Review: The Duff (2015)

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The Duff treads a recognisable path but peppers regular doses of charm and humour along the way. Bianca (Mae Whitman) leads a fairly content high school life, until she discovers she’s the ‘duff’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her two best friends. In need of a reinvention, she enlists the help of pretty boy Wesley (Robbie Amell). Continue reading “Review: The Duff (2015)”

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Emma Stone: Hollywood’s New ‘It’ Girl

Who is Emma Stone?

It’s a question that has an array of different answers. Asked a mere five years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who had a clue. Aside from a few brief appearances in Malcolm in the Middle and the Medium, she was an unknown, studying away at acting school, doing whatever she could to get herself noticed. Asked today, however, and most people would probably reply with something along the lines of “OLIVE PENDERGHAST FROM EASY A”. Okay, maybe not Continue reading “Emma Stone: Hollywood’s New ‘It’ Girl”

Review: The Help (2011)

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s phenomenally successful and influential novel of the same name, The Help centers on Aibileen Clark: (Viola Davis), a devoted housekeeper in 1960′s Mississipi, who, after being approached to help local writer Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan (Emma Stone) write her first novel, recounts her life as a black servant in a time of extreme racial discrimination, bigotry and classism.

Moving, compelling and insightful, The Help is a highly commendable cinematic triumph, hitting the nail firmly on the head in almost every field: from well-honed cinematography to a beautifully serene score. Tate Taylor, who also penned the screenplay, has managed to do something of a rarity Continue reading “Review: The Help (2011)”

Review: Friends With Benefits (2011)

After Ivan Reitman’s unbalanced No Strings Attached, director Will Gluck and screenwriting duo Keith Merryman and David A. Newman take a stab at ridiculing the stereotypical relationship between a man and a woman, and the modern-day conventions of a romantic comedy.

Jamie (Mila Kunis), a New York headhunter, enters into a no-strings-attached relationship with Dylan (Justin Timberlake), her latest client, after they’re both left wounded by previous romantic commitments. However, when real-life starts to complicate their pact, their “purely physical” affinity is tested to the max. Continue reading “Review: Friends With Benefits (2011)”

Review: Chalet Girl (2011)

Chalet Girl, a new Brit rom-com from director Phil Traill, centers on Kim (Felicty Jones), a former champion skateboarder stuck in a dead end job trying to support her Dad.

When the opportunity of a catering job in the one of the most exclusive chalets in the Alp comes knocking Kim takes the chance to discover snowboarding, and uses the big end-of-season competition to win some much-needed prize money. But before she can become a champion again, Kim has to dig deep to overcome her fears, and deal with the complicating factor of Jonny (Ed Westwick), her handsome – though spoken for – boss.

Phil Traill creates a reasonably believable world, and even makes up for the atrocious All About Steve. But his choice of bland cinematography and overbearing lighting do nothing for the beautiful scenery, or giddy action of the snowboarding scenes. The snow-blanketed Alps make for a very impressive backdrop, but Traill simply doesn’t have the experience to know how to use this to the films advantage, which in turn makes the endless montages and obvious stunt doubles more obvious and unbearable.

The script, written by Tom Williams, tries incredibly hard to please, stuffing every scene with every sort of gag possible, broadly caricatured characters and tongue-in-cheek dialogue, but it never hits the giddy highs of other teenage comedies, often succumbing to overuses of montage and falling over gags.

The core of the film, though, is Felicity Jones, in her first leading role. She’s a buoyantly likable lead, who mixes sarcasm and dead pan irony to superb avail, to the point where you even forgive her for choosing such a pointless film. It’s a light-hearted and fun performance, and a pleasant surprise to see such a talented British actress cast as a strong and forceful female.

The supporting cast, on the other hand, are hit and miss. Bill Nighy and Tamsin Egerton are forces of nature as Richard and Georgie respectively, each maintaining something of a comic composure while delivering quirky, comical and stand-out performances. Westwick, however, simply doesn’t have the credentials and screen presence needed to turn Jonny into a likeable, honest and interesting character. He’s pure and simple eye candy for Kim.

Chalet Girl is – aside from providing a few laughs – frustratingly dull and nothing more than a showcase for two talented British actresses: Felicity Jones and Tamsin Egerton.

DVD Releases: February 28, 2011

Another Year

Director: Mike Leigh

Starring: Ruth Sheen, Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville

Easy A

Director: Will Gluck

Starring: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes and Penn Badgley

Paranormal Activity 2

Director: Tod Williams

Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat and Molly Ephraim

Africa United

Director: Debs Gardner-Paterson

Starring: Eriya Ndayambaje, Roger Nsengiyumva and Sanyu Joanita Kintu

Leap Year

Director: Michael Rowe

Starring: Monica del Carmen, Gustavo Sánchez Parra and Armando Hernández

Primal

Director: Josh Reed

Starring: Krew Boylan, Ch’aska Cuba de Reed and Santiago Cuba de Reed

DVD Releases: February 21, 2011

Despicable Me

Director: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud

Starring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel and Russell Brand

Burke and Hare

Director: John Landis

Starring: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Isla Fisher

Cyrus

Director: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass

Starring: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei

16th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards: Winners

Best Film

  • The Social Network

Best Director

  • David Fincher – (The Social Network)

Best Actor

  • Colin Firth – (The King’s Speech)

Best Actress

  • Natalie Portman – (Black Swan)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale – (The Fighter)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Melissa Leo – (The Fighter)

Best Young Actor/Actress

  • Hailee Steinfeld – (True Grit)

Best Acting Ensemble

  • The Fighter

Best Original Screenplay

  • The King’s Speech – (David Seidler)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Social Network – (Aaron Sorkin)

Best Cinematography

  • Inception

Best Art Direction

  • Inception

Best Editing

  • Inception

Best Costume Design

  • Alice In Wonderland

Best Makeup

  • Alice In Wonderland

Best Visual Effects

  • Inception

Best Sound

  • Inception

Best Animated Film

  • Toy Story 3

Best Action Film

  • Inception

Best Comedy Film

  • Easy A

Best Film Made For Television

  • The Pacific

Best Foreign Language Film

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Best Documentary Film

  • Waiting For Superman

Best Score

  • The Social Network – (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)

Best Song

  • If I Rise – (127 Hours)

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2010

In total I’ve seen a lot of films in 2010, but here are the ten I consider my favourite:

1. The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech is an altogether clever, humorous and emotional film, supported by tremendous performances from it’s central cast. A must see, by all accounts.

2. The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right a fantastic film, exuding charm, wit, love, insecurity and anguish at every appropriate corner. In essence, it’s a film about the struggles of human relationships, and shows a family’s love has the potential to overcome any obstacle.

3. The Social Network

The Social Network is a film that deserves your attention. It’s not only a film about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook, but also one of morality. One that requires your full attention and questions your beliefs and values;  but also one that rewards you with its passion, attention-to-detail and humourous nature.

4. Another Year

Mike Leigh’s measured, and scarily realistic human nature drama is impossible to dismiss. Leigh’s laid-back approach let’s the characters and on-screen drama speak for itself. The central leads invite you into their lives and take you on a emotionally and wholly real journey through old-age. Lesley Manville, in particular, is breathtaking.

5. Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone is a film of true craftsmanship. Haunting, gritty, yet oddly inspiring, featuring a nuanced and captivating performance from newcomer Jennifer Lawrence.

6. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Edgar Wright stepped up his game with this genre-crossing comedy film. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a zany, mis-construed film that explores deep, poignant ideas, inter-cut with lots of crazy, heart-pounding action scenes, hundred of popular culture nods and hilariously odd performances from its central cast.

7. Toy Story 3

Defying expectations, Toy Story 3 proved sequels can be successful. Directed by the incredibly talented Lee Unkrich, the film manages to be a fitting, touching and honest conclusion to one of the most beloved, and inspiring, franchises of all time.

8. Inception

Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending science fiction, Inception is a singular accomplishment from an extraordinarily talented and game-changing director. It’s a visually stunning, intellectually challenging and emotionally engaging triumph, one that truly exemplifies modern filmmaking.

9. Monsters

Monsters is an incredible achievement in more ways than one, showcasing fine performances, an afflicting narrative, wholly real character interactions and special effects that rival those used on Blockbusters

10. I Am Love

Possibly one of the most overlooked films of the year, I Am Love is an incredibly well shot, acted, portrayed and directed. Tilda Swinton provided a flawless, and incredibly raw performance. One to seek out.

Honourable Mentions:

Easy A, How To Train Your Dragon, Four Lions, Kick-Ass, Piranha, Lebanon, Despicable Me, Bad Lieutenant – Port Of Call: New Orleans, The Runaways, Please Give, Cyrus, Splice, Mary & Max, The Hole, Exit Through The Gift Shop, The Killer Inside Me, The Illusionist, Whip It, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Somewhere, Dogtooth and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.