Posted by: greercn | July 11, 2014

Walking On Sunshine

http://youtu.be/7wSzBGZwWD4

This bouncy and joyful film is mostly for girls, but boys who have to sit through it on a date will find much to like here.

The plot offers no significant breakthroughs. It’s a romcom and a musical and I’ll bet that makes many of you shudder.

Two sisters are in Italy for the wedding of one of them. It turns out the groom had a happy fling with the sister he isn’t marrying three years before the marriage.

Can everything end happily ever after? It’s a romcom and a musical. What do you think?

Frothy and gorgeous, the opening airport scene sets the feelgood theme for the rest of the action.

The only big star names here are Greg Wise (yes, I know, I had to look him up on Wiki) and Leona Lewis (great singer) and you’ll be humming the great and familiar 1980s hits as you leave the cinema.

If you’re a Brit, you might also notice that Katy Brand is in this and she is very funny.

You’ll enjoy all the (brief) 97 minutes of this and will be left wanting to visit all the lovely Italian locations.

Unless you’re a grinch. If you are, just stay away. There is no place for you here.

This is for the diehard lovers of romcoms and those who just want to have fun and mindless joy.

Posted by: greercn | June 17, 2014

Jersey Boys

Dear Clint Eastwood,
You were my first serious crush, when you were Rowdy Yates in “Rawhide”. Truly, I have loved you through the westerns, all of Dirty Harry and I follow your stellar directing career. I avidly await each new and brave choice. Really, I adore you.
“Gran Torino” is just terrific. “Letters From Iwo Jima” is the best war movie. “Hereafter” is moving and epic.
I feel certain that if we ever met, you would love me as I have loved you, all these long and unrequited years.
Clint, are you testing me?
“Jersey Boys” is one of my most-loved musicals. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons performed the soundtrack of my childhood and those songs still make me smile.
So why is this film such a mess?
The young actors are unknown to me, but they are all clearly talented.
Christopher Walken needs to do very little but be in the film to make me happy.
The trouble with “Jersey Boys” is that it can’t decide whether it wants to be a musical or a talkfest.
Too many people interrupt songs to explain what they are doing.
Why? Give us the whole song, please.
The dramatic scenes just didn’t make me feel much and I am close to tears when I see them in the stage version.
Clint, I feel our special bond is in danger.
What on earth were you thinking of, telling one of the most wonderful stories in such a curiously unengaging way?
Darling, you are on probation. Please, please do something else that delights me. Soon.
Love and hugs, always (but maybe not forever)
Greer xxxx

Posted by: greercn | May 31, 2014

The Edge of Tomorrow

“Live, die, repeat” runs the tagline to “The Edge of Tomorrow”.

Despite following a recipe – add 50% “Source Code” to 10% “Groundhog Day” and add equal measures of “Monsters” and “Skyline” (20% each) – and this is still an unbelievably entertaining movie, even though you can smell the ingredients at play here.

Tom Cruise is still very annoying, but you get over that as he brings the zeal of “Top Gun” and “Risky Business” to this role as Major Cage, which may well be in homage to Nic Cage, who could have played this part.

Cage has angered his superiors. A dystopian future (oh, big yawn here) means that monsters are beating the human race into oblivion. (Deeper yawn).

“Edge” is clever enough to beat its own predictability and rush you through twists and turns that genuinely shock the viewer.

Emily Blunt is really special as the female lead. Didn’t she have a baby about 10 minutes ago? She looks amazing and is a far superior soldier to Cruise’s character.

Basically, this is a war movie, with a nod to science fiction and monster tales. What wonders of CGI permitted Cruise to tower over Blunt? She is, in real life, taller than him?

The action sequences, even when repeated, are just perfect. And you will have had dreams about those creatures. Really, you will.

You wait ages for one time travel film and two (this and X-Men) come along in one week.

“Edge” pays respect to World War sites and to Paris, even though I believe much of this was filmed in Montreal, with additional bits filmed in Vancouver. Canadians know these places.

Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton and Terence Raynard are the stand outs in a very impressive cast. The soundtrack is just great, although I note that buzzy music is now the way to denote monsters.

It strums and builds and makes you feel the threat of the big creatures. Just this once, the 3D isn’t dark.

The very packed Stratford East Picturehouse audience loved it. And I was very entertained by the big action and terrific acting.

Doug Liman’s direction is excellent and it keeps the action building, despite a two-hour running time.

Summer blockbusters: take note. The future is nasty. Stay in the present.

Posted by: greercn | May 29, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

This is the spring of bad, bad future movies. Humans and mutants are doomed. Only machines will last.

Yes, reader, dystopia and death are coming soon, according to the newest blockbusters.

Hope? Of course, this is Marvel’s world and there’s hope. But you have to go back to the past to make the present better.

As a side note, soon the end credits will last longer than the film. As you wait and wait and wait for the promised “extra scene” at the end of the new X-Men movie, you may fall asleep from just sitting there.

The beginning credits cite so many different companies that your eyes glaze over. This is so expensive it took a bunch of companies to make it. Again, the sight of 20 or more co-production groups must be coming soon.

Quibbles aside, this is mostly entertaining. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen do well while James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play their younger selves superbly, despite looking nothing like their older selves. A cute nose-to-nose shot between McAvoy and Stewart plays out for similarities but succeeds in highlighting how different their eyebrow shapes are.

The very-packed Stratford East Picturehouse audience all adored it. Quite a lot of younger viewers whined and moaned so parents, please take them to another movie. It really is aimed at fans of 18 and over, despite having a younger rating.

Hugh Jackman is utterly amazing and his performance is terrific. Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage and Omar Sy all have brilliant moments.

Bryan Singer directs, again, although the progress of the plot feels smoother, this time. I only peeked at my watch once.

Returning to the year 1973 is essential to this tale and there are some anachronisms. As an example, Lycra did not exist, except in dance clothes and everyone is wearing Lycra. But the waterbed scene provides guffaws.

It’s all very satisfying and based on a mix of Marvel stories. Both this film and “Godzilla” seem to have taken a lot from James Bond movies, in that you are swept from place to place and past to present with big set piece action scenes punctuating the whole.

You don’t watch a Marvel movie for character development, do you?

No Stan Lee cameo – pity – but the last extra scene, after the credits, introduces mutant Apocalypse. It’s intriguing.

Which characters will come back for the next X-Men installment? Who knows? I’ll be watching it, as soon as possible.

Posted by: greercn | May 28, 2014

12 Years A Slave

Painful to watch, brilliant and a true work of art, “12 Years A Slave” is the single most significant film ever made about the history of slavery in the USA.

To see these events from the point of view of a black man is very powerful. Usually, we see the “good white people” and the “bad white people” as the centre of focus.

Chiwetel Ejiofur gives a powerful and physical performance as Solomon Northup. Northup’s astonishing true story, of being born a free man who is sold into slavery, makes an enthralling read. As a movie, the visual images will always stay with you.

Lupita Nyong’s deserves every award she has won.

I recommend that people see this with someone else. There are moments that will choke you. Viewers of a very sensitive disposition should just stay away.

Having now seen the film three times, it’s worth several repeated viewings. It deserves its Best Movie Oscar.

Steve McQueen is an artist and he brings the same acute visual sensibility to this that he brought to “Hunger” and “Shame”.

I couldn’t publish this review when I saw the movie as I believed that white people had no right to comment on it. Now it’s out on DVD, I would urge you to buy it and watch it.

Posted by: greercn | May 28, 2014

Frank

Frankly, this is almost a terrific movie. Bits of it – especially the early scenes and the section that’s set at SXSW (South By SouthWest) music festival are utterly hilarious and savagely ironic.

But in an odd change of tone, the last third segues into strange philosophical pondering and seems out of place here. Did Lenny (now Leonard) Abrahamson watch his “What Richard Did” again and decide this movie needed big meaning?

Frank is played by Michael Fassbender in the oddest mask outside Grand Guignol theatre. He’s a musician in a band that has a ridiculous name. Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) longs for a music career and falls in with Frank and his group, which includes Scoot McNairy’s Don and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Clara.

There is the most bizarre soundtrack outside a Frank Zappa concert. YouTube may well be a sponsor since scenes offer extensive advertising for that organisation.

Ireland looks lovely and America looks enormous. For a film that aims for the kooky and original, there are quite a few annoyingly obvious observations in the script. It’s a thin line between ironic and irritatingly adolescent and this doesn’t always stay on the right side of that line.

Still, it was a great choice for the free screening for members of Stratford East Picturehouse and most of the plot is twisting and entertaining.

The last section fails to be quite as clever as it wants to be.

Posted by: greercn | May 27, 2014

Godzilla

Godzilla, Godzuki and Mothra have a special place in my heart. Those old movies were corny and cheaply made, but they were great fun.

Watching the brilliant Gareth Edwards 2010 film “Monsters” came close to recreating that feeling, while providing an entertaining and meaningful story that made the creatures more effective.

If you’re a big fan of those movies, you’ll adore this. Even if you’re not into that genre, you’ll find much to love here.

The opening credits offer homage to the old Godzilla films. Key shots from those are lingered on.

We are then whooshed to the Philippines and on to Japan. You care about the people at the heart of this and the visuals are simply stunning.

3D adds an enormous amount to the depth of the big scenes here.

There is a British sensibility in this Japanese and American story. Bad stuff happens to good people. Medical machines fail to work. Somehow, Edwards keeps the feeling of a small film with interesting stories in this big-budget blockbuster.

The creatures are magnificent. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is terrific as our lead and everyman representative, Ford Brody and CJ Adams is impressive as the much younger Ford.

Bryan Cranston is a revelation as the bonkers daddy of Ford and Ken Watanabe is superb as a scientist seeking the truth.

Curiously, on some levels, it’s very much a classic war movie, although it hasn’t been advertised as that.

The women characters have fewer interesting lines and plots, although Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins have their moments.

But it’s the creatures, the journeys, the visuals and the understated sense of compelling threat to humanity that will rivet your attention. Whatever you think of the genre, you’ll be impressed by what you are seeing and the music enhances that sense of fear.

All 123 minutes zoom by and the very-packed Stratford East Picturehouse oohed and aahed a great deal. As did I.

Posted by: greercn | May 5, 2014

Upside Down

Visually stunning, “Upside Down” engages you from its first scene. The original premise and big question here is “can love conquer gravity”.

What? Has director and co-writer Juan Solanas inhaled “Inception” and “Romeo and Juliet” while in an altered state?

However bonkers and cod-science-spouting bits of this movie might be, it still pulls you in. If you are familiar with Montreal, you’ll recognise a great number of places, all used in delightful and original ways.

It was this closing night stunner of a film that ended the very successful Sci-Fi London Film Festival. A packed Stratford East Picturehouse applauded as the end credits rolled.

Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) are from two different worlds. They literally face each other upside down as they are pulled by gravity in different directions. And their love is forbidden.

Adam is poor while Eden is rich. One planet is a J. Crew set while the other is post-apocalyptic and poor.

Got it? Take a deep breath. Stay with me. Suspend disbelief, please.

(Yes, it’s okay if you are wondering what impact that difference in gravity might have on sex. Quite a lot of members of the audience were discussing exactly that, after the screening).

Fans of Quebec and Canadian film will note that fabulous actress Kate Trotter is wasted, in a small set of early scenes. Timothy Spall gets more time on screen and he’s wonderful.

Blu Mankuna shines as Adam’s father figure, Albert. And the two actors who play the young Adam and Eden – Elliott Larson and Maurane Arcand – are absolutely perfect.

The twists and turns of the story use the gravity problem in rather charming ways. Solanas is a talent to look out for. Born in Argentina, he lives in France and has an outsider’s eye for telling a great story.

Forgive this film its weird and illogical moments. The beautiful scenes will make you understand what science fiction and fantasy films do best, which is to make us see our reality in a new way. The soundtrack is just as beautiful as the visuals.

Louis Savy and the festival team should be congratulated for bring terrific movies to a wider audience. “Upside Down” is a worthy final day film.

Posted by: greercn | May 3, 2014

Locke

One man? One car? Everything happens on the road, during one evening?

Count me out, I thought. Just not my cup of tea.

Boy oh boy, was I wrong. This is an amazing movie with a truly individual point of view.

Tom Hardy is just wonderful. I am not a big fan, but I may seek out his other non-blockbuster films, after seeing this tour-de-force performance.

Sorry, female fans, but he is not kissed by the pretty fairy, in this part.

Ivan Locke (Hardy) will teach you about concrete and construction and it will be fascinating.

Two friends who have opinions I respect said “you have to see this” so I did.

I am really pleased I saw this little gem of a British movie. It does what Brit flicks do best. It tells a little individual story in an utterly quirky and brilliant way.

Very few people were watching “Locke” at the Stratford East Picturehouse, which is a great shame. The 30 or so of us who did watch it, at this screening, were all stunned.

The plot unfolds via handsfree phone calls, in the car. And it’s an astonishing story.

Steven Knight directs tautly, wasting nothing. You’re gripped within minutes.

You’ll adore it. Trust me.

Posted by: greercn | May 3, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Park your brain at the door and enjoy the high-octane action. Each scene outdoes the one before it.

Deep and meaningful characters? Look elsewhere. This is all about swinging from high-rise to high-rise, leaps and falls and super-powers.

Electro is the villain with a mission after his human self is treated badly by the corporation. He’s just one of three bad guys sent by Oscorp to bring down our hero.

There is the compulsory Mother-Earth-and-her-limited-resources message that is the new must is all blockbusters.

As always, Peter Parker/Spider-Man has conflicts about his childhood, powers, wishes and obligations. Andrew Garfield is terrific in the role and almost makes you forget that anybody else ever played the character. Emma Stone is Gwen, the understanding and intelligent girlfriend who must place her own future above her love for Peter.

The supporting cast actors do their bit well, with Sally Field, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti and Dane DeHaan all having amazing moments. Max Charles is just great as the young Peter Parker.

Marc Webb takes the directing duties again and keeps it all zipping along, despite the 142-minute running time.

Nine writers are credited, but this is all about the big set pieces. Being set in New York, a lot of police cars are hurt and yellow taxis are maimed. Buildings get terminally wrecked and the roads don’t fare any better.

Either you love the world of Marvel comics or you don’t. I do. You do know enough to stay through the credits and get a sneak peek at the next Marvel movie, don’t you?

The audience at Stratford East Picturehouse loved it. But half of them left as the credits started.

Either 2D or 3D is fine, for this. The 2D kept the beauty of the layered images, but was lighter to watch. It was just brighter and more engrossing and I am a big fan of 3D.

How can “Spider-Man 3″ keep up this frenetic pace?

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