Tag: emma stone

MOVIE REVIEW | La La Land (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It delivers flashy song and dance numbers that somehow manage to be fantastical and real at the same time.”

“This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”

I’ve been very slack in writing this review. Generally, I write a review they day of, or maybe the day after, watching a movie.  If it’s a new movie and still in theatres, I try to post the review within a week.  I’m writing this more than three weeks after watching La La Land and by the time it’s posted, it’s a little over a month later.  In that time, the movie nerds and sites I read have declared La La Land a masterpiece and Oscar front runner, before backlash saw it painted as an overrated piece of style of substance, before a backlash to the backlash had much of the public opinion coming back around to masterpiece and Oscar front runner.

Breaking the record for number of Golden Globes won by a single movie could be seen as a good thing or a bad one, depending on your opinion of the trashy celebrity jerk off that is the Golden Globes.  For me, La La Land is a movie that I loved when I walked out of the cinema.  It’s a movie I have recommended to anyone who’ll listen in the weeks since, and it’s a movie I’ve thought about every day since seeing it, and smiled whenever I do. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Irrational Man (2015)

Irrational 2
I couldn’t remember the reason for living and when I did, it wasn’t convincing.

Woody Allen makes movies so regularly that you can almost set your watch by them.  And with his regulatory and prolific output, comes plenty of derision.  Every movie is either heralded as a return to form, or condemned as proof of him being long past his prime.  But here’s the thing, even when he doesn’t make amazing movies, Woody Allen makes really good movies.  Which is why I’ll watch everything he makes, including the pretty universally shrugged at Irrational Man.

Able Lucas (Joaquín Phoenix) is a college philosophy professor who has hit a wall.  He drinks, has a reputation as a philanderer, and is a tittle on the self destructive side.  But he finds a reason to be via one his students, Jill (Emma Stone).  She’s smart, confident, engaging and fascinated by the tragic, older man.  Their friendship gains the attention of other faculty and students, but Abe is determined to make sure things stay on the up and up. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Birdman (2014)


“People, they love blood. They love action. Not this talky, depressing, philosophical bullshit.”

It’s that time of year when Oscar style moves are coming thick and fast. There are prestige biopics, like The Theory of Everything, Selma and The Imitation Game. There’s intellectual, character stuff like Boyhood. And then there’s the token weird one. The movie that’s a little experimental and trying something different.   This year it’s also the Oscar movie I’ve been most excited about and the first one I can remember getting Oscar buzz months and months ago. This year, that weird experiment is Birdman.

Two decades ago, Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton) was the star of a mega budget superhero franchise. After refusing to star in Birdman 4, he has slipped further and further into obscurity. Now, in an attempt to find legitimacy and reinvigorate his career, this time as a serious thespian, he’s mounting a Broadway play. A play he’s written, is starring in, is directing and producing. The day before their first preview performance, one of his cast is injured, and Riggan needs a replacement. His leading lady (Naomi Watts as Lesley) suggests her friend / sometimes lover, Mike (Edward Norton). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Magic in the Moonlight (2014)


“When the heart rules the head, disaster follows.”

Woody Allen has a pretty steady routine these days. He pops out a movie every year or so. About every third or fourth one gets decent critical reaction and box office, and the others get dismissed as slight and inessential. But I tend to like them all. Sure, Blue Jasmine is more substantial and packs more of an emotional punch than something like To Rome With Love. But that doesn’t mean I was any less entertained by the latter. After the Oscar success and general raves for Blue Jasmine, it was inevitable that its follow up would be dismissed and overlooked. And that’s a shame, because Magic in the Moonlight is Allen at his whimsical, silly (not quite) best.

It’s 1928 and on stage, Chinese magician Wei Ling Soo wows audiences with his disappearing elephant and other magic tricks. Off stage and out of makeup, he’s stuffy, cynical and sceptical Englishman, Stanley (Colin Firth). Recruited by his lifelong friend and fellow magician, Howard (Simon McBurney) to debunk a clairvoyant, Stanley heads to the South of France. When he arrives, he meets the target of his proposed debunking, Sophie (Emma Stone).

Stanley’s entire life is based on logic, science and finding practical reasons, excuses and explanations for every aspect of it. At first, he thinks Sophie is a cheap charlatan, looking for nothing more than a rich man to marry. But the more she seems to know about him, the more Stanley starts to question his every idea about life, and believe that Sophie may just be the real thing.

The south of France setting, the almost-screw ball approach to the story, the silliness that ensues when opposites attract, Magic in the Moonlight is pure fluff, and Allen executes in perfectly. The bright colours, the gorgeous outdoor locations, the easy life and social graces that came with class and privilege in the 20s. This is pure escapism executed by an expert director and expert cast (including Jacki Weaver and Marcia Gay Harden).

Woody Allen is a cynical film maker and story teller. The worlds he builds are full of hapless characters who can’t catch a break. Even at his silliest, there’s still a dark streak of despair and hopelessness to a lot of his work. And it’s that back catalogue that makes Magic in the Moonlight such a great surprise.

Here is a story built entirely on cynicism. Built around a central character who refuses to believe in things like fate, destiny and even love. Yet, Stanley gets to become one of Allen’s most idealistic and optimistic characters. Not only that, he actually gets rewarded for his optimism. After almost 50 years and about as many movies, Magic in the Moonlight isn’t just a pretty good movie, it’s a great sign that Allen still has plenty of new things to say and do.

Magic in the Moonlight
Directed By – Woody Allen
Written By – Woody Allen

MOVIE REVIEW | The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Sam Raimi’s third Spider-Man movie cops a lot of shit.  It was panned by critics and nerds when it came out for being over stuffed and under developed.  While it’s by far the worst of Raimi’s series, it’s not the terrible movie nerds would have you believe it to be.  Its existence also means there’s a clear blueprint of how not to make a Spider-Man movie.  Don’t fill it with too many bad guys, don’t make Peter Parker a bit of a dick, don’t rely only on effects and big fight scenes hoping no one will notice the paper thin story.  Which is what makes The Amazing Spider-Man 2 so aggravating and disappointing.

Peter Parker’s got it all figured out.  He’s about to graduate high school, he has his hot dream girl (Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey) and he’s pretty good at super heroing as the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.  Then his missus gives him the ass, his mate Harry Osbrone (Dane Gehaan) goes a bit nuts and a couple of villains show up with Paul Giamatrti as Rino and Jamie Foxx as Electro (who looks like the cheesy cousin of Batman and Robin’s Mr Freeze).

There’s also the niggling annoyance of the mystery surrounding Peter’s long lost parents.  I had no interest in that whole plot in the first Amazing Spider-Man and I have even less interest in it this time around.  Actually, I’d be hard pressed to find a single character in this movie who is even the slightest bit interesting.  And at almost two and half hours, that’s a long time to not be entertained.  The only good thing in this movie is Paul Giamatti.  He’s obviously having a great time hamming it up and is great fun to watch in the few scarce minutes he’s on screen.

Every review for this movie and its predecessor always mentions the supposed chemistry between Garfield and Stone because they’re shaboinking in real life.  I don’t remember being too blown away by it in the first one, and in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it’s downright awkward.  Garfield and Stone are both good actors and have proven that in other movies, so I have to blame the screen writing.  The fact that four people get a screenwriting credit just proves the assumption that too many writers on a blockbuster should always be seen as a warning sign.

The dodgy writing is highlighted in the movie’s second most important relationship, the friendship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborne.  They meet up again after not seeing each other for a while and it’s supposed to be this big reunion between two friends who drifted apart.  Instead, it looks like two actors who never met before filming the scene.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t just bad, it’s bad and boring.  And it really suffers by coming out so close on the heels of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Where that movie took a character I had zero interest in and found room for action, a few good gags, and made me actually interested in the characters, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 takes a character I’m big fan of and made me just not give a shit.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Directed By – Marc Webb
Written By – Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, James Vanderbilt