*NEW* WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS REVIEW *NEW*

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WE ARE NOT IMPRESSED.

Going down in history with the worst opening weekend for a major Hollywood film on wide release, this dull DJ affair was surprisingly watchable BUT enjoyable? Well . . .

Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter (Zac Efron) attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.

A mixed bag. Patchy, uneven and uninteresting. I could feel my eyes closing by the hour marker. I really hoped for an American indie take on Human Traffic. Here’s a quick reminder.

Any excuse for a Human Traffic reference. Anyway, I hoped for a belting soundtrack, a good cast and a good story. Well . . . The music was kinda good.

I fear for Efron. Is this the only role the guy can get? The troubled good looking guy spiel is wearing thin. Don’t get me wrong, he has just enough charisma to keep the lead likeable BUT he needs a game changer. And unfortunately this wasn’t.

It doesn’t help that we’ve seen this story before. And so much better. Jonny Weston (Project Almanac) was incredibly irritating as Cole’s best friend, Mason. While the rest of the gang were unlikeable or unmemorable. Shiloh Fernandez’s Ollie was too bland and too much of a drip to care about. Alex Shaffer’s Squirrel wasn’t really brought into the mix until the final minutes. A waste of time.

I’m sure that was supposed to be the point as Cole tries to break away from this hum drum lifestyle. BUT it was hard to enjoy the lads’ “shenanigans” when they were doing your nut in. I say shenanigans. Pulling birds and popping pills.

The dig from Cole about EDM was interesting. All you need is a laptop. Some knowledge of DJ software and one ground breaking track apparently. I’m sure it was meant to be a statement on the saturation of EDM but it kind of takes a stab at people who buy the music. Me.

The tracks that Efron and Bentley’s characters regarded as bilge were actually quite good. Here’s an example. Something to jazz it up a bit.

Too jazzy? Moving on. What made me laugh was that their “authentic” ground breaking tracks were absolute tosh. Apparently authentic is the sound of a coin spinning on a table and Efron’s housemate shooting nails through the roof. Brilliant :/

I did like the downbeat tone and warped corporate angle. It was just a shame that it was never really used to its full potential. The dark underbelly of the American dream was perfectly demonstrated with Jon Bernthal’s sleazy realtor. A tense scene in which we watch the snake at work had potential BUT it never really went anywhere. Merely a turning point for the hapless DJ.

The alluring Emily Ratajkowski (Gone Girl) was nice to look at. BUT her acting? Her acting wasn’t actually that bad.

It just didn’t help that her character had the depth of an attractive looking cardboard cut out. She certainly had good chemistry with Efron which made their inevitable romance that little more bearable.

I think the only actor who might come out of this mess unscathed is Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games). He was fantastic as the washed up alcoholic DJ. He brought the much needed tension or drama that each scene desperately needed. Living proof that fame has a price.

BUT the tone was all over the place. A visually eye catching piece of animation may not have sent the right message about taking drugs. I liked the existential crisis that Cole was going through. Is there more to life than a 9 to 5? BUT it came off far too pretentious for it’s own good. Especially when he wanted to make loads of money from just making one track. Talk about work ethic.

The zippy graphics and visuals were interesting in the opening sequence BUT they soon overstayed their welcome. The animated segment about bass and getting people’s heartbeats to the right level of “synchronicity” (Yup) was ridiculous and laughable.

It didn’t help that when everything finally kicked off. Bar one unexpected scene (No spoilers), it was all pretty flat and predictable. Bernthal’s realtor was never revisited or resolved. The pace stuttered along. And after all that monotonous build up, the film delivered a cliched and abrupt finale.

Dull and disappointing.

2/5

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GONE GIRL REVIEW

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If you haven’t gone. Go!

One of the best films I have seen in a long time and dare I say a contender for film of the year? Can Fincher do no wrong? (Leave Alien 3 out of this!)

With his wife’s (Rosamund Pike) disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man (Ben Affleck) sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

After seeing the heavily advertised trailers and endless hype for Gone Girl, I dreaded seeing it. I felt the trailers gave everything away and left little for me to look forward to. I went in expecting to be disappointed, praying that it will at least be watchable.

But not this time. A slow burning, tense, suspenseful murder mystery that keeps you guessing. Dark, clever and, at times, surprisingly funny with some sharp satire on the relentless media manhunt that can consume a nation and remove objectivity where it’s really needed.

The opening hour very much sets up the pieces flicking back and forth from the initial incident. We get a sense of each character. The inevitable finger pointing game begins; “I think they’re hiding something”, “He looks dodgy”, “I think he or she did it”.

Ben Affleck was fantastic and apparently battling his Batman bulk. But the real plaudits will go to Rosamund Pike. A fitting end note for a busy year of movies for her. The Oscar buzz around her performance is completely justified.

Now I will admit that I haven’t read the novel. People have told me that the book is so much better. If that be the case, I must read this book because the film was brilliant. It helps that the screenplay was adapted by the author Gillian Flynn.

I’m sure many of you have heard the twist talk. Yes, there is a big twist. That is revealed quite early on. I will not be revealing any plot points because I want people to see this. However, I did find that the twist transformed the film for me and took it to another level.

The first half of the film had chugged along quite well and certainly played on the paranoia and suspicions fantastically with the endless red herrings. But once the twist is revealed, it changes everything and how everyone was initially perceived.

My main quip with films (of late) was pace. At 165 minutes, I thought this film would test me. BUT for once, I found myself hooked and actually turning my phone off to avoid interruptions. Transfixed by the story, the acting and suspense.

The trademark cinematography (and regular Fincher stalwart) of Jeff Cronenweth certainly adds to the murky undertones flowing through the film. Fincher also has a fantastic supporting cast at his fingertips.

Tyler Perry was surprisingly good, delivering some unexpected but hilarious one liners as the ruthless smooth talking lawyer. To be honest, I wanted more to see more of his character. Sela Ward (House) and Missi Pyle (Dodgeball) were perfectly cast as the silver tongued media mouthpieces thriving on the attention focused on Affleck’s Nick.

Flynn couldn’t be any more accurate with the representation of the media surrounding the missing; the social media in particular. How a simple picture can be manipulated to mean so much more than was originally intended.

Gone Girl allowed some smaller actors the opportunity to step up. Kim Dickens (The Blind Side) was very good as the relentless detective hell bent on persecuting Nick. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) went completely out of character. A breath of fresh air. He played the part to perfection.

Kathleen Rose Perkins was wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her. A real shame after her performance in Episodes. The real scene stealer, second to Pike, was Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Margo. Coon has already made an impression after her turn in the bizarre but strangely hypnotic The Leftovers. Performances like this will certainly keep her very much on the watch list.

I felt the ending fitted the film perfectly but others may find it a little too abrupt and open. It is always a risk when everything pieces together that the final unravelling may disappoint. BUT there is certainly a lot more to this than meets the eye.

A film that very much lives up to the hype. Tense, suspenseful, dark, engaging. GO SEE NOW.

4/5

Yes, a 4! Finally a film to break the endless ranting and raving from this reviewer.

A LONG WAY DOWN REVIEW

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A little long at the tooth BUT a pleasant surprise. A well acted and cheesy little drama.

Four people meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another weather the difficulties of their lives.

If you can get past the rather dark premise (which is delicately dealt with), this makes for good viewing. Inadvertently contemplating suicide at the same place. Four strangers decide to make a pact. A pact NOT to kill themselves before Valentine’s Day. A strange, unexpected BUT entertaining journey.

It’s a little corny and the schmaltz does overdo it in places BUT a perfectly chosen cast does just enough to keep things watchable. The surrogate family angle was a nice touch. Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) was brilliant as the over anxious Maureen. Imogen Poots (Need for Speed) who, at first was a little irritating, soon grew on me as the utterly bonkers Jess.

Ex-007 Pierce Brosnan played the neurotic disgraced celebrity Martin Sharp with aplomb. Sometimes his cocky demeanour and endless rambling did gripe against me in places BUT it made a change for the super spy. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) didn’t do a bad job as the mystery American pizza boy JJ.

The gang worked well together and you could tell in certain scenes that they were genuinely having a laugh. There was great chemistry between Paul and Poots. No wondered they were picked up for Need For Speed. BUT the rest of the supporting cast weren’t really used to their full potential.

Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) seemed to play a somewhat wasted role as the stereotypical toff and overbearing politician father. There was definitely a missed opportunity with him and Poots as the trouble making daughter. Their relationship was ripe for expansion and development but it was only brought up as things dipped in pace.

At least his character wasn’t as wafer thin as Rosamund Pike’s (Gone Girl). Anyone could have played her as the annoying morning news presenter. Merely a passing cameo. A plot device to create a rift among the group that was dealt with far too quickly.

The structure worked well. Flicking back and forth between the past and present. Allowing us to delve further into why each character was up on that tower. It did feel a little drawn out in parts. Disappointing considering the film was only 96 minutes. And the flashbacks, at times, didn’t really expand that much.

An intriguing prospect with Jess’ back story led no where. While Maureen’s story was very emotional and handled perfectly. You really felt for her. I was surprised at the bad rap this film got. BUT I haven’t read the Nick Hornby novel so I can’t make comparisons.

I was surprised this was adapted by Jack Thorne. From someone who wrote This Is England ’88, I did expect something a little darker. You could argue that there were missed opportunities and angles that the film could have explored. It wasn’t the strongest film to deal with this subject matter BUT it was still a well acted and easy going drama.

Corny, predictable but watchable.

3/5