Review – Chicago

I’m not a massive fan of musicals, but that didn’t seem to have much bearing on my thoughts on Chicago. For a while something had been drawing me to this film, but it was only recently that i got a chance to watch it.

The film follows murderesses Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) as they attempt to escape the hangman’s noose. Velma is a veteran showgirl, while Roxie is a wannabe. Both hire Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), a hot-shot lawyer who has never lost a case, to get them off death row.

I thought the three lead performances were very impressive here. As far as I’m aware, everyone did their own singing and dancing here, and given some of the numbers throughout the film I was quite awe-struck by this fact. Zeta-Jones was devilishly good as Velma Kelly. You really got the impression that she was willing to do absolutely anything to be in the limelight. Zellweger was great as she took Roxie through the transition from bit of a no-hoper to someone who saw the full potential of the situation they were in and sought to exploit it. She blossomed into a character who was an apt rival to Velma and she knew it. Watching the pair trying to figure out how to get one over on each other was very entertaining, and definitely one of the main plus points of the film.

Richard Gere also fitted right in as Billy Flynn. He fancied himself as as a big as the likes of Velma which created an interesting dynamic. Gere captured the smugness and egocentricity of Billy perfectly, meaning there were three main character with huge personalities all fighting for centre stage. Terrific!

Chicago is a fully immersive film. It’s full of 1920s glitz and glamour and really enables you to lose yourself inside the story. There was a lot of attention to detail involved in the whole production, and it all paid off. The costumes, hair and makeup are fantastic, and the sets completely fit into the 1920s landscape. It’s such a visual feast, and as a result you’re never in any doubt about when these stories are taking place, and this works very well in the film’s favour.

The entire film was full of so many amazing scenes, however two stood out for me. The ventriloquism with Gere and Zellweger’s characters was awesome! This was another of those moments where the hair and makeup crew came into their element. They made Zellweger look like an actual puppet and I had thought they’d had a giant Zellweger ventriloquist dummy made. That’s how good it was. The second scene that blew my socks off was the final number where Velma and Roxie perform together. It was a great way to end the film, simple as.

All there is left to say really is that Chicago is an absolute knock-out. It really took me by surprise by how good it was. All of it’s elements work together in a wonderful symphony that truly is very well put together. I can’t remember what this film was up against at the Oscars in 2000, but I have to say that I think was probably well deserving of it’s Best Picture win.

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Review – The Disaster Artist

A film telling the story of how possibly the worst movie ever made came to be sounds like it could be very entertaining. However, did any of us ever imagine it would be as good as this? I did nahhhhhhhhht.

Yes, The Disaster Artist sheds some light on how Hollywood hopefuls Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau (played by Dave and James Franco) found each other, and how their god-awful 2003 film, The Room, came to be. It had always showed promise, but what this film delivered was phenomenal.

The Franco brothers both put in what are very likely to be career-best performances so far. Dave was really cute as Greg – you completely bought into the idea that he was just a kid trying his luck. There was a strong happy-go-lucky vibe abut his character that meant you kind of expected him to get a break at some point.

Now, without casting too much of a shadow over Dave’s performance, let’s talk about James for a second. He was absolutely terrific as Tommy. Without a doubt he is the single element that takes this film to whole other level. Seriously… where the hell did this come from? I thought the likeness between him and the real Tommy was uncanny. As far as looks go, there was a bit of a difference, but in terms of tone of voice and mannerisms, if you didn’t know better I think you’d struggle to tell them apart at first. He really did stand head and shoulders above the rest of the cast here with his work – absolutely terrific!

I liked how selective the film was with the scenes of The Room it showed. I think it covered just about all of the most infamous scenes of the film, which I think has been key to the success of The Disaster Artist. I haven’t seen The Room myself, but knew about all of the scenes included here. Being based on the book that documented Sestero and Wiseau’s friendship and their making of The Room, I don’t know if this was a decision that was already made for the creators of this film, but if not I think some wise decisions were made.

Similarly, I think there is one very significant creative choice that should be noted as being genius here – the end credits. Who ever’s idea it was to show Wiseau and Franco’s scenes side-by-sideat the end should be championed. Again, we come back to Franco’s stonking acting, but also the attention to detail that film makers of The Disaster Artist had. The make up of each scene was virtually identical, making it feel like everyone involved truly felt something towards this project.

The Disaster Artist may well be a top contender for my Film Of The Year 2017. I’m really struggling to find any kind of a fault with this one. There were some quality performances put in by the actors and an astonishing amount of dedication to the project by everyone involved. There’s a lot that can be taken from this film, but if anything you should note that whatever you want is possible provided you are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. If all you get from watching The Disaster Artist is that message then it was worth seeing it, trust me.

Review – Molly’s Game

A film I’ve had my eye on for a while now is Molly’s Game. This one takes a look at the life of ‘Poker Princess’ Molly Bloom, who made millions off the back of illicit poker games in LA and New York.

Well, I really liked it. Some of the thoughts I’ve seen haven’t been quite so complimentary towards this film, but while it had it’s flaws, none of these posed any major issue for me, which isn’t bad considering this is the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin. I thought it told a great story about a woman who learned all she could about something and then made a life for herself out of it. Fair enough, as time went by, the dream fell apart a bit, but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m saying. If I’m completely honest, I personally found Molly’s Game as empowering, if not more so than Wonder Woman thanks to the film’s glorious protagonist.

Jessica Chastain is going to win an Oscar one day. Whether it’ll be for her performance as Molly Bloom, however, I’m not sure. She was delightful as the character, and I think she made it clear that the games were not about greed for Molly – at least, that wasn’t the sole motive. Chastain really humanised her and made it easy for you to not only like her, but to also admire what she achieved. I’d love to see some Academy recognition for her here, but I don’t think the film has had quite enough momentum behind it in order for her to get it.

Idris Elba actually played a blinder here as Charlie Jeffery. I say that as though I think the man’s a terrible actor – he absolutely is not. However, I don’t think he gets the same kind of quality roles on the big screen as he does on TV. With this film though, I think Elba put in what I suspect could very well be one of this year’s most underrated performances (an early shout, I know). He had some mega scenes as Charlie that showcased his talents superbly.

It was nice to see Kevin Costner back in a good film. I’ve got bit of a soft spot for the guy seeing as he played Robin Hood in one of my favourite childhood films. Him and Chastain shared one of my favourite scenes in the whole movie – one that has come under fire massively from some viewers. Yes, you have to question how he came to find Molly in New York as he did, but if you can get past that I think you can truly appreciate what a wonderful scene the two shared.

At the heart of this film is a fascinating true story. The mind boggles as to who some of the people involved in these games were. Some theories have emerged and I’ve a few suspicions of my own as to who may have taken part in Molly’s games, but part of the magic of this film is that the way it presents some of it’s characters does allow you to speculate quite a bit.

People who aren’t poker players (like myself) might fear that the film could go over their heads if it delves too deeply into the rules of the game. I didn’t find my lack of poker knowledge to be a huge disadvantage, although there was the odd scene where I got slightly lost. Nonetheless, I would urge you not to be put off if you think the same thing might happen to you – it really didn’t make much difference to my experience of the film.

I have to say that Molly’s Game is a winner for me. Chastain proves to us once again what a monster talent she is, and Elba gifts us with a dark horse performance. Both of these pair together to tell an intriguing story that held my attention from start to finish. Sorkin has done a wonderful job with his directorial debut, and I’d be very interested to see what he brings to us in future.

Gerald’s Game is a real winner 


When a harmless game embarked upon by a married couple turns into a fight for survival, personal demons and possibly those in the house must be confronted if anyone is to make it out alive.
Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald Berlingame (Bruce Greenwood) are a married couple on a downward slope. In a bid to save their relationship, they take a weekend trip to a rural retreat and attempt to spice things up a bit. However, events take a sharp turn, and Jessie is left to fight for her life, whilst battling her own demons as well.

Last weekend, I watched one of the new Netflix Original films, Gerald’s Game. It sounded… interesting, judging by what I got from the description. However, I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened in the film. It turned out to be a good psychological thriller that proved to use once again that Netflix isn’t messing around when it comes to it’s own projects.

I think the two lead performances were really, really good, and they helped to keep the film moving along at a good pace. Carla Gugino’s character was great to watch as the film unfolded. It was really interesting to see how she portrayed the unraveling that took place for her character as time went by. Gugino completely tapped into the film’s psychological tones with her performance as her character Jessie fought with herself as well as the situation she found herself in, and this was one area the film was able to build tension well, because you never knew whether or not Jessie would have it in her to do what she needed to do in order to escape. 

Bruce Greenwood was equally wonderful to watch. There was an uneasy dynamic between his character and Gugino’s right at the start of the film, and the character that Greenwood went on to portray later on in the film totally explained that. I think he nailed the abusive and chauvinistic side of Gerald, and when paired with Gugino’s performance, it worked tremendously well. As I said, it was these two performances that made this film so watchable.

I love how this film was absolutely nothing like what I had expected it was going to be. I also loved how effectively it built tension. When somebody can make getting a glass of water a heart-stopping event, that is at sign of good storytelling, by means of both writing and directing. There were moments in this film that were similar in nature to that episode of Breaking Bad where Walter White chased a fly for an hour. It was completely deliberate and by no means an accident that such moments had such a massive impact on the rest of the film. That being said, it wasn’t just the small things this film got right. Gerald’s Game also had some pretty big moments where you could say it really took the gloves off. It struck a good balance between these two elements, which ultimately paid off.

The way the film told it’s story was very clever in my opinion. It entertained, but also contributed to so many wider meanings and topics without becoming obscure and seemingly pretentious. For a film’s narrative to be able to do both of those things well has become quite a feat of late I think.

All in all, I was quite a fan of Gerald’s Game. It did everything it needed to do and did so very well. Obviously the performances were a massive helping hand in making this film so good to watch, but the writing absolutely did it’s fair share of the work. To anybody who is contemplating watching this, I say go for it, because it is one of the better psychological thrillers to surface recently.

This film ain’t Filth


A corrupt, drug addicted cop with mental health issues attempts to beat his colleagues to a promotion in a bid to win back his wife and daughter.
Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is a bent copper who is up for a promotion, and he will stop at nothing to ensure he gets it. One by one, he singles out his competition and finds a way he can get them all to jeopardise their chances of success. The reason for his desperation to come out on top is that his wife and daughter left him, and he believes that this is the way to win them back. However, slowly but surely, all the secrets he’s exposing come back to haunt him, and Bruce risks losing himself in the web he’s spun.

Filth is a film that has been on my radar for a while. I remember reading rave reviews when it came out, and a lot of people I know have really enjoyed it. It made me laugh a lot, and while I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly to make of the film for the first half, by the time it had finished, I was very happy I’d watched it.

Where is James McAvoy’s Oscar at? Not only for this film, but for a few he’s been in. He’s a wicked actor, and quickly becoming a favourite of mine. He was phenomenal as Bruce, and it was evident where some of the inspiration for his role(s) in Split had come from. I loved how unhinged he was. You never knew what was coming next, and I think this made his performance so much more authentic than if he’d have been down all the time. His energy levels varied constantly and it really was brilliant to watch. McAvoy headed up a really great cast, actually. He was joined by Imogen Poots, Emun Elliott, Gary Lewis, Jim Broadbent, and a favourite of mine from Ray Donovan, Eddie Marsan. Altogether, it was a knockout line-up that made for a bunch of performances that were terrific to watch.

The humour that is heavily drizzled all over this film is very funny and very dark, which is another reason I enjoyed the film so much. There were countless times I couldn’t breathe for laughing that hard. It was exactly my sense of humour (which if you didn’t know involves getting the giggles over a lot of things that a person really shouldn’t get the giggles over), and it was fairly unrelenting. There never seemed to be a very long dry spell in between the laughs, and even then the drama or the story thrived anyway. The actual narrative was one that was quite interesting, and I think it made a few little twists and turns that I can’t say I saw coming. It also combined all the things that were tormenting Bruce and was able to present them to you in a way where it all kind of came to head at same time as it did for our protagonist. This is a film that has been very well done, and I can see now why a lot of people loved it so much.

On the whole, I can only recommend Filth to you. It was a very dark comedy with a bit of the more dramatic material thrown in for good measure. The two elements came together in a way that I think has been the best I’ve seen in a while, striking a good balance in an intriguing story that is told by an awesome lead performance. If you’re yet to see this, do something about that as soon as you can, because as far as I’m concerned, you’re missing out.

American Assassin is a solid action film, but nothing new

Following a terrorist attack on a beach, a civilian decides to take action against those behind the incident.

When Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) proposes to his girlfriend whilst on holiday at a beach resort, he didn’t anticipate the engagement being cut horrendously short by a terrorist attack in which almost everyone on the beach was injured or killed. In the months following the attack, Mitch decides that he wants sweet revenge. He puts himself in position to make a move on the man behind the attack that killed his loved one, only to be interrupted by U.S. armed forces just before he’s about to strike. He is held in custody before being referred to Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), the man in charge of training individuals who are to involved in Black-Ops style missions. The men prove themselves to be a real match for each other, and it’s not long before the two are going out on their first operation together to put a stop to an ex-trainee of Hurley’s wicked ways.

I was quite excited about American Assassin. On the surface it looked like it was going to be a great action film that could potentially have been the making of Dylan O’Brien in slightly more grown-up cinema. Now I’ve seen it I have to be honest and say it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be, but that it was worth seeing nonetheless, and I do think it my have succeeded in helping the lead shed some of those more adolescent roles.

I do think Dylan O’Brien did a good job with his performance. He made the change that occurred in Mitch following the beach attack so easy to spot, and I think this was something that was of utmost importance to the role. It was the single motivation behind his character, so the amount of emphasis placed on it by O’Brien’s performance and the story itself was key, and I feel like this was one thing the film got bang on.

Michael Keaton clearly had fun with his role as Stan Hurley. It was good to see him revelling in the part he was playing. He was as tough as old boots on the surface, but deep down there was a man who had feelings and who was having his own issues, especially with the nature of the mission he was embarking on now. Basically there was quite a lot more to his character than you were initially greeted with as a viewer. I think the combination of his and O’Brien’s character worked really well, and was a dynamic that lifted the film considerably as they both complimented each other.

There was some really good explosive action in this film, which was nice because I don’t think we really get enough of these films where the action is one of the main events. Obviously we’ve had some good action comedies such as The Nice Guys, and some off-kilter action thrillers in the form of The Accountant and Baby Driver lately, but it’s been a while since we’ve had a half decent serious action film. For that reason, I enjoyed the film because it didn’t hold back at all, especially during a torture scene that had quite a few people in the cinema cringing (pulling fingernails off does that to people I think). It’s also been a while since I’ve seen an opening scene that was as intense as the one here in a film that didn’t venture off into some next-level obscurity.

Despite everything I’ve just said, however, I have to be honest and say that I felt as though something was missing, or there was just something about it that meant it didn’t quite manage to join the greats of the genre for me. I’m glad I watched the film, and it definitely is something I would have watched at some point because of the type of film it was, but I can’t say that I’d rush to watch it again. It was just a bit too generic for me to go screaming from the rooftops about it, you know? It took quite a formulaic approach in the way it told the story and did a bit messy at one point about halfway through where I’ve still not 100% figured out what happened.

Overall, American Assassin is a solid film that I think adequately fulfils the need some of us were starting to have for a serious action flick that didn’t leave a terrible taste in our mouths. It was great to watch the dynamic between O’Brien and Keaton, and the action was full-throttle. It’s just a shame it couldn’t have been slightly more original, but hey, you can’t have everything all the time.

One Sentence Synopsis – The Results

Okay, so earlier in the week I put out a one sentence summary of a film and asked you guys to to guess what film it was describing. This is the line I gave you –

A duo of private investigators hunt try to track down a missing girl in 1970s LA.

And the film was, of course, The Nice Guys, as guessed by the following people:

Elena (Elena Square Eyes)

Tom (Plain, Simple Tom Reviews)

Darren (Movie Reviews 101)

Marcus (The Marcko Guy)

Well done for getting it right guys! I’ve decided I need to get a lot better at this. This Wednesday coming will bring the next round to you all, so I’ll see you again then.