Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Week 13: The Voices

Director: Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Michael R. Perry
Seen: Sunday 29th March 2015
Venue: Eye Cinema, Galway
Snacks: M&Ms
Mood: Weird 

Ok so last week Layla went on a wee rant (deservedly so) about how bad the film choices in the cinema were,  so I will spare you my thoughts on that needless to say they were very similar. The challenge of going to the cinema every week was evidently becoming just that, A CHALLENGE!
This week’s choices were not much better, or so I initially thought. The film this week certainly was not atrocious like last week’s diabolical, miss cast and mawkish 50 Shades of Grey (I had to get that in).

The reason this week was not as terrible is because of a peculiar, quirky little film called The Voices, a film I did not hear or read anything about, but it is the odd kind of thing I enjoy. The Voices is a film about Jerry played by Ryan Reynolds and his two (supposedly) talking animals Bosco the dog (yes Bosco, class name) and Mr. Whiskers the cat. However, this isn’t a pleasant family friendly comedy like Look Who’s Talking (1989) or Doctor Dolittle (1998) although it does as first seem like that, and admittedly it is a comedy but of the very dark kind.The Voices is directed by the Iranian Marjane Satrapi whose most notable work was the very well received animated feature Persepolis (2007) and alongside Ryan Reynolds stars Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver. 

There have been many, many bad reviews for this film and I have read some stinkers since I’ve seen it, Peter Bradshaw described it as an “overwhelmingly dislikable film”. Whilst it would be easy to pick this film apart critically because it is flawed and I am sure it could have been a better film, it does seem a bit rushed and the way it tackles the issue of mental health might not be for everybody. There is, however, a quirky quality to this film that is refreshing and many people I believe will enjoy The Voices just as I did.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Week 12: 50 Shades of Grey

Director: Sam Taylor - Johnson
Writer: Kelly Marcel (screenplay) E.L James (novel)
Seen: Sunday 22nd March 2015
Venue: Eye Cinema, Galway
Snacks: Ben & Jerrys Phish Food
Mood: Not AT ALL SEXY!!!!!!

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I am going to start this review with a whinge!! Yes we all love a good whinge! In December 2014 Galway was given the UNESCO City of Film status, one of only 5 cities who have this prestigious title YET we simply aren’t getting films…...I couldn’t wait to see ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ (50 shades grown up sister) and the Cannes recommended ‘Mummy’ but NEITHER came to Galway…...this happens time and again in Galway with everything only being shown in Dublin? I cant understand why this is and can only hope that it will change when The Palace (eventually) opens!
So it was with our tail between our legs that we had to go and watch ‘50 Shades of Grey’.  I had read five chapters of the book when all the hype originally started and then I gave up, the writing was TERRIBLE and I wanted to slap Anastasia Steel (even though she would only enjoy it har har snigger). I didnt have any hopes for this film then…..which was good because it is pretty awful. Christian Grey played by Jamie Dornan is supposed to be a highly influential, rich business man who exudes power out of every pore, unfortunately Dornan just doesn’t cut it….he is too clean shaven and slight. Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele with enough simpering girlishness to make me want to give her a clip round the ear too.

The much anticipated sex scenes are nothing shocking or new, in fact I found them pretty tedious most of the time. Then again it would take a lot to turn such a turgid book into something great, I suppose Sam Taylor-Johnson tried but no banana (pardon the pun).
If you want to see a cliche on top of a cliche on a flowerbed of cringe go see this film.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Week 11: Still Alice

Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Writer: Screenplay by Richard Glatzer Wash Westmoreland based on the novel by Lisa Genova
Seen: Sunday 15th March
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Malteasers 
Mood: Reflective

Still Alice is an engrossing look at one woman’s struggle with Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease which affects our most taken for granted ability of memory. The person it afflicts is Alice Howland played by Julianne Moore, a successful Professor at Columbia University New York, who at 50 is at the top of her chosen field of linguistics. Alice’s personal life is also great with three adult children and a strong stable relationship with husband John played by Alec Baldwin. So when the news is broken that she has this incurable disease a large black line is scratched into her picture-perfect life.

The casting of Moore was a master stroke as she is impeccably suited to the role of Alice. Her performance is first-rate acting that deservedly got her an overdue Oscar this year. We are with Alice as her life irrevocably changes but more importantly we care for her, predominantly due to Moore’s ability to immerse us in Alice’s world. Moore is certainly one of the most versatile actresses out there, she also justly won last year at Cannes for her memorable albeit quite different performance in David Cronenberg’s somewhat dark Maps to the Stars (2014).

There has been criticism that Still Alice is nothing but a TV film of the week and while there might be some merit to that, because in cinematic terms there is nothing distinct about it. However, for me it doesn’t have to be aesthetically creative or have a ground breaking script. There is no camera trickery or narrative twist to distract us from the sad, realistic and thought provoking journey we are on with Alice and her family. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Week 10: It Follows

Writer/Director: David Robert Mitchell
Seen: Friday 6th March 2015
Venue: Eye Cinema Galway
Snacks: NOTHING???!!!
Mood: ‘Who is that behind you’
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Being a fan of the horror genre I have long searched for genuinely eerie films that play with the  mind and freak you out a little. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t found many but to name a few like Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ (1980), the recent gloomy Babadook (2014) and Stephen Kings ‘IT’’ (1990) managed to have me checking under the bed (IT mainly because I watched it when I was 12 and I have a fear of clowns- standard!) I went then to see ‘It Follows’ with high hopes, having read a little about the premise and already liking the ambiguity of the title,what is IT? and what’s IT going to do?
I can say I wasn’t at all disappointed but more of that later.

The film focus’s on 19 year old Jay (Maika Monroe) who is much like any american teen who goes to school and dates etc. She meets Hugh (Jake Weary) and after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter wakes up to be told by Hugh that he has passed on ‘it’. It can look like anything or anyone, even someone you love but wherever you go and whatever you do it is always walking directly towards you and it will continue to do so until it kills you or until you have sex with someone else. It doesn’t end there though the person you have sex with will then be the target and if they get killed it falls back to you.
The premise of this film is what makes it so strong. I have not seen anything like it before and the word unique does spring to mind. It’s such a simple and age old concept ‘something bad is coming and it’s going to get you no matter what you do’ ‘It Follows’ is genuinely disturbing , ‘it’ never runs or drives it just walks slowly towards you, a lurking shadow of inevitability.  Unlike most films in this genre which are blood and gore filled over the top nonsense everything here is understated.

The score  by ‘disasterpiece’ can only be described as genius, it builds tension throughout and combined with the dizzying cinematography  which spins and weaves so the audience feels constantly on the edge of their seats, feverishly wondering when ‘It’ will appear in the distance.
There are definite nods to early 70’s and 80’s horror films, John Lee Carpenters ‘Halloween’ (1978) springs to mind with Monroe’s performance emanating snatches of Jamie Lee Curtis.
The acting is superb, never overplayed and it’s this simplicity, the lack of bodies and gore that makes the fear so tangible.

Director David Robert Mitchell has really created something that is engrossing and unique and I will look forward to what he does next…...in the meantime who is that walking behind you?.....

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Week 9: The Theory Of Everything

Director: James Marsh
Writer: Anthony McCarten (screenplay) based on Jane Hawking’s book
Seen: Sunday 1st March 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Minstrels 
Mood: Inspirational 

The Theory of Everything is the extraordinary story of one of the most recognisable men in the world and also regarded by many as one of the smartest.

Eddie Redmayne plays Professor Stephen Hawking with precision, subtlety and consideration and while it is an Oscar bait performance it is hard to argue who could have deserved it more out of the other four contenders. Felicity Jones plays Jane Hawking and does a decent portrayal.

It is directed by James Marsh who also made two of the most acclaimed documentaries of the last few years Project Nim (2011) and the widely celebrated Man on Wire (2008). Quite honestly I would have preferred to see Marsh tackle the Stephen Hawking story in documentary format rather than the narrative form.  

While the story of Stephen Hawking is inspirational, truly unique and remarkable. The fact that he was given two years to live but is now in his 70’s with three grandchildren and is a ground breaking theorist, makes his life certainly worthy of a biopic. However, the amazing story of the real man didn’t stand up in cinematic terms. While the main performances were impressive I couldn’t help but think I have seen this film a thousand times before.