Review: La La Land (2017)

la-la-land

This stylish, exuberant crowd-pleaser spectacularly revitalises the sorely missed Hollywood musical. In it, two aspiring artists – Mia and Sebastian, played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling – fall in love, while each pursuing their dreams of success in LA. Damien Chazelle, who last made Whiplash, infuses an abundance of warmth and charm into this love story, which emerges from a big-scale highway dance number. Continue reading “Review: La La Land (2017)”

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Review: Only God Forgives (2013)

Only God Forgives

After the crossover and award winning success that was Drive, writer and director Nicolas Winding Refn returns with polarising revenge thriller Only God Forgives. Arguably more in line with Valhalla Rising and Bronson than the aforementioned thriller, Only God Forgives is likely to alienate audiences with its fever-dream narrative state, but bewitch them nonetheless with its vivd visual style, lurid tone and Cliff Martinez’ stand-out score. Continue reading “Review: Only God Forgives (2013)”

Review: Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster Squad

Taking a break from zombies and delivery boys, director Ruben Fleischer fashions a stylised and star-studded, yet vacuous entry into the cops vs. mob genre with Gangster Squad. Disappointingly, the American director tries far too hard to recreate 1987’s The Untouchables for the modern day audience, instead of making an engaging, moody and powerful film that can stand on its own two feet as a bold statement. Set in 1940s Los Angeles, crook and mob boss Mickey Continue reading “Review: Gangster Squad (2013)”

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: Drive (2011)

Genre sensibilities are turned inside out with Drive, Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn’s muted modern-day take on the celebrated neo-noir film.

Hollywood stunt-driver by day, getaway driver-for-hire by night, Ryan Gosling’s unnamed character is shrouded in mystery. He subscribes to a methodical lifestyle, timing everything to perfect precision. When he meets his coy next-door neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), he finds himself wrapped up in her husband’s (Oscar Issac) unfortunate – and criminal – predicament. Forced to abandon his scrupulous attitude, he must adopt a much more reckless way of life. Continue reading “Review: Drive (2011)”

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

In a year of disappointing and miscalculated comedies (Larry Crowne and Chalet Girl are two that immediately spring to mind), Crazy, Stupid, Love is a wonderful return to form. Co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s follow up to last year’s surprisingly sincere I Love You Phillip Morris is a suitably mature addition to the oft-contrived rom-com genre.

Happily married simpleton Cal’s (Steve Carell) life is thrown into turmoil when his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), suddenly demands a divorce. Now Cal, a man set in his ways, has to adjust to being single, with a little help from ladies man Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling). Continue reading “Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)”

Trailer: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Director: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone

Review: Blue Valentine (2010)

Derek Cianfrance directs Blue Valentine, an exacting, achingly distressing look at the complexity of a marriage and its steady dissolve.

The narrative unfolds in a non-linear fashion over two timelines as it tracks the burgeoning romance between Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Williams), and its eventual breakdown.

The action flicks back and forth, transposing the bright optimism of their young romance – each yearning for one another’s veracity – against the buried anguish and turmoil the dissolve has lead to.

Gosling’s Dean, through flashbacks, is seen as a charming, caring guy, while Williams’ Cindy is an intelligent, wholesome girl attracted to Dean’s fun-loving nature – beautifully captured in a scene where Dean’s playing a ukulele as Cindy dances along.

Their personalities age with the turbulent marriage, Gosling undercuts his characters’ charm with a frightening anger and eruptiveness. Williams’ contained performance as the older Cindy exudes despair and hopelessness, surmising her feelings towards her changed husband.

Cianfrance beautifully transposes the two different time periods with pitch-perfect direction. He uses penetrating camera angles and subdued lighting to represent the turmoil the relationship has become, while intercutting this with bright, snappy flashbacks to convey the puppy-love beginnings.

The film is a deeply visceral experience, pulling you from one emotion to another as it skips so dramatically from the giddy hopes of young love to the painful sorrow of this union’s death throes.

Grizzly Bear’s stripped back tracks are used to great avail as the films core soundtrack, further adding to the emotional integrity this film boasts.

Equally, in the scene where Dean sing’s “You Always Hurt the Ones You Love” and Cindy dances along, the emotional devastation set to behold the troubled pair is hinted as subtly, yet devastatingly so.

Blue Valentine is an emotionally affecting, raw and impeccably acted portrait of a doomed marriage, making brilliant use of the complex, non-linear narrative structure, gaining complete control over the audiences emotions from start to finish.

A breathtakingly real piece of filmmaking from a talented up-and-coming director.

Review: Half Nelson (2006)

Directed by writer-director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson centers on an inter-city high school teacher (Gosling) with a drug habit who forms an unlikely bond with one of his students (Epps).

Boden and Fleck’s direction is impressive, managing to capture the action in an unsentimental and raw manner that’s brimming with humanity and emotional depth.

The relationship between Dan and Drey is pushed to the forefront as both find common-ground with each other through the problems they harbor as they battle to reach their own personal resolutions.

Through the awkward and bleak tone of the film humour erupts naturally, breaking the tension and enabling the audience to emote with and relate to the characters’ problems and hard-hitting themes of addiction, loneliness and acceptance that are explored through the films hard-hitting premise.

Gosling gives a stunning and mesmerising performance as the drug addict teacher, distinguishing this film from others of its nature and warranting his much-deserved Academy Award nomination.

Half Nelson is a well-balanced, brilliantly acted and refreshingly humorous study into the rarity of second chances.