THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN REVIEW

Normally films like this put me on edge.

High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) when her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her older brother (Blake Jenner).

I didn’t think I’d enjoy this at all.

The endless praise and surprisingly high ratings piqued my curiousity. When I saw Miss Steinfeld in True Grit, I thought to myself, “She is going to be one to watch for the future” BUT the last few films I’ve seen her in, I’ve been disappointed. Playing nothing more than a neurotic, fast talking, annoying teenage daughter.

She really grated against me in Pitch Perfect 2.

Within the first ten minutes of Nadine’s verbal diarrhea, I thought I might have to switch this off. Her melodramatic cries for attention had me wincing. That was until she shared her feelings with a seemingly uncaring teacher (Woody Harrelson).

What ensued after was a pleasantly entertaining coming-of-age family drama that hit home.

The film flicked back and forth as we got a glimpse into Nadine’s past right up to the . . . edge of 17. The melancholy and nostalgia ripe for the picking as she made her first friend at pre-school and bumped heads with her erratic mother (Kyra Sedgwick).

Her dad being the wedge between them. An endearing relationship that was cut short (rather unexpectedly).

It was easygoing and funny enough as Nadine dealt with growing up, high school crushes, her sibling rivalry with her over achieving brother Darian (Nope, not a typo. Actual name) and those . . . embarrassing haircuts. Rocking a do that bared striking similarities to Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite.

However, being a teen drama, it wasn’t long before Nadine’s relatively tranquil and normal life came crashing down after walking in on her BFF in bed with Darian.

Throwing her into a helter skelter of emotions and self-reflection as she threatens to lose her only real friend and cause a rift in the family.

After commending Harrelson’s performance in Three Billboards last month, I was impressed to see that the comedy actor wasn’t a one trick pony (I know! True Detective, yeah yeah yeah). He really has matured as an actor and delivered a sterling turn as the cynical Mr Bruner.

I loved the dynamic between Nadine and her long suffering tutor. The tit for tat banter really made the film. A constant thorn in the miserable mentor’s side. BUT beneath that gloomy exterior, lied a man with a good heart. Desperate to see this neurotic teenager find her way and . . . leave him alone for a god damn second.

Hayden Szeto was brilliant as Erwin. The geeky film nerd desperate to win Nadine’s love and affection. The awkward cringe inducing first date, the idle chit chat, we’ve all been there. I felt for the poor chap as he got “friend zoned” again and again.

What I loved most about this film was how writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig tackled loneliness and isolation among the characters.

Nadine’s depression and frustrations reaching breaking point as she tries to break up the people who are desperately trying to help her. The stubbornness and refusal to see other people’s problems over her own as she acted out.

I was a little embarrassed to admit that I could relate to the headstrong 17 year old girl. I was dropped by my best friend in sixth form out of the blue which knocked my confidence for six and forced me to re-evaluate myself.

I know the situation was reversed for Nadine BUT the anguish and awkward encounters as she tried to branch out struck a chord for me. Brilliantly captured and acted perfectly by Steinfeld.

I wasn’t sure on what direction the film would take as it reached it’s emotional finale. I won’t spoil it. BUT worth a watch.

A pleasant surprise. Not without its imperfections. It was still a little cheesy and the pace did test in places BUT hype definitely helped this time around.

3.5/5

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PITCH PERFECT 2 REVIEW

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The Bellas are back. Prepare to get Pitch Slapped. (Delightful :/) Whether you’ll enjoy it this time around is another story.

After a humiliating performance at the Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

Surprisingly, I actually didn’t mind the first film. I was “forced” to watch it (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). I’m not normally into things like this. Glee? No. PP was cheesy, OTT BUT funny and entertaining. Shame, lightning couldn’t strike twice.

It was watchable but it just didn’t quite hit the same notes that the first one did (Yeah, I made a musical based pun joke. Crushed it).

The heavily advertised opening didn’t get things going for me. If anything, there was too much going on. The acapella dance routine was manic. The choreography along with the bombardment of camera shots and angles made it all a little disorienting. There was a point to it by the end. But we had to endure several more sequences of it.

However, John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks) were back on fine form as the bitchy commentators. Higgins came out with some corkers straight off the bat.

A wardrobe malfunction with Fat Amy (Perfectly timed to a cover of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball) in front of the President of the United States (And no! Barack Obama was not in the film. They allowed shots of him) leads to the lovely ladies getting banned from performing. Aca-no way?

The film does pick up and was harmless enough. Anna Kendrick was still pretty good. Great voice. A lovely little singer. We join Beca as she finds her obligations torn between the Bellas and her internship at a record label.

Rebel Wilson was actually not as irritating or in the film as much as I thought. She won me over in Pitch Perfect and seemed to fare better when she improvised. An anagram of Becca and Chloe got an anecdote I didn’t expect. But some of the bigger gags and stunts involving her were too OTT, unnecessary and unfunny.

An unexpected romance between her and another character didn’t really make any sense and didn’t add any depth to her character. Shame. I won’t spoil anything but it was sloppy.

Skylar Astin was a missed presence. He had the charm and charisma but was reduced to only a few scenes. Obviously, his relationship with Beca was set up in the PP but there could have been potential for more drama as Beca tried to balance singing and producing.

In all honesty, they didn’t make much of the record producing angle either.

Beca’s Christmas jingle with Snoop Dogg. You read that, right? Christmas in June? Say what? Snoop was off the hook. For shiz- He was okay. I thought he was Snoop Lion now?

Keegan-Michael Key was highly unfunny as Beca’s record producer boss. An ongoing joke with his cousin as a runner was dead in the water after 30 seconds. He even went for the same nauseating joke my uncle used to pull at parties with the “I’ll keep forgetting your name and say something else” spiel. Hilarious. NOT!

There was a lazy boot camp sequence that seemed like nothing more than a ploy to get Anna Kamp back into the mix. The camping gags were so-so but there were so many missed opportunities. Instead we had Rebel Wilson doing an incredibly OTT love song across a lake that went on far too long. Okay, I had a guilty chuckle as a passing car decided to disturb Amy’s groove.

When it came to the actual singing, the film thankfully hits its stride. A mish-mesh of 80s pop hits, 90s jams and current singles were incorporated brilliantly into the stand-offs. The Bellas’ cover of the soundtrack’s main song ‘Flashlight’ by Jessie J was brill. I preferred it to the actual song.

Das Sound Machine were the much needed catalyst that got the best of the characters that seemed to be pushed into the background. The lazy German/US rivalry was old hat but it was still entertaining enough. Their performances were superb.

I couldn’t believe that Birgitte Hjort Sorensen from Borgen was in this as the head honcho. She couldn’t dance though, bless her. The playful exchanges between Beca and Kommissar were quite funny as the towering blonde goddess (What?) used her prowess to unsettle the “feisty fairy”. The random babble that Kendrick came out with was very hit and miss.

Funny after all the advertising, the World War reference wasn’t even included in the theatrical cut. Hmmm . . .

It just didn’t work as well. Some of the better supporting characters were barely in it or quickly thrown in out of desperation to get a quick titter (Come on, don’t laugh at that word). Some bits worked and I wasn’t bored. BUT others didn’t and it was actually what I expected the first time around. Unfunny, dreadfully cheesy and OTT.

Adam DeVine’s Bumper returned? Why? Were they desperate to make everything full circle? He was too tame after his arrogant turn in the first. Boring.

Benji (Ben Platt) came off really weird and annoying. I felt sorry for the chap in PP1. BUT this time, he did my nut in. Hailee Steinfeld wasn’t too bad as the Bella’s new recruit but she definitely tried to channel her inner Benji and to be honest, one of them was enough. She really did grate on my nerves.

There was a nice cameo from Katey Sagal as Steinfeld’s mum. But her role was nothing. We know she can sing. All she gets is a backing vocal in a small choir. A waste.

Hana Mae Lee was great! Her inaudible comments delivering the (much needed) laughs. Chrissie Fit’s sassy Latina Flo felt like a mish-mesh of Lilly and Fat Amy. We already have one weird girl coming out with weird stuff. Well, two if you count Amy. The border patrol gags were a little stereotypical and just not funny.

They tried too hard and it just didn’t quite come off. The songs saved the day and it wasn’t a bad debut from Banks. But I’m sorry.

Aca-scuse me but it’s a . . .

2.5/5

BEGIN AGAIN REVIEW

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Better. We’re getting there. A nice film that delivers the feel good factor without laying on the cheese too much but not without its imperfections.

A somewhat slow burning opener turns into an easy going well acted and well sung summery movie with a different ending, if a little abrupt in my opinion. John Carney may not have surpassed Once but he hasn’t made a bad follow up. If Keira Knightley actually sang, then what a voice. Her voice with those Norah Jones-esque lyrics were sublime. She can’t stop doing the pouty face but a beaut all the same.

What’s it all about? A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive (Ruffalo) and a young singer-songwriter (Knightley) new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.

Knightley and Ruffalo are, to be expected, superb together. They have fantastic chemistry and work well off each other. Ruffalo is a very charismatic actor and has proven time and time again to be a reliable lead. He delivers the goods yet again. The time spent building up as to why these two characters are in their situations and meet at that point in their lives is a little long at the tooth but once we get the gist, it allows the film to flow a bit more and makes for good viewing.

The lyrics are well written, the songs are fantastic. A movie soundtrack that I would actually consider downloading. Carney catches the energy and buzz of New York City and uses it to his full potential. He even manages to have a cheeky pop at the music industry and the corporate labels. A nice commentary, if a little out of place in this feel good film. Hailee Steinfeld unfortunately seems to play the same estranged daughter role. I mean, if you have seen 3 Days to Kill, it is virtually the same character but replace the bike with an electric guitar.

Catherine Keener does her best but has such a mundane supporting role. Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine, on the other hand, do a great job. I mean they have proven that they can act in other movies (Hotel Transylvania for Green) and TV shows (American Horror Story for Levine) but it helps in bringing their characters to life. Levine, in particular, as the sleazy rock star lothario that breaks Knightley’s heart. Mos Def, unfortunately for me, was very dull and I always feel like he can’t be arsed to be in the film. Sighing and rolling his eyes and mumbling with no conviction.

James Corden was hilarious as Knightley’s comical side kick. He provides the usual spiel but it still works and brings the odd laugh. What was interesting is that with the attraction and chemistry between the leads and with these sort of films, you expected the inevitable. Only this time, it didn’t happen. A surprise but I felt that with this sort of film, I would have accepted it. And it all zips along and you’re getting into it; only for it to end quite openly and rather abrupt for me. It just seemed to fizzle out.

However, it’s fun, entertaining, easy going. Worth a watch 3.5/5 for me.

Currently ranked #49 out of 196!

3 DAYS TO KILL REVIEW

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It will take 3 days to kill the pain of watching . . . No, it’s not that bad. Unfortunately not that great either. Kevin Costner plays the hard man as well as he can. It’s just a shame that it’s the same old recycled clichéd action movie garbage that we’ve come to accept. By all means, it’s certainly watchable but that’s because I knew what to expect going in.

The trailer inevitably made it look bad ass but I didn’t really get what was promised. The joy of a shoot em up soon sithered away with that beautiful 12a certificate rearing its ugly head. McG has never been subtle. I mean this is the guy who brought us the Charlie’s Angels reboot franchise. And that’s also the problem, this is the guy who brought us the Charlie’s Angels reboot franchise. Credit where it’s due. Terminator Salvation was actually not that bad. Could have done with a little bit of that dark undertone in this.

We have the usual opening stake out that sets up bad guy, good guy. Costner playing a trained killer with . . . a cold. That’s right, coughing and spluttering away. Inevitably that would lead to something more important. But for an opening, I was thinking how did he kill all those bad men? Simple. They don’t show you it. Just a room with 30 dead men and Costner strolling out while blowing his nose. The cringe-inducing birthday phone call with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) was terrible and so corny. Doing it while people are being shot up and explosions above him. Tut, tut, tut.

Tomas Lemarquis made a great bald, I mean Bond, villain with a dark signature move. But never going to its full gory detail. After all, it was a 12a. Inevitably the stake out goes wrong. Costner loses baldy, collapsing for some reason. That reason is that he is suffering from a terminal illness. So a botched op and a dire diagnosis, not looking good for Kev. Of course, he decides to pack it in and reunite with estranged daughter after neglecting her for 15 years. But . . . oh no. He’s needed for one last job. Deal breaker. Get this. They have an antidote that will help give him more time. Aww.

Costner plays it well. You can tell at points he is just going with it. At one point, he has to write a nice big purple bike in Paris after his daughter rejects his attempts at fatherhood. Old Cossie’s face with a nonchalant shrug says it all. The alluring Amber Heard plays the mysterious femme fatale to perfection. Not enough of her in my opinion (What?). However, once you get past her beauty (Don’t judge me), you realise her character doesn’t do much. Other than look incredibly sexy and inject Mr C with the magic antidote to keep him going. All for her own diabolical plan. Diabolical in the sense that she basically got him to do her work.

Steinfeld, the talented actress that she has proven to be in the past, is incredibly annoying. Unfortunately, it’s mainly because it’s all so predictable and clichéd. Their father/daughter relationship just seems to break up what little action there is. The bickering and snipping works well, at points, but all to an inevitable cause.

Costner’s killer soon turns into a parody of himself. The jokes in which he kidnaps a contact, chucks them in the truck work at first. But then when he keeps doing it, it gets old really quick. The action is also a little lacklustre. Costner grins like a Cheshire cat. And . . . quick edit. Bodies on the floor. Only a couple of scenes where Cos gets to kick ass. And when that happens, it’s not bad. Entertaining enough. The car chase was so quick and flat. Could you really call it one?

Also what infuriated me was, understandably, Costner’s character is ill but collapsing every time he comes close to the bald baddie? Annoying. Connie Nielsen (The Following) wins Mother of the Year for leaving her daughter with an estranged father who has been unreliable and has a mysterious past. Hmmm. Cudos for Steinfeld getting the title of the movie into her lines. The tone at times, jumps from darkly comical to straight balls out (not literally) crazy. An inevitable, and much needed, shoot em up finale boosts the slackening pace.

It’s watchable guff. Nothing more. Costner has enough charisma to carry this bullet ridden mess. Amber Heard is . . . to be expected. There are some good bits but that’s the problem, it’s a film of moments. A funny one, an action packed one, etc. I thought the scenes in which a group of squatters invade Costner’s apartment was quite funny. However, they soon overstay their welcome. Shame. 2.5/5

Currently ranks 103 out of 190!