Showing posts with label James Franco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Franco. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

This Is the End

I was a little worried when I first saw trailers for This is the End as the premise seemed to be remarkably similar to the forthcoming conclusion of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End. Fortunately though, it appears that the films have very little in common. This is the End is an apocalyptic comedy film written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The pair, who have collaborated in the past with the likes of Superbad and Pineapple Express here deliver a film in which some of the funniest names in Hollywood (and Danny McBride) play versions of themselves during an apocalyptic event.

Rogen meets old friend and actor Jay Baruchel at the airport for one of Jay’s infrequent visits to Tinsletown. Hoping to catch up, Jay instead finds himself at James Franco’s house-warming party where he feels uncomfortable and out of place with fellow actors and celebrities. As he nips out for some cigarettes, Jay bares witness to what at first appears to be an earthquake but soon becomes apparent to be something much more destructive. As the end of the world turns the Hollywood Hills to ash, a few actors are left holed up in James Franco’s house with nothing but a few beers, some drugs and a milky bar to sustain them.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Date Night

Date Night is a film that I didn’t see at the cinema because little about it appealed to me. The premise seemed weak and having yet to discover 30 Rock, I was unaware of female lead Tina Fey. Having recently watched it when it was on television though, I was pleasantly surprised by a film which is much funnier than I had anticipated.

Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are your typical middle aged, middle income family, living in suburban America. Their lives are driven by their children and slight financial difficulty which is imposed by the recent recession. Tired of their usual, hastily organised date nights, the couple decide to head into New York City with the hope of snagging a highly sort after table in a swanky Tribeca restaurant. Unable to book under their own name, Phil takes the reservations of another couple who fail to show and their mistaken identity leads them down a path of deception and danger when they discover that a gangster is out for blood.

Date Night is driven by some likeable leads, delivering highly improvised and very funny dialogue around the conceit of a story which is fairly basic but something I haven’t seen before. The movie occasionally runs out of steam and relies on silly action set pieces to reinvigorate the plot but there’s also a lot in the film which is relatable to people who are in long term relationships.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Iceman

Between 1948 and 1986, New Jersey Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski is said to have killed somewhere between one hundred and two hundred and fifty men. Having committed his first murder when in his middle teens, Kuklinski eventually gravitated towards the world of organised crime and for several decades worked as a contract killer for the DeCavalcante crime family based in Newark, New Jersey. He did all of this while posing to his family as a successful currency broker. The Iceman is Israeli director Ariel Vromen’s biopic thriller of the ice cold killer, based on interviews with the man himself. It stars an in form (when is he not?) Michael Shannon in the lead role.

The Iceman is a film that I’ve been hotly anticipating for some time. I have an interest in the history of the Cosa Nostra and find that it often forms the basis of excellent movies. Although this is an above average film and features several great moments, it won’t go down with the likes of The Godfather, GoodFellas or even Donnie Brasco in the annals of the great mafia movies. I expect there will be many comparisons drawn to Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of the genre in particular but unfortunately, despite a fantastic basis for a story, the film is like a skimming stone. It skips along the surface without delving into the murky deep beneath the surface.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Spring Breakers

Spring Break is to me what Taco Bell, 401K and Glee Club are. They are words and ‘things’ which exist in America but mean nothing on this side of the pond. Everything I know about the items, events and shops above, I’ve learned from the movies. I have literally no idea what a 401K is though. So the concept of the Spring Break is something that is not entirely alien to me but my only contact with it has come through the likes of Piranha 3D and Friends. Spring Breakers makes it out to be pretty much what I expected; an alcohol fuelled holiday for slags and nob heads to gyrate through while getting mashed off their tits to terrible music.

Spring Breakers is about four college girls, played by Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine who desperately want to go to Florida for Spring Break but can’t afford to. While Faith (Gomez) is at Church one night, the other three decide to mask up and rob a takeaway. With money to burn the foursome head down to sunnier climes where the bikinis are small and the booze keeps flowing. They soon find they get into trouble with the law though and get bailed out by a suspiciously friendly drug dealer turn rapper called Alien (James Franco).

Friday, 8 March 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful is a film which feels like it’s snuck up on me. I was aware of its development and saw a billboard the other day but other than that it has had very little promotion for a $200 million movie. Still, while looking for something to watch at the cinema on a Friday night we found the movie was opening and risked a busy Friday screening to see the film blind. By blind, I mean without trailers and reviews etc. Not actually blind. That’s best saved for the Twilight movies.

Oz is based on the novels of L. Frank Baum and is a sequel of sorts to 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. The film is set in the same world and features many of the characters found in the MGM classic but is updated in tone and effects and focuses on the story of the Wizard of Oz – how he came to Oz and how he became who he was when Dorothy dropped in years later. The movie begins in beautiful monochrome black and white and 4:3 aspect ratio as we find ourselves in Kansas in 1905. The arrogant but charming circus magician Oz (James Franco) is having yet another disastrous appearance on stage and is booed off. Back in his caravan he spies a weightlifter coming for him after Oz interfered with his woman. Oz escapes aboard a hot air balloon and ends up in the eye of a tornado which transports him to the brightly coloured (and widescreen) Land of Oz. In Oz he meets the Witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) who asks for help in defeating the wicked Witch Glinda (Michelle Williams) in exchange for a place on the throne as King of Oz.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Milk is an Oscar winning political biography of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in American history. The story begins in New York City in 1970 when the soon to be forty year old Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) meets a younger man Scott Smith (James Franco) on the subway. The two become lovers and with Milk wanting to make something of his life the two men move to San Francisco where they eventually open a camera shop in the Castro neighbourhood which is slowly becoming more and more homosexual friendly. Over the years Milk begins campaigning for equal rights for homosexuals before running for office multiple times. Milk tells the story of his struggle for office, recognition and respect from his fortieth birthday to untimely death eight years later.

Milk has for a few years been one of those films which I wanted to see, but just hadn’t got around to. It turned out to be pretty much the film I expected it to. It made me angry, I was interested and engaged and occasionally enraged. Sean Penn’s performance was excellent too and I’m not surprised that it along with the subject matter won him an Oscar. For me the film accomplished exactly what it set out to. It educated me.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Spider-Man 2

"I'm Spider-Man no more, no more"

Two years after his transformation into Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is struggling to balance the demands of being a super hero with a job and studying while these all impact on his personal life. His secret love Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) is now a big hit on Broadway but after the open ended conclusion to their relationship at the end of Spider-Man, the two have since drifted apart. Peter is writing a paper about the scientist Dr. Octavius (Alfred Molina) and goes to the unveiling of his latest experiment. Things go wrong though and Octavius becomes attached to four tentacle like instruments and becomes Dr. Octopus, a villain hell bent on completing his experiments, even if they destroy the whole city.  

If you read my review of Spider-Man then you’ll be aware of how bitterly disappointed I was with it. Thankfully Spider-Man 2 lived up to my memory and if anything exceeded it. The story is focussed on Peter Parker’s split lives and how he manages to cope with the responsibility of being Spider-Man. His relationship with Mary Jane is also at the centre and the will they/wont they or will they/can they nature of their relationship is played out in full. Peter’s relationship with other characters including his Aunt and friend Harry are also featured with the later continuing an obvious thread which leads to a third film.

Monday, 18 June 2012


"Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man"

A geeky high school kid, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is on a field trip to a genetics laboratory when he is bitten by a genetically engineered spider. Soon after he feels unwell but wakes up the next morning to discover that he is feeling better than ever, can see without his glasses and has new muscle tone in place of his once scrawny physique. Peter also discovers that his reactions are greatly heightened and that he is stronger and faster than ever before. After the untimely death of his Uncle, Peter decides to put his new found attributes to the test and adopts the moniker Spider-Man. This is just in time it seems as New York City comes under attack from The Green Goblin and only Spider-Man can stop him.

I saw this film ten years ago when it was first released and although I’ve never been into Comics, even I knew the Spider-Man origins story at that time. At the time I remember thinking that it was really good but after ten years I’ve changed my mind. Perhaps it is because the film has aged, maybe it’s because I’ve seen it before or maybe it’s just because it doesn’t match recent Comic book adaptations but this time around I was unimpressed.