, just as Alvy gets more neurotic and Annie gets more ditsy.

While giving the account of this (failed?) relationship, the camera often turns to Woody Allen where he addresses the audience directly. He pleads with them to understand, to get them on his ‘side’. Still, and that is how brilliantly the movie is made, you know the pleading is useless. You know he only has himself to blame and although the story is told from his perspective, he gives a very objective overview of the relationship.

I can understand why some people do not like this film. It speaks to a lot of the really personal things one experiences in a relationship and how you usually want a film like that to end is with a massive declaration of love, but that is not life. Most probably one will agree to stay friends and not see one another for years thereafter, but their impact will remain bigger than any of those that comes before or after them.

Alvy Singer: I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.

Want to read more on Annie Hall? Try these…

Roger Ebert: Annie Hall

Review: Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s Best Movie Ever.

Annie Hall.

Annie Hall ★★★★.

Annie Hall (1977).

The Lego Movie (2014)… We are from the planet Duplo, and we’re here to destroy you.

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The Lego Movie

My rating: 7

IMDB rating: 7.9

IMDB link: The Lego Movie

Dearest reader,

I went into this movie, expecting to hate its obvious humour and ridiculous characters, but I came out very surprised…

The humour in this movie is anything but obvious! Subtle references and clever sarcasm made this movie extremely enjoyable. They even employed satire, here and there, but very cleverly hidden. Your knowledge of all these characters and their subsequent worlds need to be quite good to get all the references (I know I missed a few!).

This movie definitely comments on, in very plain terms, the inns and outs of totalitarian rule. It actually reminds one of Orwell’s 1984; there is at one point a poster floating by showing President Business, with the slogan “I’ve got my eye on you”, followed by a shot of a physical camera watching the workers. President Business takes it a step further by wanting to glue all his subjects to the ground, in so doing forcing them into submission, into his idea of a ‘perfect’ world.

Emmet gets a manual on how to do basically everything in his life (how to make friends and fit in), the workers also follow instructions by the letter (instructing them to destroy anything ‘weird’). The song that everyone so enthusiastically sing is also another way of pressurising everyone into conformity, by stressing the fact that one does better in a team.

In the end, when the man upstairs is revealed, this totalitarian rule is maybe a big comment on styles of parenting as well as the relationship between a father and his child. The need for children to express themselves creatively is underlined as the whole story is a cry for the parent to notice and play with his child.

I am always afraid of watching animations because my knowledge of graphics and such is very scarce. That being said, this film is, visually, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Waves of Lego pieces, buildings being built and then demolished make for quite the visual treat.

Want to read more on The Lego Movie? Try these…

Film 500 #2: THE LEGO MOVIE (2013).

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Review: The Lego Movie.

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.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)… tell me something real

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10 things i hate about you

My rating: 7

IMDB rating: 7.2

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0147800/?ref_=ttmd_md_nm

Dearest reader,

Sticking to my love-theme this week, I watched this lovely 90’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. And I made up my mind that between John Cusack holding a boombox above his head, riding of in the sunset on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey and having Heath Ledger sing you ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’- I choose Heath Ledger, again and again, swoon!

Of course, another one of my favourite things about this movie is the strong female characters that this movie has. Fitting with the Shakespeare original, they incorporate modern feminism with the ‘shrew’ so perfectly that it would make the master proud. As I’ve argued with my review of Romeo+Juliet this movie again shows how timeless Shakespeare and his work is.

More than that, this movie is also a ‘period piece’ of the 90’s. The music, the clothes and the hair all speak of the 90’s and the lifestyles that was popular back then. But this movie is most definitely remembered for its music. Songs from Letters to Cleo and many others make this movie’s soundtrack just as iconic as the movie itself.

The last thing worth mentioning is the reworked Shakespeare poem that she writes to him, followed by the wonderful shot of Letters to Cleo performing on the roof of a building.Both these things just drives home the fact that while this film is an adaptation of a Shakespeare classic, it is hip and modern, as Shakespeare will always be.

Want to read more on 10 Things I Hate About You? Try these…

Review | 10 Things I Hate About You | Film

10 Things I Hate About You (1999).

Roger Ebert: 10 things i hate about you

22 Jump Street (2014)… ohhh these guilty pleasures!

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22 Jump Street

My rating: 6

IMDB rating: 8.0

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2294449/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Dearest reader,

The best thing you can do after watching this film, is watching this review by @jeremyjahns on Youtube:

 22 Jump Street: Jeremy Jahns Reviews

First of all, I loved 21 Jump Street, you would think that ‘love’ is a very strong word here, but it actually is not strong enough! This film just renewed the whole buddy-cop movie genre in such a way that if another Starsky & Hutch remake would suddenly appear and Hill and Tatum does not get the parts, I would not go and watch it. These two just have the most amazing chemistry on-screen.

That being said, it kind of feels to me that this movie intentionally set out to not be as good as the first movie. And no, I did not just think of that all by myself, it is literally said in the movie over and over again. The plot is exactly the same as the first movie, except that Hill is now the odd one out. They even get the same undercover identities.

Their relationship is very comically explored in this film, while the first film only hints at a kind of inter-dependent play on a stereotypical heterosexual relationship, the second film does so obviously and explicitly, which makes for great comedy. What I really missed in this film, and it was such a huge part of the first film, was that typical, dry, Jonah Hill-type of humor that literally kept you gasping for air as you laughed and laughed. It seems as though he was quite intentionally toned down in this film which is quite a shame.

Not to include any spoilers, but all credit goes to the production and marketing team who not only left the ‘twist’/ the funniest part of this movie out of the trailer, but out of the press as well. Also, if you are still going to watch this film, keep seated for the credits as they are almost the funniest part.

Want to read more on 22 Jump Steert? Try these…

22 Jump Street.

22 Jump Street: A comedy sequel with a feminist subplot.

22 Jump Street Review.

22 Jump Street- Review.