Saturday, July 12, 2014

Three Films

Trip to Italy  3.5 stars
The Fault in our Stars  4 stars
The Two Faces of January  3.5 stars

I've been a bit slack with my movie reviews of late. Work has finally allowed me to get my head about water and contemplate doing some writing - and relaxing, and enjoying and just getting on with things.

So, in the last few months I've managed to take in three films (and a couple of plays, but that will be for a later date)

So, here's my quick verdict on my three cinematic outings:

Trip to Italy   3.5 stars

I've never been that fussed with Steve Coogan, although I used to think he was great as the revolting Alan Partridge on “Knowing Me, Knowing You” back in the 90s. Seems that Steve, and his mate Rob Brydon made a film a few years ago where they went to the Lake District and ate at some amazing restaurants and drove around, all the while doing impressions and eating at these fine restaurants.

The Trip to Italy follows the same scenario. Coogan and Brydon, both in the midst of mid-life crises of sorts, take off around Italy to eat in fine restaurants and take in the countryside – all the way doing impressions and making some particular quips about life.  This was originally a series on television which has been made into a movie. I’d be interested to see the series as I reckon the format would work well.

This is a very funny movie in places. Ice dry wit, great impersonations, some great looking meals and a gentle plot wandering through it made for a very pleasant two hour sojourn where I only just managed not to spit water of the people in front of me from laughing. It’s a spit take sort of movie where the one liners rule. That and the playing of Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill... something I haven’t listened too in years, the music that they played on their journey. The two of them do some great impressions of  many actors through the film as well. Brydon, a Welsh voice over actor by trade is particularly good at this. The Michael Buble line from the middle of the film nearly had me wetting myself. I will say no more.

Definitely worth  a look, just for the scenery, the barrage of one liners and to sit there and ponder whether Rob Bryden’s knuckles are going to drag along the ground at any stage (the many has a very strange body make up)

The Fault in Our Stars   4 Stars

Blarney and I went and saw this “young adult” genre film after both of us read the book and fell in love with it.

Hazel Grace Lancaster does not have a great lot in life. For the last few years she’s had a gun to her head, the clock ticking as she sees out her terminal lung cancer. In a support group, she meets Augustus Waters, a youth in recovery from osteosarcoma. And then it happens, they fall in love.

I will say no more of the plot. I loved the book and I loved the film. The film is very true to the book. Willem Dafoe’s casting as the novelist who Hazel and Augustus go to visit in Amsterdam is a stroke of genius (though I could see it as another role for the last Philip Seymour Hoffman)  Shailene Woodley is perfect as Hazel. I can see her overtaking Jennifer Lawrence as the Hollywood IT girl in the near future.

Word of warning, you are required to take a box of tissues or extra long sleeves to mop up the tears. Thankfully, they’re nice tears.

The book, and the film take an unflinching look at love when you’re a “grenade”. I use Hazel’s word for it as she fights herself and her condition through the movie. It also looks at kids with cancer without a stroke of pity. I can’t recommend the book highly enough. Read it, then get the film out. I was not disappointed.

The Two Faces of January  3.5 Stars

My most recent foray to the cinema saw Sam and I take off to the Rivoli for a late showing of “The Two Faces of January.”  The original story, written by Patricia Highsmith, the novelist who penned the books that based ‘The Talented Mr Ripley” and “Strangers on a Train”.

Sam and I loved this.  A somewhat gentle, beautifully shot movie set in the 60s in Athens, Crete and finally Istanbul (Think it was Constantinople at that stage). describes the plot as :

“Three of them are waiting. Rydal Keener is waiting for something exciting to happen in his grubby little Athens hotel. At forty-odd, Chester MacFarland has been waiting much longer, expecting his life of stock manipu­lation and fraud to catch up with him. And Colette, Chester’s wife, is waiting for something altogether different.

After a nasty little incident in the hotel, they all wait together. As the stakes—and the tension—in their three-cornered waiting game mount, they learn that while passports and silence can be bought, other things can cost as much as your life.”

The costumes and the setting are gorgeous. You’re kept in suspense from the first ten minute of the film. Kirsten Dunst is perfect as the bored, beautiful, blonde ice queen, married to Viggo Mortensen’s MacFarland. Oscar Isaac gives a great performance as the young hustler.

In the grand scheme of things this is a film about life and redemption. On the small scale, it looks at how things can go so terribly wrong in an instant.

Another film I’m happy to recommend. It may not be the fastest paced film in the world, but it takes in a world that was slower and far more beautiful than any world I've lived in. Another film well worth a look.

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