WHILE WE’RE YOUNG REVIEW

While-Were-Young-poster

My exact thoughts as I waited for this indie dramedy to end.

A middle-aged couple’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts do their best but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. The endless praise certainly piqued my interest. A shame that it just couldn’t deliver.

I feared the worst from the opening scene in which we have an extract from Ibsen’s The Master Builder. A scene that commented on the ever-growing invasion and domination of youth. Slow and a little pretentious.

I could see what writer/director Noah Baumbach was trying to do with the film but I still couldn’t fight my disappointment.

We join Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Watts) as they battle being middle-aged while their friends are settling down and having babies.

The opening 15 minutes was easy going enough. Stiller and Watts had good chemistry. Their difficulty in dealing with a baby demonstrated the spanner in their supposedly well-oiled machine.

I didn’t mind sitting back and examining a normal relationship as Stiller and Watts confront their issues but I just wanted more.

Stiller can act and I have desperately prayed for a better project to come along. While We’re Young may be a mixed bag but it showed what Stiller can do when he’s not running around museums or strutting down walkways.

Things took a slightly more interesting turn with the introduction of Adam Driver. Amanda Seyfried’s character barely made an impression. A nothingy role. I think her only real contribution worth noting was when she took a confused Watts to a hip hop class.

Driver certainly got things moving. The problem was that I always had an inkling that his intentions were not what they seemed. Probing Stiller for information under the persona of a fan boy. Playing to his ego with endless brown nosing and slick charm.

It was interesting in parts to witness this young couple transform this “old” couple. A catalyst that sparked the life back into their humdrum lifestyle. The trilby hats, the gigs, the shoes with no socks fad. Spot on.

The whole battle and jealousy of youth debacle had its moments. The fact that youngsters like myself have a niche for all things retro and vintage was a valid observation.

Stiller’s culture clash with Driver and his hipsters about a 70s cartoon that he grew up with sparked an interesting debate. Loving something just because it’s old. Not even knowing the story or the character.

I can’t really say this is a comedy. There were moments but the tone was a little uneven for me.

I don’t think Baumbach knew which direction to take the film. It went from painfully deadpan with Stiller uncovering a film conspiracy that challenged the very ethics of filmmaking to just plain bizarre.

Not enough consistency for me. The sequence in which Watts and Stiller join the youngsters for a weekend retreat to drink some liquid and vom up some “demons” while listening to Vangelis may sound funny but it was just plain weird.

Everyone standing around chatting while casually throwing up in their designated buckets just didn’t do it for me. Was Baumbach trying to throw in a gag that was more befitting of Stiller’s familiar humour?

Charles Grodin is getting old. Long are the days since Midnight Express. Hell even Harry and the Hendersons or Beethoven, shudder.

He played Josh’s father-in-law well. I just wish their fractious relationship was explored a little more. There were some good insights but I wanted more conflict and some sort of progress.

And that was the main issue for me in general. The film had likeable characters that I wanted to see more done with.

There was an interesting revelation with Cornelia in which she suffered a miscarriage. I wanted more time focused on that.

It wasn’t until the closing moments that it was really dealt with. I understand that in real life with an ordeal like that, a lot of people sweep it under the carpet or act like nothing happened. BUT when you’re watching a drama, you want . . . a little drama!

The ending was abrupt and a little weak after things finally seem to come to a head. The closing shot was humorous. A perfect statement of what is happening with the youth of today.

Shame, it just wasn’t that interesting. Too long, too talky and not much going on.

Two stars for the two talented leads.

2/5

Advertisements

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB REVIEW

night_at_the_museum_secret_of_the_tomb_new_poster

One last time? Probably for the best.

The first one I’ve actually seen all the way through and thankfully the last.

The others I’ve always caught bits. They seemed a little silly but fun. All you can hope for with the influx of films filling the big screen.

So what happens in this one? Larry (Ben Stiller) spans the globe (Well . . . London), uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.

In a word, meh. Not bad but not great either.

A bizarre Indiana Jones-esque opening didn’t really get things going. Some predictable Egyptian mumbo jumbo about a curse surrounding the magic tablet felt a little unnecessary.

However, we are soon back at the Smithsonian with the gang doing their thing. BUT alas, the tablet is corroding and the statues are acting weird. Causing havoc on the public and pulling strange faces.

It was a shame knowing that this was Robin Williams’ last film. Especially when his character Teddy Roosevelt was a little lacklustre and flat. His farewell speeches did hit home a little harder. BUT it felt like a blip on an extensive film career from a comedy actor that was gone too soon.

It was also farewell to another comedy icon, the late Mickey Rooney in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo.

The cast do their best but the gags seem few and far between. And the premise to get them all together for one last hurrah was lazy and a little tame.

Ben Stiller was entertaining (as usual). The discovery of his neanderthal counterpart Laaa shouldn’t have worked BUT somehow his stupid face pulling got a chuckle out of me.

BUT some of the gags were old hat. I mean the scene in which he must explain why Laaa must stay behind (Only to then follow him or mimic him) was predictable and done to death.

Dick van Dyke has still got the moves but I felt his appearance wasn’t needed. A feeble attempt to get all the gang back in the movie.

Ricky Gervais always did irritate me (in these films). And from the opening, he still did. However, the more rubbish he spouted and the flimsier his floundering became, I found my face cracking.

Things did seem to get going when Stiller finally got to London to stop the curse.

I thought Rebel Wilson was going to poke fun at the British stereotype a lot more and annoy me but no! She was just being Rebel Wilson. When she got to improvise it wasn’t bad. BUT she did go on a little too much.

Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) was brilliant as the newest addition, Sir Lancelot. He made a hilarious entrance and took it up a notch. However, once he started suffering from a little Buzz Lightyear syndrome, my interest waned.

The whole “I’m a knight not a statue” routine did go on. BUT that was only because there wasn’t much else on offer.

Even Larry’s subplot with his son seemed rushed and put together poorly to try and fill the void. The corny “Choose your own path and don’t drop out of high school” spiel just felt predictable and run of the mill.

The special effects were brilliant and I think they missed a trick by not shooting it in 3D. However, the overuse of CGI on Dexter the monkey did spoil things. BUT then you’re not going to get Crystal the Monkey to disco dance. Or hang off a trapeze for crying out loud!

For every good gag, they seem to repeat it or milk it dry. Tut tut tut.

Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson had two good gags that were heavily flogged in the trailers. One involving a giant Roman catapult to operate a keyboard to post a humourous comment and another involving a fire and a monkey that used the only liquid available at his disposal.

Yeah . . . You get the picture.

The pair were hilarious in the other two films but this time round, they weren’t in it enough and when they were; they just didn’t hit it off or make you laugh as much as you hoped. Which is pretty much my summary of the film.

And the big secret to help save the tablet was laughable. No, really! All those hit and miss shenanigans for a terrible conclusion.

There were some fantastic cameos that I didn’t expect from the legendary Sir Ben Kingsley, Alice Eve and a certain Marvel icon. I won’t say much more. It didn’t have me howling with laughter but he certainly got the odd titter.

A running gag with said mystery actor went on far too long.

The closing moments were nicely done but then it seemed to end so abruptly and flatly that was a bit anti-climactic. It made sense but I haven’t felt so baffled and disappointed with an ending since Lost.

If you want to distract the little ‘uns for 90 minutes, it does the trick but there are better family films out there. *Cough* Shaun the Sheep *Cough*

2.5/5

What is wrong with films this year? Best and worst of 2013? Tough on both counts.

downloadimages (1) images only_god_forgives_ver8_xlgWalter-Mitty-Poster

Had a little rummage through Empire, The Guardian and Time’s best and worst of 2013. Now interestingly, I shared with my friends that I had seen 120 films so far on my Unlimited card. They asked me what was my top 10? And you know what, I actually struggled, not to say I couldn’t do it. But the ones I did finally put in there were not perfect by any means, personally there were only a few I would consider a very good film. Many were good but . . . or watchable if you’re in the mood, I couldn’t give a solid recommendation. Too picky? Don’t be silly.

 

I can’t help but feel that critics these days are falling for the overindulgent hype that surrounds many films these days. Most irritatingly, however is that this year is not over yet, with the Christmas period being one of the biggest targets to draw audiences with their bigger films. Guessing that The Hobbit, Anchorman 2 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will be in there somewhere is not good enough.

 

In all fairness, despite being heavily plugged and advertised the last few months at our local Cineworld, as an Unlimited member I was invited to a secret screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. A truly beautiful, easygoing film with a lot of heart, not without its flaws but a surprise, nonetheless and one of Stiller’s most ambitious efforts.

 

 

All this buzz about Gravity. Best film of the year? Certainly not, might just scrape my top 20. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of everyone involved. A stunning visual masterpiece but at its core, a slow-burning drawn out survival story that has been done a hundred times before and much, much better. At first harrowing with Bullock spinning frantically with limited oxygen, it soon got old very quick. Much like Open Water. You could argue I don’t like those sort of films but yet I loved Alive and Buried. Gravity just seemed to be the same rubbish in a beautiful decorated visual wrapper.  It may have taken seven years for Cuaron to make but it took Kubrick twelve years to do Eyes Wide Shut, one of his weaker entries, but it was still more riveting than this.

 

Certainly not, might just scrape my top 20. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of everyone involved. A stunning visual masterpiece but at its core, a slow-burning drawn out survival story that has been done a hundred times before and much, much better. At first harrowing with Bullock spinning frantically with limited oxygen, it soon got old very quick. Much like Open Water. You could argue I don’t like those sort of films but yet I loved Alive and Buried. Gravity just seemed to be the same rubbish in a beautiful decorated visual wrapper.  It may have taken seven years for Cuaron to make but it took Kubrick twelve years to do

 

My markers are based on story, performance, pace, interest, and most importantly, would I buy that and would I watch that again? For most of the 120 films, I would find it a chore to endure them again if they appeared on my TV. Granted people have different tastes, but this constant focus on big pictures that fail to impress or surprise is a joke, regurgitating a checklist of sorts. Romance? Sex? Special effects? Needs to be an epic so make it three hours? Wait, guys, what about plot, story and acting? Shut up!

 

Nothing is original. That is true. But what is important is seeing the same story in a different way, which most of these films haven’t even tried to do. Irritatingly, The Guardian selects films that are of a particular niche or arthouse field. I am unlucky to be in an area where mainstream Hollywood films dominate. We don’t have an independent cinema, as such and if we do, then the choices are sparse and even more expensive to see than the usual 3D turd offering.

 

It doesn’t help with this current economic climate that Blockbusters have collapsed. It’s now only online rental, which I couldn’t stand in the first place, sending everything I asked for months ago. Or I have to travel 30 to 45 minutes to Milton Keynes or Leicester just to see these “Oscar tipped movies”. Either that or I have to find that them on demand and pay silly amount. There is even another alternative, but I don’t want to go down that path. I want to support this industry.

 

Conflicting on the three sites about one film, Only God Forgives. Personally, only God will forgive the people that made that movie. Now Refn delivered a sensationally visual feast but couldn’t hide the surprisingly unwatchable Ryan Gosling in a bizarre, stupidly violent, boring, ridiculous affair. Problem, I can see a cult following emerging. You could decipher the religious imagery and connotations but believe me, there are films that have deeper meanings that aren’t as strenuous. In one scene, a bloke is being brutally tortured, I felt his pain by just watching this film despite only being 90 minutes if that. You want deeper readings, watch Blade Runner and Donnie Darko, much better!

 

Worst films for Time, a few surprises in there. The Hangover Part 3 and Oz: The Great and Powerful? Now, granted. The Hangover 3 was not perfect and I was slightly disappointed and quite a lot of the laughs were revealed in the trailers but I saw a lot worse and liked the darker action-y route that it took and it wrapped up quite well, considering how mental the films were. Oz, on the other hand, very surprised. Franco played the part well, unlike Spring Breakers (Gangsterrrrr!) and Raimi brought a stunning, visual world that was worth seeing in 3D. Granted it was never going to top the original classic. The Counsellor, definitely a poor show. Needed counselling after watching that. (I know, lame, but come on, the chance was there and I took it!).

 

Grown Ups 2 hardly a surprise. Sandler’s recent endeavours have been a guilty pleasure for my brother and me. Overly panned, these silly films have always managed to make us giggle like a pair of numpties but after a funny hour, the film went downhill badly. Even we wanted to walk out at one point.

 

What annoyed me with Empire was many of the films I would have considered in my top 10 are ranked in their 30s section of the top 50. Django? Star Trek? Really? Captain Phillips at Number 2? It was a number 2, more like. A gripping opening hour fizzled out in a drawn out two and a half hour affair, felt like I was kidnapped by the pirates myself. Would have preferred it. (No, I wouldn’t). The complaints go on.

 

It seems film production companies are aware of this decline and instead of investing in new material, they’re going back to the old stuff and rehashing, sorry, remaking it. Oldboy, Total Recall, Robocop, Spiderman, rumours of Lethal Weapon? Why, why, why? Now because of the success of the brilliant Breaking Bad, they are flogging more money at TV shows. Are they going to kill that too? 2014 needs a serious reboot. Provide stories, humour, interest, not the same old crap, at least put a different spin on it. My best and worst will follow once I got rid of the cramp in my hands (Steady now).

 

http://www.empireonline.com/features/films-of-the-year-2013

 

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/dec/06/top-10-worst-films-2013-time-magazine