Tag: Toni Collette

MOVIE REVIEW | Velvet Goldmine (1998)


“He was elegance walking arm in arm with a lie.”

I’m generally not a big fan of anything ‘based’ on a true story, or something that’s a fictionalised story, heavily influenced by real events and real people.  I guess I think that if a true story is worth telling, it probably also deserves to be told truthfully.  Make the effort to research the real deal, make the effort to get the guts of what really happened.  ‘Based on’ or ‘influenced by’ just sounds like a lazy place to start to me.

I’m aware that could sound a little close mined.  I’m also aware that it’s highly likely that I’ve liked plenty of movies in this category before and just can’t think of them now.  And yes, Citizen Cane, arguably the greatest movie of all time is exactly that.  With Charles Foster Cane a thinly disguised version of William Randolph Hearst.  But I’m pretty sure that’s a rare exception to the rule.  So what happens when this approach to storytelling is combined with a subject matter that I’m pretty quick to dismiss, like 70s glam rock?  Velvet Goldmine happens, that’s what. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Enough Said (2013)

Enough Said
Awesome reviews from every kind of critic…  The leading roles filled by two amazing actors who I don’t think we see on the big screen nearly enough…  Possibly the last performance we’ll ever see from one of them…  I don’t know how many more reasons I needed to see Enough Said, but for some reason it took my close to a year of hearing about how amazing it was before I ever bothered.

Julia Loui-Drufus is Eva, a middle aged divorcee with a college bound daughter.  She’s a successful masseuse and happy enough, but as she trudges through her endless cycle of annoying clients, it’s obvious that something is missing.  The third wheel at a party with her friends Sarah (Toni Collette) and Will (Ben Falcone), she meets two new people.  Katherine Keener’s Marianne, a professional poet, and James Gandolfini’s  Albert, a TV historian.  Eva soon has a new client in Marianne and a new suitor in Albert.

Just as things are going swimmingly, Eva discovers Albert is the slob of an ex-husband  Marianne constantly complains about.  Now that she has the inside info on everything bad about the man, Eva can’t help but notice the same little quirks that eventually lead to big resentment in Albert and Marianne’s Marriage.

I didn’t just like Enough Said, I really loved it.  I loved it so much, I’m a little worried I might have somehow become a 50 year old woman.  This isn’t the kind of story that should interest me.  Middle aged people talking about their failed marriages and feelings for 90 minutes…  A standard rom-com structure so by the numbers, you can set your watch by it…  But none of that is a bad thing when the characters are as interesting and as convincing as everyone in Enough Said.

Even the characters with the kinds of jobs you only see in movies, like professional poet and TV historian, didn’t bother me.  It’s nothing new for successful Hollywood screenwriters to struggle with writing relatable characters with relatable problems.  But even with professions like poet and TV historian, I still felt like these were real people who I could meet in real life.

When Oscar nominations were announced a couple of months ago, there was a lot of bitching about Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus not making the cut.  Having now seen Enough Said, I kind of understand that reaction, but I also think there’s zero chance either would have beaten Matthew McConaughey or Kate Blanchett.  The roles of Albert and Eva are just too real and too ordinary in the most natural and convincing way.  There are no big character traits, ticks or monologues for the stars of Enough Said to hang their performances on.  Just real people, dealing with real problems in real ways.  And  the Academy has no interest in giving awards to acting as believable as what we get with Enough Said.

Enough Said might be the breeziest, easiest to watch movie I’ve seen in years.  I couldn’t believe how quick it zipped by.  Even though I could pick every single plot point and moment of conflict a mile off, that never mattered.  Hanging out with Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus more than made up for the odd cliché.

Enough Said
Directed By – Nicole Holofcener
Written By – Nicole Holofcener


MOVIE REVIEW | The Way Way Back (2013)

A couple of years ago, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash were two improv and comedy actors who’d had bit parts in a few movies and TV shows.  Then they co-wrote The Descendants with Alexander Payne and won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.  It’s amazing what an Academy Award can do, because less than two years later, their screenplay that had been in various stages of development hell for almost a decade not only got green lit, it not only got made, but Faxon and Rash even got to direct The Way Way Back.

Liam James plays Duncan, a 14 year old on his way to spend the summer at the beach with his mother (Toni Collette), her new boyfriend (Steve Carell) and Carell’s daughter.  When they arrive, they meet a perpetually drunk neighbour (Allison Janney) and her kids, as well as Carrell’s old friends, a couple played by Rob Corddry and Amanda Peet.   Duncan hates his new step-family and Carell plays such an asshole, you can understand Duncan’s constant funk.

Until he meets Owen, a fun loving slacker who refuses to grow up, played by Sam Rockwell.  Owen also happens to run the local water park and soon enough employs Duncan.   His life is then split into two, the acceptance, happiness and growing confidence of the water park, and the nightmare of being stuck with the adults who use their holiday as a chance to drink and toke their way back to their younger heydays.

As two dudes approaching forty, Faxon and Rash manage to create world obviously based on their own 80s childhoods, while still setting it in the present day.  Little things like Carell driving a Griswald style family wagon he refers to as a ‘classic’ and Duncan singing along to an REO Speedwagon classic he claims his mum must have put on his iPod give a real 80s feel to their 2013 world.  Rockwell’s character, being around the same age as Faxon and Rash, simply lives like his life and interests haven’t changed since he was 14 himself.  Rockwell is also probably the only actor good enough and likeable enough to make this cliched of a character work.

There are times when you can see the screenplay grasping for the heartstrings and pulling has hard as it can, but the few overly corny moments are far outweighed by the smaller, more natural ones, uplifting and depressing.  The opening scene when Carell rates his possible step son as a 3 out of 10 lets you know not that only is Carell breaking type and going for a real level of extreme ass holery, but also that Duncan isn’t just a typical mopey kid.  He has real reasons to be such a downer, which makes even the hokiest scenes with Rockwell seem OK.

In a lot of ways, The Way Way Back is a collection of clichés and tropes you’ve seen plenty of times before, but it’s also a new twist on most of them.  For every over the top, cornball character or plot point, you get something small, real and not often seen in movies, like the relationship between Duncan and his neighbour (‘romance’ is too strong a word for what happens).  It’s small movie telling a small story, but at least it does it pretty well.

The Way Way Back
Directed By – Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Written By – Nat Faxon, Jim Rash