Fifty Shades of Grey: when a fumbling Plain Jane student interviews a perverted and tormented young millionaire both of their lives are oh so romantically changed forever. Firstly; this is the least sexy film you’ll ever see about kinky sex, mostly due to the fact that everything else about it is a total turn off. The dialogue is atrocious; the wannabe racy/saucy lines don’t even come close to innuendo, although with the source material it didn’t really stand a chance. Secondly, the colouring is laughably basic: everything is depressingly washed out and grey (we get it!) except for sexy red things like mood lighting, cars, and arse-smacking paddles. The films is unashamedly uninterested in doing anything even remotely interesting with any of the characters, plot points or even the technical aspects. You want a better love story? Watch Twilight. You want to see some kinky bondage? Browse the internets. You want to see a proper film about this stuff? Watch ‘The Secretary‘, which is better than this in literally every way. As it was obviously going to be a number one smash, Fifty Shades of Grey never had to try, so it didn’t. A ham-fisted, disappointingly fist-free softcore movie with boringly-acted one-dimensional characters on a non-story that takes forever to go anywhere.
Pitch Perfect: a cooler-than-thou freshman joins an all-female acapella singing group, and injects some much-needed modernity into their stale routines. For being a comedy the only real providers of laughs are Fat Amy and the inappropriate commentators; which means you only really want to spend time with them, and leaves you wishing that every character was written with more humour. All teenage/early 20s stereotypes are there: quiet one, sex’d up one, uptight one, lesbian one – even the indie geek DJ gal who makes her own mashups. The story arc is probably the weakest part of the film: will they make the finals? Will she get the boy? Will they all be tested in the middle? Duh, duh and duuuuhhh! The musical stuff entertaining enough, but feels a tad too glee-esque to the untrained ear. For a comedy, Pitch Perfect is alright, but there’s not enough aca-laughter to elevate this from good to great; although as a 27 year old dude, the film’s probably not aiming for me – although it did truly cement my aca-boner for Anna Kendrick.
Score: 6/10 (Aca-OK)
Flight: an alcoholic / coke-addict pilot saves almost everyone on board from certain death, but he can’t avoid the spotlight as the air crash investigation picks up on his habits. This is a great all-round movie: funny when it had to be (Goodman / cancer guy), dramatic at times (relationship / hearing) and for the most part, engaging and entertaining. The crash itself is one of the most intense and dramatic scenes I’ve seen in a cinema; slowly getting louder and shakier and an increasingly high-pitched whaling from the plane; it was like a screw turning tighter and tighter. The only time it felt a bit off were several overly-emphasised parts about religion & faith – act of god, miracles, praying – although I guess it’s more prevalent in America. There were a few nice little in-jokes that almost passed me by: the ShamWow tv advert, the elevator music version of ‘I’ll get high with a little help from my friends’, and most songs in the soundtrack were about boozing or drug abuse. The cast were stupendously good performances all round, Denzel in particular was on fire – achieving an almost impossible mix of sympathy and resentability – and Kelly Reilly (also great) must have had a cleavage-based contract – loved it. All in all, Flight is an entertaining, enjoyable, and very watchable movie with entertaining performances all round.
Silver Linings Playbook: after a mental breakdown and bi-polar diagnosis, Pat Solitano strikes up a relationship with an equally challenged family friend. STOP PRESS! HOLD THE PHONE! Someone somewhere managed to find a very good performance in Robert De Niro, how the hell did they do it? Both leads are also way above what’s required and expected from ‘rom-com’ standards, and both deliver solid, believable, performances as afflicted people. The story’s engaging and interesting, right up until the final act where it runs through the entire checklist for clichéd movie endings. In saying that, you don’t really grudge the ending as the laugh-count in the first two-thirds of the film was ridiculously high (again) compared to what you usually get in a rom-com. The only thing that kept pinching me was that both leads are ridiculously good-looking Hollywood A-listers, centered around an interesting, unconventional relationship – those two roles could have been brilliant breakthrough fodder for unknowns, but in a way, they still are eye-opening performances, and you wouldn’t want to change the casting of Cooper or Lawrence. Silver Linings Playbook is a surprisingly funny and enjoyable quirky rom-com.
Mission Impossible 2 (or M:i-2 – if you like maths!). Ethan Hunt is sent to Sydney by the IMF to find and destroy the mysterious “Chrimera”. This film totally reeks of John Woo’s direction: there’s at least one slow-mo shot in most scenes, sparks everywhere, superhuman sliding, birds, white dove… and some crazy, crazy action. Unfortunately, there’s a ridiculous level of focus on the love story / personal angle – which is riddled with clichés and makes you doubt how professional a spy Mr Hunt really is – not to mention it feels forced and cheesy. Despite a fairly average spy story clunking along for the most part, the final half hour is absolutely beautiful (other than the love interest and random shots of the sea), and undoubtedly the best part of the film. There’s a few bizarre lines in the script such as “This is not missions difficult, it’s mission impossible; difficult should be a walk in the park” (Hopkins) – and the seemingly accidentally left in “put a sock in it”, a Scottish-ism by Dougray. Other than a stupid emo haircut, lots of face masks and flamenco guitar (so you know you’re in Spain) there’s not a lot to write home about. Mission Impossible II has plenty of stand-alone memorable and ‘cool’ bits to enjoy, but as a whole film, it’s average at best.
50/50: a healthy 27-year-old is diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer, and we follow him through the ordeal. This is a difficult film to fairly review because it was pitched through the trailers / posters as a Rogen-esque comedy; however, it’s actually pretty intense, and the serious stuff far, far outweighs the lolz. I guess there’s a zaror to walk between giving cancer enough gravitas and trivialising it, but at least sell it as a drama – like Adam. With this in mind the film puts you through half a dozen or so ridiculously emotional beatings through the various stages of the illness. The cast are very strong; J.G.L. is a powerhouse – arguably his best performance, Rogen reels in his comedy schtick; BDH puts in a respectable short shift as the girlfriend, and although Kendrick can’t quite keep up, my mind was full of dirty thoughts when she was on screen anyway. 50/50 is serious, it’s dramatic, it’s touching, and it’s nothing short of an emotional smackdown. It also has a little bit of funny, but had I known what I was in for I’d have waited for DVD (and cried like a bitch in private).