‘Soapdish': Review

Soapdish

I don’t know how Soapdish is like the only movie to tackle soap operas in the film industry, I literally can’t find anything else. It’s not like it’s the be all and end all of exploration of the subject, it tries to be and is interesting, but never totally makes it. The film is great in theory, poking fun at not only the cliches of soap operas within the story of the film itself and also how it operates as a story. It achieves it half-heartedly, hitting some fine notes on the relationship dramas, slapstick and over-the-top activities. The film eventually gets to into itself and it becomes hard to discover when the film is being sincere in it’s motivations in a cliche story or when it is poking fun at these ideas. It can’t pick and choose it’s battles all too well.

The actors in here are all perfectly cast, Sally Field and Kevin Kline both exude these “classic” actors who are over-the-hill, but still contain something of a spark left in them, inspired from their early career greatness. Downey Jr. is fun as the conniving director, who tries and tries to get his way, and Whoopi Goldberg is great at playing Whoopi Goldberg. Cathy Moriarty is the one weak link, even if she looks the part well enough, she falls underwater against the others.

I really did like this film overall just as an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half. The satire doesn’t completely hit, which keeps it from being an essential or memorable film, it’s not bad, but average when there’s little weight behind it.

My Top 10 Favourite Films Of 2013

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1. Before Midnight

This film is so raw and honest that nothing can even come close to it. I’m an unabashed fan of realism on film, and this one explores relationships like none other. The build-up of the predecessors do nothing but to make it more meaningful.

2. 12 Years A Slave

The most powerful movie I’ve seen all year and the first in awhile to make me actually feel something when I left the theatre. Ejiofor was overlooked in the awards race, but his performance still is resonating in me.

3. Gravity

The most uncomfortable I’ve been watching a movie in forever. My claustrophobia and being afraid of heights didn’t help me in watching it, but it made it much realer and hit harder than many other films could even dream.

4. The Wolf Of Wall Street

Probably the funnest movie of the year, glorifying sex and drugs and making it seem like the best thing ever. What a ride, and great performances all around to legitimatize it in this world.

5. Inside Llewyn Davis

One of the most personable films of the year with the best music. The Coens somehow keep introducing classic to their filmography.

6. Her

The most beautiful film I’ve seen all year. A poignant and important take on relationships as well as how modern-day technology shapes us.

7. Dallas Buyers Club

Great film heralded by legendary performances by McConaughey and Leto. Strong message and just inherently winnable.

8. The Past

An enormous surprise to me with a film that just kept compounding elements to be the incredible shock of the year for me.

9. Prisoners

So incredibly overlooked and underrated when it came to awards season, but it remains one of the best thriller I’ve see in quite a long time.

10. Star Trek Into Darkness

I really didn’t have a slot filled in here, but I remembered how much fun I had with the Star Trek sequel that I decided to throw it in here for its enjoyment in adventure and how it personifies what a summer blockbuster should be.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Picks

Oscars

I was all excited about my Oscar picks because I’m pretty confident in them, and am not really wavering on any of them, but then I see everyone (the mass majority) has the same picks as me. Also, I’m never confident in my picks, and since I am this year it basically means that they’re all wrong, so I look forward to Philomena winning best picture.

Best Picture: The actual best picture isn’t even nominated (Before Midnight), but the second best one 12 Years A Slave is and it’ll win. I do not now how Inside Llewyn Davis is not nominated, not that it’d win, but c’mon. For fun let’s rank the best picture nominees:

12 Years A Slave

Gravity

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Her

Dallas Buyers Club

Nebraska

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Philomena

Best Actor: Chiewtel Ejiofor gave the best performance, one that’s still hard to shake even months after seeing it, but Matthew McConaughey wins, he was great, though, and I love him more than anyone now, so I’m cool with it.

Best Actress: Blue Jasmine was a pretty forgettable film, but Cate Blanchett wins for it, she was quite good.

Best Supporting Actor: Love me some Jared Leto and he wins it. I really don’t think he has any competition here.

Best Supporting Actress: I wish beyond anything that June Squibb takes this home, but goddamn Jennifer Lawrence is nominated, so of course she wins this.

Best Director: All great nominees, but Alfonso Cuarón wins because Gravity was so different than everything else.

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years A Slave, although I could see something like Terence Winter’s The Wolf Of Wall Street sneaking up.

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze wrote a damn masterpiece. What an exquisite piece of writing that deserves to be recognized.

Best Animated Film: I really could care less about animated movies, but obviously Frozen wins.

Costume Design: I’m gonna give this to The Great Gatsby because period pieces with lavish wardrobes usually win this.

Film Editing: Gotta love those Greengrass edited films.

Cinematography: Gravity looked nice.

Sound Editing: Gravity sounded nice.

Sound Mixing: Gravity sounded nice.

Music (Original Score): Gravity sounded nice.

Music (Original Song): People really seem to love that Frozen song.

Visual Effects: Gravity looked visual effect-y.

Production Design: The Great Gatsby looked nice.

Make-up And Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club seems to be the one.

Best Foreign Language Film: I’ve only seen The Great Beauty, and it was indeed a beauty to look at, if lacking in other parts, but I’ll still pick it to win.

Best Documentary: The Act Of Killing is the only one of these I’ve seen and it’s pretty damn good. It has the buzz coming in.

Documentary Short Subject: I’ll say The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life wins because it’s about the holocaust. The Academy loooves giving shit to holocaust films, so yeah, I’ll take this one.

Short Film: I have no clue about this, so I’m guessing The Voorman Problem.

Short Film (Animated): Get A Horse! sounds like fun!

*UPDATE POST OSCARS: I got 19/24 correct, which I guess on the outset seems good, but I really expected myself to do a lot better, but I think this is my best year yet at picking the winners, so I’ll take it!*

‘Stoker’: Review

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Stoker has a goddamn weird make-up of in-front of and behind the camera talent. Park Chan-Wook’s English-language debut, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, written by Wenthworth Miller, yes that dude from Prison Break, and starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman and Dermot Mulroney. ALRIGHT. I really wanted to like this more than I did, not that it’s really all that bad, but it’s a pretty average and by the number film if not for some great visual flourishes.

There’s attempts to make something beyond your whole “incest” themed and weird familial relationship thing, but it never truly manifests. It does everything it tends to pretty averagely. The acting is good all around, but never pushes into that next level to make me actually remember anything. It’s a soap-opera in a turn of words, in that it explores the relationships of these people in such close quarters with each other and how that so crazily reflects off of them.

Where the film feels pretty normal on its storytelling front, its visuals attempt to help the film along and provide an alternate and deep viewing on what the film is beginning to portray. It’s disparaging when the content is so mediocre, but the visuals around it are so much better and attempt to mask what the base part of the film is presenting.

 

‘Only God Forgives’: Review

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Off the heels of Drive which looking back split a lot of people, mostly due to his violence, but one that I enjoyed quite well, another Gosling/Refn combo film seemed like something that wouldn’t fail to entertain. A spiritual in-tone sequel, Only God Forgives ends up being exactly what critics of Drive thought it to be. It’s focused so heavily on shock value that it overshadows anything else that possibly could make the film great.

Refn seemingly only knows how to direct Gosling as a mute who fights and kills to get anything across. I know he thinks it’s honourable and cool to have a silent assassin type, but it eventually just becomes trite and more of a parody than something you can actually take seriously. Kristin Scott Thomas’ character is the exact same as Gosling, but instead of violence I’m supposed to taken aback by her choices of words and phrasing. Refn is basing all of our reaction to this character by us being shocked when a   50+ year-old woman says something like “cum dumpster.” It, of course, doesn’t work at all and is very laughable at how bad it is.

There isn’t much to take from this positively, I guess the fight scene(s) are fine for what they are if short and anti-climactic. Anything “thought-provoking” that Refn is obviously striving for never resonate and it all remains a schlock mess of a B-movie. It’s a shame that such a film had to succumb to this and fall to such depths.

2.5/10

‘Kick-Ass 2’: Review

Kick-Ass 2

I enjoyed Kick-Ass enough when it came out in 2010. It was a cool twist on the superhero genre that was just really becoming monumental then, and was a nice diversion. Working off two fronts, being an alternative to the soft PG-13 comic book movies, Kick Ass was crude, violent and had a pre-teen girl saying “cunt.” Also, it played off of that couple months when everyday people dressing up as superheroes and fighting “crime” was all the rage.

To put it simple, the sequel is a fine enough follow-up, but really wholly unnecessary. Kick-Ass was fun, and in theory a sequel was thought to be enticing, but never really built off anything from the first film, or expanding the universe in any great detail. It’s a serviceable film, ie. it’s not bad, but largely forgettable in only really attempting to ape the first film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is really perfectly cast, and does some nice stuff here, but again it’s largely a retread of everything covered in the first film.

I think the biggest problem with the film is its handling of Chloe Grace Moretz and her Hit-Girl character. The break-out star of the first film was quite obviously Hit-Girl, the foul-mouted eleven-year-old, who kicked ass and killed men three times her age in the most brutal way possible. She was fun and was a nice shock to the system in a character we’ve never seen before. This time around she was given absolutely nothing to do, and really just seemed to exist in the film just to have her exist. She was given some stupid b-plot about her being forced to co-exist with stereotypical “popular” girls in high school, that was pointless, went nowhere and had no bearing on the film other than just to fill time.

Really the film is fine in what it intends to do, shock and awe in the comic book genre in something that isn’t a family-friendly affair. It does that, it entertains, but it’s really just a carbon copy of its average predecessor.

6/10

‘Behind The Candelabra’: Review

Behind The Candelabra

I always just knew of Liberace as that sequined piano player from way back when. Of course, as I and people nowadays know him as a gay icon and often a punchline for that type of humour. But, as the film portrays, it’s fascinating seeing how in the 1970s he was obviously gay, but made sure to the nth degree that the public didn’t know that, and that he kept up appearances as a straight man. Obviously, back then it would have been a killer to his career, and the danger and threat of AIDS wasn’t even a thought in people’s minds.

Not knowing really anything about Liberace, I can only understand how he was to a certain degree, but Michael Douglas portrayed him perfectly to what I imagine he was like, or at least played to how we view him. It’s almost scary how good Douglas is in the role, inhabiting him so expertly that it was often off-putting when he showed off his eccentricities and plying into Matt Damon’s character. Damon is equally great as what ends up being Liberace’s boy toy, a troubled individual who learns to love fame when attached to Liberace and all the spoils that come with it.

It’s a common narrative we’ve seen before, especially in bio-pics, Damon is the hot, young thing that is unsure of all this attention, but eventually embraces it, almost to an unhealthy degree. He gets comfortable, and a little too steadfast in his position. Then he realizes he’s more expendable then he ever thinks, and is so easily replaced, much to his chagrin. We’ve seen this before, but the framing of the story and the acting that delivers it makes it feel like it’s the first time we’re seeing it.

Soderbergh’s directing isn’t flashy, it hardly ever is, but’s it’s competent and confident like always, and often lets the story play out rather than try and enhance it unnecessarily through camera tricks. There is one scene in particular that stands out, Douglas and Damon are walking through Liberace’s lavish house as Damon complains they don’t get out and do stuff together, Soderbergh’s tracks them through the house, showing off the incredible luxury and prominence these men live in.

I think largely Behind The Candelabra is successful because it’s consistently interesting and explores a topic that few know all that much about. I always knew of the man, but never really understood who Liberace was and Soderbergh, Douglas and Damon paint a perfect picture.

8/10