Side EffectsAnne Murphy
A woman's world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.
Much like its characters, "Side Effects" is never in touch with reality, not that realism, per se, is necessary for a good movie. The misrepresentation of mental health problems and treatment is a little unforgivable though; an already marginalised population may be further stigmatised, and that's not entertainment. There are lots of twists and turns that build intrigue but somehow the story manages to become more preposterous with each plot revelation, and the suspension of disbelief is necessary for viewing enjoyment. Pharma meets psychodrama.
Hyde Park on HudsonAnne Murphy
The story of the affair between FDR and his cousin Daisy Suckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King of England visited New York.
The most entertaining thread of "Hyde Park on The Hudson" comes from the pronunciation of 'hot dog' by the royal couple. Disarmingly straight-faced, they consider whether to eat one. It's a small highlight in what is an otherwise lacklustre production about a philatelist president and his dowdy cousin. "How I longed for him" is typical of the narration provided, courtesy of the mooning paramour to explain what isn't apparent on the screen. The Hudson reduced to a rivulet.
The Bad IntentionsAnne Murphy
A young girl convinces herself that she will die on the same day that her brother will be born.
A sullen, spoilt, and maladjusted little girl is the central character of "The Bad Intentions", and few 8 year olds could be as unlike-able as this one. Therein lies a problem, as the story is hers, other characters are ancillary to the plot. It's hard to maintain interest in what befalls a child so disinterested in those around her, background political unrest and the privileged social standing of the girl's family providing the only peripheral interest. The intention is dark humour, but not so good.
The Man Who Came With The SnowWendy Slevison
A man enters a bar, sits and observes, not speaking. Gradually, the silent presence of the stranger disturbs the other customers.
This bleak film, set in Tajikistan, begins as a tableau, monochromatic but for the violent splashes of red placed artfully throughout. In stark contrast, the snow and wind rage outside, the elements as harsh as life in this place. While an interesting study in the power of stillness, this film never engages the viewer. Perhaps the severity of the setting defines it too strongly... there is just no warmth to be found.
A Film with Me in ItAnne Murphy
A couple of out of work actors find themselves in a predicament, as accidental deaths pile up around them.
The situation the characters in this movie find themselves in is both dark and comical, but as a black comedy, it fails to deliver. The premise is clever but never witty, and the characters are droll and bumbling, comedic without being funny. There are all of the necessary ingredients to arouse laughter, but when it's served up the dish simply fails to amuse. Something about this film with me in the audience just doesn't seem right.
The Last SongWendy Slevison
A rebellious girl is sent to a Southern beach town for the summer to stay with her father.
"The Last Song" was specifically created as a vehicle for its female lead to make the shift to more adult dramatic roles, but regrettably it won't help her career as much as she may have hoped. The movie is everything you'd expect â€“ a cheesy, schmaltzy tear-jerker. While the young stars do their best to provide some sense of authenticity to their roles, the overwrought, overloaded and implausible plot make it very hard work for cast and viewer alike. It almost certainly won't be the amiable young star's last song, but sadly isn't her best.
A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.
The premise of "Unknown" is solid, but it's the execution that falters. You can't help but shake the feeling you've seen it all before, only done much better. Most disappointing is the talented cast that is wasted in underwhelming, forgettable roles. An inevitable twist might explain inconsistencies in the plot, but it only leads to a pedestrian climax that will have most wishing the amnesia that plagues the protagonist could've translated to the viewing experience as well. Forget it.
Fifty Shades of GreyAnthony Macali
Literature student Anastasia's life changes forever when she meets handsome billionaire Christian.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" is a story about the allure of wealth, and bizarre sexual contractual agreements that arise from 'dating' a wealthy man. An introduction to these politics from our two leads is assuredly the most interesting part of the film. Unfortunately the rest is a bitter disappointment, dominated by a tiring and flirtatious game of to-and-fro, a precursor to the passionless and sanitised sex that follows. Attractive leads, inadvertent laughs and very little to love. Don't submit to boredom.
The Last CircusAnne Murphy
Two clowns compete for the love of a beautiful trapeze artist.
"The Last Circus" uses a circus troupe in an allegorical presentation of the horror of the Spanish Civil War. The result is macabre and violent, yet strangely compelling viewing. There's nothing subtle in the telling of the story, it goes right over the top with absurdity, and then it could be argued that the same comic chaos underpins any war. Choosing clowns as the main characters is heavy handed imagery; both the happy clown and the sad clown are grotesque, more than entertaining. This metaphor laden effort is in need of a ring-master.
A juvenile offender with psychopathic tendencies is released from detention and hooks up with a twisted young girl, while a semi-retired cop dogs their tracks.
An unhinged murderer, a hackneyed lieutenant, and a troubled teenager from a damaged background play out this crime thriller. Reasonable watching descends into cliché as it becomes hard to pick which of the characters is the more stereotyped. Suspense is defused by moments corny enough to elicit laughter. Predictably, neither callousness nor tenderness delivers redemption, not for the players, and not for the film.
The BoxAnthony Macali
A small wooden box arrives on the doorstep of a married couple, who know that opening it will grant them a million dollars and kill someone they don't know.
Based on a short-story, this creepy film doesn't live up to its promising premise. A lot of weird stuff happens - blood noses, gateways, lightening and other unintentionally funny moments of suspense. The score is atmospheric, performances solid, but intriguing questions of morality are lost in the frustratingly ponderous revelations. The lesson here is to stay at home in your box, perhaps watch the box, and avoid the confusion that is "The Box".
Summer HoursWendy Slevison
Two brothers and a sister witness the disappearance of their childhood memories when they must relinquish the family belongings to ensure their deceased mother's succession.
The star of "Summer Hours" is the exquisitely beautiful French countryside; the actors are largely wasted in this tepid examination of family dynamics upon the death of the stabilising matriarch. As the film languorously tells its tale, we never really get to know or care about the individual characters and their stories. In fact, it was actually difficult to ascertain any point to the movie at all, and by the end you find yourself longing for a change of season.
An updated version of the 1980 musical, centered on students of the NY Academy of Performing Arts.
The grit, heartbreak, passion and talent of the characters was the heart of the ground-breaking original movie. These elements are absent in this 'reinvention'. It is bland and soul-less, two things a film about performing arts should never be. Clearly aimed at the MTV audience, this is a sequence of performance numbers interrupted by inconsequential plot, rather than a character study in the lives of extraordinarily talented students desperate for success. More sparkler than flame, this "Fame" bungles its audition.
J. EdgarAndrew O'Dea
Director of the FBI for almost 40 years, J.Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered.
This biopic is as unprovocative as it is uninformative. So much of "J Edgar" is dedicated towards an unnecessary focus on the man's battle with his sexuality and unrequited romance that it loses direction. Eventually, it labours towards the end of what is ultimately a dull and turgid affair. Utterly disappointing when you consider the talent of the director and the squandered opportunity to delve into the life of one of the most influential and controversial characters in the history of the United States. Sucks almost as much as the protagonists' vacuous namesake.
Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
The extravagant excesses and the tech-bubble of late last century are the subject "Cosmopolis". Unfortunately this is a stilted, stagey film. Apparently the original dialogue of the book this movie was adapted from has been used, but it gives the production and its monotone soliloquies a wooden feel. Maybe the best conversations will be the discussions provoked after watching the movie while sipping a cosmopolitan.
What Just Happened?Wendy Slevison
Two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.
What a disappointment. "What Just Happened" is a film boasting an amazing pedigree, but has no apparent storyline or plot, no standout performances and no characters we care anything about; not even the big-name actors playing themselves can do anything to invigorate this lifeless, pointless exercise. Unfortunately, all you are likely to think as you leave the cinema after watching this movie is "what just happened?" And the answer is... not much.
Special TreatmentAnne Murphy
A world-weary psychoanalyst and a classy prostitute both struggle with relationship issues.
The premise for "Special Treatment" is intriguing, but unfortunately the film fails to leverage the plot for comic or dramatic interest. While parallels are sketched between the professions of the two main characters, the outlines drawn are insufficient to sustain audience curiosity, which is not encouraged to deepen into involvement. The supporting cast suffer in undeveloped roles, as clients and friends, they fail to bring enough colour to the screen to be appreciated as eccentric, and subsequently end up looking pitiful. Better treatment required to make this movie special.
A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire.
"Twilight" is in essence a thinly veiled melodrama. The bulk of the film constitutes parading an endless procession of our star-crossed lovers staring longingly at each other, which achieves nothing but to reduce it to a lumbering bore. It feels like filler to a paper-thin plot, glaringly prevalent when crucial story revelations are uncovered simply by using an online search engine. An overwhelming sense of the anemic is coupled with dialogue that is as bland and as pale as the vampires' ridiculous skin. Appropriately put, this movie sucks.
A disenfranchised teenager who lives in a housing estate in Paris befriends three young women.
The director has employed realism in following one woman's day-to-day life. The central character is marginalised by virtue of her gender, colour, age and impoverished existence. Joining a gang provides belonging. While the filmmaking approach is bold, it's also uncomfortably raw, relying on incidental dialogue and minimal narrative structure. The cost to the audience is coherency. There are a couple of standout scenes but insufficient to save the viewing time from seeming interminable. Girl without a cause.
The ButlerStefan Bugryn
The story of Cecil Gaines, who for three decades served as the chief butler in the White House for eight consecutive US Presidents.
The main problem with "The Butler" is it tries to fit too much into tight parameters, and becomes a little trying as a result. In fact, there's so much going on, it actually feels like there's nothing going on at all. The story between the lead character and his son is engaging enough, but even so, there isn't much depth to the lead himself. He is actually a little boring, much like the entire movie. You'll be better served somewhere else.
Grace of MonacoAnne Murphy
The story Grace Kelly's crisis of marriage and identity, during a political dispute between Monaco and France, and a looming invasion of Monaco.
We're informed that this is a fictitious account of real events and it's impossible to discern what's real and what's not. It's an intriguing story that might have worked better as complete fiction. The princess is acted with beauty and grace, pardon the pun, but there are an annoying number of full screen close-ups of her countenance. If the camera is looking for warts shouldn't it focus on a frog or the prince? Airy-fairytale.
A New Yorker moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he house-sits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother's assistant.
"Greenberg" is a guy who is annoying and weird, so aloof that you may question his mental state. At the beginning, you empathise with the man, but this doesn't last long, as you become bored by his antics and frustrated by his social encumbrance. It's difficult to root for such a character, especially when his old friends, and particularly the vulnerable assistant, suffer from his selfishness. Yes, life must be tough without any responsibility... poor Greenberg.
Heaven Knows WhatStefan Bugryn
Two junkies share their on-again, off-again relationship with a chaotic love triangle for heroin.
In an attempt to stay as real as possible, this film falls comfortably short of providing any enjoyment from its visceral experience. It doesn't go further than providing lots of close up shots with an obnoxious accompanied by unsatisfying electronic score. Yes, we are meant to feel like it's authentic, with the actors playing the parts were actually previous junkies themselves, but nothing good comes from the messy narrative. It had much potential from the start, and ends up disappointing us again and again as the story progresses. Heaven knows this isn't good.
A domestic wife to a rich husband resorts to desperate measures to secure an inheritance for her son.
This is the kind of a movie where you feel like you're always waiting for something to happen. You just hope the ending is worth all the dull, overly drawn out moments you sit through. In short... it's not worth it. The director might call it suspense, but it resonates only as disappointment. There is no real reward for your patience. The cinematography and acting are both sumptuous, but they don't make up for what’s lacking; any true moments of real, hard hitting drama. Ele….Nah!
Winter's BoneStefan Bugryn
A young girl sets out to find the truth of her father's disappearance whilst looking after her dysfunctional family.
This is a disappointing movie that promises a lot yet delivers little. The whole story acts as a tense build up to a secret a community of drug addled Southerners are keeping. But once you get to where it's headed, you feel like it wasn't worth the time, and it plays out rather banal. The set design and acting are actually both impressive, but they do not make up for the weak storyline. Sticks, stones, and a bad film will break "Winter's Bones"... and your enjoyment.