Her (2014)

Genre: Comedy, Sci-fi, Romance

Director: Spike Jonze

Writer: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson

Rating:★★★★★

Her is certainly one of the most connecting films I have watched in recent years making me experience a bundle of emotions from sadness to inspiration. The story along with the script, characters and acting is a real credit to the amazing writing and visual direction by director and writer Spike Jonze who has really created something special. It’s hard to find faults in one of this year’s big Oscar films and it certainly deserves its reputation and plaudits and in some respects deserves more as Joaquin Phoenix gives a simply great performance as the lead character along with the rest of cast.

Set in a futuristic time, technology is thriving and as a civilisation we are thriving with it. We follow Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) a New Yorker and letter writer who amazes us along with everyone else with his compassion, charm and romance however to our surprise we find that he is actually a lonely man in the final stages of a harsh divorce. Spending his nights choosing between the dilemma of internet porn and video games Theodore is hooked when he sees an advertisement for a new operating system OS1 labelled “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness”. Upon installing his newly purchased OS1 he is matched up with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), the voice behind his system, a programmed conscious who can evolve just like Theodore himself. Being his only and new founded company Samantha becomes more than an operating system for Theodore and the two together fall in love.

It is amazing to watch how an operating system voice with only audible presence can have a huge impact and connection to not only Theodore but us as an audience. However after falling in love and forming a relationship the obvious problems form as Samantha is only a voice but there is more than it first seems which causes harm for our main characters. Despite Samantha’s pure and high intelligence helping Theodore in his work and everyday life, he still finds conflict within himself, finding himself mostly withdrawn at times and alongside the ongoing divorce he gets pulled down. As for Samantha finding and discovering new things and feelings isn’t always good and the popularity of OS1 and relationships seem to grow and grow along with the operating system’s intelligence proving to be a disastrous thing.

Spike Jonze has written possibly one my favourite scripts of all time and one of the most diverse screenplays. The whole concept in itself is unique and this unconventional romance is somewhat refreshing and certainly pleasant. At times I was in tears due to the witty and hilarious comedy, by far one of the most entertaining scenes this year to watch is Theodore’s encounter with a lost alien whilst playing a video game. On the other hand at times there was some real emotional pain and heart-felt sadness when you could see the despair in Theodore and even the sorrow in Samantha’s voice as the story closes. It was too inspirational, showing sometimes the message of just doing what makes you happy or as Theodore’s friend Amy says “you know what, just fuck it”. It was a story that slowly grew on me than eventually took over and became amazing, the only flaws are the slightly perverted moments but those can easily be overlooked. It was also inspirational as one day I hope to be able to write a screenplay or script with such emotional impact and connection with the audience as Her achieves.

The cast give fantastic performances and for me a big surprise was how the role of Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore was overlooked by the Oscar committee as it was truly great. Instantly we felt for our protagonist, we felt his harsh and deepest emotions and when happiness approach him it approached us, and that was due to a combination of excellent writing but even better acting. Scarlet Johansson although only a voice was brilliant, I think it needs to be pointed out that it must be harder to communicate emotion with only tone available yet it was completely believable. Amy Adams too as Theodore’s friend Amy was very believable, apparently Jonze made the actors spend forced time together in a locked room to make them all form a connection. It was an idea that really worked as the dialogue and delivery was so real it felt like it wasn’t even acting.

Jonze’s direction too was great along with the cinematography, a flurry of scenery shots of New York’s skyline and coast beaches hogged the screen and it was awe-inspiring. The shots were mainly long and simple but so beautifully crafted as it created a warm glow and feeling. At times it was the simplicity which made the emotion stand out the most.  Along with Best Motion Picture, Original Screenplay and Production Design, Her achieved two nominations for its achievement in score and music something I found joy in. Not only are the scenes where a happy Theodore and Samantha sing together made up created songs pleasant to watch, but it is pleasant to listen to with such a beautifully lyrical song made. The “Moon Song” is something to listen out for within the film.

Her is hard to fault, maybe the perverted scenes were unnecessary but at times it did show us Theodore’s character and his struggle, however it is something that can’t and really shouldn’t bring down this film at all.  Jonze’s creation is a real treat to experience, leaving you somewhat sad not only due to the story but that the film ended and with it the experience and our time with Theodore and Samantha who we bond with an amazing amount. It is a film worth-while to watch and one worth the huge reputation and praise; it is Her’s ability to be outstanding in so many aspects that makes this film complete and something real special. Easily watchable, entertaining, inspiring and emotional it is a film which is firmly making its way as a modern great alongside a personal favourite.

Advertisements

The Way Way Back (2013)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Writers: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash

Starring: Steve Carell, Liam James, Toni Collette, Allison Janney

Rating:★★★★

The Way Way Back to my surprise was a film that I saw on a lot of lists come the end of 2013 but since watching I can certainly agree with its inclusion. Surprisingly warming, pleasant and funny it sways from the stereotypical “teen-comedy” and produces a refreshing much welcome change. Good solid performances from the whole cast along with a witty well-written script The Way Way Back is entertaining and defiantly deserves its praise.

Duncan (Liam James) is a shy, in-the-background 14 year old who doesn’t have a conventional lifestyle and is forced to go on summer vacation with his mother Pam (Toni Collette), her horrible arrogant boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell) and his equally annoying and spoilt daughter. Whilst his mum is busy putting herself “out there” meeting  Trent’s vacation friends Duncan finds himself left out and unable to fit in. Riding around on an a pink little girls bike he discovers the Water Wizz  Park and quickly forms a bond with manager Owen (Sam Rockwell), finding an unexpected friend in Owen, Duncan soon finds out how to enjoy his summer vacation but he still has to face is overbearing and disastrous family.

The story is pleasant, although at first it looks to be the typical comedy of the neglected family member getting revenge or becoming a hero or a romanticist it changes and somewhat becomes more serious. Duncan’s relationship with Owen is hilarious and obviously the highlight, he is given power and earns a reputation at Water Wizz and with that Duncan comes out of his shell and turns out to be a funny and “cool” kid. The relationship though is also pleasant as it is obvious that the two have a bond and Duncan looks up to Owen as a role model in ways, the way that the Owen looks out for Duncan is very warming too. The other relationship storylines in the film are not as good but decent, Duncan and his mother obviously need to repair their broken relationship so we follow that throughout, whilst Pam actually has her own problems with the very easily dislikeable Trent and finally a small subplot follows Duncan having a romance with his neighbour however it is very cheesy and for me unnecessary.

Liam James plays Duncan very well, he is easily likeable and we route for him throughout and he provides plenty of laughs, one very memorable scene is when Duncan is made to dance (including the classic robot) in front of a huge crowd at the water park. Rockwell’s Owen however is my favourite character; he provides the main comedy and in a way makes this film very easily watchable.  Steve Carrel also deserves credit for his role as obnoxious Trent and likewise for Collette’s Pam.  Although small characters in the film, neighbours Betty and (eye-patch) Peter are absolutely hilarious and provide even more likability to The Way Way Back so they deserve a mention.

The ending to The Way Way Back is very warming and wraps up the film nicely however for me there are still picky criticisms. I would have liked to see a quicker start, although it opens with great introductions it attempts to trick us with Duncan’s romance whereas I would have liked to seen Owen introduced much more quickly, and on the note of the romance I would have scrapped it all together as it isn’t “Duncan”.

In a whole The Way Way Back is a bundle of laughs and fantastic comical moments, with a well-written script and characters it makes for a surprisingly great watch. Standout performances from Liam James and Sam Rockwell add to the entertainment and create a pleasant feel to balance out the comedy. The Way Way Back is a worth-while experience that is easily watchable and enjoyable.

You’re Next (2013)

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Comedy

Director: Adam Wingard

Writers: Simon Barrett

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Rating: ★★★½

You’re Next was a horror that stormed the UK in 2013 despite being a big success when released in the Toronto Film Festival of 2011. Despite the long awaited-release Barrett’s thrilling creation doesn’t disappoint too much. A somewhat refreshing and unique approach to the stereotypical home-invasion thriller, You’re Next is a twisty horror with a mountain of gore and action which consequently leads to an entertaining watch.

The story surrounds the Davison family on the night of a big-reunion and getaway to celebrate the wedding anniversary of their parents. Arguments and bitter family grudges between brothers soon set the tone for an uncomfortable night which then becomes a nightmare. When a group of animal-masked, crossbow and axe-wielding murderers invade on the get together things turn bloody and gory quickly as one by one the family and guest numbers slowly decrease. However an unlikely member of the party proves to be the best and most brutal killer of them all as she takes matter into her own hands alongside a kitchen knife.

It is hard to go into too much detail of the story without giving away any spoilers, but the events and torture lead for an exciting night. The story is entertaining as said, but in terms of predictability and surprises it is awful in a sense, from the beginning I guessed what was happening and the ending came as no surprise, but I can see some watchers blinded by this and falling for the twists and turns of the narrative. However as a horror the gore is great along with the mass murders and the way in which they are each killed. The animal masked-murderers were a unique and refreshing take being something I haven’t really seen before, effective as it was it would have been nice to keep a bit more mystery and prolong the suspense. As a home-invasion thriller it was respectful too, with the story involving a family get together much more impacting and entertaining than a lonely couple in the middle of nowhere.

For an almost unknown cast and crew You’re Next stands its ground very well especially amongst other horror releases in 2013. Sharni Vinson as Erin, the trained killer guest is entertaining and provides good action, however her character is a little too much on the nose and literal but it’s one you will just have to go along with. There are as many faults with this release as there are positives at times but I think it balances out to be enjoyable. There a rare few moments that thrill, however when we are only following the one character instead of the whole family it makes for a much more tense watch and experience. Adam Wingard at times shows promising signs of excellence as his clever direction creates a few jumps and anxious moments.

The make-up and effects department areas also deserve some kudos and respect as the gore and physical horror was a highlighting aspect as blood splatters, heads rolling and knifes flying made a much more entertaining watch. In a summary that’s what it comes down to for You’re Next, it is although not amazing and a work-of-art a very entertaining film. Despite obviously having flaws there weren’t any moments you wanted to give up and turn off as surprisingly you were hooked, as little as it might have been. Gore galore, and thrills a rarity You’re Next isn’t exactly a must-see but a worth-while enjoyable horror.

Delivery Man (2013)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Ken Scott

Writers: Ken Scott, Martin Petit

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders, Chris Pratt

Rating: ★★★½

Delivery Man finds itself with tough competition this January as many “Oscar-tipped” releases take all the headlines however this enjoyable comedy has its own shining elements that shouldn’t be overlooked. Starring Vince Vaughan it follows a funny inventive storyline that evolves into an even funnier and heartfelt comedy that’s easily watchable, fun and entertaining. Delivery Man isn’t anything special but it has enough gags and laughs to make it well worthwhile.

Vince Vaughn is David Wozniak a less than average man who works as a delivery driver at his family’s business the Brooklyn based Wozniak Meat Store. Irresponsible, unreliable and lazy David is wasting away his life and finds himself in over his head with debt and clutching at straws in his struggling relationship with “girlfriend” Emma (Cobie Smulders). However when he comes home to a surprising visitor his life gets turn upside down after being given unimaginable news that he is the biological father to 533 children. David might not be the best at delivering meat or even life itself but as he soon finds out he was very good at delivering quality sperm. As a young man David earned money as a sperm donor and a mix up at the clinic meant that his deposits fathered all 533 children that year, 20 years later 143 children have filed a court-case demanding the true identity of their father to be revealed.

David soon decides that he wants to turn his life around and be there for each and every one of his children. Given a file containing all 143 profiles he randomly one by one starts making up for a lot of last time and acts as their guardian angel. Not telling them he’s their father and the famous “Starbuck” donor he manages to bond special relationships. However as his debt crisis worsens and his relationship is put under more pressure David soon finds himself facing a number of dilemmas that could affect everything.

Delivery Man certainly has an eye-catching and entertaining storyline which meets expectation.  The plot throughout stays Interesting due to a number of twists and turns as David is faced with problem after problem. However the highlight of this comedy is the high maintenance of humour throughout with jokes and gags almost being constant. What is also great and most refreshing is how Delivery Man pauses to become more serious and heartfelt at times providing a great balance between the two. The main catalysts behind the laughs are David himself and his best friend/lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) who together combines to make great comedy from physical to scripted.  Delivery Man also has a lot of heart to balance out that humour, mainly achieved by a well-written script. The relationships formed between David and his kids alongside the different characters and personalities met provide a wide range of emotions from being completely hilarious to quite heart-warming.

Not so many years ago Ken Scott and Martin Petit teamed up to make Starbuck a critic’s choice “hit” which became a popular film but only for a limited audience. Ken Scott’s Delivery Man is his solo effort of an American remake with the hope that it becomes a well-known name. I have to admit I was slightly disappointed to discover this wasn’t a totally original story but knowing that it came from the same brains behind “Starbuck” is some consolation and his second shot should definitely be applauded. The story is great, originally hinted and rumoured to be similarly based on a real life case, however it’s unique and humorous providing great entertainment.

The real downside however to Delivery Man was the trailer and how it included the funniest scenes and gags meaning there was a lack of surprises and laugh-out-loud moments upon viewing leaving us with only a few gut-busting laughs. The combination of the great story, good acting and well written script however saves Delivery Man from falling into that group of failed comedies. Guaranteed laughs and an entertaining enjoyable watch Delivery Man shouldn’t be overlooked this January.

10 Worst Films of 2013

So I’ve decided my 10 Favourites and the Most Surprising films of 2013 but now it’s time for the worst and disappointing releases. Although in my eyes I believe that 2013 was a good year for films and the industry itself you cant escape from those terrible films that needed a complete re-vamp!

#10

The Lone Ranger was at first funny and interesting but eventually became tiring!

#9

Everyone loves the Die Hard franchise, just please, please stop now!

#8

Could have been so good but instead it brought shame to a real cult classic!

#7

What’s that? Another average romantic comedy.

#6

So disappointing and slightly tasteless!

#5

At first they were funny but now they’re becoming a laughing stock for the wrong reasons.

#4

The first Machete was a bit of fun, they should have quit whilst they were ahead!

#3

Maybe acting isn’t a genetic trait.

#2

Need I explain…..

#1

Pointless, Vain and Tasteless!

Please comment below your flops of 2013 or feel free to debate my bad decisions!

Suprising Films of 2013

I have concluded my favourite films of 2013 but I thought those that didn’t make the list did deserve at least some recognition and credit as there were many releases that took me by surprise and entertained emphatically.

#5

The World’s End was absolutely great and was a popular release and favourite for many but it took me by surprise as I expected a huge let down compared to the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz that are now hilarious classics but Pegg and Wright teamed up again to round off a great trilogy with no let downs.

#4

Dark Skies wasn’t perfect but it does deserve credit as a good horror in a year when the genre didn’t really glorify itself. With a good storyline and execution I really enjoyed it much to my surprise.

#3

Despicable Me 2 was a huge box office success and a huge family favourite of 2013. After seeing and enjoying Despicable Me I was expecting this sequel to be more of the same but instead the refreshing twist and hilarious minions made it more enjoyable than first imagined.

#2

This is The End was one of my favourite comedies of the year in a genre that really flourished. When I saw trailers I assumed it would be much like the other previous releases where we watch Rogan smoke a few joints and crack a joke or two, being funny but average, however with the huge ensemble of great a cast it was just brilliant!

#1

The Heat was my favourite comedy of the year making me laugh non-stop! What surprised me most is the diversity Bullock showed from providing great comedy to a great classic in Gravity. The Heat didn’t look all good at first with some dodgy airbrushing but it proved me wrong!

Fell free to comment below and tell me your top surprises of 2013!

For the Birds (2000)

Genre: Family, Animation, Short, Comedy

Director: Ralph Eggleston

Writer: Ralph Eggleston

Rating:  ★★★★½

Pixar were developing quickly making huge big-selling popular feature films, with their shorts somewhat taking a back seat three years after their last (Knick Knack 1997) it was up to new Ralph Eggleston to buck the trend with “For the Birds”. To say Pixar were developing quickly is somewhat an understatement, the quality, graphics and all round animation is flawless. As always it’s witty, fun and sweet all with that magical Pixar feel making you feel like a child again, that’s if you’re not already one. Ralph Eggleston’s story follows a group of “stuck up” snooty birds sitting on a telephone wire, they mock a recently arrived “goofy” looking bird but get there just desserts in a shocking accident. You find yourself rooting for the goofy bird, feeling sympathetic and when he gets his revenge you laugh and cheer and then of course after realise it’s just a short film.

It was Eggleston’s first edition for Pixar and lasted a very entertaining enjoyable three minutes. Being released with Monsters, Inc. a very popular feature it stole some of the headlines winning an Oscar, for Pixar that was two successful wins in the last two attempts. What makes me love For the Birds so much was the way you could relate to the big goofy bird being shunned upon and when karma played its role you couldn’t help but laugh and smile. In a way from the story, quality and characters it is flawless however I do feel there’s an element missing nevertheless its brilliant and simply great.

Let me know you views, watch it here.