Showing posts with label Amy Adams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amy Adams. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Spike Jonze’s Her is a sweet, poignant and yet gently chilling romantic comedy about a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system. Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, it’s been met with critical acclaim. It features a fascinating conceit which is deeply explored and contains some beautiful set and costume design as well as some exceptional performances. Why is it then that I found it as cold as a hibernating laptop?

It’s 2025 and Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a letter writer in Los Angeles. His marriage has failed and he’s delaying the signing of his divorce papers, holding out for a second chance which he knows is never going to come. Desperately lonely, he’s become a slight recluse, distancing himself from friends while maintaining a false sunny disposition in their company. One day Theodore sports a newly released operating system (OS) in a mall, one which promises to learn and adapt, whose artificial intelligence is designed to be more than a computer but to be a friend. Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) as the OS calls herself, becomes Theodore’ friend and soon, his lover. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

American Hustle

Already attracting awards buzz and with seven Golden Globe nominations to its name, David O. Russell’s American Hustle is one of the early showers from this year’s awards season. Set in the late 1970s and making use of an ensemble cast plucked from his most recent productions, the film is set in the world of an experienced and successful con artist called Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale). Irving and his partner Sydney (Amy Adams) are caught by cocksure and ambitious FBI Agent Richard DiMasso (Bradley Cooper) who offers immunity in exchange for help in capturing more prized targets.

The plot isn’t a strong area of American Hustle which is why I’m surprised its screenplay has received many of the film’s plaudits. Although it spirals seemingly uncontrollably into deeper recesses of confusion, subterfuge and double cross, it features a sagging belly larger than that sported by Bale and drags on for too long before reaching its always expected conclusion. The movie’s strengths lie elsewhere, primarily in the design and acting, two areas for which the film deserves all the plaudits its being given.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Man of Steel

Eight years ago, Christopher Nolan reinvented a seemingly dead superhero franchise with his Dark Knight trilogy. Here he’s acting as a producer to attempt the same with another DC comic book hero and perhaps the most famous of all, Superman. There have been Superman films in the past of course and it’s only seven years since the forgettable Superman Returns hit screens to a decent critical and lukewarm box office reception. Taking control of Man of Steel is director Zack Snyder, a man a distinct style and experience of large, special effects movies. I’ve never had much affinity for the Superman character although I enjoyed the 90s TV series. The character, coupled with a director whose films I rarely enjoy lead me to having low expectations for the latest in a long line of superhero based blockbusters. Unfortunately even my low expectations failed to be met with Man of Steel, a dull movie which lasts for an age and goes nowhere.

The film does what all superhero re-boots are doing this century and gives us the origin story. The problem with Superman’s origin story is that it’s long and complex, or at least it is in this film. Spider-Man gets bitten by a spider, develops heightened senses and web stuff then goes with it. Batman invents stuff and goes from man to superhero. Superman though has a story which involves the end of a world, a race’s battle for survival, civil war, unusual childhood development and alienation before self discovery. That’s a lot to put in one movie and of course the movie doesn’t want to just give us the origin, it wants to entertain us with a villain and large scale battle. This results in a two and a half hour film which is full of long, unnecessary exposition and long winded flash backs.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

On the Road

Based on Jack Kerouac’s book of the same name, On the Road is a love letter to the Beat generation of the late 1940’s of which Kerouac himself was a founding member. The plot follows various road trips and eventful days in the lives of several young Americans in the late 1940s as they experiment with drugs and sex and attempt to find meaning in the world and their own lives. The central character Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac – Sam Riley) is a young writer in need of inspiration who meets Dean Moriarty, a wild and carefree man for whom everyone and everything should be explored and or fucked. The two embark on several road trips and meet some strange and interesting people along the way.

Although I initially liked the look of the trailer for On the Road and was aware of the Kerouac novel, it was a film I didn’t get around to seeing in the cinema. Now I’ve seen it I think I made the right choice although overall I’m glad I saw the movie. The film has a terrific atmosphere of youthful energy, opportunity and freedom which is expressed through the music, sex and adventure of its young characters and to be honest I was jealous of their lives. Problems lie in the length of the movie and slow pacing which doesn’t match the exuberance of the plot. The acting is also very mixed but following the film I wanted to discover more about the Beat generation and its characters and beliefs.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Master

Second World War veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is struggling to get to grips with civilian life five years after the end of the war. Obsessed with sex and with a severe drink problem he stows aboard a boat after leaving yet another job. The boat he is on is home to a party being thrown by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd known as The Master takes an interest in the wondering mind of Freddie and introduces him to ‘The Cause’, a philosophical group that Dodd controls. The Master attempts to control Freddie’s drink problem and bring him deeper into his inner circle, often against the wishes of those closest to him.

I’d been looking forward to The Master for months having heard great things from festivals and then its US release. I feel really disappointed then that I walked out of the cinema feeling tired and underwhelmed. Despite many positives the film went nowhere and felt slow and dull.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Muppets

The Muppets is a reboot of the classic puppet show that has been on a twelve year hiatus from the big screen. The story follows brothers Gary (Jason Segal) and Walter (a Muppet born character) to Los Angeles where they are meant to be celebrating Gary’s ten year anniversary with Mary (Amy Adams). While in town they take in a tour of the old Muppets studios, only to find that the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is planning to tear it down and drill for oil. In order to save the studio and the Muppets themselves, Walter must persuade Kermit to get the gang back together…

I have to be honest and admit that I have never seen a Muppets movie before but due to how much they have penetrated modern culture, I was able to name over half of them on sight. Despite never seeing a Muppet movie, I am a big fan of puppetry and love Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. The puppetry in the film was incredible. There was so much emotion in their faces, more than Orlando Bloom for instance and it is a feat of direction that the film makers managed to have so many puppets on screen at one time.

The first third of the film was amongst the funniest I have seen in the cinema. I had a constant smile on my face as gag followed gag at a frenetic pace. Had it continued for the entire film I’d be putting it up with This is Spinal Tap as one of my favourite comedies. The number of jokes and laughs inevitably decreases as the film progresses in order to focus more on the plot but there are still more laughs to be had than in even the funniest of films I’ve seen recently. The screening I was in had a real mixture of young children, teenagers and adults and all were laughing, often at the same time and sometimes on their own, but everyone seemed to be enjoying what was on screen.

The film’s songs were excellent and so obviously the work of Flight of the Concords Bret McKenzie. Each one had a Concords ring to it and was funny and catchy. There were also some pretty good cameos in the film, and Jack Black. I’d expected a little more from the cameos having heard about the massive stars the Muppet Show used to attract but most were funny. The main human cast was ok. Amy Adams was her usual fluttery, singing self and although Jason Segal wasn’t great, he has written a very funny film so I’ll let him off. The stars of the show though were of course The Muppets. Kermit and Miss Piggy are at the centre of the story but it is Animal who gets the most laughs and each main character is given at least a couple of chances to shine for a few seconds.

My one complaint with the film is the shameless advertisement for the film Cars. On no less than three occasions we saw a billboard for the film. They might as well have just had Kermit say “You know what guys? We should go and see Cars when we’re finished” and be done with it. I expect this came down from somewhere in Disney rather than from James Bobin but it was disappointing so see so often. I hate to see targeted or semi-subliminal advertising, especially when it is aimed at children.

The Muppets will have created a whole new audience for the fuzzy puppets and I expect we’ll see much more from them in the next few years. The film is a very accomplished comedy that is not afraid to reference itself or even break the forth wall and overall is incredibly enjoyable, funny and sweet.