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    • Don Jon (DVD) / DVD / 8 Readings / 8 Ratings
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      19.07.2014 16:05
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      • "Strong themes and ideas"
      • "Strong directorial debut"

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      • " discriminates some viewers"
      • "Risky topic"

      A slick and sexy movie- what''s next?

      Joseph Gordon Levitt''''s director-writer-actor debut came as ''''Don Jon, a movie about how sex and addition affect relationships.

      ''''Jon'''' (Joseph Gordon Levitt) prefers porn to real sex. On his first encounter with Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), Jon sees her as his next conquest. When he finds out she''''s in it for the long haul and wants to meet his friends and family, he holds out and does what she wants, but satisfies himself with porn, even when they''''re together. What will happen when Barbara discovers his porn addiction?

      Levitt''''s directorial debut sees him challenge a controversial but poignant topic of selfishness in relationships. These themes and his overarching message is somewhat lost amongst all the graphic imagery and hot bods flying across the screen, which will also put some people off seeing the movie all together.

      There is some nice camera work that goes on throughout and aided by some slick editing, but what we find missing is in the script. The humour is there, but that''''s it.

      Barbara: "Movies and porn are different, Jon. They give awards for movies."
      Jon: "They give awards for porn too"

      At under 90 minutes, the movie is an appropriate length, but the plot feels slightly stretched out given what it actually was. Nonetheless, I wouldn''''t say I got bored, but just rather wanted to know sooner what happens.

      ~~~CAST~~~
      Joseph Gordon Levitt- Jon
      Scarlett Johansson- Barbara

      also stars Julianne Moore.

      Joseph Gordon Levitt is a fine actor and is well supported by Scarlett Johansson who gets the opportunity to self-parody (when Jon goes through her FB profile) but offers not much else other than a beautiful body to look at.

      ~~~OVERALL~~~
      ''''Don Jon'''' is a strong debut from Joseph Gordon Levitt as director, writer and actor, who takes risks and manages to pull off a slick movie with a strong message (albeit lost in the visuals). With a good support cast and a pacy plot, with good humour, this is the beginning of something big for Levitt!

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    • Oblivion (DVD) / DVD / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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      15.06.2014 19:35
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      • "Interesting sci fi visuals"
      • "Strong premise"

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      • "Seen before"
      • "Bad script"
      • "A tad long"

      Does not meet its potential

      Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), a veteran remaining on Earth whilst machines extract its resources after a apocalyptic war, soon discovers that all may not be as it seems when he rescues Julia (Olga Kurylenko), a woman who appeared in his recurring dreams. As he breaches boundaries and questions the mission he''s been assigned to do, he unearths something about himself that will change his life. The movie opens beautifully but the pace is rather slow. Despite the intrigue, the action doesn''t come quite quickly enough and the audience is left wondering what will happen for too long. The explanation of what happened to Earth was quickly skipped over and factually questionable. Whilst there are really interesting themes such as identity, subversion and dystopian futures, a lot of it is lost in a mediocre script and filler scenes that don''t add much to the story. The scene near the end when Jack discovers the truth about himself was worth a lot more time- more like that similar scene in ''The Island'' or ''Total Recall''. As the movie climaxes, it becomes rather predictable bar one shocker and ends literally explosively, but thankfully well and satisfyingly. ~~~CAST~~~ Tom Cruise- Jack Olga Kurylenko- Julia Morgan Freeman- Beech Tom Cruise overplays these type of roles and has seemed to lost his charm. It feels like it has been done before and he does himself no favours in this. Not the Minority Report or Vanilly Sky (or even Mission Impossible), his acting lacts umph physically and emotionally. ~~~OVERALL~~~ ''Oblivion'' has a strong premise, but with a run time that is a tad overlong, poor script and a slow start, feels done before and lacks the power that it strives to achieve. That said, it boasts beautiful imagery and interesting themes of a dystopian future.

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    • Arbitrage (DVD) / DVD / 26 Readings / 20 Ratings
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      31.03.2014 13:18
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      • "Gripping Plot"
      • "Strong Performances"

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      • "Abrupt Ending"

      How to save face

      Business magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is about to sell his hedge fund in order to hide his company's losses and evade arrest for fraud, but when he enters a car crash killing his mistress, he flees. As the investigation proceeds, the truth begins to unravel, with the consequences affecting both his wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Brit Marling).


      The film took a while to get started, but once all the pieces were in place, it was a tense and riveting feature, aided greatly by the sound track. The dilemna that Robert faces, the risk of both public and private scrutiny, drives him to dangerous decisions. Will his business deal go through before the truth is revealed?


      Though slightly long, the movie was enjoyable and whilst Miller was a kind of villain, you do root for him and hope he makes it through. The style of the movie was slick and edgy, with a deep moody feel. Thematically, the ideas of family, money, publicity and deception create a realm of depth in this world of power and money. I guess the key element is about public image and the facade that is trying to be up-kept.


      One criticism I have is the abrupt ending which felt incomplete. Left open ended to interpretation, it ultimately lacks conviction. What is the movie trying to say?


      ~~~CAST~~~
      Richard Gere- Robert Miller
      Susan Sarandon- Ellen Miller
      Brit Marling- Brooke Miller
      Tim Roth- Det. Michael Bryer


      Nominated for a Golden Globe, Richard Gere is perfect for this role and definitely shines in this villainesque role. Supported by the stunning Susan Sarandon and rising star Brit Marling, performances are strong all around.


      ~~~OVERALL~~~
      'Arbitrage' is a strong thriller that has flair, with good performances by Richard Gere and well supported by Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling. Despite the abrupt ending, it has strong themes and was filmed stylishly that makes this a gripping and enjoyable movie.

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    • Closed Circuit (DVD) / DVD / 51 Readings / 51 Ratings
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      15.03.2014 15:14
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      Good to kill time

      A man arrested for a terrorist attack in London sparks a high profile defense case. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is brought to take over from the previous defense attorney after an alleged suicide, whilst Claudia Simmons Howe (Rebecca Hall) is the special advocate for the sensitive evidence that may threaten National Security and will represent the defendant in closed hearing.

      Having breached regulations by previously having an affair, Rose and Howe tread carefully, but when they discover they are being watched, they suspect greater powers at play, with their lives at risk.

      Set in beautiful London, they certainly made use of all available landmarks, from Wembley Stadium to Chinatown to Bankside to swifting shots of The Shard.

      Whilst there is some stylish cinematography, most notably the opening sequence with the CCTV cameras, it never becomes more than just a few split screens and never truly aids the drama or tension, which in itself was lacking. Paranoia seeps in pretty quickly and we assume they are being watched but there is never any evidence for it. The closest we get to it is when Howe returns home to discover a book out of place on her shelf. Dying for her to discover a hidden camera, she simply just shifts the book back into place.

      As the court date approaches, the movie does build up but in small increments and by this point, we have most of the puzzle already. The climax was relatively unexciting and predictable, though Howe's closed hearing cross examination was perhaps the most tense of the whole movie.

      ~~~CAST~~~
      Eric Bana- Martin Rose
      Rebecca Hall- Claudia Simmons Howe
      Julia Stiles- Joanna Reece
      Jim Broadbent- Attorney General

      Also stars Anne Marie Duff, Kenneth Cranham and Riz Ahmed.

      A very strong cast is presented here, but it could have very well been any body. None of the cast members truly shine and feels like they've just been roped in for pulling power. It's nice to see Julia Stiles again :)

      ~~~OVERALL~~~
      'Closed Circuit' has a promising story but lacked real action and thrill. If some of the oozing paranoia actually became some sort of threat, it would've elevated this beyond a slightly drab and grey film with a lot of talking, looking around and going from A to B. Nonetheless, it kept you interested throughout and has a strong cast, if only the ending wasn't so predictable.

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      • Robocop 2014 (DVD) / DVD / 61 Readings / 61 Ratings
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        09.03.2014 18:43
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        Brings nothing new to the table

        In 2028, conglomerate Omnicorp has developed a law enforcement robot soldier in use all over the world, but has been barred in the United States by the Dreyfus act due to the product lacking 'soul' and human judgment.

        When detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is nearly killed by Antoine Vallon, a suspect he is chasing, Omnicorp CEA Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) and Dr Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) keeps him alive by fusing him with robot technology and trains him to become... Robocop.

        Having not seen the original franchise, I watched the movie with an open mind and though it was gripping at times, generally felt 'seen before' and formulaic. The setup was somewhat slow and though it finally picked up with Robocop's release onto the streets, was held back by his almost always neutral to positive motives.

        Given the elegantly designed black robot suit, I would have assumed a much darker turn in the movie, which was not granted. The conflicting desires, emotions and question of human conscience vs robotic control were never quite fully explored, that being the most interesting of Alex Murphy's character, thus lacking depth and complexity. The same could potentially be said for supporting characters Clara Murphy and Dr Dennett Norton, both of which lacked strength in their role.

        Thematically, the movie attempts some level of meaning and thought, but unfortunately never fully explores the questions of humanity, conscience, what it means to live. The most poignant moment in the movie was perhaps when wife Clara Murphy asks: "You said you could save him, but what kind of life will he have?"

        As the movie reaches its climax, the audience was bombarded by intense and dramatic action sequences one after another, some too dark, some too hectic, but had a strong visual style and contemporary aesthetic, albeit somewhat too 'video-gamey', leading to a predictable ending and open enough for a sequel if it fares well commercially.

        ~~~CAST~~~
        Joel Kinnaman- Alex Murphy/Robocop
        Gary Oldman- Dr Dennett Norton
        Michael Keaton- Raymond Sellars
        Abbie Cornish- Clara Murphy
        Samuel L Jackson- Pat Novak

        Also stars Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle and Jackie Earle Haley.

        Rising star Joel Kinnaman takes the lead role and manages to be convincing both as a robotic and emotionless droid as well as a hurting husband and father. Supported by veterans Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L Jackson, the cast is congruent and effective.

        ~~~OVERALL~~~
        Rebooted from the 1987 original, Robocop is a formulaic and safe popcorn blockbuster with sweeping action sequences, modern visuals and a videogame aesthetic that gives the audience a temporary adrenaline rush. Though it attempts to inject themes of humanity and conscience, it ultimately fails to leave a mark and feels lacking in depth and meaning. Nonetheless, it has a strong cast and is an enjoyable movie to kill two hours.

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        • The Artist (DVD) / DVD / 76 Readings / 75 Ratings
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          05.03.2014 17:14
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          Oscar Worthy

          Nominated for ten Oscars and winning 5 including 'Best Picture', 'The Artist' was a delightful, entertaining and thoughtful watch.

          George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a famed silent movie star, meets aspiring actress/dancer Peppy (Berenice Bejo) and helps her on her career. But with the dawn of talking movies, George's silent world spirals out of control.

          The style of the movie is perhaps its most impressive factor- filmed in black and white, it is like you're watching a silent movie. Captions every now and again allow you to understand what they're saying but this is hardly necessary as you are engaged and you understand by their expressive body language.

          Plot wise, it was fun and cheerful to begin with but slowly turned quite dark. The character of George was so strong and the performance so polarised, it was really wonderfully acted. The propulsion to the climax was tense, heightened by the sound track. It was a fantastically dramatic finish, but ended on a high note and with hope.

          In an age of visual domination, where movies strive to be the most glitzy, has the best effects and the bombardment of 3D and IMAX, it was captivating to see a movie filmed in such a style to capture audiences worldwide and goes to show that a good story and good performances is the essence for a good movie!

          ~~~CAST~~~
          Jean Dujardin- George Valentin
          Berenice Bejo- Peppy Miller

          Also stars James Cromwell, John Goodman and Penelope Ann Miller.

          Oscar Winner George Valentin was stunning in this role- animated, emotional and genuine. His chemistry with Berenice Bejo was also lighthearted, sweet and believable. A special mention has to go to Uggie the dog was such a stellar performance- so real and disciplined that my sister asked if it was real! If they also give Oscars to animals, Uggie would surely win one :)

          ~~~OVERALL~~~
          'The Artist' is a beautifully captivating movie that oozes style and flair as it documents the rise and fall of actors in the 20s. Led by Jean Dujardin with a wonderful support cast, the performances were delightful and powerful. This movie deserved all the Oscars it got and is definitely a must watch if you haven't seen it already!

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          • The Wolf of Wall Street (DVD) / DVD / 42 Readings / 41 Ratings
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            26.02.2014 11:42
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            Polarising Movie

            Nominated for five Academy Awards (Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Lead Actor and Best Supporting Actor), I decided to give Martin Scorsese's latest offering 'The Wolf of Wall Street' a watch.

            Based on the memoir, Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) works as a stock broker for a Wall Street firm, under Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), teaching him that the only way to survive the industry is sex and drugs. After earning his broker's license, the firm liquidates and Belfort loses his job.

            Finding a job in selling penny stocks, Belfort soon makes a small fortune and starts up his own firm, recruiting new friend Donnie (Jonah Hill) and several cocaine salesman friends. His new found fortune leads him to great success, great parties and a life of debauchery. Belfort's life changes when he meets Naomi (Margot Robbie), a beautiful lingerie designer, with whom he has an affair with and consequently divorces his wife for her.

            Despite making millions, Belfort is addicted to making even more money but is soon involved in an investigation by the FBI, which soon turns his life upside down with lies, aggression and betrayal.

            The film opens with speed with slick scenes, shot with a familiar Scorsese style that gives pace and tension. However, at over two hours long, the movie navigates an almost destination-less plot line that just suddenly crashes at the climax like the economy.

            Scorsese's exploration into the lavish life of a wall street broker was met with mixed results. Whilst some praise the film for portraying the honest rise and fall of Belfort; and the satirical take on the side of Wall street we don't see, others criticise the movie for glorifying the excessive lifestyle and lack of morality the characters abide by.

            Personally, I feel the movie documents the physical and mental trajectory of Belfort as he rises to fame and fortune and the tragedy that ensues is ironically self propagating, yet unstoppable. Whilst it may appear that Belfort is in control at all times, the events that occur are not always in his favour and the obstacles that arise almost seem conveniently 'unlucky', yet Belfort never seems to show any sign of change or remorse for his actions.

            The dark dramedy has a strong climax and here I feel was DiCaprio's best performance in the movie, giving an intensity that has yet to be seen by him in any other movie, even 'Shutter Island'. Though the conclusion was slightly less slick, it manages to end with style and in a way, point to the beginning of another cycle of Belfort's life.

            ~~~CAST~~~
            Leonardo DiCaprio- Jordan Belfort
            Jonah Hill- Donnie
            Margot Robbie- Naomi
            Matthew McConaughey- Mark

            Also stars Kyle Chandler, Jean DuJardin and Jon Favreau.

            Leonardo DiCaprio reunites with director Scorsese for the fifth time (The Departed, Shutter Island, Gangs of New York...) and delivers a strong performance as the money hungry Belfort. DiCaprio is very engaged with the character and gives a genuine portrayal that is believable, garnering a nomination for a Best Actor Academy Award.

            Supported by rising Aussie star Margot Robbie (Neighbours, About Time) who delivers an emotional performance with a believable Brooklyn accent, a surprising Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill, who got nominated for a supporting actor Oscar (WOW).

            ~~~OVERALL~~~
            Whilst Martin Scorsese's 'Wolf of Wall Street' may be polarisng to viewers due to the themes of drugs, sex and a record breaking use of the F-word, it is no doubt a solid piece of movie making by the legendary director: A satirical exposure of Wall-Street.

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            • Frozen (DVD) (2014) / DVD / 71 Readings / 72 Ratings
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              22.02.2014 19:21
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              Best Animated Film of 2013

              After initially putting it off for fear of it not living up to the 'Tangled' effect, the critical acclaim (Academy Award nominated for Best Animated feature and Best Original Song) and constant praise from friends who have seen it led me to finally give it a go three months after its original premiere in November (the long run is another indication of its awesomeness).

              Elsa was born with magical ice powers, but when she freezes her beloved sister Anna by accident whilst playing, she vows to keep her powers a secret forever. On the day of her coronation, Elsa's secret is exposed and she flees Erindale, leaving it in eternal Winter.

              Desperate to find her sister and restore Summer to Erindale, Anna embarks on a frosty journey, along with Kristoff and his reindeer Sven, as well as a talking snowman Olaf, encountering trolls and an ice giant. Will Anna be able to convince her sister to return?

              The film's content lends itself to the dramatic snowscapes created, imagining a world of icy detail and beautiful cold hues. The frozen droplets on willow like branches was an impressive visual, but perhaps the stand out of the whole movie is the erection of Elsa's ice palace, crafted with hard edges, smooth surfaces and geometric forms, even to the finest detail. The sharded chandelier and the reflective quality of light within the space was an animation feat, producing a real spectacle.

              With regards to Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf, the ensemble almost too closely resembles that of Tangled's Rapunzel, Flynn, Pascal and Maximus. Nonetheless, they are liked for the same reasons and has some distinct qualities.

              One slight annoyance is the character of Hans, who kind of has a drastic and inconsistent portrayal. The lack of strength from the antagonist(s) were also a slight minor point; it seems the film was missing a strong baddie. That said, the internal struggles of Elsa, who herself is at times villainous, was purely evident and was perhaps more focused.

              The plot picked up pretty quickly and though initially straightforward, delineated after Anna finds Elsa. Though plot lines wavered at this point, it was held together by a strong visual and comedic progression, held together by the likeable characters.

              Thematically, the film's focus on family was a pleasant change, but the retention of romantic themes give it that classic Disney feel. The deep, confused and reserved relationship between Anna and Elsa contrasted between the awkward banter between Anna and Kristoff gives a range of cinematic opportunities.

              The movie constantly throws giggles at you and intersperses these funny scenes with dramatic or moving sequences, taking you on a dynamic and exciting emotional journey. Though slightly predictable and has a typical Disney resolve, the ending was sweet and moving.

              On a side note, it was particularly pleasant to have an Easter egg during the movie, when a glimpse of Rapunzel and Flynn could be seen as guests enter the palace for Elsa's coronation. What's more the short post credits scene was sweet.

              ~~~SOUNDTRACK~~~
              Musically, the film has a more coherent soundtrack that was much more well rounded than Tangled's but none of the songs give me as many chills as 'I See The Light', but 'Let It Go' does come close. Scored by Christophe Beck (Paperman), the sound track topped the US charts and is an addictive collection of moving ballads and upbeat tracks that will surely get stuck in your head!

              ~~~VOICED BY~~~
              Kristen Bell- Anna
              Idina Menzel- Elsa
              Josh Gad- Olaf
              Jonathan Groff- Kristoff
              Santino Fontana- Hans

              ~~~OVERALL~~~
              'Frozen' is an almost too similar follow up to 'Tangled', but debatably surpasses the former commercially and musically. The mix of humour and emotional scenes make this a more complex and dynamic animation film, perfect for adults and children alike.

              The film will almost certainly finally pick up the 'Best Animated Feature' for Disney Animation Studios at the Oscars in March, as commercial competitors, 'Despicable Me 2' and 'The Croods' just doesn't make the cut. The only real competition is Miyazaki's 'The Wind Rises', but it's surely about time Disney won one without Pixar!

              'Frozen' is the second highest grossing Disney film, behind only 'The Lion King', which shows it has received a lot of public love- My friend who I saw this saw this for the fourth time with me! It is still in cinemas now, even after three months, so go catch it if you haven't already!

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              • Her (DVD) / DVD / 68 Readings / 68 Ratings
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                17.02.2014 16:31
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                Must See

                Spike Jonze's 'Her' quietly accumulated five Academy Award nominations including Best Motion Picture and is an engrossing tale of loneliness and love.

                Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a recently divorced letter writer, purchases an intuitive OS (operating system) Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson and the two soon develop a romantic relationship. However, as the honeymoon period wears off, the two discover the limitations of technology, struggling to face the reality of their metaphysical relationship. Will love conquer all?

                A not-so-distant projection of our current trends create this master crafted vision of intuitive AI, much like Apple's Siri. The movie is an exploration and examination on our dependence on technology and really hits home with its themes and concepts. Our love for technology is literally taken to that level in this raw, simple and honest film.

                Beautifully shot, the cinematography was a delightful experience. The world that Theodore lives in appears to be enriched by technology and is otherwise a dull and grey space. The mundane white walls of his apartment is filled with life with his colourful video games. The colours, imagery and soundtrack combined, created that detached feeling of joy and you can sense Theodore being lost in Samantha as they date.

                At just over two hours, we never waver to look at the time- the movie is simply captivating and compelling. The themes of real life relationships were explored even between Theodore's unlikely romance, including jealousy, marriage, faithfulness.

                The same reason which Theodore falls in love with Samantha is the same one we love watching (or hearing her) as she discovers herself and the world. The excitement of learning about life, humanity, consciousness, feelings, pain, embarrassment- whilst bringing her joy, also brings her pain. It is like watching your child take their first steps and was a refreshing take on self discovery in its purest form.

                "How do you share your life with somebody?"~Samantha

                Through the questions Samantha asks, we too think of answers and reflect on those themes and perhaps will also discover something about ourselves, values and our relationships.

                The climatic revelation by Samantha towards the end of the movie was heartbreaking, a sharp truth which is inevitable and almost foreshadowed but is nonetheless painful to watch. The conclusion, though emotional, was beautiful and offered a cathartic resolve.

                An added mention goes to the beautiful soundtrack in the movie. Arcade Fire's Supersymmetry fit perfectly to the movie as well as the piano compositions that accompanied the movie was memsmerising.

                ~~~CAST~~~
                Joaquin Phoenix- Theodore
                Amy Adams- Amy
                Rooney Mara- Catherine
                Olivia Wilde- Blind Date
                Scarlett Johansson- Voice of Samantha

                Joaquin Phoenix was uninhibited and carefree in a transformation of a role. Totally believable and likeable, yet vulnerable, real. Despite supported by mega-stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde, they never take over but contribute conscientiously to their respective parts, each playing a different female relational role as they uncover more of Theodore's inner character.

                Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha and is sweet, flirtatious, curious, honest... though you don't see her, you can feel her struggles, her hesitations, her physicality.

                ~~~OVERALL~~~
                'Her' is a beautifully captivating love story between a man and an operating system: simply a story of how love can transcend physicality and break boundaries. In a future vision that is on our doorstep, the themes are critical yet poetic, ultimately about the relational struggles, joys, pains, loss and forgiveness.

                Though it offers 'Lost in Translation' vibes, it is an original and emotional movie which deserves all its Oscar nominations and I am proud to say is the best movie I have seen in 2014 thus far.

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                • American Hustle (DVD) / DVD / 76 Readings / 75 Ratings
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                  06.02.2014 16:05
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                  Strong Performance and Character Piece

                  Based (very) loosely on the ABSCAM operation, David O. Russell's 'American Hustle' received international critical acclaim, winning three Golden Globes and nominated for ten Oscars, but is it all it's hyped up to be?

                  Irving Rosenfeld, (Christian Bale) a con artist with a bad comb-over and a beer belly falls for Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) at a party. By impersonating a British aristocrat, Sydney helps Irving's business soar and the two become the perfect con duo, until they caught by Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).

                  DiMaso offers them a deal: Help him make four additional arrests and they can go free. The two reluctantly agree, but soon realises DiMaso's ambitions soar beyond their control into the realm of the mafia. Can they pull off the ultimate hustle?

                  The movie picked up very quickly but the plot was somewhat ambiguous until at least a third of the way through (maybe I'm just slow on the uptake). Meanwhile, you're just watching a fat (but lovable) Christian Bale courting a boobalicious Amy Adams. The two compliment each other in a sublime way, the way they con, the way they love, the way they fight...

                  ...which is why when Jennifer Lawrence's Rosalyn (Irving's wife) was introduced, the character dynamics got complicated, and very interesting.

                  "Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, but you had to survive?"

                  I suppose, at the heart of the movie, is the notion of survival and searching for a better life. All the characters aspire for something greater, and the exploration of their individual wants and the relationships between them become the focus of the movie, character studies moreso than focused plot lines.

                  As story develops, tensions increase and character dynamics too explode, playing out in parallel. Though the climax was clever, it was almost 'seen before' and was missing an explosive gasp of surprise, think 'Ocean's Eleven'. Nonetheless, it was well finished and appropriately handled.

                  Unfortunately, the movie does not really leave you with many lasting impressions. Yes, it was strong, the performances were great, but what did we take from it? Nothing. Apart from that we love Jennifer Lawrence. Unlike Spike Jonze's sentimental and moving 'Her', or Alfonso Cuaron's breathtaking and powerful 'Gravity', 'American Hustle' is simply a fun, but soon to be forgotten, movie (once the hype passes).

                  ~~~CAST~~~
                  Christian Bale- Irving Rosenfeld
                  Amy Adams- Sydney Prosser
                  Bradley Cooper- Richie DiMaso
                  Jennifer Lawrence- Rosalyn Rosenfeld
                  Jeremy Renner- Carmine Polito

                  Also stars Robert DiNiro, Michael Pena and Jack Huston.

                  Christian Bale's transformative performance, was just that. Yes, he had to make drastic (and perhaps dangerous) physical changes, but his performance was nothing extraordinary, nothing beyond what he would usually bring to a movie, unlike the two female leads.

                  Amy Adams' take on Sydney Prosser was brave and sexy, wearing beautiful 70s outfits with a plunging neckline (or lack thereof) that gives her character so much personality and sass.

                  Despite not being a lead character, Jennifer Lawrence arguably stole the show with a quirky, fun and at times bi-polar performance. She lights up every scene and delivers consistently with diversity and range. Never will 'Live and Let Die' be the same again.

                  When Adams and Lawrence's characters face off on screen, it was intense, gripping and magical.

                  ~~~OVERALL~~~
                  'American Hustle' is a purely brilliant study of characters, motives and ambition, led by the all star cast (the main four cast members were all Oscar nominated); although the movie was slightly long and the plot lacked power, it was made up by the strong performances and wit of the whole thing.

                  Whilst I wouldn't call it the movie of the year or give it the Best Motion Picture Oscar, it was definitely a really enjoyable film to watch with some unexpected moments that are quirky, surprising and fun. If you only see this for Jennifer Lawrence, it's worth it too.

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                  • About Time (DVD) / DVD / 82 Readings / 83 Ratings
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                    23.01.2014 22:27
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                    A strong British comedy

                    On his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is told by his dad (Bill Nighy) that men in the family have the ability to time travel back to a memory they own. With his new found power, Tim decides to use it to pursue love, but the powers fail him in obtaining the love of his life Charlotte (Margot Robbie).

                    When Tim meets Mary in London, they instantly share chemistry, but family matters get in the way and he loses her number through time travel. Using his powers, he tries to meet her again to woo her, but soon realises that there are some problems time travel cannot solve.

                    The trailer to the movie made it seem like an extremely snappy and slick rom-com but it has in fact a lot more depth and meaning that slowly unravels as the movie progresses. The start up was quick and simple, and before long, Tim was a time travelling veteran, using his powers to master the art of rubbing sun cream on Charlotte's back or reliving his 'first time' with Mary.

                    Where the movie suffocates a little is the looseness in handling the time travel mechanics. The rules that were laid out were very simple: only men can time travel, you can only travel backwards in time and you cannot travel back before you were born. When rules are clearly laid out, they should be followed, but yet the movie carelessly allows Tim to fly through space and time, even bringing his sister back and forth.

                    Looking past these glaring flaws, there was a succinct level of light-hearted humour throughout. Tim's attempts to correct his mistakes were perhaps the most enjoyable moments, though surprisingly, Tim's romantic life was not the sole focus of the movie.

                    Tim's relationship with his father was perhaps presented more poignantly. The two share a deep love for one another and the ideas of cherishing loved ones occur when even time travel cannot prolong their time together.

                    At around two hours long, the movie was slightly dragged out, with a few rather unnecessary sub plots; it almost tries too hard to cram every sort of ill-mannered fate that could potentially occur for Tim to puzzle through and at times lacked focus.

                    What is to praise is the overall message of the movie that is applicable to all. Despite not having the power to travel back in time, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy life like it's the second time we've lived it, cherishing every moment and enjoying the people and events that happen, good and bad. Many of my friends who have seen it have praised the movie for its message and are able to overlook the flaws.

                    ~~~CAST~~~
                    Domhnall Gleeson- Tim
                    Rachel McAdams- Mary
                    Bill Nighy- Dad

                    Also stars Tom Hollander, Lindsay Duncan, Margot Robbie and Lydia Wilson.

                    Domhnall Gleeson, most well known for being a Weasley brother in the Harry Potter series plays the awkward lead well and effectively manages to charm. Many compare his performance to that of a young Hugh Grant.

                    Unfortunately, Rachel McAdams doesn't manage to shine beyond her initial entrance as the cute American on her first date. Several of McAdams' scenes remind us of her performances in 'The Notebook' and 'The Time Traveller's Wife', but I think it's time she take on more ambitious projects, which her recent film 'Passion' showed she could successfully pull off.

                    ~~~OVERALL~~~
                    Directed by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), 'About Time' is an enjoyable British sci-fi romantic comedy with a surprisingly meaningful outcome. Though overlong and have glaring time travel plot homes, the movie is sweet and lighthearted, with a strong cast that will leave you contemplating life and wanting to really LIVE every moment.

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                    • The Impossible (DVD) / DVD / 51 Readings / 51 Ratings
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                      21.01.2014 10:58
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                      Powerful must watch film

                      Based on a true story, 'The Impossible' tells of a family's chaotic struggle after the 2004 East Asia tsunami.

                      Henry (Ewan McGregor), Maria (Naomi Watts) and their three boys go on holiday to Thailand for Christmas, but get swept up in a catastrophic tsunami. Initially separated, Maria finds her eldest son Lucas, but with the others nowhere to the seen, the two attempt to make their way to safety before trying to find their family. But with Maria's injuries getting more and more severe, her life hands by a thread.

                      Will Henry and his two young sons be able to reunite with Maria in time?

                      Eight years after the disaster, 'The Impossible' opens with a frightening dramatism and a realism that may haunt those affected. The impact of the effects, both visually and audibly gives intensity and huge impact. The first thing to notice is the sheer bravery of the movie in not shying away from the truth.

                      The visual imagery (wounds/blood and all) inflicts pain on the viewer and does not allow you to sit idly through. Whether physically, emotionally or psychologically, you empathise with the characters and are very much involved and engaged with their desperate struggle for survival and reunification with their family.

                      Spanning just two days or so in the movie but at around two hours long, the film at times feel dragged out and longer than necessary. Nonetheless, the movie is powerful and ends with a message of hope.

                      ~~~CAST~~~
                      Ewan McGregor- Henry
                      Naomi Watts- Maria

                      Nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and SAG, Naomi Watts' performance is deeply powerful and moving, one showing a woman of strength and resilience. She carries the movie effectively and supported well by Ewan McGregor.

                      ~~~OVERALL~~~
                      'The Impossible' is a powerful movie, both in its shocking realism but as a movie to inspire and to instill hope. Though at times painful to watch physically and emotionally, led by the brilliant Naomi Watts. The only downside is that it feels somewhat exaggerated at times and somewhat too long in length. Nonetheless, it is a strong and moving film that deserves a watch.

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                    • More +
                      13.01.2014 19:20
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                      Bring on Part 3

                      A year after The Hobbit debuted on our screens, Bilbo and the dwarves resume their quest where we last left off. With the Orcs on their tail, the group are desperate to reach the Lonely Mountain before the last light of Durin's day.

                      With Gandalf leaving them to their own devices as they travel through Mirkwood, Bilbo and the dwarves encounter deadly spiders and get imprisoned by wood elves. Will they be able to escape and what other obstacles lie in their wake?

                      The movie picks up pretty quickly in terms of action and excitement, with an increased pace and adrenaline from the previous movie. It definitely feels a lot more like a 'Lord of the Rings' movie, but in a way this is also the problem- it seems like it is trying too hard to be a part of that trilogy.

                      Plot-wise, the only things that actually happen are Beorn's House to Mirkwood to Lake Town to Lonely Mountain. These events run pretty quickly in the book, yet felt dragged out with this sandwich movie. Side-plots and additional scenes at times over dominate and overshadow the simple and straightforward story of 'The Hobbit'. Having read the book twice, the events that I recall being in the book are strung together in a prolonged manner which lacks flow.

                      Understandably, the decision to break the book into three movies will require packing it out with additional material and I applaud these for being taken from the Tolkien universe and are well thought out, but it lacks purity and feels almost too grandiose. It tries too hard to make this trilogy a 'prequel' to the LOTR franchise when it would've worked on its own with a few references.

                      One of the most divisive additions was bringing Legolas back into the movie. Whilst his stylish combat technique was definitely a welcome to the action sequences, his character is ultimately, not needed, and seemed to be done for pulling power. I did adore the exchange Legolas has with Gloin about Gimli.

                      Though the movie mainly stays true to the book in terms of major plot events, the portrayed details are questionable. That said, the movie as a whole was much stronger than the previous, with a range of tense, exciting, funny and shocking scenes, most notably the well choreographed action sequences. A few times, it even made me jump (mind the flying heads!). The addition of some romance also alleviated the otherwise heavy themes.

                      However, The obvious fillering did give the movie several moments of lull, which could be excused as 'calm before the storm', but I found myself surprisingly yawning (and it wasn't even a late showing)! The drawn out aspect of the movie is unfortunate, though fans will probably love the added perspectives.

                      As the movie reached its climax, the bigger picture begins to manifest itself in the movie with the eventual reveal of Sauron as the 'enemy', which will no doubt set the scene for the conclusion of 'The Hobbit' and lead into 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. The ending was slightly too abrupt and lacked any sort of catharsis.

                      ~~~2D or 3D~~~
                      We saw the first one in 3D and thought it was almost too real, making the set seem quite plastic looking, hence deciding to see it in 2D this time. It was nonetheless visually stunning and we could easily identify parts that would've looked great in 3D (flying heads and all!). I would recommend seeing this in 3D as the way it was filmed clearly was thought alongside the technology for effect, not just visuals.

                      ~~~CAST~~~
                      Ian McKellen- Gandalf
                      Martin Freeman- Bilbo
                      Richard Armitage- Thorin

                      Orlando Bloom- Legolas
                      Lee Pace- Thranduil
                      Evangeline Lilly- Tauriel
                      Benedict Cumberbatch- Smaug

                      Also stars James Nesbitt, Stephen Fry and Luke Evans.

                      ~~~OVERALL~~~
                      Clearly the movie could've been cut shorter for a faster paced, more exciting and pure film, but given the decision to extend the films into a trilogy, the team did a good job adding aspects that added value as a movie. The risks that were taken look to deliver a stunning and deep trilogy that will act as prequel to one of the most popular franchises of all time.

                      With increased action and adrenaline, 'The Desolation of Smaug' is a stronger movie overall, despite being a sandwich between the first and last. Though prolonged and well padded out, it is filled with well choreographed sequences and finishes with anticipation to a grand finale.

                      'There and Back again' will definitely be one to watch out for at the end of this year!

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                      • Song for Marion (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 58 Ratings
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                        12.01.2014 14:42
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                        A nice movie, but nothing more.

                        After the death of his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave), a grumpy pensioner Arthur (Terence Stamp) decides to join the local choir that she was part of in order to fulfill her passion. With the help of choir leader Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton), Arthur attempts to make amends with his estranged son.

                        The plot is simple and straightforward, with a purity and ease that grabs you. Though a drama at heart, comedic moments are interspersed with the more dramatic and intense scenes which does lighten the mood. I found that the movie did take a while to build up but was worth the wait as the climax and the end is very emotional and well worth it.

                        However, this movie is not for everyone, and those below thirty may just find the movie an utter bore (probably not a good choice for a family movie night). Whilst it is a 'nice' movie, it's hardly too exciting or provide the thrills to grab the attention of one with a short attention span.

                        Musically, the choir has a lot of fun with their songs such as 'Crazy', 'Let's Talk About Sex' and 'Ace of Spades' but a great performance of 'True Colours' by Redgrave and Stamp's solo 'Lullaby' was very emotional.

                        The ending was rather predictable but nonetheless appropriately handled and rounded off.

                        ~~~CAST~~~
                        Gemma Arterton- Elizabeth
                        Terence Stamp- Arthur
                        Vanessa Redgrave- Marion

                        The strong and genuine performances from Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave really draw the tension and emotional dynamics. The solo by Stamp at the end was a tearjerking moment and was definitely the highlight of the movie. Gemma Arterton is also likeable and down to earth in this niche role.

                        ~~~OVERALL~~~
                        'Unfinished Song' is a simple but beautiful movie about relationships, family and cherising the ones you love. With strong performances and lighthearted comedic moments, the drama is enjoyable and emotional at the end.

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                      • Cars (DVD) / DVD / 59 Readings / 59 Ratings
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                        09.01.2014 23:48
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                        Expect more from pixar and why they made a sequel to this is beyond me

                        So I have put off seeing Cars as I've heard rather bad things about it from my friends and it's the lowest scored Pixar film on Rotten Tomatoes, but I've always had this curiosity of watching it given it IS Pixar and can Pixar really make a bad movie?

                        Hot-shot rookie race car Lightning McQueen could make history by winning the Piston Cup, but an unseen three-way tie sends the three cars to a tie-breaker race a week later in California. Whilst making his way to the race, Lightning McQueen gets stranded in Radiator Springs, where he causes havoc and is held captive until he makes amends. Will he make it to the race in time?

                        The first thing is notice is the stunning driving imagery. The scenery as it zooms by makes it almost like you are sitting in the back seat with the windows down. The attention to detail to road signs and traffic lights really add depth to this world of living cars.

                        At just under two hours long, the film does feel slightly tired and overlong but the initially cocky and unlikeable Lightning soon warms to the audience as the film increases in humour. It progresses with a typical turn though the ending was not as predictable as you would've thought and it did end lighthearted and sweet.

                        ~~~VOICED BY~~~
                        Owen Wilson- Lightning mcQueen
                        Paul Newman- Doc Hudson
                        Bonnie Hunt- Sally Carrera
                        Larry the Cable Guy- Mater
                        Michael Keaton- Chick Hicks

                        ~~~OVERALL~~~
                        'Cars' was definitely not as bad as I thought it would be given the reviews and word of mouth comments. It's probably the Pixar movie I felt least connected with emotionally but it was still enjoyable and had some nice visual details. It was slightly too long but the unpredictable and 'aww' ending does make up for it. Also, the end credit scenes was perhaps the highlight of the movie and made me chuckle :)

                        Now I only have Cars 2 to watch before having seen all of Pixar's feature films. Bring it on.

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