*NEW* NERVE REVIEW *NEW*

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The dares may have been nail biting BUT the cliched dialogue and cheesy moments got on my NERVES!

A high school senior (Emma Roberts) finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”

It’s like truth or dare BUT without the truth. So it’s dare. Just say dare. Instead of people playing Pokemon Go, we have idiots taking videos of themselves lying on train tracks and hanging off scaffolding for views and likes.

I didn’t even realise that was adapted from a book until my mate told me. BUT after watching this mixed bag, I’m NOT sure if I will seek out the original source material.

From the moment the film began with that nauseating first person PoV of Roberts’ Vee (Short for Venus. Don’t worry, we’re told numerous times. Just in case we forget) perusing her Facebook page, playing “The Only Single Person of her Friends” Spotify playlist and whining about going to college, I didn’t know if this would be for me.

Roberts (Scream Queens) was a likeable presence and the pace zipped along. It set up her cliched back story quite quickly and you could relate to her social awkwardness and inability to tell her financial stricken mother that a local college might NOT be in her plans.

And it wasn’t long before the NERVE-ous teen (What?) was introduced to the latest viral craze. Emily Meade (The Leftovers) made a memorable turn as Vee’s attention seeking and insecure “BFF” Sydney. Her incessant nitpicking goading Vee to break free from the lonely ranks of the “WATCHER” and take on life as a “PLAYER”. A shame the same can’t be said for the rest of the supporting cast.

Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) was wasted in her role as Vee’s mum. Their relationship wasn’t really explored enough (or at all for that matter). There was so much potential BUT it was all thrown away for the game.

Miles Heizer (Parenthood) was funny as Tommy. The poor chap who can’t accept Vee’s “friend zone”. BUT once Dave Franco (Now You See Me 2) hit the scene, his snarky one liners and quips were reduced to phone in conversations. Only returning for the finale.

The whole concept of NERVE was intriguing and was a fantastic satire ripe for poking fun at the idiocy that all these social media platforms bring (as well as the dangers). BUT for the first 30 minutes, it was just too damn corny. Despite NERVE focusing perfectly on the addictive nature of a new craze with Vee enjoyed living a little and gaining fans, I could feel my patience wading.

Franco’s introduction picked things up a bit and he managed to drudge through some of the more nauseating moments. BUT I had to cringe at the lad miming badly to Roy Orbison and prancing around the diner for a dare.

BUT while this was all going on, I kept wondering why this film got a 15 rating in the first place?! Kiss a guy for 10 seconds. Wear an expensive dress. Get a tattoo. Really?

Luckily the pair had good chemistry and kept things watchable BUT I was still left wanting. HOWEVER just as I was about to give up on this cheesy teen flick, the game took a turn for the worse. As Vee became a viral sensation, the dares soon became more challenging leading to a tense adrenaline pumped second half.

The true danger of social media. A white knuckle motorbike ride had me wincing throughout as Vee guided a blindfolded Ian (Franco) across a busy traffic riddled New York street. BUT that didn’t make me feel quite as queasy as the ladder dare.

A rattly ladder pinned between two buildings with a nice 20-30 storey drop. No thank you! And to make matters worse, the opponent must film the whole thing on their phone while doing it. The camera angles and first person perspective tested my vertigo a treat.

Frantic, suspenseful and mental. A rewarding half that almost paid off as things came to a head. BUT this was where it let itself down again after all that promise and tension. Vee and Sydney’s friendly battle for views became more competitive BUT it led to nothing more than a bitchy ‘slanging’ match. Shame.

And that was the problem. This could have been so much darker. It was far too corny for its own good and despite these mental challenges and satirical commentary, it rushed everything for a frantic and abrupt finale that delivered a hammy sermon on the woes of trolling and illegal online activity.

I could respect the message BUT the timing and delivery was dreadfully dull and killed a lot of the suspense.

A mixed bag. I could think of worse ways to kill 90 minutes. A watchable romp BUT not quite what I hoped.

2.5/5

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AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY REVIEW

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Behold, an Oscar candidate. A proper one. A perfect showcase in sheer acting. I may have said that a few times now but this one takes the cake.

Brilliant, bold, riveting drama with the best acting ensemble I’ve seen in some time. Meryl Streep once again demonstrates why she still rakes in the nominations. Phenomenal. I may have to retract my bet on the Best Actress nod. Tracey Letts adapted the screenplay from her own award winning stage play. Some may argue that the film may be restricted to the house, a beautiful house at that. But I feel it works as the perfect wrestling ring for one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve seen since Arrested Development (as exemplified perfectly in the poster).

Admittedly, I was reluctant to see this. Me? Reluctant to see a film? Strange. I know. The trailer didn’t sell it for me. But Mum’s a Streep fan and so we went . . . and was pleasantly surprised. What was strange was seeing ol’ brainbox Sherlock Holmes, Mr Benedict Cumberbatch as silly sympathetic simpleton Little Charlie. An odd, if well acted, transition. After his shoddy accent in The Island, Ewan McGregor has finally mastered the American accent. The only thing I could pick at is why on Earth did he have his teeth done? Are you Rylan in disguise?! (X Factor’s Rylan Clark. If you don’t know, who that is. Well, you’re lucky). Apart from that, very good. In all fairness, the cast were brilliantly picked for the roles. The only problem with so much talent on display, certain actors get pushed to the back of the line but the fact they are still able to make an impression, shows how talented they are and how well developed the characters were. Juliette Lewis as the younger gullible naive daughter (Not surprising that Lewis would play the dimwit but she nails it so well). Delmot Mulroney as the laid back slacker with the fancy Ferrari, trying to stay cool with the kids, reeking of a mid-life crisis.

Julianne Nicholson as Ivy, the daughter that stayed while the others flew the coop. And speaking of coop, it was great to see Chris Cooper. An underrated actor who always shines. I mean only he could go from American Beauty to The Muppet Movie and nail it. Desperately trying to keep the peace in a house full of nutters, his breaking point speech was brilliantly done. You couldn’t help but root for the guy. It could be argued that Abigail Breslin and Sam Shepard were wasted characters. But the real story is between Violet (Streep) and Barbara (Roberts). Breslin’s character Jean was more of a foil to unearth their resentments and there is a reason for Shepard without spoiling anything. Great actor and the fact he made an impact with a mere couple of minutes, reciting TS Elliott was very good. But anyone could have played him. 

There are three actresses that stood out. The first was Margo Martindale (a talented actress that has played some memorable roles from some of my favourite TV shows, Dexter and The Americans. She especially struck my eye after her turn in Justified as the creepy Mags Bennett). She plays Mattie Fae brilliantly. Her chemistry with Streep was fantastic. You could have believed that they were sisters. They made it seem so natural. Now the other two and the main stars, who have been rightly nominated for Oscars respectively, are Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep as Barbara and Violet. They desperately try to keep civil during a family crisis that has finally brought all the family home, despite their strained relationship but it isn’t soon before tempers flare up and everyone’s dirty laundry is thrown about. The pair are fantastic and when they confront each other over their problems with one another, it is great to watch. Riveting and at times emotional. Meryl Streep, however, was on another level. As soon as she entered the first frame, she stole the show and dominated the film as the overbearing pill popping matriarch. Her erratic behaviour from mad ranter to a vulnerable sufferer was conveyed expertly. Her “truth telling” guilt trip at the dinner table was brilliantly done. As the film progresses, we finally get to see her vulnerability and show real sympathy for her. The final moments are a fitting end note to an impeccable performance by an incredible actress. Just watch it!

Family secrets are revealed, unexpected twists and turns jump up, it all kicks off and then . . . ends quite abruptly. The ending was to be expected but it seemed to wrap up all too quickly and loosely but then when are family matters ever really resolved? But after so much build up, tension and great acting, maybe a little more time could have been spared on the final minutes, especially when one of the characters drives away in an unexpected direction. I’m staying as cryptic as possible as I want people to see this. Speaking as someone from a big family, there were so many personalities that reminded me of my own. The dinner table scene demonstrated that perfectly, especially when Violet told the men off for taking their jackets off at the table and watching them put them back on like scorned children. I haven’t seen the play that this was based on but I would very much like to now. Some may argue that the pace doesn’t justify the means but I don’t believe so. I think it allowed the simmering tension to bring to the boil perfectly, making it better for it.

All in all, well shot, well written, well acted, well done! Hazaar! In Streep we trust 4/5

Currently ranks #14 out of 133!