Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Film Review: "She's Funny That Way" (2015).

The tagline of the film reads "Show biz has always been a little screwball" is exactly what She's Funny That Way attempts to explore. This screwball comedy film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and co-written with Louise Stratten. On the set of a playwright's new project, a love triangle forms between his wife, her ex-lover, and the call girl-turned-actress cast in the production.

She's Funny That Way is the first feature Peter Bogdanovich has directed in 12 years, since The Cat's Meow (2001). The film originated from a script written by director Peter Bogdanovich and ex-wife Louise Stratten around 1999 and 2000. Bogdanovich and Stratten, who were in financial distress at the time trying to buy back They All Laughed (1981), decided to write a comedy to uplift their spirits. While writing the script, Bogdanovich was inspired by an incident in Singapore during the time he was filming Saint Jack in 1978, where he was able to talk to many prostitutes after hiring them for his film. He would give them more money than their salary for them to leave the prostitution business. People Magazine reported this film going into pre-production in the mid-1990s, with the title Squirrels to the Nuts and featured Tatum O'Neal in the leading role. Peter Bogdanovich was quoted as saying "This movie is my gift to her." But due to many people misunderstanding it was a children's film, Bogdanovich changed it to She's Funny That Way. For the role of Arnold Albertson, Bogdanovich originally wrote it for John Ritter, but due to his death, Bogdanovich shelved the project. Eventually, Bogdanovich became friends with Owen Wilson, introduced to him by Wes Anderson, and he decided to change aspects of the character of Albertson: all of the physical gags intended for Ritter were changed to verbal jokes to suit Wilson. In 2010, protégés of Bogdanovich – Anderson and Noah Baumbach – offered their backing to get the film made, agreeing to serve as executive producers.

The film stars Owen Wilson, Imogen Poots, Kathryn Hahn, Will Forte, Rhys Ifans, Cybill Shepherd, Debi Mazar, Illeana Douglas and Jennifer Aniston. The performances were superbly acted and all expertly contributed to the film's hilarious gags and riffs. But it was Poots' performance that carried this film forward and she amazingly pulled off a Brooklyn accent.

Making excellent use of its characters and setting, Peter Bogdanovich's She's Funny That Way, an unusual story of a big city escort making it big, is a humorous but moving film filled with impressive performances. There are a number of hefty laughs scattered throughout. The film is a near-good perfect comedy piece, constructed with such delicacy that any opportunistic adjustment can destroy it, which is what happens here. It may not even be Mr. Bogdanovich's fault. Yet too often the action and the dialogue are so fuzzily understood that some of the laughs are lost. The film's problem is more basic: the attempt to make a screwball comedy contemporary with endless classic film references to today's audience and make it a hit - It can't be done.

Simon says She's Funny That Way receives:

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Film Review: "Trainwreck" (2015).

The tagline of the poster reads "We all know one", and that is exactly it with Trainwreck. This romantic comedy film directed by Judd Apatow and written by Amy Schumer. Since she was a little girl, it's been drilled into Amy's head by her rascal of a dad that monogamy isn't realistic. Now a magazine writer, Amy lives by that credo - enjoying what she feels is an uninhibited life free from stifling, boring romantic commitment - but in actuality, she's kind of in a rut. When she finds herself starting to fall for the subject of the new article she's writing, a charming and successful sports doctor named Aaron Conners, Amy starts to wonder if other grown-ups, including this guy who really seems to like her, might be on to something.

The idea of Trainwreck was discussed for over two years with Judd Apatow. The original draft of the script was written over a month and half. Amy Schumer confessed that she wrote the script with Apatow in mind to direct, as well as for her to star in. So in her writing of the screenplay, she wrote in things that would attract him to the project. Apatow contacted Schumer to make this movie after hearing her interview on the Howard Stern show. Judd was blown away by how funny and intimate she was while discussing the troublings of her father's illness. On August 26, 2013, Universal Studios optioned the then untitled script.  On November 27, 2013, it was announced that Apatow would direct the film. On January 8, 2014, it was announced that the film would be released on July 24, 2015. In an interview with The New York Times, Schumer revealed that Apatow and she dismissed their first idea for a story (later revealed to have Schumer as a used-car saleswoman), and shifted to an amplified and comedic version of Schumer's own past as its basis. In January, 2014, Bill Hader was cast. In February, 2014, Brie Larson also joined the cast. In March, 2014, Colin Quinn, Mike Birbiglia, Jon Glaser, Vanessa Bayer, John Cena, Ezra Miller and Tilda Swinton were cast in the film. In May, 2014, Method Man and LeBron James joined the cast of the film.

The film stars Schumer and Bill Hader along with an ensemble cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, Colin Quinn, Vanessa Bayer, John Cena and LeBron James. The cast gave incredibly hilarious performance, especially to the film's leading lady Amy Schumer, whose provocative humour made me laugh at every single one of her racy gags.

Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer definitely deliver funny and perceptive scenes in Trainwreck, but they're buried in aimless self-indulgence. It is a romantic-comedy film about a troubled woman trying to get her life sorted in of itself has become a cinematic taboo, and I only wish it lived up to that utterly inspired concept...every scene feels like an airbrushed composite of dozens of rambling takes, and 124 minutes is drainingly long for a story this sitcom-slight.

Simon says Trainwreck receives:

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Film Review: "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." (2015).

What happens when you pair Napoleon Solo, the CIA's most effective agent, with Illya Kurakin: the youngest member of the KGB? You get The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This action comedy spy film directed by Guy Ritchie and co-written by Lionel Wigram and Ritchie, based on the 1964 MGM television series of the same name, which was created by Sam Rolfe. The film is set in the early 1960s, it follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin as they participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Warner Bros. had been trying to make the film for over a decade and it was one of those projects that couldn't get the green light. First with producer John Davis in 1993, then Steven Soderbergh in 2012 (who was originally going to direct but exited the project over disagreements with the studio over budget and casting concerns). Finally in March 2013, Ritchie signed on. On July 31, 2013, it was announced that Ritchie's adaptation would start filming in September 2013 in London and Italy. One of the film's highlights is its authenticity towards the style and period in which the film is set in. The filmmakers explained that one of the reasons the film stayed in the 60s time period is it allows them "to have our own world, our own reality, our own tone, which sets us apart" from films like Bourne and other recent spy thrillers. Ritchie looked at films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) for inspiration, trying to create a juxtaposition between humor and serious and looking to "cross genres to a degree". Some of the costumes in the film are actually vintage clothing.

 The film stars Henry Cavill as Solo, taking over the role once played by Robert Vaughn, and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin, once played by David McCallum. As well as Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant. The cast gave superb performance. In particular, Cavill and Hammer were perfect together. Vikander played the role beautifully and always had something to do as opposed to being the damsel-in-distress. The same is said for Debicki, who also made a convincing and seductive villain. Grant also gave a wonderful performance, however it was a terrible shame that his character had very small screen time.

Guy Ritchie's directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary 1960s spy TV series, but The Man From U.N.C.L.E. benefits from the elementary appeal of strong performances, visuals and an action-packed plot. Ritchie set out to make a cool movie about cool guys with cool stuff, however, the film was essentially a series of poses and stunts which was intermittently diverting at times. The filmmakers are mainly interested in action; that, they believe, is all that gets young audiences into cinemas today. They may be right, but they may have misunderstood the essence of one of television's greatest creations in the process.

Simon says The Man from U.N.C.L.E. receives:

Also, see my review for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

TPPA - Walk Away! Protest

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Film Review: "Fantastic Four" (2015).

"Change is coming". This tagline brings a whole new breathe of life to Fantastic Four. This superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the third theatrical Fantastic Four film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, and a reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise. Directed by Josh Trank, with a screenplay by Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Trank. The film follows four young outsiders that teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

In August 2009, development of the film was announced. In July 2012, Trank was hired to direct and Slater to write the screenplay. In October 2013, Kinberg was hired as a co-writer. By January 2014, Kinberg finished rewriting the script and casting began. Principal photography commenced in May 2014 and concluded in August the same year. The film was shot in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During Production, rumours began to circulate that Trank displayed "erratic" and "very isolated" behavior on set. In addition, Trank had several small dogs, who were left in a rented house in New Orleans while the film was shooting there. The dogs caused as much as $100,000 in damages to the property. However, Kinberg confirmed this by saying "It's upsetting, and it's the first time I've been part of a story that isn't true..." Unfortunately, that wasn't all, after Trank finalized his version of the film in 2014, the studio, seemingly dissatisfied with the director's work, demanded re-shoots, which were done in early 2015. Also Marvel wasn't fond of the direction the film was going. After the disappointing reviews director Josh Trank went on to tweet that "A year ago he had a fantastic version of this. And it would've received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though." He went further to say that "He'll never be working on a comic book movie again". However the tweet was quickly deleted.

The film stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, and Tim Blake Nelson. The performances in this film were simply fantastic. For the first time, a director managed to nail the characterisation for Marvel's first superhero team. The casting of Teller, Jordan, Mara and Bell were perfect. As well as Kebell and Cathey. However, it did not come without its one noticeable flaw, which was that both the characters of Sue Storm and Victor Von Doom were terribly misused and under-utilised.

Wildly imaginative and profoundly different to other Marvel movies, Josh Trank's Fantastic Four is a movie that seeps in the superhero/comic-book loving zeitgeist and leaves you intrigued as to what went wrong with this misunderstood creation. What's good about the film are the strong performances and the ingenious, mostly humanly real first two acts of the script. What's ugly, of course, is how that potential disappointingly vanished with the final act. And what's bad is the movie's inability to reconcile its good and ugly aspects among both critics and audiences.

Simon says Fantastic Four receives:

Also, see my review of Chronicle.