Letterboxd Reviews: May 2013

My Letterboxd account documents what films I am watching, usually films for the first time but occasionally a film I haven’t logged before.

Here’s a summary of the films I have watched this month, including a rating and short review for each.

This May I have watched 65 films:

Here’s what I thought of them:

The Aviator

“”A brilliant role for Leonardo Di Caprio and an interesting story based on truth, as you get a real sense of what Howard Hughes’ life was like. Di Caprio plays the character brilliantly making the character engaging and somewhat pitiful, balancing his strong celebrity front with his crazy interior superbly. The film itself is beautifully shot and you can tell Scorsese is behind it, especially as the 166 minute run time flies by even though there isn’t that much story to completely fill it out. The time setting is captured well and the styling was really well captured, too.

Mean Streets

“Robert De Niro gives yet another incredible performance under the directorial helm of Scorsese. As one of his earlier films and his first starring De Niro, Mean Streets feels very raw but that’s probably what’s so great about it at the same time. It’s a film that undeniably put them both on the map, and after seeing their later films together you can really see how far they’ve come, so it’s great to see the earlier days of them working together. The music and camera work are fantastic, and Scorsese also balances the humour with the much darker side of this crime drama well. It wasn’t as easy to invest in any of the characters as with his other films, though, but it’s a great effort all around and a film that has to be appreciated for being the start of a great partnership alone.”

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

“I watched this and though “I really didn’t care about any of those characters”, so I watched it again. Nothing changed. This film reminds me of I Heart Huckabees which I watched recently, as I really wanted to get into it but I just couldn’t get it to make sense in my head. There were so many characters, albeit played by an impressive cast, that I just got lost in their actions. (Were there even that many characters?!) I just didn’t like any of them, so I remained a very unimpressed observer of their lives. I don’t mind that Woody Allen explores similar relationships and characters in his films, because I always find them interesting, but this one felt very thin on the ground in terms of inspiration.”

Thir13en Ghosts

“This terrified my on its release, but not so much on a re-watch. I like the idea of it but the ghosts aren’t scary, there’s no gore, no suspense, nothing makes you jump or hide behind your pillow, I could go on… It’s just not much of a horror.”

Babycall

“I had to read up on this after watching it as I don’t think it explained anything well enough at all. But it seems there wasn’t anything to really explain anyway. Or at least it felt like it didn’t need to go into any more detail. The film’s big twist is just what it is – there are no boundaries set, no additional layers to the story, it doesn’t build up to anything and nothing comes together at the end; it’s just very simple and underdeveloped. If it wasn’t for Noomi Rapace this would have been a complete write-off.”

360

“Another film that proves that no matter how many characters you add to an already impressive cast, you can still care for nobody involved. The premise of intertwining relationships and lives has been done so much better, many times before. It’s usually a premise I love. But not this time. 360 is hollow. There is no depth to these stories or its characters and it’s therefore not even slightly moving. Instead, it’s just a number of stories that have a link… somewhere.”

Fool’s Gold

“Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson were bearable in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, but did they really need to make another film together? I’m just glad McConaughey has moved on to bigger and better things, but Hudson is certainly stuck in her ways. As a rom-com, Fool’s Gold isn’t romantic but it does actually have its moments of comedy. Unfortunately these laughs come from how ridiculous it is. Not even Donald Sutherland swayed me otherwise.”

Heathers

“I love an 80s highschool drama, but this was something very different. Heathers isn’t your typical comedy; it’s a dark and satirical take on an American teen society we thought we’d seen from every angle. Even today Heathers feels very fresh, knocking clichés over-used still now on their heads. Full of some memorable and brilliant quotes, it is highly witty, deeply horrific, incredibly twisted, but still very believable. Winona Ryder gives one of her best performances and Christian Slater is very enjoyable alongside her.”

V/H/S

“So the only link between these films was that they were all found-footage? I guess that makes sense… sort of. I was constantly waiting for the stories to come together but they just didn’t, so I’ve been left a little underwhelmed. Instead, V/H/S, as an ” anthology”, consists of a number of individually decent horror flicks. Each story is as bizarre and mysterious as the first but they are all incredibly creepy. As horror shorts they really do work, and the use of found footage works just as well, too. Found footage style filming isn’t one that overly annoys me, and I find that it can be very fitting for certain films, with Cloverfield and Chronicle being some of the best recent examples. Used in the horror genre, and I have to admit that I’ve been too scared to watch any of the Paranormal Activity films yet, the style of filming adds an extra layer of scares; occasionally it becomes frustrating when it blurs the most important moments of action but it really does give light to the terrifying atmosphere and make you feel like you are there. For that, these films did what they were made to do.”

Legend

“When Labyrinth is one of your favourite films of all time, it’s hard for another fantasy adventure to compare. Legend is certainly a visual treat – we have Ridley Scott to thank for that – but it has aged awfully and it lacks any of the same creativity and imagination that similar films (reminding me in a part of The Never Ending Story as well) are immersed in. Tom Cruise is a very on/off actor in my eyes and seeing him run around in his pants (unlike Risky Business) didn’t do it for me this time. It really was all about Tim Curry.”

Hereafter

“Watched this twice and found it just as hard to get into each time. The acting was very average, not really working up any tension and making it hard to engage with any of the characters. Their individual stories were therefore pretty lifeless (pun intended?) and far too underdeveloped for the final act to come together well enough. In the end it all just concluded in the most unspontaneous way it could. It really had no impact on me whatsoever.”

Unknown

“So I think it’s safe to say that I just do not like Liam Neeson thrillers. It begins with quite exciting prospects but it falls flat after around the half way point, when you know that it’s just going to disappoint you after it’s slow build up. It’s not predictable but it’s not full of suspense either. Unlike Taken it is has a better developed story, but then the action takes a back seat. It’s hard to know which way around I prefer Neeson’s thrillers! Let’s just go with neither.”

21 & Over

“With a film like this it’s very easy to stick to a check list – alcohol, boobs, sick, a lot of unnecessary drama, a drinking game with some interesting gambles, a possible romance, a jock that just wants to fight at every given moment, a crazy/hippy man who knows more about what’s going on than anybody else, more boobs, lots of Greek sororities and their rituals, an embarrassingly sticky situation that will be hard to explain the next morning, a typically racist gang formed of any other culture, a morning of regret and/or life changing conclusions, and more boobs – 21 & Over is check all around.

From the writers of The Hangover, it’s no surprise that the story is pretty similar. But this slight intelligence is what also stops this American high school drama from becoming just another Project X. You may have easily predicted the plot from the word go, but it’s still a film that may surprise you, as it isn’t completely awful. But whilst the dialogue is witty, having an obviously talented writing team behind it, when it comes to a film about alcohol and mayhem, at least, 21 & Over is inconsistently funny. It’s levels of immaturity and gross-out humour certainly aren’t for everybody, failing to stand out from the many classic American comedies it is so obviously influenced by.

But it’s not all alcohol and boobs, 21 & Over also has it’s darker moments weaved in and it focuses pretty closely on the friendship of its three main characters, so it doesn’t fall to pieces quite as you would imagine, with these serious side topics giving it more purpose than your average coming-of-drinking-age-comedy. The three main characters are almost likeable, too, for their stereotypical “let’s go about everything the wrong way” roles, and the possible romance works because the female distraction, played by Sarah Wright, is free of all American drama-queen clichés. Let’s just say it has its qualities, even if they are very few.

21 & Over is simple, sparkless, and lacks any big laughs, but it’s hard not to enjoy, if only very slightly; I’ve definitely seen a lot worse from a number of films that I had high hopes for this year, so it may even surprise you too.”

Promised Land

“For a film that I thought I would find completely uninteresting, I actually found myself enjoying it. John Krasinski is one of my recent favourite actors so it was his role that interested me at all. Written by him and Matt Damon, as well, their talents combined seemed quite promising. Sure, Promised Land might not be Oscar-worthy, but why should it need to be? It’s quite simple in style but that’s a quality, I think. Instead, it’s about real characters and it deals with a topical issue in a way that will make you think without putting too much effort into it. Sometimes that’s needed, right? After watching a lot of the Coen Brothers’ films lately, I loved Frances McDormand roles here most of all.”

Green Lantern

“You all told me this was a disappointing superhero film, but I had to see for myself. And see I did. At least is wasn’t as bad as Fantastic Four… There are a few small qualities to Green Lantern but I’m finding it hard to remember them. There were parts of the CGI that I liked, but now all I can think about is how awful the Parallax looked so that doesn’t redeem much. And then there was… nope, it’s gone. Ryan Reynolds does what he can with the role, a somewhat unlikable character for one you want to put your trust in, but I feel like if he were to re-act all of this now then it would be a hell-of-a-lot better. Sadly the problem lies with the way his character was written and developed though, as it just didn’t make for a decent enough hero. Blake Lively is stunning and, again, we don’t expect anything more. But I think it was Peter Sarsgaard’s character that ruined this so much for me. As an actor I quite like him (An Education is one of my favourite films), but, unsurprisingly, his character just repulsed me too much here for me to share enough interest in how the film progressed. At least we can now look forward to a future reboot like The Hulk and Fantastic Four are set to have; some of these characters just have to get a bad film out-of-the-way, obviously.”

Casino

“I’ve been having a little Martin Scorsese fest at the minute, and he just keeps going up in my opinion! Scorsese + true drama + crime + gangsters + Robert De Niro + Joe Pesci = pure brilliance. Whilst many of Scorsese’s films share the same qualities, they all have a very different feel to them at the same time. Casino tells another powerful story with a set of memorable characters, and whilst it shares a number of similarities to Goodfellas, it’s completely different. Again, the film is lengthy but Scorsese always has enough story to fill out any amount of run time perfectly; it’s one of the things I enjoy most about his films as slow pacing and long run times are my biggest film hates, but Scorsese knows how to do it properly. His story-telling methods are by far some of the best in cinema. The performances are all excellent, with De Niro and Pesci being as brilliant as always and Sharon Stone giving an equally flawless performance alongside them. The style and cinematography are again very fitting and the Scorsese soundtrack, as well, finds its place brilliantly.”

The Usual Suspects

“The Usual Suspects follows a good crime/mystery story and concludes with a great twist. The cast is really enjoyable and that police line-up at the beginning is just brilliant. I don’t what else to say, apart from “Give me the fucking keys, you fucking cocksucking motherfucker.””

Godzilla

“Let’s forget for a second that this is about a one of the most popular monsters worldwide, and think of it is a typical monster thriller. What a load of rubbish this was! And now let’s remember that this is about one of the most popular monsters worldwide. What an even bigger load of rubbish this was! If Roland Emmerich wanted to make a bad monster movie than he should have made it with a nameless monster. To simply stick the name Godzilla on his work was never going to make it any better. It doesn’t help that I really don’t like Matthew Broderick, but this really was an unimaginative, lifeless piece of badly written drivel.”

Silent House

“Shot using real-time footage and manufactured into a single continuous shot, the style of filming is really interesting and works incredibly well for a horror. Unfortunately that also means that there are a lot of moments lacking any suspense as we follow the reactions of one over-emotional girl. It lacks any real scares and the twist at the end is awful, but if anything can come away from this mediocre horror it’s that Elizabeth Olsen can bloody well act.”

Last Night

“I put this film off as I hadn’t heard good things, but I love an anti-romantic film because they know how to get me thinking about my own life. Last Night was perfect for that, as it explores the temptations one can be faced with whilst in a relationship. As Sam Worthington’s character says: “You can be happy and still be tempted.” Last Night looks at the way the mind works when put in that situation from two different angles, from each half of a married couple. The chemistries between these characters work well but they’re never strong enough to see the temptations fully, but the way it tells the story around these characters let’s you make the decisions for yourself. It definitely needed more of emotional push, but it’s a good drama with particularly strong dialogue. The casting is very interesting, too, with Keira Knightley breaking her stereotype slightly, and Eva Mendes being one of the best temptations you could have.”

Taxi Driver

“I’ve been having a little Martin Scorsese fest, Taxi Driver is now ranked #3 and I think this has to be my favourite Robert De Niro role in a Scorsese film yet, but it totally wasn’t what I was expecting. Taxi Driver is a brilliant character study. It is subtle in its developments but still largely impacting in its final progressions. The film brilliantly examines the mind of lead character Travis Bickle, who is played to perfection by De Niro. And he’s a fascinating character to follow and try to figure out. His actions take a lot of thinking about but when it’s all over you can see how ingeniously writer Paul Schrader had created this well-put together character. He really is quite fascinating. Psychotic, disturbed, and slightly mental, but fascinating nonetheless.”

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

“Now #2 in my rankings of the Coen Brother’s films, and I’m starting to enjoy their films more and more. I thought Burn After Reading would have been their only thoroughly entertaining film but it’s got to be the presence of George Clooney that is making me laugh so much, as I thought this was just as fun. The script is hilarious and the comical characters even more so, but most of all the Coen brothers really know how to bring a setting to life, as they brilliantly capture every genre they work with. The soundtrack is brilliant, too, and, as always, Roger Deakins’ cinematography is exceptional.”

Warrior

“Warrior wasn’t a film I thought I would like, and until about half way through I remained convinced it wasn’t for me. But Warrior is surprisingly emotional, and that’s because it manages to be engaging. This is done through the two leads, with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton both giving fantastic performances and their characters being believable.”

The Beach

“I like a young Leonardo Di Caprio. I find this film pretty moving.”

Cape Fear

“Robert De Niro has never been so creepy. At first I didn’t think he would suit the role and was angry that Scorsese couldn’t use a different actor for a change, but by the end I was terrified by him. The film itself is a lot more intense than I thought it would have been and some scenes are quite brutal. It really is pure madness, but that’s why it’s so good. Juliette Lewis is also great.”

Flakes

“What a brilliant idea! I wish there were actually cereal bars. I watched this purely for Zooey Deschanel, and she is as lovely as ever. It’s not a great film, but it’s quirkiness is sweet and enjoyable, just easily forgettable which is a shame.”

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

“Well it had more story and depth than I thought it would, but it was still pretty terrible. For one, I hate fish! So a film about fish was wasted on me from the start. I therefore had to rely on the romantic sub-story, but Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor have very little chemistry so that didn’t go down well either. It’s nicely shot and well paced, but it very much lacked inspiration which I imagine the novel to have more of.”

Leatherheads

“Leatherheads is a fun and highly underrated comedy drama. Whilst very comical, however, the drama is played down to be more funny than impactful or engaging; in the end it comes across as slapstick rather than highlighting the interesting story at its core. John Krasinski’s character is incredibly likeable which helps a lot, and his scenes with George Clooney are hilarious. The two make a good lead to follow, and Renée Zellweger is pretty decent alongside. Their chemistries together are fun and this give the film quite a charming feel, and whilst it’s not brilliant, I’d definitely see it again.”

After Fall, Winter

“I’m really not sure what to make of this film… but I know how to make you intrigued by it: After Fall, Winter is a film about BDSM that will make you cry. Yep. You read that correctly. I feel very confused and slightly awkward by this but by the end I was an emotional wreck. With a deeply emotional story under the layers of sex, handcuffs, and dominatrix, After Fall, Winter is mostly ridiculous and mediocre but often well acted and engaging. It’s crazy how it does it as you will be thinking how bad it is whilst watching it, but when it comes to an end you’ll find yourself quite moved.”

The Way

“The Way is a lovely, authentic and heartfelt drama that is emotionally driven and meaningful. Whilst Sheen’s character is very dismissive of everything around him, he is never unlikable. Instead, you find yourself pushing him on the journey yourself knowing that something will be achieved at the end of the road. Directed by his real-life son, Emilio Estevez, the film really knows how to tug at your heart-strings. The location shots are beautiful and the soundtrack consists of a number of songs that suit its peaceful nature very well, but most of all The Way has a fun and inspiring set of characters to follow on this adventure.”

Headhunters

“A gripping Norwegian crime drama and one of the best thrillers I have seen in recent years. Intensely violent and brutally graphic, Headhunters is full of unpredictable twists, suspense, brilliant characters, and a smart construction. Aksel Hennie is excellent in the lead role, but most of all it’s great to see Nikolaj Coster-Waldau speak his native tongue. He makes an excellent villain (one that this time we won’t come around to) and both characters can be loved and hated at one point or another.”

The Painted Veil

“I found this highly unmoving and lacking in any emotional engagement which should not be the case with a film like this. I enjoyed Naomi Watts and Edward Norton in the leads but their relationship was a hard one to feel the chemistry between. The cinematography is beautiful, but that’s about as much as it had going for it, in my eyes.”

Conversations with Other Women

“Conversations with Other Women is shot in a beautiful split screen format which is what I loved most of all. It also has a brilliant depth to it, however, despite feeling very simplistic at the same time. Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter have an amazing chemistry, so much so that they lead the film incredibly well on their own. This is largely because they have a great script to work with, making this character driven story really easy to engage with. The conversations feel very real and there is therefore much to relate to in their situation. There’s just a lot to love about this film.”

The Godfather

“I hate long films. We know this. It’s not that I disliked The Godfather, it’s just that I got bored with it very easily. It’s a brilliantly in-depth look at the mafia, and probably one of the most realistic and honest dramas about an Italian crime family there will ever be. That being said, I like my films to entertain me; The Godfather didn’t do that.”

Restless

“”A powerful and emotional coming of age story”, yeah right. It isn’t original because there have been many films about a young person dying and they have probably all been done better, last year’s Now Is Good especially springs to mind. I didn’t feel the “deep and lasting love” between these two characters and I certainly didn’t care about either of them. It wasn’t quirky, either, as there is nothing quirky about two death-obsessed teens; it’s just a bit weird and hard to follow. Most of all, I wasn’t even slightly moved about the inevitability of Mia Wasikowska’s character dying. This is usually the type of film I would absolutely love, but not this time.”

Gone Baby Gone

“Ben Affleck’s directorial debut shows talent I never expected from such an average actor. I wouldn’t say that it’s as good Argo, but it’s definitely one of the best debuts a director has ever had.

Starring Casey Affleck (my favourite of the Affleck brothers) and the lovely Michelle Monaghan, the characters are developed incredibly and the story is extremely powerful. It’s complex but also compelling in the simplest of ways, and is sure to provoke an emotional response.”

Manhattan Murder Mystery

“Currently my favourite Woody Allen film. Mixing comedy and mystery perfectly, this is one of Allen’s easiest films to enjoy, I think. The themes are very similar – married couples and their problems, New York City relationships, death and love – but something feels very different with this film, whilst still highlighting these key Woody Allen qualities. Allen and Diane Keaton have an amazing chemistry, but we know this from Annie Hall already. Here, however, they are much more likeable and easy-going, and that’s why it’s so easy to enjoy the story. The characters don’t share the same depth as his other films do, but you feel like you already know this couple so it’s very much about the mystery which is really well evolved.”

Men In Black 3

“Watching this made me think that I never liked the first two Men In Black films to begin with. Josh Brolin was great but that’s about all I enjoyed.”

The Brothers Bloom

“It was only part way through that I realised this was directed by Rian Johnson but I would never have guessed. Instead, it has a slight Wes Anderson feel to it which I really liked, mixing the crime, drama, romance, and comedy genres brilliantly. The plot seems pretty simple but it’s far from it. The constant twists keep the film constantly well paced, but most of all, the cast and their characters are fantastic. Rachel Weisz is hilarious, and Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo make a fantastic leading duo. They’re all incredibly fun and the film itself is hilarious; thoroughly entertaining throughout.”

Bad Teacher

“Well this wasn’t even slightly good. With Cameron Diaz in the lead role it’s hard to take the film seriously. Granted, you’re not supposed to, but with a less well-known actress in the lead I might have actually cared about her character. The same goes for Justin Timberlake. Instead of wanting to laugh at these actors doing something a little outside of their stereotypical roles, it just felt like a bit of a joke; a bad joke that wasn’t even slightly funny.”

Wild Things

“Well there are many reasons to like this film:
1. Denise Richards
2. Denise Richards kissing Neve Campbell
3. Denise Richards kissing Neve Campbell kissing Matt Dillon
4. Bill Murray
Unfortunately, twist after twist after twist, Wild Things isn’t much more than just the mediocre, sexy thriller that it is. But I liked it.”

Prozac Nation

“Christina Ricci leads this compelling drama, based on Elizabeth Wurtzel’s autobiography, fantastically, giving her best performance yet. I’m a big fan of films about depression and/or mental illness when they are done right, and Prozac Nation handles its subjects brilliantly. Being based on the real life account of Wurtzel’s experiences, as well, it all feels very authentic and well developed. It’s a hard film to relate to but I found it completely engaging at the same time, and there were parts of myself that I could see in Ricci’s character which made a big difference in my viewing. I also enjoyed the supporting role from Michelle Williams, as odd as it was to see her only as a background character.”

Insomnia

“Notably Nolan’s weakest film, but a fairly decent thriller on its own. Al Pacino gives a brilliant performance but Robin Williams’ role put me right off, though I do have to agree that it is probably his best dramatic performance. Still, it made me feel as if I hadn’t slept for days; there was something very bland about it despite how well the mystery unfolded. It just wasn’t riveting enough, and by the end I just wanted to sleep too.”

Breaking Upwards

“Breaking Upwards is a sweet little indie that follows an interesting and original story. The premise around a couple strategising their own break up opens up some brilliant questions for the audience making it engaging from the very start. You can tell that it is very low-budget but that adds a sense of genuineness to a somewhat simple story. Zoe Lister Jones and Daryl Wein lead the film excellently and have a charming chemistry that makes their characters very likeable and relatable.”

Seven Pounds

“This is genuinely one of the most powerful films that I have ever seen, and it breaks my heart with every viewing. Seven Pounds tells an emotionally complex story about one man’s journey of redemption, concluding with a dramatic impact that, whilst you are in some ways prepared for it, will tear you apart. However, I haven’t read many good reviews for this film on Letterboxd so far, which is shocking as I saw the film in the cinema with a group of boys and we all cried. I guess it isn’t for everybody, but I find it incredibly underrated and is it one of my favourite films, and one of few that I can watch over and over again and still be just as moved as I was the first time. Will Smith gives the best performance of his career, but the acting throughout is superb with another fantastic and emotional performance from Rosario Dawson. It is Woody Harrelson’s character that I enjoy the most, however, as it’s the moment where he and Dawson’s character meet at the end that makes me fall apart.”

Bug

“And there was me thinking that Killer Joe was disturbing. Bug goes to another level. Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon are both excellent. Their performances are equally mesmerising and it is their acting that builds up so much suspense for a film with actually very little suspense. It is quite slow-paced but it works at an advantage here as you begin to feel the process of the, somewhat battered, human minds that the film explores. What highlights this even more is that Bug is set in only one room (it ventures out slightly but the majority of it happens inside). You can really feel the claustrophobia as you begin to understand and hear the ticking of these characters minds’. Bug is a brilliant psychological thriller with a hints of horror and dark comedy, that is as shocking and uncomfortable as it is enthralling.”

Strictly Ballroom

“I wanted to really like this but I found myself comparing it to Dirty Dancing, and I guess in some places even Moulin Rouge, far too often for me to fully appreciate it. As a directorial debut it’s very good, and Baz Luhrmann certainly knows how to tell a story as he does incredibly well to engage everybody in a film about ballroom dancing, but it felt too much like an Australia soap opera in places for me to love it.”

Rachel Getting Married

“Anne Hathaway has had a very up and down career, but this was definitely where she peaked before Les Miserables. Unfortunately I didn’t find the story at all moving; I enjoyed the revelation scenes and felt that it was well acted with realistic characters, but as a supposedly ‘intense drama’, I found it quite empty.”

Keith

“Keith is not the average American high school drama I expected it to be, and is instead executed so well that it derives itself from all teenage rom-com clichés, despite what you may think. This is its biggest quality, but edging close behind is how emotional it manages to be, something that really takes you by surprise. I have no idea who Jesse McCartney, but if his acting is as good as his singing then I feel like I’m missing out on something. Sure, Keith is not Oscar-worthy for any of its performances or even its script, but it’s still highly impressive for what it is. It does come across as very amateur but I think it’s the unpredictable impact that it has that changes your perception of it. It’s just very sweet, and had me crying for ages.”

Crazy/Beautiful

“On paper this looked like a film I would love, but Crazy/Beautiful makes no attempts to live up to the unique romance that it promised. With a lack of drive, I found the film impossible to relate to, despite some lovely moments of dialogue. The performances are average, but without any of this engagement the chemistry fell lifeless.”

Milk

“I’d been putting this film off for a while – if anybody is doing the same, stop it right now! This American biopic tells an intriguing, real-life story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk. The inspiring story is told brilliantly, giving highlight to the good Milk achieved in a short amount of time, though I do think his death wasn’t given enough impact. Nevertheless, Sean Penn is absolutely superb in the lead, but the film boasts a number of great performances from an ensemble of well-known actors playing very different roles to what we are used to, including Emile Hirsch and James Franco.”

Crystal River

“If you’ve been curious about this on Netflix just as I was, don’t bother. Seriously. I watched this because I was intrigued by the premise, as it follows the story of a married woman who, grieving her inability to have children, finds comfort in her friendship with another man. Affairs, I thought, unrequited love = brilliant. Nope. The story line that it follows doesn’t go anywhere, and it doesn’t have the emotionally chemistry that a film like this needs. Instead, it comes off as preachy, pathetic, and by the end it all seems pretty pointless. Worst of all, the performances are terrible, almost laughable in places, so it’s difficult to engage with at all.”

Good Will Hunting

“I find it outstanding that the Oscar-winning screenplay for this film was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in their mid-20s; if I knew this and had seen this film before, I would have had a lot more respect for them both over the years. Sure they both impress me from time to time, but this is undeniably their biggest achievement.

The pair set up the tone of this film brilliantly as it constantly switches between being humorous and emotional. There is certainly a depth to the story and the characters are all developed incredibly, but most of all the film feels very real, and there is a lot of meaning, honesty, and dynamic behind it all. With Damon and Affleck both starring in the film, the performances are great as well. This is also the first film where I have really enjoyed a performance from Minnie Driver, who I really enjoyed as a female love-interest, but most of all I was surprised how much I liked the character of Robin Williams, an actor who I have found it almost impossible to like in my adult years. It seems I’ve watched a lot of Gus Van Sant’s work this past month too, including this, Restless, Promised Land, and Milk, which I have only just caught on to. Aside from Restless, it appears that I’m a big fan of Sant’s work, but that’s mostly because he has really interesting stories to tell.”

Meek’s Cutoff

“This is a hard film for me to rate when I loved the aesthetics of it, but I was terribly bored by it at the same time so I’m going to stick to my guns, as I do, and ignore all your five star reviews of this film. Why? Because nothing actually happens. The film follows a set of characters who walk, and walk, pick up an Indian, and walk some more. Yes, it’s shot beautifully, but there is absolutely nothing to sustain your interest. Even thinking about this film is boring me.”

Brick

“An interesting high school drama but one I found a little too far-fetched to love. It’s surprising that the mix of genres work at all to be honest, but it really does. This modern day take on a film noir is intelligent, original, and brilliantly handled, but at the same time it all felt very average, and at times it needed a few laughs to break it up a little. However, I loved the lead performance from a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I can’t believe I only ever saw him in 10 Things I Hate About You before 500 Days of Summer was released, there was so much talent that I missed out on.”

The Host (2007)

“If I was told this was a satirical and somewhat laughable monster flick then I might have liked it, but I thought, and was hoping, that it was a serious sci-fi. As you can imagine, I was severely disappointed. A lot of the CGI was poor and I hated the whole look of the monster, and then most of the acting was just comical – the scene especially when the family come together and roll around on the floor crying just made me feel awkward. I just didn’t get it.”

Raising Arizona

“I absolutely hate Nicolas Cage, but for once I found myself enjoying one of his performances. I think that’s it probably because he was playing an idiot, so he got away with being one for a change. Most of all, Raising Arizona is hilarious. The Coen Brothers bring their typical dark humour, but this film feels very different to their others in that it is almost relatable. The two leads don’t behave naturally but their reasons for doing so are authentic, so it’s easy to care about them for a change. This realistic premise makes a nice change but it’s still much of what we love from these two great directors. I’m enjoying their work more and more with every film!”

Epic

“Epic is a stunningly animated family adventure, but it’s a shame that it isn’t much else. One of the biggest problems for me was the voice acting. Some of the voice casting was incredibly well-fitting, Christoph Waltz being the best of them, but a lot of the characters’ voices felt so misplaced, namely Colin Farrell and Beyoncé Knowles, that it felt constantly cheap. The leads, voiced by Josh Hutcherson and Amanda Seyfried, were okay but their characters didn’t have the power of such fairy tale leads that they needed. Therefore, there wasn’t much in the way of morals or influence for the younger audience, just cheap laughs and funny voices from the likes of Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd. There were a couple of real laugh-out-loud moments for the older audience but other than that it doesn’t fully appeal to either age groups. It doesn’t achieve anything new aside from animation itself, so it’s likely to be a very forgettable film for this year.”

The Proposal

“Terrible, cliché, horribly predictable… Dammit I kind of liked it. It has a few laughs, although not much romance, and the leads, Sandra Bullock Ryan Reynolds, pull it out of the dirt slightly, but it isn’t good. I’d still watch it if nothing else is on though. Stupid film.”

Till Human Voices Wake Us

“Great performances from leads Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter, and a film that neither of them are particularly well-known for. But they have a great chemistry, and the story is an interesting and quite heart-felt one. Unfortunately it gets a little muddled in the middle and loses the impact that it begins with, but I’d certainly recommend it still.”

EDtv

“I love it when you enjoy a film a lot more than you thought you would; I didn’t expect much from EdTV, but it was absolutely brilliant. I’ve always loved The Truman Show, which is very similar in premise, but this is something very different at the same time. Directed by Ron Howard, he explores the dawn of reality TV shows perfectly. The story is simple and quite predictable but that isn’t a flaw at all here. Knowing how the story will play out doesn’t affect the entertainment value because it still has its own spin on it. Funny from beginning to end, one of the biggest qualities of EdTV is the cast. Matthew McConaughey has never been so likeable and I love his role here. His chemistry with Jenna Elfman, who gives a great performance too, is brilliant, as well, and the romance really works against the comedy and drama. Woody Harrelson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Elizabeth Hurley give great supporting roles too. It just comes together brilliantly.”

Mansome

“An interesting and funny documentary, but it doesn’t explore nearly enough of its subject, as this was basically a documentary about body and facial hair. Morgan Spurlock needed to get involved a lot more with what he was researching, as shaving off his handle bar moustache was as far as he went to experiment with male grooming habits. That’s not really enough, is it? If you want a real exploration of the extremes in which men go to in the pursuit of physical perfection, you should watch Channel 4’s Extreme Male Beauty. You know it’s not good when you’re turning people to 4OD instead. It needed a lot more from Will Arnet and Jason Bateman, as well, as they were the only reason I was watching this to begin with.”

Blue Velvet

“I don’t think a film has ever made me feel this dirty before, and I don’t mean that in a good way. That being said, Blue Velvet is an engrossing mystery as you never know where it is going to go next. I didn’t find it engaging, however, just deeply disturbing, as Dennis Hopper plays a terrifying, albeit mesmerising, human being. There are certain scenes that will stick in your mind long after watching it, but this wasn’t a quality in my eyes as I’d much rather get such thoughts out of my head!”

Freedom Writers

“Well this film made me feel totally ignorant about other cultures, especially when I realised it was based on a true story. Although a little slow at the beginning, the second half of Freedom Writers is powerful, honest, and inspirational, as it teaches its own lessons of life and personal experiences. The story does feel very familiar and it has been done many times before, and is still a film premise often used today, but something draws you in a lot deeper to this film, almost as if you are becoming part of the class itself. It does have its cringey moments but there’s something very heartfelt about it at the same time; though that’s probably the fact that it actually happened this way with real people. Hilary Swank gives one of her better performances as she really begins to fit into her role as the film goes on. All of the performances are great though, as the younger actors come together believably, and provoke a lot of the film’s emotional engagement.”

The Great Gatsby

“Review to come…”

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