Zoolander … Ben at his best [REVIEW]

If you are comedy fan, and/or a Ben Stiller fan, I think the majority would agree, that Zoolander is a must see. Derek Zoolander is a dim witted, but loveable male model, brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Starring alongside friend and regular onscreen partner Owen Wilson, this is perhaps Stiller’s finest hour.

Zoolander-zoolander-3951534-1024-768This film is just funny. There isn’t too much depth to, it is just an hour and 20 minutes of silliness. And that is what is great about the comedy genre, or more so, what was great about the comedy genre. Nowadays films seem to becoming longer and longer, and as a result the hit percentage of jokes is decreasing, not in all cases, but comedy doesn’t seem to be as good as it was 10-15 years ago. The likes of Stiller, Ferrell, the Wilson brothers, Vaughn, Black, Sandler and the like, AKA “The Frat Pack” seemed to have it down. Put a loose storyline in place and then just mess around for an hour or so, and people will want to laugh with you. Now it seems like the genre is trying too hard and it is suffering. And sadly a few people on that list have unfortunately started churning out what can only be best described as crap! Comedy is all about having fun, so if you have fun while you make it, the audience will join in.  I think that is why This Is The End was one of the funniest films of 2013, as you could tell how much fun they had making it, and it rubbed off on the audience.

But anyway, back to Zoolander.  After being snubbed for the male model of the year award for Owen Wilson’s newcomer, Hansel (So hot right now!), humiliated by a report in Time magazine on him, and losing his 3 best friends in a “freak, gasoline fight accident”, Derek decides it is time to call it a day and retire from the male modelling profession and return home to his roots. Unfortunate for comical fashion villain Mugatu (Will Ferrell) who needs him for his evil plot to take out the Prime Minister of Malaysia!

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After being convinced to get back on the horse, despite not being a gymnast, Derek agrees to become the face of Mugatu’s Derlicte campaign. Basically dressing like homeless bums – that should give you an idea of the humour we are dealing with … completely childish, but incredibly funny – and my favourite kind of humour! But, with the help of Christine Taylor’s, Matilda Jeffries, discovers the plot and must work with her and Hansel (So hot right now) to stop it from happening.

Zoolander is incredibly quotable, and is laugh out loud funny for pretty much the entire film. The cast just gels, and it is no surprise they have all worked together on numerous occasions to great success. Stiller and Wilson are a great comedy duo, and just bounce off each other fantastically. Will Ferrell (my comedy hero) is as funny as ever in the role of Mugatu, the scorned, evil, flamboyant fashion designer. And throwing in the consistent Christine Taylor (Stiller’s wife) and Jerry Stiller (Stiller’s Dad) only adds to the chemistry of the whole affair.

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The film is just a winner. Littered with celebrity and comedy cameos, there isn’t too much you can say against this film. Stiller got it just right with this one, contributing to the script, directing and starring in the lead role, he really is a man of many talents. This is a great one to sit down and just enjoy. It doesn’t require too much thinking, and be it with your friends, or just on your own, you are guaranteed to have a laugh and put yourself in a good mood!

And now there are talks of a sequel being on the way, and while slightly nervous as it has already been 13 years since the original and doubtful we will see a sequel until at least 2015, you do have to feel quietly confident that the team will be able to pull it off again.

Zoolander has given us so much. Blue Steel. The infamous walk off. And bags and bags of quotes. I don’t think Zoolander will ever get old. This film continues to sit towards the top of my comedy list, and is one I will continue to return to.

8/10

Equilibrium … Nice idea, poor execution [REVIEW]

Although this film was released originally in 2002, I had never seen it. However when I read about it on IMDB when I was flicking through back catalogs and trivia, I thought I would give it a go. And I thought Equilibrium had a lot lying in it’s favour. The concept seemed really interesting, it has my main man Christian Bale as the lead, and it has a pretty respectable 7.6 rating on IMDB. However, I was left feeling rather disappointed.

BMB-BadMovieBeatdownEquilibrium750The concept is this: In the early 21st Century, World War 3 broke out, devastating Earth. After it was over, a cure for emotions was created, and now set in a fascist state, Libria, all forms of feelings are branded illegal, to prevent further wars. Law enforcers (Grammaton Clerics) are trained in martial arts and put in place to take out the “Sense Offenders” and destroy all contraband, such as paintings, music and films. John Preston is the best enforcer, however after having an epiphany of emotion, rises to overthrow the system he has been enforcing, from the inside.

It sounds like it should be gripping, thrilling, exciting, and other adjectives with similar meanings. However, I was unable to ever get into this film. It was a bit too slow and boring, and I don’t think really explored the concept as effectively as it could have. Not quite enough time was spent on any of the aspects that the film touched on. Some back story is given to Bale’s character, but is sort of forgotten, then re-visited briefly, and then forgotten again. We see his children, and interactions with his son which feels like it will play a large factor, but then doesn’t really. The idea of the underground resistance is central to the plot and narrative of the film, but even that felt like it wasn’t thought through well enough and wasn’t developed. Character’s like William Fichtner’s, Jurgen, are hinted to be crucially important,  but just drift away and become unforgettable. The same for Bale’s new partner, Brandt, played by Taye Diggs. Oh, and Sean Bean does what Sean Bean does …

All of these should be significant contributors to Bale’s journey to take down the regime, but they end up being merely enablers, and this is the film’s downfall. I feel that the film would have been better served to have had less enablers and spend some real time developing the contributors to make this a more rounded film.

The performances weren’t fantastic – however I think that was due to poor scripture and the concept not being as tight as it should have been. In a state where emotion is outlawed and prevented by interval injections, we still see emotion and feelings from the enforcers. They smile, they get angry, they on occasion act scared … yet these are all human emotions/feelings. If emotions really were prevented by the injections, then these would not be possible.

This was released 12 years ago, and it hasn’t aged well … it felt old and outdated. The set wasn’t great, and at times looked very cheap. The action also wasn’t consistent – there were times when I thought, wow that was amazing, and then a few minutes later, it couldn’t have looked more choreographed if it had tried.

I was very disappointed, as I was expecting this to be a great film, and as Christian Bale is one of my favourite actors, it was even more disappointing to see a film of his I did not enjoy. Although I didn’t think he was particularly bad in the film, the story just wasn’t there, and even an actor of his calibre couldn’t save this one. I’m a little perplexed as why this has such a high score on IMDB, and an even higher 82% rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. This may have worked better as book, where the time could have been spent on developing the ideas and portraying emotionless enforcers would have been easier than a motion picture.

I have to say, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this one – 4/10

The Wolf of Wall Street … Excess to the max! [REVIEW]

The Wolf of Wall Street really is a film of excess. Dubbed as Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street really is taking the box office by storm, has received 5 Oscar nominations, and had 2 Golden Globe nominations of which  it won 1.

Yes, it was very good.

the_wolf_of_wall_street_52a38020131228135228Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of New York Stockbroker, Jordan Belfort, and follows him from his rise to the top and his excessive lifestyle, to his eventual downfall into crime, corruption and FBI investigations. The film shows us the world of the late eighties and into the nineties Wall Street. And it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Power hungry ego–maniacs who will screw over anyone to make a buck … or more like a million bucks. Matthew McConaughey’s character put its, “We don’t create shit, we don’t build anything” they just pick up the phone and get rich.

Jordan Belfort is a man of excess. He is charismatic, driven, dishonest and what many would diagnose as a full-blown psychopath. Just to get into the mind frame of this character – one of his early quotes in the film is “I made $49 million last year … which really pissed me off, as it was 3 off a million a week.” He does enough drugs each day to take down an entire city, he has sex with hookers, hookers and more hookers, and makes and spends money like it is going out of fashion. His life is a non stop party and he just can’t quit it.

Wolf of Wall Street is very much what you would expect from a Scorsese film. The narrative isn’t that consistent, the breaking of the fourth wall is picked up and then forgotten about multiple times as the film goes on, the camera work is done fantastically, making you feel like you are seeing things you shouldn’t be, or that we as the audience are being let into an inner circle … oh, and it is very, very long. Running at 3 hours … that’s right, 3 whole hours, this is a film you definitely need to plan your day around!

What is more surprising is just how funny this film is. The trailers hinted that there would be some humour in it, but I was surprised by how consistent the comedy was. Before seeing this I found it hard to understand how this was nominated at the Golden Globes in the comedy/musical category, but I can sort of understand now. What is quite unique about the Wolf of Wall Street is that it doesn’t really fit a genre. It isn’t a full-blown comedy, and it isn’t really a drama.

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There has been a comparison made by many, to Scorsese’s 1990 film  Goodfellas, that followed the life of (also real) Henry Hill’s rise and fall in gangster land. And I can see why the comparison has been drawn. A rise and fall story, a life of excess, the same narrative structure used, Henry Hill wanted to be a gangster as long as he could remember, Jordan Belfort always wanted to be rich for as long as he could remember … just exchange the guns and killings for drugs and sex. However strangely, I warmed much more to the Goodfellas, Henry Hill character than I did to the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort. Perhaps it was that Hill at least was demonstrated to feel some remorse – Belfort cares about no-one but himself.

Wolf of Wall Street is a lot of fun to watch and is very entertaining, however I did feel like the story was lacking. And that may be because of the length. Although it didn’t feel like I was sat for 3 hours, I did feel like the film could have been cut shorter than it was. This story didn’t need to be told for 3 hours, and after the 3 hours was up the partying was starting to get a bit stale. And this partying to the max!

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The performances however were fantastic. DiCaprio was brilliant as Belfort and fully embodied the character he was playing. Jonah Hill has now cemented himself as someone to be taken seriously in Hollywood, proving he can carry a serious role just as well as comedic role … and his character of Donnie Azoff lets us see the best of both sides of Hill, and has been recognised with an Oscar nod, which is now his second. This really is Leo’s show, and he duly delivers. As charismatic as ever, his speeches to his troops are fantastic. He has also proved he can be very funny, and not just  verbally funny, physically funny. The supporting players add a lot to the film, and most notably Margot Robbie, a relative newcomer, who plays Belfort’s second wife Naomi, and carries herself incredibly well against such a big name like DiCaprio. We no doubt will be seeing a lot more of her in the years to come. Kyle Chandler played his usual role, Rob Reiner was great as Belfort’s father, and Matthew McConaughey although only on-screen for about 10 minutes has a great impact, and his improvised chest bump that he did on the fly, ended up contributing a great deal to the final product.

This is definitely one that you will want to watch, but I don’t think it is Scorsese’s best. The characters are great, but the story is lacking just a bit to make this an absolute classic – although I’m sure this will be dubbed by most as one of Scorsese’s best. I would definitely watch this again, but not that often … running at 3 hours, you just can’t. Maybe every few years at most.

I’m glad I saw it, I really enjoyed it, I assume it will do very well at the awards – although would be surprised if it wins Best Picture at the Oscars, I think that would be too controversial. But, I don’t think it is quite as good as it is being made out to be. It is currently ranked at 8.6 on IMDB, and audiences are giving it 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.

I’m sitting slightly lower than that and would give this one a 7/10.

Hot Rod … Too Legit To Quit [REVIEW]

Now this is my kind of comedy! Outrageously silly, laugh out loud funny for 90 minutes and a killer soundtrack … it is the perfect combination.

Hot Rod stars Lonely Island’s, Andy Samberg, as Rod Kimble, a self proclaimed stunt man who has never grown up. The plot of the movie is basically that Rod is trying to raise $50,000 to save his abusive step-fathers life whose respect that he craves … so he can kick his ass in a fight …

“You’re wrong, Frank. I’m not a kid, I’m a man. I am gonna get you better, and then I’m gonna beat you to death!”

Now you can’t tell me that hasn’t already got you laughing?

Hot-Rod-Wallpaper-the-lonely-island-500020_1024_768From the very first minute Hot Rod kicks off with its slapstick, childish humour. It lays the foundation for the joke, we all know what is going to happen, it happens exactly how we saw it happening … yet it is still gut wrenchingly funny! Hot Rod is filled with charm and absolute absurdity that you just have to laugh at. Written by Pam Brady a few years before it was actually made, originally set to be a vehicle for Will Ferrell, the movie was tweaked for Samberg, but you can easily see how this would have worked as a Ferrell flick, this is definitely his kind of humour … and Ferrell did exec produce! All which are bonuses for me … this is absolutely my sense of humour!

Incredibly quotable, this is one definitely to watch with your friends … although watching it alone I still spent the entire time bent double crying with laughter, and rewinding to watch bits again. I have seen this a good few times before, I know exactly what is going to happen, but it is still always funny. It isn’t particularly clever and there isn’t much of a storyline in place … things that you would expect to mean a poor film. But not in this case … basically a collection of funny sketches loosely forming a story, this movie hits it out of the ballpark.

As well as Andy Samberg there is a collection of great comedy stars in this film. Danny McBride, Lonely Island partner Kevin Powell and SNL alumnus Bill Hader, make up Rod’s crew … and they like to party! The lovely Denise (Isla Fisher) also joins the crew later on in the film, but not before a humiliating initiation, and “it’s like the craziest thing you could even imagine”  … I mean you can’t just waltz in off the street and demand to be in the crew.

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Powell plays Rod’s younger, oddball step-brother and team manager, Jorma. Hader plays the equally oddball team mechanic, Dave, and McBride is the ultra aggressive ramp builder, Rico … he goes to church every sunday, but you don’t want to bring the demons out of him!

Together they set out to train Rod to achieve the biggest stunt of his life … jumping 15 school buses. From money making schemes such as performing at kids parties, to punch dancing out his rage, Rod is on the path to becoming the greatest stuntman of all time, and becoming a man … stick on moustache to boot. Yes, real men GROW moustaches, but you know he has a hormone disorder!  You can tell that everyone had an absolute blast making this film, just a bunch of guys messing around and being as stupid as possible, and getting paid to do it … What a job eh!

Outside of the main cast, Will Arnett brings his trademark angry comedy to the film as Isla Fisher’s obnoxious lawyer boyfriend Jonathan, as well as Ian McShane’s Frank, stepfather from hell. And who can forget Chester Tam’s, Richardson, who sees very little screen time, but is absolutely hilarious every time we see him … whatever you do, don’t accuse him of not doing anything!

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As well as being blisteringly funny, Hot Rod also boasts a cracking soundtrack. Littered with multiple hits from Europe, well placed snippets from Cutting Crew, M.C Hammer, and  John Farnham’s anthem, You’re the Voice add fantastically to the humour of situations! A few original tracks are also introduced, not forgetting the birth of “Cool Beans”.

Hot Rod is a must see for any comedy fan … and I score this one as a 9/10  as it is just “Too Legit To Quit”

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Delivery Man … Doesn’t deliver [REVIEW]

That pretty much sums it up.

Once a number one comedy hit, Vince Vaughn now seems to have descended into churning out the same crappy role over and over again … which if it was at least funny wouldn’t be too much of an issue, however when it is mediocre at best, then why would you want to keep paying out to see his films?

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Based on 2011 Canadian film, Starbuck, Delivery Man sees Vaughn playing David Wozniak, who 20 years ago donated his sperm 693 times (under the alias Starbuck). As a result, David is found to be the biological father of 533 children, of which 142 are suing to find out his identity. Vince’s David, works in his family’s meat shop as (shockingly) a delivery man, and is AS USUAL a huge underachiever, down on his luck, who just wants to do better … where have we seen that before? Oh, that’s right, in just about every other Vince Vaughn movie. And it is getting very old now.

Allegedly a comedy, I think I chuckled maybe 5 or 6 times. And most of the times it was a result of the supporting cast, and not Vaughn. Well, I say supporting cast – I mean Chris Pratt, David’s best friend and lawyer, Brett. Who was pretty much the only character that I enjoyed seeing on the screen, which wasn’t very often, as unfortunately this was pretty much the Vince Vaughn one man show. There are a few supporting players in the film (not all 533 kids, only a few are singled out) – but you don’t know who anyone else is really, there is no character development, it took me about halfway through the film to even realise one of the characters was supposed to be Vince Vaughn’s other brother, and there is barely even any reference to anybody else’s name … took me a while to know what Chris Pratt’s character was called, or any of the few of VV’s children’s names. Couple this with little to no humour … there isn’t very much at all.

It is probably fair to say that great things were never expected from Delivery Man, however I did go in with an open mind – I did used to be a Vince Vaughn fan – some of my favourite comedies have featured him, Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, and Old School were all fantastically funny. But, this film just dragged on slowly to the predictable end that we all expected.

Although Delivery Man has it’s moments, they are very few and far between. Aiming to be a funny, feel-good film, it really isn’t. It is just another Vince Vaughn disappointment. Unfunny, not uplifting, just pretty boring. I think it is telling that, although only released in the UK yesterday, the film was only showing in a studio screen … maybe 30 seats(?) and only at 3 times throughout the day. The cinema’s know it … Vince Vaughn can’t sell out a screen anymore. Last year’s Internship that saw him reunite with Wedding Crashers team mate Owen Wilson was a flop, only taking half of what Wedding Crasher had taken, and now Delivery Man is likely to take even less.

Vince Vaughn has gotten lazy, and it is now about time he shakes it up and tries something new … or at least puts out a genuinely funny film!

Past successes such as Dodgeball, Old School, and Wedding Crashers seem a distant memory now. In recent times we’ve had poor showings such as The Dilemma and The Internship from Vaughn, and now we can add Delivery Man to the ever growing list of mediocrity.

Save yourself some time and money and miss this one.

3/10

 

Taxi Driver … “Well, I’m the only one here” [REVIEW]

As a self-proclaimed movie buff, there are quite a few classics, that shamefully, I haven’t got round to seeing yet. However, this year I am going to right those wrongs and find the time to sit down and watch them! Taxi Driver was one of those on the list, and is the first one of 2014 that I have managed to cross off.

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Yes, the film was released in 1976 … 17 years before I even entered this world, however from the status that this film has, it is pretty bad that it has taken me this long to get round to it. My problem is that, with these films that are held in such high regard, there is always potential for these to not live up to expectations that the reviews have given it. However, I am pleased to say that I loved Scorsese and De Niro’s 1976 hit.

Travis Bickle is an ex-US Marine, having been honourably discharged from service. He is lonely, depressed, and suffering from insomnia. And, so to give himself something to do while he is up, becomes a … you guessed it … Taxi Driver. De Niro’s Bickle is a complex character, battling with deep-seated psychological issues Travis just doesn’t want to be lonely any more, he needs a purpose, but at times struggles to keep himself on an even keel (understatement!) … he is a perfect anti-hero!

Taxi_DriverI must have seen and heard the line “Are you talking to me? You talkin to me?” a hundred times, and could tell you what film is was from before I had even seen the movie. However, it is the line after that I hadn’t heard, which is strange, because for me, it underpins the whole feeling of the film “You talkin to me? Well I’m the only one here”. This sums up Travis perfectly, he is the only one there, he has no-one else … he’s talking to himself in a mirror. He spends time writing in his diary, detailing his days and thoughts (which is also used as narrative to move the film along). He is mimicking conversation – human interaction is what he desperately craves, but is too misunderstood to really connect with anyone. He can’t connect with his fellow cab drivers, he fails miserably with a women he is infatuated with – Travis just needs somebody. What is quite unbelievable is that the entire dialogue in this scene was improvised by De Niro, he was apparently just told to talk to the mirror – so I guess it shows how much he understood this character to deliver that line, and why he gives such a fantastic performance in this film.

Unable to seemingly save himself – Travis must save someone else. This someone else being a 12-year-old Jodie Foster, who plays Iris, an underage prostitute, pimped out by her “lover” Matt. These scenes are particularly hard to bear, the thought of a girl that young being subject to that life and environment makes you feel sick, and you don’t want to think about it. But Scorsese makes you. The world can be a cruel, dark place and Taxi Driver shines a light on this in a number of instances throughout the film. Travis takes it upon himself to rescue this girl from this hell, no matter what it takes.

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Bickle is described, by his female interest in the film, as a contradiction – and this is spot on. Travis spends his time frequenting pornographic film theatres, yet is repulsed by the sexuality of the inhabitants of New York – wishing for “Real rain” to come down and flush out the scum. He aligns himself to a presidential candidate who he wishes to win, only to turn on him, and then turn back. Paul Schrader truly created a fantastic character in Travis Bickle, and Taxi Driver allows us to step into his point of view for a couple of hours and see how he ticks. Helped especially with the direction of Martin Scorsese who uses the camera fantastically to show us what Bickle is thinking, and when he is detached from what is going on around him, without the need for dialogue. We truly are enabled to see behind Travis’ eyes.  On a side note, if you are interested you should have a read about how Paul Schrader wrote this film and developed the characters – that is interesting stuff.

The film gets very violent and very dark, but is ultimately incredibly entertaining … although perhaps fascinating is a better word to describe it. If like me, and you are late to this film, I would highly recommend adding this one to your To Watch list. Having finally seen it, it is clear that this deserves to be held in the high regard that it is.

9/10

The Inbetweeners Movie … “Brilliant” [REVIEW]

When it was announced that hugely popular series The Inbetweeners was to make a movie it could of gone one of two ways. It was either going to be, as Will would say, “fucking dreadful” or it would be fantastic. Thankfully for our favourite Post 16 boys, it was the latter!

inbetweenersThere is always the risk of a TV series flopping when it gets onto the big screen … especially for a program that doesn’t follow a whole series story arc, and the episodes are only 22 minutes long … however The Inbetweeners Movie didn’t disappoint when it was released back in the summer of 2011. The movie sees the Will, Simon, Jay and Neil, leaving Rudge Park Comprehensive, and before heading out into the big bad world, decide to take on one last venture …  a lads holiday, filled with sex, booze, sand, sex, sea, tits, fanny, booze … and sex!

Oh, this film had so much stacked against it … popular program with high expectations, putting them on-screen for 5x longer than a standard episode, and to top it off, throw them into a foreign country … because that never fails to disappoint! But, writers Iain Morris and Damon Beesley stayed true to the series and the characters, and delivered one of the funniest films that year!

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Just like the series, you can’t help but find this film bitterly real, and the characters completely relatable to. And like the series, is incredibly quotable! What is so great about The Inbetweeners, is that it is SO relatable. If you grew up in England, and went through the UK post 16 education system, it will all seem all too familiar. Everyone knows a Jay, everyone knows a Neil, everyone knows a Simon, and lord knows … everyone knows a Will. Unfortunately for some, you will find these characters far too close to your own past experience. And yes, I do have to admit, I am a total Will … as the majority of people who know me will all too gladly confirm!

It must be mentioned here however, that this is the UK version of the Inbetweeners, so this may not land as successfully with viewers who haven’t been exposed to the realities of Inbetweeners life. The US did try to make their own version of the show, which failed to land … unfortunately the humour doesn’t really translate that well from UK high school to US high school, so inevitably was cancelled.

So, off the boys trot to Malia in seek of manhood, but are greeted by a crappy hotel, have their naivety taken advantage of, ants nests, “decadent” clubs and find out they are just as hopeless as they have ever been! Until they eventually wear down a group of girls and by some miracle, all four of the boys pull! Simon’s dad will be happy! This film is basically an hour and a half of the boys just being the boys … which any fan of the show can agree is great fun to watch. It is so easy to watch, I myself have just re-blasted through the 3 series in 3 days with tremendous ease. It is difficult to deliver consistent laughs for that period of time, but The Inbetweeners Movie manages to do just so, and has not spoilt the series, and in fact got it back on trap after a slightly disappointing finale to the third series.

In fact my only complaint with The Inbetweeners, is that it would have been nice to have had a 4th series before the movie. I think there was plenty of scope left there and the third series went by too quickly, and is what made the finale a disappointing end. The creators must also obviously feel there is more material as a second movie has been announced and has now began shooting. Let’s just hope it isn’t now a bridge too far, and the boys can deliver another snorter once again!

 

tumblr_lykdoqucjj1qh6qzs-1ahkcxkIf you haven’t seen any of The Inbetweeners, you will need to before you watch the film … but if you haven’t, where have you been? Right this wrong immediately, and thank me later!

Cringely funny, the Rudge Park boys give us one last hurrah (as we thought at the time… they will be back) and provide a glimmer of hope for the Will’s of this world … a very, very slim glimmer, but hope none the less, thanks Iain and Damon!

8/10

 

American Hustle … Always take a favour over money, I think Jesus said that [REVIEW]

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a good one this year.

Now, if you have been following this blog, you will know that I was very much looking forward to American Hustle … and if you haven’t been following, why the heck not, this stuff is golden! (button down below, please press it!). I was a little disappointed that I had to wait until the new year to see it … advertising a 20th of December release date, and then only showing it in the West End on that date was rather annoying.

Alas, it finally hit cinemas on January 1st (In the UK) and I was there on opening day to see what this film had in store for me.

american-hustleBest place to start, is that I really enjoyed this film … thankfully! I had very high expectations, which always brings the danger of not being lived up to. But no, this film performed how I had hoped and is definitely worth a watch. Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con artist, who, along with his partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), are caught out by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) and forced to work for him to catch out crooked politicians.

The story doesn’t get going immediately, as director David O. Russell spends some time on character development for the audience. This may feel like it takes a little too long, but it really is necessary for the rest of the film, and as the film progresses you will be thankful to O. Russell that he took that bit of extra time to get you acquainted with these characters.

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The story is a good one, it is far from predictable, and one that begs to be watched. However, it is the characters that really make this movie. Every single one is a fantastic creation and adds so much to the film – the film is loosely based on real events, and so some of the characters are also based on real people. In reality, you really shouldn’t like any of these characters, they are manipulative, selfish, and a few are criminals … but you just can’t help yourself! First off, Christian Bale’s Irving is instantly likeable, and probably the most sane of the ensemble! Playing the lead con man, Bale has piled on the weight and dons a very elaborate toupee! He has got the voice, the mannerisms, the whole persona absolutely perfect and is the stand out performance for me. Christian Bale is fantastic in everything though, he changes characters better than almost anyone, lining up all of his characters it is hard to see how the same man has played them all, from Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman), to Dicky Ecklund (The Fighter), to Trevor Reznik (The Machinist) etc etc … Bale doesn’t only change character personality well, he physically adapts to the role, dropping ridiculous amounts of weight and then bulking back up, and then dropping weight again … this time round he had the luxury of gaining 40lbs! But I won’t keep banging on about Christian Bale … I could write a whole post just on his work!

Amy Adams;Jennifer Lawrence

The rest of the cast are great … Amy Adams flip-flopped throughout the film, going from me incredibly liking her, to absolutely despising her –  a sign of a well written, complex character. Bradley Cooper’s Richie is almost as instantly dislikeable as Irving is likeable – incredibly manipulative, power hungry, almost insane, Richie has more common traits of a con man than the actual con artists! Jeremy Renner is used well, as the nicest corrupt politician ever, Carmine Polito … Poor Carmine, you can’t help but feel bad for the poor guy! And finally,  the wonderful Jennifer Lawrence rounds up the main players, although with a fairly small role, she is great whenever on the screen – probably the most unstable of the set of characters, she will drive you insane, and then 2 seconds later have you laughing out loud!

A shout out also has to be given to Louis C.K who, again had a very small role, was absolutely hilarious every time he came on screen, as well as Michael Pena, who also saw very little screen time but used it to great effect. P.S watch out for a pretty big name who makes an appearance, which was kept well under wraps.

The story, although is far from a comedy is funny throughout. The humour is very dry for the most part, so if you have a dry sense of humour then you will appreciate American Hustle even more, and if you don’t – don’t worry, you will still get enjoyment out of the film, as the story is so good – rich and compelling (also there are a few hysterical moments, so you will laugh at some point!). This film is also almost a closer study of Psychopaths than Bale’s American Psycho from 2000 – just about every character displays the traits of a classic psychopath at one point or another, and as the story plays out you will become more and more intrigued with these characters. On a side note – the film also visually looks fantastic – they have done a great job of re-creating the 70’s, not just with the fantastic costumes, but the whole look and feel seems spot on (Not that I was around in the 70s, so might be wrong on that one!)

David O. Russell has done another great job, and the fact he has stuck with pairings he has used before has only helped add to the on screen chemistry of the ensemble. I would highly recommend this film, if you are a David O. Russell fan or not. It was definitely worth the extra week or two wait. Get yourself out to the cinema to see this one! Almost guaranteed to be a player at the majority of film awards this year!

8.5/10

Also, if you are a fan of side-boob … you will probably like this movie too!