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The Vow (DVD) 20/02/2012

Not That Memorable

The Vow (DVD) Newly-weds Leo and Paige suffer a horrifying car accident which leaves her with no memory of the last five years; she can’t even remember her husband’s face, let alone the life they built together. Faced with the task of having to make his wife fall in love with him for a second time, Leo must do everything he can to remind his wife what made their bond so special, whilst she has to learn how to go forward when all she can remember is the past. The premise of ‘The Vow’ embodies everything that I look for in a film; a weepy romance about a couple whose love for each other is tested by forces outside of their control and the need to return to a blissful past even though the present is unclear. It practically begged me not to enjoy it; there was no way that I wasn’t going to be swept up in the grandiose schmaltz of it all and the inclusion of Rachel McAdams, the grand queen of the emotional monologue, just cemented the deal. However, half-way through the films running time I realised that I just didn’t care. The whole thing is curiously distant, as if the film makers were worried that if the audience connected with the characters too much it would be too heartbreaking to withstand. What should have been a soulful cornball of a movie turns out to be cold and removed; we don’t know the characters or their relationship well enough to become invested in their struggle. The audience should feel every emotional beat, but the couple at its core are beautiful blanks – we don’t get to ...

Bad Teacher (DVD) 03/08/2011

I Hate Slavery, I Just Hate It

Bad Teacher (DVD) Elizabeth has her life sorted; thanks to a naive sugar daddy who has fallen head over heels for her she can quit her mundane job as a junior high school teacher and live off someone else’s money. But when she is dumped, but to her fiancée’s mother raising objections to the marriage, she is forced to go back into the education system and thrown back into the prowl for a rich husband. Serendipitously the new school supply teacher, Scott, is the heir to a watch fortune, but she faces competition from the straight-laced English teacher and has to dodge the advances of a schlubby pe teacher. Bad Teacher is exactly as good as it needs to be; it doesn’t really inspire to greatness and for once that actually feels okay, because it has the decency to supply what is demanded. It is funny (at times truly so) it has sparkly visuals, a game cast and a real sense of what is required from it. It bounces a long of the strength of its premise and zippy pacing without feeling the need to ‘break the mould’ in any significant way. It doesn’t leave the impression that it could have, but at its heart it is strangely pure; entertainment for entertainments sake which tries to tell the, surprisingly, sweet story of a woman who learns that sometimes the last thing in the world you thought you wanted is actually the very thing you need. Bad Teacher tries to have it both ways and as such it can come off as a little bit schizophrenic; it wants to be riotous (which it frequently is) as well as ...

Something Borrowed (DVD) 02/08/2011

It's Like A Zombie Film, Clothed By Ralph Lauren

Something Borrowed (DVD) Rachel blends into the background, she’s smart and beautiful but is constantly upstaged by her life-long best friend, the fun and flighty Parker. This even extends to love when Parker dates and gets engaged to Rachels long-time love and study partner Dax, who harbours feelings for the two of them. But as secrets get created and unveiled and as the road to happily ever after grows ever more gloomy the love triangle becomes ever more treacherous and the happiness of the three of them is endangered. This is even further complicated by Ethan, a close friend whose feelings for one of the girls guarantees that the fall out of the affairs and lies will end in heart-break. It’s rare that a romantic comedy elicits a genuine reaction from me; I am a big supporter of the genre and feel that most of criticisms which are a routinely levelled against it are flawed; but I rarely leave one feeling anything but mildly charmed. So imagine my surprise when, as ‘Something Borrowed’ shuffled towards its conclusion, I started to feel genuinely sick and a little outraged. It is such a mean-spirited and misguided exercise in movie making that the fact it even got made is mind-boggling; the storyline is a disaster, the performances hideous and the underlying message one of the most awkward in recent rom-com memory. These films don’t actually have to do very much other than get a, presumably already susceptible, audience to invest in a few characters and offer up a bit of heart and a few laughs, but ...

Bridesmaids (DVD) 15/07/2011

Your Name's Stove.. That's An Appliance!

Bridesmaids (DVD) Annie and Lilian have been best friends since childhood; the closest of the close. But when Lilian gets engaged and Annie is charged with the task of organising the wedding she is forced to face up to the issues which have been plaguing her since a financial mis-step at the beginning of the sub-prime mortgage collapse. With her own life free-falling and the impending ‘loss’ of her best friend, she is forced to tackle outrageous hen nights, an antagonist bridesmaid, a damaging but seductive relationship and a very real fear of flying in order to write her own happy ending. On the run up to ‘Bridesmaids’ release much was made of Christopher Hitchen’s article ‘Why Women Aren’t Funny’; an article which tried to argue, through scientific studies and personal testimony, that women cannot produce material as intrinsically hilarious as that of their male counterparts. He does concede that there are funny women, but they ‘are hefty or dykey or Jewish’ and are still only funny because they are funnelling their work through a male lens. Quite how he forgets visionaries like Lucille Ball or ignores the fact that two of the funniest sitcoms on air ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’ are anchored by women is beyond me. But if ever there was proof needed that woman can produce balls to wall, nonstop hilarity ‘Bridesmaids’ would be it. It stands as a riotous, hilarious, heart-felt, witty, grotesque and moving testament to friendship, loss, inner-strength and family bonds. It is properly, ...

Sex And The City 2 (DVD) 12/06/2010

A Racially Insensitive Trip With The Girls

Sex And The City 2 (DVD) Two years have passed since Carrie Bradshaw finally bagged John "Mr. Big" Preston, the man she was always meant to be with. Just as her friend Charlotte must deal with her young daughter's "terrible two's", Carrie must deal with her relationship taking a turn for the worse - Big likes to watch old black-and-white movies on TV and eat take-out food, which prevents Carrie from feeling like the free-wheeling party girl she used to be. Meanwhile, Miranda copes with a new boss that can't handle an intelligent, powerful woman, and Samantha works a public relations angle that gets the fashionable foursome an all-expense-paid trip to Abu Dhabi At the end of Sex and the City, the programme, Carrie declares 'the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous' and it was the perfect final moment to a series which worked despite the many flaws that plagued it. It was a consolidation of what the audience already knew and what they wanted their Jimmy Choo wearing heroine to learn; that finding yourself is more important than finding 'the one', that living life is more exciting than living a dream and that love should be something that helps you be a better version of yourself, not a version of what somebody else wants you to be. It gave a phenomena which was often described as shallow a true substance. It was a love letter to personal identity, to growing ...

Angels And Demons (DVD) 11/07/2009

Must Be Missing An Angel

Angels And Demons (DVD) The death of a progressive Pope has left the Vatican and members of the Catholic Church in a state of complete mourning; however, when the four potential replacements for the papacy are kidnapped and publically threatened with execution Professor Robert Langdon is called to unravel the mysteries surrounding the group accused of this conspiracy, The Illuminati. With time ticking and the fresh threat of annihilation to the Vatican he must work alongside Vittoria, a beautiful physicist, and Camerlengo, charged to protect the Catholic church, to unravel a web of lies and revenge. Angels and Demons is a fairly pacey, mysterious and interesting thriller which outsmarts its predecessor in almost every way; it is more engaging, more convincing and builds to a more satisfying finale. However, it is still haunted by the constant and overpowering sense of ridiculousness which haunted The Da Vinci Code and is often wildly and hilariously overblown. It lacks any sense of shape, seemingly happy to float around, never really knowing what it wants to be or what it wants to audience to feel; Howard fails to give the material any semblance of direction or purpose. It juxtaposes quiet, dull postulating with relentless and frantic action which makes the whole piece feel uneven and it goes for cheap, easy thrills when well planned and intelligent plot twists would have been so much better. The audience is given no reason to care about the characters or the situations in which they find ...

Women , The (DVD) 14/06/2009

They Should Just Go Away

Women , The (DVD) Mary has the perfect life; an intelligent daughter, a rich husband, a gorgeous house, great friends and a rich, compassionate husband. But when her best friend Sylvie, a successful but insecure magazine editor, finds out that Mary's husband is having an affair with a gorgeous perfume sampler at Saks Fifth Avenue she feels the need to Mary. So starts Mary of a journey of self discovery that she never imagined... The Women should have been a warm, witty and relevant tale of female bonding, mending a broken heart and defining your life away from the expectations of others, but it really isn't. The main characters are too shallow to be interesting, the writing too scatterbrained to hold the audiences attention and the pacing too sluggish to really engage the audience. It does follow some interesting and potentially moving themes, although most critics don't seem to agree, and does have some fleeting moments of poignancy, but it can never outrun the story's inherent shallowness. Its attempts at social satire fail completely, amounting to little more than "hey women like expensive shoes", and the relationships between the main characters are unbelievable at best. The performances are uniformly excellent, although the hugely talented cast is hardly stretched, and the production values are fairly stylish; but the film falls largely flat in all the important aspects and comes across as an overly elaborate advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue rather than a wedge of comedic or ...

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (DVD) 12/06/2009

Supernatural Silliness

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (DVD) Connor Mead loves his life; he gets all the beautiful women he wants, he has a great job as a fashion photographer and enjoys the bachelor lifestyle. But when his younger brother decides to get married to his highly strung fiancée Connor decides that he must stop the proceedings and prove to his brother that he is signing himself up for a life of monogamous misery. However, at the wedding Connor is confronted by Jenny, the only girl he ever loved, who is the maid of honour and desperate to make the nuptials go off without a hitch. However, when Connor's behaviour threatens the happiness of his brother forces far stronger, and more supernatural!, than Jenny are out to make him accountable... Ghosts Of Girlfriend Past is pretty much the same old romantic comedy jazz, predictable, silly and paint-by-numbers unoriginal, but it is also a fairly fun and inventive version of a well worn theme with some nicely judged performances and a few twists which keep things interesting. It's hardly grounbreaking and fails to provide anything truly moving or engrossing but its just about charming enough to get by unscathed and actually says some interesting things. By using Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' and updating it into the contemporary dating world the film has an inbuilt intrigue to it and the screenplay does a relatively decent job of creating laughs and tears in equal measure. It's never very believable and it fails to offer anything exceptionally clever or diverting with too much ...

Twilight (DVD) 06/06/2009

Should Have Been Sharper

Twilight (DVD) Bella Swan is shy so moving from her flaky mother in Phoenix to the rainy small-town Forks where everybody will notice her is hardly an inviting thought. She has to experience the humiliation of the first day of school and dodge the advances of her male school mates, something which goes against her sweet nature, as well as try and form some semblance of a relationship with her absent-minded father. She seems to consign herself to a life of boredom when Edward Cullen, a mysterious and enigmatic teen, whirls into her existence forcing her to fall in love as well as pushing into a dark world of the supernatural and danger worse than she could have ever imagined. The Twilight novel wasn't high quality literature but it did hit on a few elements which were genuinely compelling and crafted a central romance which has led it to become one of the best selling books of all time; it was sweet and sincere and so committed to the ridiculous world which it created that it was weirdly absorbing. And by following the source material so closely Melissa Rosenberg and Catherine Hardwicke create a film which is romantic and exciting, as well as surprisingly artistic, but fails to jump over the book's most obvious flaws. At times the Twilight film is genuinely engaging with more than a few visually and emotionally gripping sequences, but it insists on throwing in cheesy special effects, horrendous bits of dialogue and a few truly bizarre set pieces. Its a mix of amazing and terrible, much ...

27 Dresses (DVD) 05/06/2009

A Blushing Bride

27 Dresses (DVD) Jane loves weddings, infact she loves them so much that she has been a bridesmaid in twenty seven of them! She has the planning and execution down to a perfect art yet has failed to walk down the aisle herself, because she is waiting for her boss George, who is unknowingly the love of her life, to finally realise that she is the one for him. But when her super-model sister whirls into town and sweeps George of his feet Jane is faced with the daunting prospect of having to organise the rushed wedding! But then Jane meets Kevin, a cynical and unromantic journalist with hopes of turning her heart-ache into his ticket to big time editor, and her life takes a turn which she could have never anticipated....... 27 Dresses is the artistic embodiment of why clichéd doesn't have to mean bad; infact, clichéd can be enjoyable and funny and big hearted with great performances and witty dialogue. If clichéd is accompanied by smarts, as it so rarely is in the romantic comedy genre, then the predictability of it all can add to the viewer's enjoyment, cliché creates a sense of safety and comfort and when mixed in with elements such as good plotting they make for a successful romantic movie experience. 27 Dresses is fun, heart warming, silly, serious and, eventually, pretty darn enjoyable. It is held up by a solid screenplay, charming leads, great visuals and an exciting contemporary soundtrack; here all the elements fit together to hold it above others in the genre making for a highly ...

He's Just Not That Into You (DVD) 04/06/2009

I'm Really Not Into It

He's Just Not That Into You (DVD) 'He's Just Not Into You' is the story of several interlinking relationships which charts the complications of relationship in the digital era. Set against the backdrop of modern-day Baltimore we see a relationship on the edge due to a marriage ultimatum, an adulterous man's attempt to manage his love life with two demanding women, a needy and insecure woman's attempt to work out dating protocol and a woman's hilarious attempt to navigate the Facebook dating world. The main reason that 'He's Not That Into You' fails to inspire any romantic affection or dramatic interest is that the character's are all varying shades of unlikable; there is absolutely no-body to care about or be interested in. The film attempts to portray them as realistic and interesting but they all fail to be engaging – offering very little in the way of laughs, warmth or charm. The character's, like the film as a whole, are dogged by a strange cynicism and unpleasantness which makes them fall completely flat. For a romantic-comedy to work the audience has to see aspects of themselves in the character's and situations, they have to want there to be a happy ending, but here no-body seems to learn anything or grow or earn their fairytale conclusions. It doesn't appear to have a romantic bone in its body and seems to replace romanticism with unintelligent and unoriginal comments on sexual politics. As an ensemble piece it lacks enough focus to make any of the interlinking stories remotely interesting and ...

Grey Gardens (DVD) 04/05/2009

I Could Have Left Any Time

Grey Gardens (DVD) Grey Gardens is a dramatised version of the cult documentary made in the 1970s, which centred on a mother and daughter living in a decrepit and dangerous old house in the rich Hamptons. Their story was introduced into the public forum as it was discovered that they were relatives of Jackie Onasis, yet had allowed themselves to live in horrifying and unsanitary conditions. Here, the writers try to give an insight into how two high society woman’s lives spiralled so out of control and how their upsetting, co-dependent relationship almost swallowed them whole. Grey Gardens is a powerful and poignant portrait of two women whose lives have been changed by time, scarred by the pains of their past and haunted by the lives which they wished they had lived. It’s a story about turning a heart-breaking past into a hopeful future and works both as a sumptuously produced acting showcase and a moving, elegant tale about the overlapping qualities of courage and madness. It manages to encapsulate two characters perfectly; accentuating their idiosyncrasies without ever taking away any of their life or humanity and it isn’t afraid to pose dark and meaningful questions without spoon-feeding the audience all the answers. In less respectful and skilled hands Grey Garden’s could have been a cheap exercise in exploiting two iconic outcasts; but here the cast and crew have created an emotionally satisfying and ultimately hopeful movie that manages to entertain and move the audience whilst ...

17 Again (DVD) 18/04/2009

Not So Musical High School

17 Again (DVD) Mike O’Donnell’s life has not turned out as he planned; he is going no-where in his job, is in the midst of a heart-breaking divorce and has become completely disconnected from his children. He dreams about the days when he was a high school jock with the whole world at his feet...... a time when he was about to be signed as a professional basket-ball star and had the looks and life that others longed for. At 17 he threw it away for the love of Scarlet, his now ex wife, but after some magical intervention he gets to be re-born as his 17 year old self and live his life the way he wants. But when he discovers that his children are having a hard time at school and the things he wanted are not all that they seem, he is forced to re-evaluate his views on family, values and the past. 17 Again follows the well worn formulae of countless other body-swap comedies.... and whilst it doesn’t match the genre high of Tom Hank’s classic Big or the surprising charm offensive that was Jennifer Garner’s 13 Going On 30 it stands its own as a sweet, funny and heartfelt story about growing up, respecting those close to you and the power of the past. It manages to tap into a universal nostalgia which lends it a poignancy which it perhaps does not deserve and the whole thing is ably bolstered by a talented and energetic cast. Sadly, it never does anything particularly surprising and it is clearly an exercise in making Zac Efron a truly bankable Hollywood leading man – but thanks to a few ...

Curious Case Of Benjamin Button , The(DVD) 11/04/2009

I hope you live a life you can be proud of

Curious Case Of Benjamin Button , The(DVD) Benjamin Button was born under extremely unusual circumstances; he was born into the body of an old man with aching joints and wrinkled skin and blindness, an ailment which led to his parents leaving him on the doorstep of a local borstal. After a wild night out a young woman finds the crying baby and decides to offer him a place to stay with her as well as her love, despite being told by doctors that he will surely die within weeks. However, the baby grows stronger everyday and appears to be getting younger.... he is ageing backwards – leading him to experience war, parenthood and love. But his life can never be the same as others and it takes on its own very unique twists and turns. The Curious case of Benjamin Button is an example of that rare thing in Hollywood; it is a great piece of story-telling. It takes an unusual premise and runs with it, creating a magical and emotional journey that charms, intrigues and moves in equal measure. It is gorgeously rendered, perfectly acted-out and sumptuously written with a huge amount of heart and passion that helps the whole film tide over its more problematic moments. Because it is such a well-told story it is easy to forget many of the films flaws; the opening is sluggish (some may say boring), the message a little confused and some of the scenes are there for purely aesthetic reasons but despite all of these mis-steps the film wears its heart on its shaggy sleeve and is genuinely engaging. Lessons are learnt, relationships are ...

Lesbian Vampire Killers (DVD) 29/03/2009

What The Hell's Occuring?

Lesbian Vampire Killers (DVD) Thousands of years ago a powerful vampire queen reigned over a remote village and turned all of the female residents into ravenous lesbian vampires; her sexuality was so strong that she turned the sexuality of a strong knights wife, making him fight and kill her. However, the queen put a curse upon the knight stating that all the men in his generation shall suffer and have to live with the fear that she will one day rise and they alone will be able to killer. Skip to 2009 and two losers are planning a trip away; Jimmy is trying to escape a broken heart and Fletch has just lost his job as a children’s clown. After a night boozing they decide to go on a walking trip to a small village away from any civilization... but things are not as they seem when the village is only occupied by men. The night takes an even stranger turn when they are offered the use of a cottage for the night and supernatural events force them to question all that they think they know........... It was with more than a little trepidation that I went to see Lesbian Vampire Killers, but as a die-hard fan of the BBC Three super-hit Gavin and Stacy which put its two stars James Corden and Matthew Horne on the map, I decided that it was my duty to check out their first cinematic outing despite some pretty scathing reviews and a less than stellar trailer. I figured that the film could go one of two ways – it could have been a so-bad-it’s-good B movie with laughs and scares galore, or it could have been a tacky ...
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