Lists  Reviews  Images  Update feed
MoviesTV ShowsMusicBooksGamesDVDs/Blu-RayPeopleArt & DesignPlacesWeb TV & PodcastsToys & CollectiblesComic Book SeriesBeautyAnimals   View more categories »
Listal logo
All reviews - Movies (44) - TV Shows (21) - DVDs (1) - Books (6) - Music (16) - Games (15)

Dinner for Schmucks review

Posted : 11 years, 8 months ago on 31 August 2010 02:05 (A review of Dinner for Schmucks)

This movie promised alot, but failed to deliver. It was too dark to work on a Hollywood level, but too slapstick to fit in amongst more independent films.

The entire film felt as though it was trying to be something else, and just couldn't get there. Steve Carell plays Barry, a eccentric (if not mentally ill) IRS worker with a penchant for taxidermy. He meets Paul Rudds character Tim. Tim is a ruthless financial advisor, who is willing to humiliate loner Barry in order to impress his boss and co-workers by inviting him to a 'Dinner for Schmucks'. A dinner party in which invitees must bring an idiot guest to make fun of.

The whole thing had a general morality about it, the idiot loser being the 'real' winner, but the point was laboured and dragged and made the film quite un-enjoyable in parts.

Jermaine Clement's role as vainglorious artist Keiran Vollard was one of the saving graces of the movie, he delivered line upon line of outrageous banter with the dryness of the Portugese bush. For fans of 'The Concords' it was pretty much back to basics.

I think the major problem with the movie was the approaches to comedy taken by the various comedians and comic actors. Walliams is renowned for his slapstick/sex joke humour, Rudd for his underplayed frat boy humour and Clement is mostly alternative. I think these types of humour don't gel well together and create a rather unsettling pastiche, which just defines "Dinner for Schmucks".

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Worse than SARS.

Posted : 13 years, 1 month ago on 11 April 2009 11:59 (A review of Mamma Mia!)

If I could give this film a negative rating, I would. It was worse than bad, it was so bad it made me redefine what I thought 'badness' to be. Mama Mia made me experience the following symptoms:

Stomach cramps

These real and in no way fabricated symptoms were a result of constant squinting and desperately embarrassed looks away from the tele, my stomach muscles contracted every time a song was introduced into the plot, as seamlessly as Frankenstein's stitching. The fever was a result of my attempts not to scream at the television every time a desperately under-sexed, middle-aged, ropey-looking hippy woman cackled and fell back on a sofa...scenes of such make up 90% if this excuse for a film. I am not lying when I say this film bought about all the symptoms of SARS, except there was no chance of the kind release of death.

I am an ABBA fan, I came out as one a long time ago, I love their songs and I know they're cheesy and tongue in cheek. I approached this film with the same openminded, 'tongue-in-cheekery'...but it cannot be consumed this way. Were it a brit flick, maybe, but it floats somewhere between hollywood blockbuster and cheeky low budget British film, which I found unsettling and awkward to say the least. The whole film was shot disastrously, even the grain seemed to switch, lighting and cinematography were totally erratic, it looked liked it was knocked up by some woefully under qualified, 17 year old film student in his garage with his mate who took a break from writing Brokeback mountain fan fiction, to help with the project.

In some of the songs, the characters seem to go fairly easily from speech to music, but in others they seem to recognise how ridiculous the premise of this movie is, by acknowledging the awkwardness of the links. Moments such as the entry into 'Chica Tita' are acted with asides, almost like soliloquies, which are all very well in theatre but a redundant concept in film where there is no audience to respond. Another moment that left me biting my pillow in embarrassment.

The lead role played by Meryl Streep is supposed to be a single, ageing woman who seems to be recovering from a youth in which she slept with everything that moves. Her obvious slutty past has led her to bring up a reckless and unlikeable daughter who has decided to get married at 20 years old. Amanda Seyfried, who plays daughter Sophie, cannot act, as a result there is not an ounce of sincerity in what she says, she seems vapid and fake. The fundamental problem with this film is the fact that the main characters are so unlikeable, also add the shoddiness of the whole thing and the fact that half of them couldn't actually sing....its just diabolical.

I know I am against the whole world with this review, and my ovaries are begging for me to like Mamma Mia; but I cannot, just cannot fathom how such a premise ever got off the ground, a paper thin narrative around some ABBA songs. Its the same as watching a bunch of old women on a young relatives hen do, trying to prove they still have it by joining in the Karaoke. I barely got through the whole thing without resolving to self harm.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Funny, but with a message!

Posted : 13 years, 2 months ago on 10 March 2009 08:31 (A review of The Mask)

"It's party time. P, A, R, T. Why? Because I gotta!"

Nobody seems to bend the human form more than Jim Carrey, an undeniably great actor who could be the love child of Lawrence Olivier and a pot of play-do. The Mask capitalises on Carrey's talents, giving him free rein to do anything he conceivably can with his spaghetti straw of a body..with hilarious results. Scene after scene is delivered through a vehicle of slapstick that lightens your heart, watching Carrey do what Carrey does best. My friend's cannot spend an evening together without reeling off pretty much the entire screen play, one liner after one liner of quotable gold.

However, the other day, I taught an English class, as we discussed Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', I was all of a sudden awakened to the subtle moral messages and wittily parodic nature of 'The Mask'. Like so many before me I was too concerned with the bright lights and smoke that is JC to pay any real attention to the narrative.

The fundamental ideal in this movie discuss that age old, Freudian concern with the clash between id and ego, the turmoil humans face between primal instinct and social constraint. The Mask, is not only a modern interpretation of a canon classic, but a post modern deconstruction of the anguish of modern man. I know this sounds like tripe, but stay with me. Stanley Ipkiss is the archetypal put upon man(Dr Jekyll), fighting every instinct to unleash wroth upon a world that spurns him. The Mask (Mr Hyde) is the instinct and fury personified, a human embodiment of humanity's most primal urges, unconstrained by humanity, because he isn't human. Maybe I'm getting a bit above myself here, I am not saying The Mask is a cultural icon, we wont be putting it in a time capsule for future generations, but I am saying it is to be enjoyed on more than just the level of JC's stunning performance.

It's all very clever, this movie addresses an issue that has never left the consciousness of modern man, however we fail to feel any sense of foreboding, because Jim Carrey dressed as a french man is hysterically funny.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Hidden gem for the period drama fan

Posted : 13 years, 3 months ago on 30 January 2009 10:03 (A review of Poldark)

This is quite frankly a gem in the crown on British period dramas. Only the very greats, and I'm talking Pride & Prejudice great, can seek to out do this wonderful series. Set in Cornwall, Poldark follows the life of ex-seaman Ross Poldark as he fights through the political corruption of the day to make a better life for the working man, all the time falling ever more in love with his less that refined wife Demelza. Watching now, you may be shocked by how dated it seems, but I promise you, if you like period dramas, give it 10 minutes and you will be hooked for good.

Its such a shame how overlooked this series is, I only recently caught onto this craze and feel like I've been cheated, having not seen it earlier. The characters are so compelling you will find yourself drifting off and thinking on them. Every single character plays a part in delivering an entertaining array of vices and qualities.

If you are a period drama fan, particularly if you like Hornblower, or anything naval related, seek this out. You won't regret it.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Fast women, slow pace.

Posted : 13 years, 4 months ago on 8 January 2009 09:34 (A review of The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

"In the time of the Russian invasion in Czechoslovakia, making love was a way of resisting, a way of being free."

These words of the screen-writer of Lightness sum up this film entirely, an intricate balance between a political film and a love story.

This is stirring and engaging story that thoroughly challenges your preconceptions of sexuality and the Czech people as a whole. Although the story can be slow paced, and at some points almost reach a halt, the subtle yet interesting yarn keeps you engaged throughout. Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) has a succession of trysts with some beautiful and slightly deviant women, each of whom possess a uniqueness that he finds enthralling.

This is a great alternative love story, and puts the romance experienced in you average rom-com to shame. You get a real sense of what passion can be in this film, despite the troubles from the rise of communist Russia, the characters in this film remain resolute in maintaining their humanity. While their belongings, passports and general rights are taken away, they merely further embrace the passions of life which cannot be taken away.

In the 80s, when this film was made, the Iron curtain prevented this movie from being shot in Czechoslovakia, where the book was still banned. You thus feel impetuous for engaging in this film. Controversial and in some countries, illegal, you really feel like you're involved in something revolutionary, merely by watching.

I don't have to tell you the acting was great, Daniel Day-Lewis, as usual shines throughout, but amazingly is not the star of the show. Juliette Binoche give such an amazing performance, he character is captivating, she manages to draw your eye like a thunderstorm. Binoche's performance made me heavily upgrade my rating of her, which before had been low.

If you don't mind slow paced movies, that you have to have your full attention, then give this a go. If you however need SFX or loud noises to keep your attention, you will not be able to swallow this movie. I lovely exploration into life, love and passion.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

A little shy of great.

Posted : 13 years, 4 months ago on 2 January 2009 06:58 (A review of Do You Know Squarepusher)

Do You Know Squarepusher is the 2002 album released by Tom Jenkinson (A.k.a Sqaurepusher). This album is usual stuff for Squarepusher himself, mostly electronically produced drum and bass. It is a good album, it does what you expect it to, but perhaps that is the reason I don't think it's a great album. With Squarepusher's skill and an infinite choice of sound available to him, I expected this album to have something unexpected in it. This album is based around the single "Do you Know Sqaurepusher", which was originally released as an untitled single, the year previous. This is a great track for those of us who love something a bit more 'acidy' for want of an appropriate adjective.

The penultimate track, Mutilation Colony is also an amazing song and an epic 11 minutes long. Squarepusher does here what he does best, a journey through varying styles of drum and bass, often dabbling in some jazzy tones that is just a pleasure to sit back and enjoy. Finally the album finishes with a nice touch, in the cover of Joy Divisions 'Love will tear us apart', which is a refreshing take on a cult classic. However I did feel a tinge of disappointment in his choice to cover and already heavily covered single.

In conclusion an interesting album that is a definite, must have for any Squarepusher fan. This is a good album that unfortunately just stops shy of greatness. Some moments can get a bit samey and now and then in the middle tracks, you do get a feeling that old Tom lost his muse along the way, fortunately he gets it all back for the 11 minute Mutilation Colony and overall makes a pleasing and enjoyable piece of drum and bass.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Funeral review

Posted : 13 years, 4 months ago on 2 January 2009 05:57 (A review of Funeral)

Funeral is the critically acclaimed dรฉbut album of Canadian indie band, The Arcade Fire. This album didn't initially sell well but the band soon became a firm favourite of critics and musicians, when their celebrity fan base met the dizzying heights of U2 front man Bono, the general public soon caught on.

Funeral is an amazing album and is really a landmark for indie music and the music industry as a whole, opening the world up to Canadian music outside the vomit-inducing world of Bryan Adams and the power ballad. The world was only recently introduced to the concept of the orchestra in modern music, so much of modern music is still bogged down in its lead guitar-bass guitar-organ-drums formula. Bands such as the folksy/cult Polyphonic Spree have helped reinvent the orchestra, bringing it away from Opera and The Proms, showing us there is no music more pleasurable than a fluid and complex array of instruments, panning string, wood wind, brass and organ.

There are two main reasons that Funeral is such an amazing album, firstly there is the pure musical talent that oozes from every band member. Each not only possesses an ability to play some amazingly complex instruments, including the harp, French horn and accordion, but to put them together in a series of interesting and moving ways that never fails to impress. Some tracks remain mellow and haunting throughout, some build to awesome crescendos that make them acutely memorable.

The second is the way in which the album mirrors some genuinely deep emotions experienced by the band. This album was named Funeral as several of the band members friends and relations died in its making. Due to this you can't fail to feel a sense of the macabre in some of the tracks, that appeals to the Victorian-like, death-obsession that resides in us all, however residual.

Brilliant piece of art, endlessly enjoyable, the new mark to which all indie music should be measured. If you like music for the music, you'll love this.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Captain! It's a beige alert.

Posted : 13 years, 5 months ago on 19 December 2008 05:31 (A review of The Holiday)

Somehow the poster for this movie gives as much away as the movie itself. There's no real character exploration, the emotions of the actors arn't entirely convincing, and the plot it too obvious to poke fun at. Two lonely hearted women swap houses for the Christmas holiday, wherein they fall in love with the nearest man available.

If this film were a piece of clothing it would be an aron jumper. If it were a food it would be breadsticks, I hope this imagery is making it clear that 'The Holiday' is a bland and distinctly average film. It's not even a bad film, there arn't any particularly cringe worthy moment, nor are there any times where you are particularly moved. Jude Law isn't as irritating as he usually is, Jack Black somehow manages to go the whole film without using the words "Rock on", which I suppose it enough of a reason to give this film at least a 4/10.

The holiday is a mothers film, it is a gift to buy for your mother, that they will watch every Christmas. It is one of those films that you would never actively put on, but would probably watch if it was on already. Not all films are pop culture footnotes or bottom of the barrel disgraces, if you're in the mood for something comfortable, easy to watch and in no way confronting, pull out your aron jumper, open up some breadsticks and watch 'The Holiday'.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

What Happens when Ashton Kutcher is in your film.

Posted : 13 years, 7 months ago on 22 October 2008 06:44 (A review of What Happens in Vegas)

I would have loved to be at the board meeting for the pitching of this movie, an up-tight, control freak and a lazy flake are forced together, with hilarious consequences. And get this! they both end up learning that, although they are so different, their differences complete each other. I know what you're thinking, what an original concept!, I for one can't think of any examples of this formula. Except of course for; The Odd Couple, As Good as it gets, Knocked Up, Along Came Polly, Music & Lyrics, Something's got to give, The Break-Up, Sweet Home Alabama and a plethora of TV shows.

This is definitely not a tired and dated formula that has less appeal than scrofula. It's not a rabid dog that has to be put down for it's own good.

And of course, to add to this original and thought provoking script, 5 time Oscar winner and much loved performer Ashton Kutcher graces us with his touching and professional impersonation of a monkey. As a testament to his dedication and professionalism; in practising for this role, Mr Kutcher spent 6 weeks in Macaque enclosure at London Zoo. One particular scene in which he throws his own faeces at love interest Diaz, was however cut; deemed as a little too high-brow and conceptual for their target audience.

In conclusion I urge you all to see this film, it does not insult every sense, even, somehow, smell. Don't avoid this film at all costs.

0 comments, Reply to this entry

Forrest Gump review

Posted : 13 years, 8 months ago on 31 August 2008 10:43 (A review of Forrest Gump)

Every once in a while a film comes around that is so incredibly amazing that it leaves everyone stunned into silence. Forrest Gump is amazing but nobody can pin point exactly why, a silent understanding lies between one another that this movie is just great, there in lies why this movies will forever be a firm favourite.

Like an age old tradition or the unwritten etiquette of the underground, Forrest Gump bemuses me. Forrest Gump is completely unprecedented, he isn't an all out hero, he doesn't particularly earn his rags to riches position, he isn't cool, he isn't witty or funny and he isn't the typical 'disabled' figure that insights a wealth of pity. Gump instinctively does the right thing without any cogitation, he has no motives, no aims, no sense of money or concept of ownership, no greed, no malice, no wroth. What is he then?...I can't tell you. His innocence and honesty likens him to the robotic character, similar to that of Bicentennial man, yet his humanity is underpinned by his constant and unerring love for Jenny.

I have started many a review for this film, but never finished one, so concerned with definition and explanation, that I've not been able to put it into words. I recently saw a documentary that said "We don't know how the big bang started, but we do know what happened a millisecond after it did"...I'm going to take this approach in this review, I don't now why Forrest Gump is so good, or what the character is, but can tell you what effect the film has.

This film is unbelievably multifaceted, it evokes the deepest feelings of sympathy at the same time as the evoking awe. It will make you cry and laugh at the same time, stun you into silence then draw you into yells.

The film never loses it poignancy as it follows through most of modern history's most important events, the civil rights movements, presidential assassinations, Watergate and the Vietnam War, to name but a few. All the while the inherent human tendency toward evil is highlighted in its opposition to Forrest's unwavering goodness and innocence. This most certainly evokes that guilty and remorseful feeling for some of the shameful actions of the human race. In all this shame and remorse however, Forrest's humanity remains a glimmer of hope that the human condition isn't entirely doomed and may be inclined to good, if guided in the right direction.

This is so much more than a good film, it is a modern parable. A reminder that modern man can be driven to terrible things, but has the potential to be entirely innocent and at peace with the world. Forrest, unconcerned by material gain and sinful ventures, remains eternally peaceful despite his bleak surroundings. Even Jenny, who experiments with every kind of sin and vice, finds redemption in the end.

On a cinematic level, Forrest Gump is pristine, beautiful shots and some clever camera trickery place Gump in many an iconic media moment. The film has a substantial war scene which incorporates many of the awesome, sweeping camera shots and orchestral themes that are convention within epic war movies. The sound track is beautifully composed and stirring to say the least. Tom Hanks also plays his character to such a high standard that he forever sealed his 10/10 status, playing Gump with light-hearted whimsy as well as solemn dignity.

I'm not saying that Forrest Gump is the new bible, nor am I saying everyone who watches it will ditch sin for a cleaner life; but I think anyone who watches this film will be hard pressed to deny it does a bit to realign the moral compass within all of us.

14 comments, Reply to this entry

« Prev12 3 4 5 6 7 » 11 Next »