Review: Labor Day (2014)

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Praised for his sharp comedy work that made the likes of Juno and Up In The Air such successes, director Jason Reitman makes an awkward shift to darker, solemn material with Labor Day, a respectable, but not quite there adaptation of Joyce Maynard. Left despondent by the breakdown of her marriage, single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) has become trapped by her own unwillingness, leaving son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) to pick up the slack. Continue reading “Review: Labor Day (2014)”

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Review: Young Adult (2011)

In recent years, American comedies have lost their way. Instead of eliciting engaging, prickly characters that resonate, Hollywood has become stuck in a rut, churning out bland, tedious and sex-obsessed comedies that offer little or no substance (think Bad Teacher and The Hangover Part II). Diablo Cody, in her third feature as screenwriter, subverts this new-fangled tradition with Young Adult, a film that ventures deep into the relatable shadow of human behaviour to pitch-perfect avail.

Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), an egotistical and reprehensible ghost writer of an ever-diminishing young adult series, has hit a road block in her life. Disillusioned Continue reading “Review: Young Adult (2011)”

Cinema Profile: Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)

Dundee Contemporary Arts, DCA for short, is Dundee’s leading multi-purpose arts venue. Located in the heart of the city, avoiding competition from the two multiplexes (Cineworld and Odeon) set up at either end of the city’s Kingsway bypass, DCA comprises of an exhibition gallery, print studio, restaurant and relaxing cafe/bar area. What makes DCA so special, though, is its two-screen cinema.

Dedicated to showcasing a mix of films, from old to new and blockbusters to independent features, DCA do what they do with passion, determination and a Continue reading “Cinema Profile: Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA)”

Review: Thank You For Smoking (2005)

Thank You For Smoking is based on  the 1994 novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. It follows the schemes of Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), who twists the truth on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son, Joey (Cameron Bright).

It is, essentially, a clever, humorous and effervescent satirical comedy. Plainly it provides a host of fascinating truths about the tobacco dispute – some of them true, some of them false – sugar-coating and simplifying them to appeal to our emotions. Jason Reitman’s direction is rapid, enlightened, and irrefutable; his writing overflowing with ripe, razor-sharp dialogue, one-liners and tantalising characters.

Eckhart is simply outstanding as Nick, the Vice President of the Academy of Tobacco Studies, an organisation that studies the effects of smoking on the nation’s health. He plays the character with an almost effortless level of charm and incredible versatility, delivering Nick’s lines with an arrogant, yet loveable nature. In one scene we’ll be admiring his candidness and, in the next, we’ll accept him as the devoted father-figure.

The structure, at times, seems a little dismayed, and the investigation into the tobacco industry feels somewhat rudimentary, but these are minor issues, ones that only slightly detract from the overall enjoyment. That said, Eckhart and the entire supporting cast – in particular J.K Simmons, who delivers his lines like he’s only vaguely grasped their meaning and accuracy – each deliver equally measured, good-humoured performances, bringing an astounding sense of believability to their respective characters and, in turn, the whole film.

Thank You For Not Smoking, trivial flaws aside, is an assured, witty and intelligent debut from writer-director Jason Reitman, with an exuberant, stand-out performance from Eckhart.