You’ll be howling at sheer brilliance of The Wolf of Wall Street! Here’s why… #film #review #filmreview

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After you’ve picked yourself up from your chair following the three plus hour rollercoaster ride of entertainment that is The Wolf of Wall Street, you’ll reflect (for hours, possibly even days) on what this film contained before coming to the inevitable conclusion that Di Caprio and Scorsese have a) the best bromance in Hollywood, and b) that The Wolf of Wall Street really is a modern day masterpiece.

Unbelievably, this is a true story and follows the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort a Long Island penny stockbroker who served 36 months in prison for defrauding investors in a massive 1990s securities scam that involved widespread corruption on Wall Street and in the corporate banking world, including shoe designer Steve Madden.Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.35.59

Now this all sounds like thrilling, serious stuff, and of course it is, but cleverly intertwined with this is the knowledge that Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his merry band of stockbroker men, lived the most zany, outlandish lifestyle that really does only exist in the movies until their time is up.

Martin Scorsese is back to his very best in this punchy screen sensation that reminds us of the great and the good films from the late 1980’s and early 90’s. It’s hard not to describe this as Goodfellas meets Wall Street where DiCaprio plays our modern day Gordon Gekko to perfection! Although The Wolf of Wall Street is not for the feint hearted (it contains lewd behavior, copious amounts of drug taking, full frontal nudity and enough swearing to send your granny to an early grave) you cannot help but love and laugh through every minute of it!Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.35.11

Proving he’s the most qualified and under awarded man in Hollywood history Leonardo DiCaprio pulls off another stellar performance as Jordan Belfort, from the wide eyed rookie stock broker taken under the wing of Rothschild Bank to the greedy owner of his own unorthodox company, we see a true transformation of character right before our eyes, that will have us laughing and crying at the same time, and secretly urging him to come out OK in the end.

Jonah Hill again is perfectly cast as Belforts’ sidekick Donnie Azoff, the ‘loveable douchebag’ who supports his colleague and mentor to the end (sort of) and is often happy to remain the brunt of the jokes and rakes in the rewards of living this lavish lifestyle laid out for him. Margot Robbie is a surprise as the trophy wife Naomi Lapaglia who dons a fantastic New York accent and bombshell look to not only bring Jordan Belfort to his knees in lust, but to also secure her place as Hollywood hot property. Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.34.12

The only downside to The Wolf of Wall Street is that there are some excellent cameos throughout that you just wish would have hung around longer. Jean DuJardin plays the shrewd and straight talking Swedish banker who appears in the latter part of the film, and is a world away from his silent Oscar winning star in The Artist. But the real master cameo performance is Matthew McConaughey as Belforts’ first boss Mark Hana. In only a fraction of screen time, he captures the essence of the craziness of life on Wall Street in the late 80’s and hooks Di Caprio’s impressionable character onto the biggest drug of all, money. Its outlandishness will have you howling in your seat with laughter and re-creating a certain ‘chest chant’ for days to come!Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.35.24

The Wolf of Wall Street may be sexist, brash, punchy and full of what was wrong with the world pre-crash, but you’ve got to admit once watching this film, that they had one hell of a ball in their work hard, play hard lifestyles. The costumes, the humour, the references and the brilliant acting all captures this era perfectly, and with this creates, as previously stated, a modern masterpiece, three hours promises to whizz by like three minutes and you’ll be grinning and laughing all the way home. This film really has set the bar for 2014.

4.5 Stars

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Stand back Smaug is ready to cause a rage in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug #film #thehobbit

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For anyone who is looking at the Hobbit posters that are plastering our walls, buses and underground stations, and wondering whether or not its worth your time (about 2.5 hours) and money to sit in a dark room throughout party season; I can categorically tell you it is!

Forget the first installment of the film franchise and all its appalling high frame rate filming and dull overly long set up plot lines, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a triumph! What was lost in the first film is the distinct transportation to another world (its pretty hard to get lost in a film when the clarity of the filming is so high you can see the prosthetics covering each characters faces) and more frighteningly a lack lustre sense of action and adventure. Luckily part two brightens up all our woes and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 15.42.19

I know its always a good sign when I remember to check my watch and realize that its already over two hours through. I had been so preoccupied before hand with everything going on, I didn’t even think I stopped to take a breath let alone look at the time!

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the continuation story of Bilbo Baggins the dwarves and Gandalf the Grey as they continue their journey to reclaim their rightful homeland Erebor, from the fire-breathing dragon that is Smaug. Unbeknown to the rest of the group, Bilbo is also in possession of a magical ring which gives him extraordinary powers and makes him a brave and valuable asset on this quest.

First and foremost the action is amazing. Whether it is a newly tweaked version of the 48fps or indeed the standard 24fps version, you will be dazzled by the intricacy and excitement of each action led sequence. One key highlight has to be the battle with giant spiders, which with added 3D gives them a new monstrous perception and will make you shudder out of reach in your cinema seat. Secondly, is the incredibly impressive river barrel sequence, with prancing elves killing Orcs with “endless” amounts of arrows, the logistical reality does not come into play in any way within this sequence as its 15 minutes of glory is truly breath taking.Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 15.42.54

Each character that we have seen in the first installment of the franchise becomes more developed in their own right in this film. Bilbo has an increased level of confidence thanks to his secret weapon, Gandalf goes off to fight his own battle against Sauron, and there is an interesting start of a love triangle between Killy (Dwarf), Tauriel (Elf) and Legolas (Elf) which is left hanging ready for the conclusion in the third film.

And finally, we get to Smaug – Benedict Cumberbatch is superbly cast as the greedy dragon resting in the Misty Mountain awoken by Bilbo. The detail that is used to create the dragon is some of the best out there, each scale is clear to see and the fire in Smaug’s belly prepares you for a visual feast of fire and gold.

To round up, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug brings Peter Jackson back to Tolkien’s original fantasy and his directing best. Fun for all the family, this film is THE go to film for the Christmas period and not one to miss.

4 Stars.

Written by Film Critic – Rebecca Perfect

 

 

 

 

Pull up a chair, crack open a beer and watch #drinkingbuddies #LFF #LondonFilmFestival #Filmreview

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.14.35Drinking Buddies is set in and around the working and running of a brewery, where Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers. She’s in a relationship with a wealthy older man (Ron Livingston) and his fiancé (Anna Kendrick) is keen to get their wedding plans moving along. Their friendship is very strong and they have a lot of similar interests, such as the beer they produce and they both share similar playful senses of humour. Their lifestyles revolve around drinking with their co-workers, and for the audience its hard to know whether or not what they share is friendship or something that little bit more.  Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.15.06

The film is directed and produced by Joe Swanberg and is an honest and real depiction of friendships and relationships amongst late twenty-somethings. There is sexual tension, tomboyish playfulness and blurred lines around the line drawn between men and women who just enjoy each other’s company. The drama you witness within Drinking Buddies feels real and void of any “film like” over- dramatization; no dramatic realization that one person is with the wrong partner, and no overly thought out inner battles over whether or not each character should be with one another. Some would say it is exactly how you or I would deal with the various situations that present themselves – sit on them until absolutely necessary then apologize profusely! – With the right balance of humour, relatable trials and tribulations of modern day relationships and that awkward feeling where you’re pretty sure there’s underlying sexual tension between you and a friend – this film manages to capture issues that often burden the general public more than anything and yet depict it in such an enjoyable way.Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.15.53

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson are incredibly believable as the lead characters who share this surface based brother/sister /best friend style friendship; and a lot of this is to do with the heavily improvised scenes which not only make the audience feel like they’re catching a glimpse through the keyhole of a group of peoples lives but also help you to dispel any potential distaste towards Wildes beautiful and likeable girl next door persona. You can understand why Luke likes Kate, she’s one of the boys, and is always the one up for some fun. What you do question within this film is why there isn’t any suspicion or doubt from each of their characters other halves. Their tactile approaches to each other can be a little hard to swallow sometimes and yet you’re still routing to see if they eventually take the brave step to cross that all important line.Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 09.18.29

What these characters represent is often the realistic approach to potentially something better suited to ones self. Its clear to the audience that Luke and Kate would be perfect for each other, yet they never dare to do anything more than think about it. You will leave this film questioning whether or not there are regrets about someone or something that you have had the opportunity to pursue in days gone by, and having taken the safer option, maybe regretted after.

What the director manages to do with Drinking Buddies, is give its audience a glimpse into the days of the lives of people not so different to you and I, everyday jobs and simple pleasures that we all have, essentially, life is a simple construct and sometimes its not really worth the complication. With this in mind Swanberg delivers a film that is fun to watch, quirky in its own right and most importantly get you thinking. Its style is simple and poignant, so wont be everyone’s cup of tea, not much happens throughout, but what does happen manages to get you routing for those you’re watching, laughing at similarities that you most likely will see in yourself, and leaving hopefully with a smile on your face.

Drinking Buddies hits cinemas 1st November.

4 Stars

If there’s one call you make this month, it’s The Call #film #review #movie

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A gripping thrill rollercoaster of a ride, The Call is an interesting insight into the world of the Los Angeles 911 emergency services.

Starring Oscar winner Halle Berry as Jordan Turner a veteran 911 operator, we watch her journey as she takes a life altering call from a teenage girl played by Little Miss Sunshine herself Abigail Breslin. Not only does this call mean Jordan has to try and guide this girl to safety, she also has to confront a killer from her past and overcome her fears. Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 08.36.57

Cut back and forth between the abduction and ‘The Hive’ (the department for 911 emergency assistants who work away like busy bees) the audience are taken on a tense ride and education as to what it really means to be a 911 operator. Making judgments between protocol and human instinct is a fine line in lifesaving situations, as we see through this film. Halle Berry is back to her finest in the majority of this film, as she showcases a mix of emotions that make the audience empathise with the difficult job she is faced with. Just like her character we understand the stress of the job and the natural (probably female) instincts that she has when faced with a child being abducted, and the consequences that lie ahead should Jordan as the operator put a foot wrong.

We also see a fantastic performance from Abigail Breslin as the victim. We follow her day as a normal girl shopping in a mall with her friend, and then once left alone, gets drugged, abducted and thrown in the trunk of a car by her kidnapper. The most tense and exciting part of the film is the interaction between the victim and Jordan. From the trunk she manages to make a 911 call which initially goes through to a rookie who finds herself way out of her depth and then gets passed on to Jordan. From this point on, you as the audience find out some really clever tricks to try and get yourself rescued from a kidnapping, using everything you can find to discover where you are travelling to, what the car looks like and most importantly anything you can do to pop open that trunk and jump out.Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 08.37.28

Breslin shows here that she has matured from a child to young adult actor seamlessly. Matching Halle Berry’s ranges of emotions, you watch her go from despair to sheer determination to get herself out of this situation alive. It’s this that makes the first three quarters of this film so engaging to watch…

…And then, sadly, in the last fifteen minutes or so, the film takes a tumble, so prepare yourself for this. After an hour and fifteen minutes of an intense, edge of your seat adrenalin filled thrill ride of a film, The Call sadly falls into the depths of B-Movie status and takes a route so completely left field of the original plot its not only difficult to watch, its also totally disappointing. It’s a shame that the film leaves you with such a sour taste at the end, it had so much promise, but there is still the opportunity to remember the immense film you had watched just before this semi-car crash.

Regardless of it’s ending, The Call is still very much worth a watch. For the majority, it’s an intelligent, intense and exciting film with great performances.

The Call hits cinemas on the 20th September 2013.

3 Stars.

 

Remember your awkward teenage Summer with @Thewaywayback #filmreview #film

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If you love Sam Rockwell as much as we do, then you’ll be queuing up to watch him in this quirky Summer coming of age flick which hits cinemas today.

The film follows shy 14-year-old Duncan as he goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Nothing overly dramatic happens in this film, it’s just more of a reminiscent and nostalgic journey into all of our uncomfortable adolescent selves where we’re discovering new things, good and bad, meeting new people and most importantly having that very awkward, lonely teenage Summer.

The film boasts a great cast and starts very well. We see a new Steve Carell, no longer a slap-stick comic character, this time a straight talking stepdad which any teenager would find offensive and domineering. Toni Colette is the ‘glass half full and things could be worse so I’ll put up with it’ mother of Duncan and Sam Rockwell is the saving grace coolest guy in town who runs (rather haphazardly) the Water Wizz water park.Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 08.35.07

These are only half the key characters in the film, but immediately you see a pattern forming. These characters are very clearly stock and presented in an almost formulaic approach to what you would hope would make a good/poignant/funny film. In addition you have the constantly drunk neighbour – who provides a monologue of comic proportions as the family arrive at their Summer home; her overly confident sharp talking tween son, additional neighbours who turn Carell and Colette’s characters into relatable drunken parental figures around the dinner table and finally there’s the shy inquisitive beautiful girl who doesn’t conform to her bimbo girlfriends and inevitably becomes the object of Duncan’s affections.Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 08.34.40

These all sound like the recipe for a classic coming of age tale, and if they had all come together perfectly The Way, Way Back would have been one of those must watch films, but something just doesn’t quite gel together. You will probably be willing this film to be much more enchanting than it actually is and will most likely find sanctuary like Duncan, at the Water Wizz water park where Sam Rockwell dominates. His effortlessness and ease provides a distinct contrast to the rest of the cast who feel slightly more contrived, which some may argue is a testament to his talent as an actor.

But by no means is this film unwatchable, there are some brilliant moments of comedy, and over arching reminders of many of our teenage experiences plus some brilliant performances across the board in their own rights. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly doesn’t work, but you certainly do come away trying to work out what could just make it that little bit better

3 Stars

The Way, Way Back is out on general release from today.

 

 

 

 

Step into another world this week with The #MortalInstruments #outthisweek #film #filmreview

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So what happens when you grow up as a normal teenager and suddenly one night you start drawing symbols all over the wall? Well you get pretty freaked out… and who do you turn to? Your mum of course, but she’s keeping secrets from you and suddenly disappears. Things really aren’t going to well are they? Its tough being a teenager, its even tougher being a Shadowhunter teenager as Clary Fray (Lily Collins) finds out…Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.44.21

Based on Cassandra Clare’s bestselling novel, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones looks like the successor to all the Twilight and Hunger Games books that have started to send screaming fans into a frenzy. This big budget Hollywood film has a predominately British led which is refreshing, and although it opened here yesterday with the help of the cast and director stepping through a major global promotional tour, its currently slightly underperforming over in the US.

However we shouldn’t take that too literally because despite the doom and gloom that some are saying about this film, its really rather enjoyable. You have a strong female protagonist (quite like what audiences related to with Bella Swan in Twilight) and there are lots of laughs and one liners – some more forced towards the end – plus there are demons, ghouls and a whole underworld that is living right under Brooklyn… what’s not to love?! Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.43.16

The film keeps you guessing and is a classic case of a first film in a series where characters are being established and so there are only three main parts, Clary, Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and Simon (Rober Sheehan). The rest come and go and one assumes we will see more in the second installment. There is so much going on in this film that you can’t really help but be swept up in it all and despite it feeling ever so slightly over long in form, its not unwatchable, quite the opposite.

What fans of the book may feel is that this film has tried to be so true to the original content that it maybe fits a little bit too much in it, in order to be truthful, and that unfortunately provides more of a clumsy outcome in parts. Others may feel that the casting isn’t quite what they imagined, and in the press conference Jamie Campbell Bower was particularly vocal with his thoughts on the matter saying that some rather nasty social media reactions to his casting “were based on image and image looks alone and that was two and a half years ago, and I think as an actor and as a performer I’m very much aware of the fact that my job is to change both physically and emotionally and that was what hurt the most, that people were judging me based on nothing.” Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 08.42.44

Although there are clear issues with this film and it won’t please everyone, there are lots of great elements to it, the CGI is out there but not too over the top and the characters are believable, watchable and sympathetic. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is certainly for the younger audiences out there, but even if you don’t believe in magic or demons, there’s still a rollercoaster ride for you to watch…just remember to not walk out of the cinema when the unforgivable comment about the musician Bach is made, just take a deep breath and carry on. When you watch the film, you’ll know what we mean.

3 Stars

Movie Monday: Mark Wahlberg fans get ready for another crowd pleaser with 2 Guns #film #review

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Mark Wahlberg is making some clever role choices this year, showing he’s versatile, engaging and exciting to watch… in 2 Guns he positions himself against the great Denzel Washington and proves to be a fantastic sparing partner full of quick wit, muscle and great comedic timing.

The film itself follows the two Hollywood heavyweights play a DEA agent and a naval intelligence officer who find themselves on the run after a botched attempt to infiltrate a drug cartel. While fleeing, they learn the secret of their shaky alliance: Neither knew that the other was an undercover agent.Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 08.22.51

Speaking of working with Denzel Washington, Wahlberg said at a recent press conference in London, “It’s just one of those things, it either works or it doesn’t. He was game, I was game; we had a great part and a great director in Baltasar, who knows me and how I like to work. I like to improvise a lot, and I like to constantly be throwing curveballs at people, and he was just up for it, so it kind of worked.”

We certainly see this working to a tee in the film, as well as a fantastic pre-credits opening scene where the fun friendly relationship is established between the two characters, we also learn that some of the quick quips that Wahlberg throws out during a ‘chicken shooting scene’ are actually improvised, which will have audiences rolling with laughter throughout.

What’s great about this film is most certainly the relationships. When actors work well together on set it comes across brilliantly on scene, this is very apparent here. Not only from Wahlberg and Washington but with Paula Patton as a supporting DEA agent and love interest, plus the superb Bill Paxton who plays Earl a ruthless CIA agent.Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 08.23.28

2 Guns remains fast paced and exciting throughout, it brings back sentiments of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but unfortunately its nowhere near as memorable. Its certainly a film that you could go to the cinema, and enjoy with your friends, but in terms of a staple addition to your collection, we’re not so sure. Never the less, if you’re a Denzel, or a Mark Wahlberg fan, you wont be disappointed, for Denzel he steps away from the serious and brings his smooth talking ability to centre stage with great ease, and for Wahlberg we see another slightly off the wall sidekick character which shows that he’s got some serious acting chops as well as his muscle.

2 Guns shoots straight into cinemas on the 16th August.

3 Stars