Tag Archives: Review

Mr and Mrs Smith

mr_smith_small.jpg Friday night is warm across London so we met some friends, had tapas and headed to the flicks to see Mr and Mrs Smith. Unusually for me, I knew what it was about before I actually sank into my lovely comfortable Clapham Picture House seat and – therefore – I wasn’t surprised in either a good or bad way with this film.

The premise: Mr and Mrs Smith are killers for hire but they don’t know that about each other. You need to gloss over the huge holes in that for they don’t matter. The on-going lies each one has to tell to cover their other life as a hit man is ruining their marriage. So, they seek counselling and somewhere along the line – again, don’t worry about the detail – they end up trying to kill each other.

The lead up to the assignation attempt(s) is essentially background filler and, thankfully, is over pretty quickly. When the penny drops – and Mr and Mrs Smith head to kill the other – is the point where the movie gets better. As you would imagine for such a blockbuster the killing spree is well covered with special effects making the gun battles comic-book in style and certainly all the more enjoyable for it.

This film, however, is made by the unexpected witty dialogue that writer Simon Kinberg has peppered the film with. For plot details and suspense then two deadly assasigns trying to kill each other is – perhaps – better left to Robert Ludlum. A husband and wife couple doing the same and you’ll laugh along to the clever use of the dialogue which moves this film. When it really gets going, it’s great.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt keep it moving well. They are a convincing couple and have the all the moves a film of this nature needs. Most importantly, they carry the dialogue convincingly as a married couple.

Don’t expect realism nor a movie that takes itself seriously. Expect a surprisingly entertaining cinema experience. The fact that some in the audience applauded at the end should suggest you give this film a chance.

On this day…

2005: links for 2005-06-17
2004: Football Crazy

Bruce Almighty

I seem to be spending most of my Christmas vacation watching films. We just watched Bruce Almighty and I quite enjoyed it. I have never been a big fan of the Jim Carrey slapstick roles but in this the comedy is more subtle.

Carrey plays TV reporter Bruce Nolan who hates the lifestyle oddities he is asked to report on a wants the TV anchor role. When his colleague Evan gets the gig Bruce, down on his luck, complains bitterly to everybody who listen. When God (Morgan Freeman) has had enough of the complaints he lets Bruce play God for a while (and God goes on vacation).

Predictably, Bruce uses the power to his own advantage at first before we get to the moment where he realises this isn’t the way (which is not too long after he let everybody win the lottery and watched riots unfold before him). And, despite that predictability, it’s an enjoyable way to pass an hour or two (and you hear God explain the concept of ‘Free Will’ which is a nice get-out clause for everybody).

On this day…

2006: Here We Go
2005: 2004 In Review
2004: Love Actually
2004: Review of 2003: December
2004: Review of 2003: November
2002: Why Do You Do It?


my ticket to see madonna at earl's court

Madonna, Earl’s Court, 2004

So I went to see Madonna at Earls Court.

That statement does not make me a huge Madonna fan – although I am partial to many of her hits and, unlike some of my friends, I think American Life is a great album (then again I also like some of Blue’s material so who am I to judge musical tastes?) and she is most certainly a performer.

So, when commenting on a Madonna concert what should you say? Earls Court is a huge venue. For those of you who haven’t been you should be aware that it’s very stadium-like. We sat in the back left corner so it was like she was at the opposite goal post. And it’s in that context that you will understand why I didn’t think it was that good.

Madonna can put on a show. She is the undisputed queen of showmanship. And therein lies the problem. She performs a West End show of the variety that you need to be able to see. And she performs them at West End prices but to stadium-sized audiences. The audio is show-like and you doubt that she’s singing live the whole time – although I suspect a lot of it is live. It’s just very well produced and sounds like her CDs and, for me, that isn’t the point of going to see live music: somehow you need to believe that they are performing live. Add to that the fact that you can’t see the spectacular and you have a fun but, ultimately, a disappointing evening.

On this day…

2005: Run London – Here I Come
2003: Helsinki Re-Visited
2002: The **** Of All Snacks

50 First Dates

50 first dates film posterNot sure what has happened, but weeks have passed since we went to the cinema and now I have done two films two nights in a row.

50 First Dates had a preview last night (I think it opens today) and it was showing at the right time for us in Wimbledon so we thought that we would give it a go. I expected an Adam Sandler gag-fest and, really, it wasn’t. I am not a fan of many of the movies Adam Sandler has been in but this is heart-warming (and humorous) and was a big surprise.

Sandler’s character (Henry Roth) meets Drew Barrymore‘s Lucy in a breakfast diner and tries to pull all his best lines on her. None of them really work but he falls for her and so begins a touching story (if somewhat unbelievable) and a thoroughly entertaining evening out. You may, or may not, really be suspending your disbelief as the woman with no memory seems to fall for Roth but I think you’ll get over that.

Surprisingly Good.

On this day…

2003: End Game

The Station Agent

A quick review of The Station Agent, a film a saw on the spur of the moment last night.

It’s a well-written, superbly acted film where – almost – nothing happens. And, unlike many films of its type it’s well-worth watching because the characters are both fascinating and endearing. Fin is, as they say, vertically challenged and moves into a parochial American backwater town where a Cuban hot dog man sells his wares to (more-or-less) nobody and Olivia, an artist going through a messy divorce who almost drives over our hero (twice). They are an odd set of warm characters performed brilliantly by the cast.

It’s also a comedy and succeeds in not turning farcical with lots of slapstick about shorter people. The comedy is tender, clever and entertaining but it’s not a belly-laugh-a-minute film.

The Station Agent turned out to be one of the best films I have seen so far this year.

You can buy The Station Agent on DVD from Amazon.

On this day…

2004: Fries Are Chips and Chips Are Fries

End Game

cover of the end game dvdAt the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival I saw Endgame. It’s a unique take on the London Gangland film genre – in this gangster/sugar daddy (Mark McGann) keeps his rent boy housed in a plush apartment to turn tricks for those required to be kept onside. Without wanting to spoil the plot, rent boy Tom (Daniel Newman) escapes his prison, befriends neighbourly Americans who come to his aid and escape to a remote country cottage.

Normally, I don’t watch films with so much violence (there are scenes of rape and some horrific beatings) but it’s filmed/directed in a way that’s does keep you watching. Despite the things that happen to him, Tom’s character never really develops much beyond the chain-smoking cute-boy that starts the film, although you do begin to empathise with him as the film moves on. Mark McGann, however, is menacing and John Benfield (as Dunston, the corrupt detective) is threatening (if a little one-dimensional).

Disturbing but interesting.

On this day…

2004: 50 First Dates