The Dictator [CTC]

 

I loved Ali G. I loved Borat. I thought Bruno was really funny in places but went to far in others, so I am looking forward to seeing what Cohen has in store for us with The Dictator (aka Admiral Aladeen).

Cohen has already caused a stir with this character, most recently spilling the ‘ashes’ of deceased North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il on Ryan Seacrest at this years Oscars.

 

 

Just a few days ago, Aladeen had this to say ” I would like to congratulate your dictatoress Elizabeth on her blood diamond jubilee and I hope it is a smooth transition when her son Charles eventually kills her and seizes power”

Sounds interesting at the very least. So here is the basic promo information about the movie and I will be back in a few weeks to let you know what I thought of it.
Flick x

 

Director: Larry Charles

Starring:  Sacha Baron Cohen, Sir Ben Kingsley, John C Riley, Anna Faris

Running Time:  1hrs 30min

Release Date: Wednesday, 16 May 2012

 

The film tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.

 

 

 

 

 

The Avengers [PG]

 

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring : Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard

Running Time :  142 minutes

Release Date :   25 April 2012

‘Throw Down the Hammer.’

The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble as it is being touted in some countries) is the comic book movie to end all comic book movies. It is the culmination (or is it? Pfffft….no way!) of years of movies and teasers, all pointing to this tantalising piece of cinema that is leaving everyone raving. Absolutely raving!

The story so far…. Nick Fury (Jackson) is the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. His scientists, including Selvig (Skarsgard) have been playing with stuff. The kind of stuff that no good can come from. And sure enough, the evil Loki (Hiddleston) comes forth and threatens all kinds of nasty things and evilness. The Avengers are thusly summoned to protect Earth.

The Avengers are Ironman aka Tony Stark (Downey Jr), Black Widow aka Natasha Romanov (Johansson), Captain America aka Steve Rogers (Evans), The Hulk aka Bruce Banner (Ruffalo), Hawkeye aka Clint Barton (Renner), Thor aka Thor (Hemsworth). That’s the cream of the Marvel Comic crop. It’s also a list of some damn fine actors too…….quite a few Oscar nominees in there.

I just want to add that the appearance of Agent Maria Hill (Robyn from How I Met Your Mother, otherwise known as the actress Cobie Smulders) caused quite a gasp and a great deal of appreciative muttering from a large segment of the audience. She seems to be a major favourite with most of the young men present. I was highly amused.

So for the first hour or so we see the gathering of the troops. There is quite a bit of assumed character knowledge but I will say that you do not have to be a huge fan, or even to have seen all the previous movies to understand what’s happening in this film. I haven’t seen either Ironman movie and I avoided the last Hulk debacle. Yes I am prepared to be drawn and quartered for not seeing Ironman 1 & 2 but I will argue you into a screaming mess if you challenge me on my Hulk choice. Just so we’re clear here LOL

As the Superheros are gathering, we get to see them at their best. They do Superhero stuff, they push and pull amongst themselves and we wonder if they will ever be able to function as a team. They eye each other warily. They assess each other. And there may be juuuust a touch of chest puffing. Just a touch mind you.

There is a lot of humour in this movie. Lots of fantastic, witty one liners delivered with perfect comic timing. There was many times the audience burst out laughing. Big and little kids got the jokes and gags. Many of these gags are uttered by Tony Stark at the expense of his fellow Avengers. His ‘Easy there, Point Break’ dig at Thor is my personal favourite. Or maybe it’s his repeated attempts to taunt The Hulk into emerging after his 2 year hiatus. Oh yes, Banner is keeping his Hulk under control. There is a really funny quip about having to turn around to see computer screens/images but I can’t remember it exactly. It got a big laugh.

Once all 6 of our Avengers come together, they naturally form into a tight fighting machine. It takes a while but when they hit their stride and sort it all out, they hit it hard. I am trying not to spoil too much, so this will all make more sense when you see the movie. The action is fast paced and electric. The various skills and talents of the Avengers come to the forefront as they protect Earth and each other.

The special effects and CGI are jaw dropping. As I mentioned, I have not seen the Ironman movies so Stark’s whole suit thing was amazing to me. Watching The Hulk scale buildings was also an audience favourite…..as was his finally becoming a real part of the team.

This is a great movie for hard-core comic book fans and those just looking to see what all the fuss is about. You can know more than Wikipedia about the Avengers or just be vaguely aware who Thor is and you will still enjoy the movie. Of course, you may take away different things but you will enjoy it all the same.

At over 2 hours in length, it may be a tad too long for our youngest movie goers but there were quite a few kids at the screening I attended and they remained riveted the entire time.  As did the bigger kids.

As I left the cinema, I was not quite so enamoured of the movie but I was also very tired, so that is my excuse. Today on the drive to work, as I began to formulate my review, the full impact of what I had experienced emerged. But that’s just what happens sometimes.

This is a movie for everyone. Sure there is violence and buildings’ being blown up but this is real Superhero stuff. I can’t wait for the next instalment now…..

Oh and is it just me or is Stellan Skarsgard in every movie these days?

Phenomenal Woman

 

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing of my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

from And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou

 

 

The Way [M]

 

Director : Emilio Estevez

Starring : Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, Yorick van Wageningen, James Nesbitt

Running Time :  123 minutes

Release Date :   26 April 2012

‘Life is too big to walk it alone’

Tom (Sheen) is reserved and mild mannered  Ophthalmologist who receives a phone call from France informing him that his son Daniel (Estevez) has died during a pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St James. Tom flies to France to collect his son’s remains and his life is changed forever.

The Way of St. James or El Camino de Santiago is the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried. It is a major Christian pilgrimage route that has existed for over 1000 years. The most popular route, which is the route taken in the movie, is the Camino Francés which stretches 780 km from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago. (Thank you Wikipedia & a few other sites for this info)

Yes this is a movie about a Christian pilgrimage so religion, religious iconography and the odd song about Jesus is to be expected. It is, however, subtle and not offensive or in your face, as some of these types of movies tend to be. Trust me, if this was the case, I would be the first to leave or switch off.

When Tom arrives in France, he is told his son was only on Day One of his pilgrimage when he had an accident and died. After some soul searching, Tom decides to complete the pilgrimage in his son’s honour. He is by his own admission, a lapsed Catholic so this is not so much a religious journey for him but one of love, honour and perhaps some redemption.

Along the way, Tom meets fellow pilgrims and over time, strikes up friendships with 3 of them. They are all making the journey for various reasons. Joost (van Wageningen) is trying to lose weight. Sarah (Unger) wants to quit cigarettes and Jack (Nesbitt) is a writer with writer’s block.  Of course, these are the reasons they tell themselves but let’s face it, for someone to decide to walk 800 kilometres of sometimes difficult and challenging terrain, there is absolutely something else going on deep inside them.

As our pilgrims travel, they meet some odd characters along the way. A clearly nutcase of an innkeeper is my personal favourite. Alas, they leave that hotel pretty quickly and camp out for the night. They have some minor misadventures but nothing out of the ordinary.

The scenery is truly stunning. The vast, sweeping fields of the Basque Country, the lush dense woods and winding roads of France and the glorious open countryside of Spain is a feast for the eyes and senses. The icons and stations along the way are just as beautiful and are only shown within the context of the story.

This is a movie about people, as any movie about pilgrims must be. Pilgrimages are undertaken for many reasons but it is my belief that the pilgrim is searching for a lot more than divine inspiration.  Sure they may use a well-travelled route as a physical manifestation of their journey but the real journey, the one that matters most, is the one taken within.

Each of our 4 main characters are well fleshed out throughout this movie’s 120 minutes of running time. As they become part of this new little group, they open up and become more self aware, finally realising why they are making this trip at all. Tom has the most difficulty voicing his reasoning but he doesn’t need to. Either Sheen is just that good of an actor or Estevez is that good of a writer. I suspect it is a little of both.

At the start of his walk, Tom is given a stone and is told simply to keep it with him, he will know what to do when the time is right. The scene that shows us the reason why each pilgrim carries a stone is truly moving. It manages to fully encompass the hopes, dreams, wishes and prayers of 1000 years of pilgrims. I admit, I had a tear in my eye.

I really liked this movie and would watch it again. It is a drama and I shed a tear or two but I also had quite a few laughs. It is never too much of one thing. It walks a few fine lines actually and it walks them with apparent ease.

To be honest, the only reason I watched it in the first place was because I could. I would never have seen it otherwise. That has to be one of the best parts of this job…….you see movies you would otherwise have never heard of or would never have considered seeing at all. This time, I am very happy I had the chance to watch this wonderful movie.

I don’t feel it is my place to recommend a movie such as this as religion is a very personal thing. However, if you like good stories about people and their relationships with themselves and each other, you might want to consider seeing this one. I know I was not disappointed.

XVII (I do not love you…)

 

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Pablo Neruda

By Sue-Ellen Posted in Poetry

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [M]

 

Director : John Madden
Starring : Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup
Running Time : 124 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now

‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful’

This is the story of 7 British retirees who, for various reasons, decide to ‘outsource’ their retirement to India. Graham (Wilkinson) is a retired Judge, desperate to get back to India where he spent many years as a young man. Douglas (Nighy) and Jean (Wilton) are a married couple who, after a lifetime of planning for their retirement, have been left with very little money. Muriel (Smith) is a bitter, racist, lost soul. Madge (Imrie) is a sexy older woman on the prowl for a new hubby. Norman (Pickup) is a sleazy older man on the prowl for a much younger woman. And then there is Evelyn (Dench) who after being married for 40 years, has her husband die and discovers many lies and deceptions.

All these very different people find themselves at an airport in England about to embark on this important journey into the unknown together. The journey to the hotel is an adventure in itself as we start to know the characters and see them interact with one another.

Once they arrive at the hotel, to say it is not what they expected is an understatement. The beautiful, lush hotel pictured in their shiny brochures is just a rundown, crumbling remnant of it’s glorious past. Their host Sonny (Patel) is a fast talking charmer who is so endearing, you couldn’t help but stay anyway. We learn he is considered the under-achiever in his family and his overbearing mother wants him to sell the hotel so his brothers can have their share of the profits. But he believes in this venture and will do whatever it takes to make it work.

Sonny’s romance with the beautiful and driven Sunaina is the other great romance in the movie. Ooops, did I say other? Oh dear…

India is the other great star of this show. Shown in all her glory and all her despair, you cannot have a movie set in this vibrant, colourful country without her ultimately stealing some scenes. There is no Taj Mahal or tourist stuff here. Just the real India with it’s real people, real streets, real lifestyle. The caste system is also touched upon in the most surprising of ways. The West frowns upon India’s caste system but this movie does ask if we are any better?

Obviously, this movie boasts a stellar cast so it was not surprising that I was in a half full cinema. And it was all people of all ages too, not just the more mature movie-goer as one may have expected. What was surprising was that this movie should still have half full cinemas 3 weeks into it’s run. I checked with the ticket office on the way out and they said it had been the same since it opened.

This movie is just gorgeous. I loved it. It has no CGI. No car chase scenes….. but it does have some hilarious tuk tuk scenes. There is no great mystery to solve. It is a simple movie about ordinary people coming to terms with their place in society. Okay, they are coming to terms with it in India but the reasons some of them ended up there is very poignant.

Nighy once again steals a movie, just like he did in Love Actually. But he steals it with the eternally glorious Dame Judi Dench. Just a side note, whenever I type her name, I mentally genuflect. The same goes for Maggie Smith. And Meryl Streep. I just do. Now you know that.

So Nighy and Dench steal this movie. Yes they do. And they do it with humour, grace, charm and a smidge of flirting. Their situations are, in my opinion, the saddest of the bunch. I think this is mainly because they have ended up here through no fault of their own. But it is this pair who rise to the challenge and have a fresh stab at living.

All the performances are fantastic as you would expect from a cast of this calibre. All the stories are engaging and as wonderful as each other. There are no weak links in this movie. It is all so very believable. I want to pack up and move to India now. Okay so I have wanted to move to India since I could talk, Indian blood courses through my veins you see, but this movie makes me genuinely want to grab the passport and just go.

Oh one last thing. There is not an ounce of botox in this movie. Not a drop (I’m pretty sure there is not a drop) The ladies of a certain age look like ladies of a certain age. They do not look like caricatures of themselves. They do not have faces that refuse to move. They do not have weird looking eyes or strange, sharp noses. No duck lips or tight, taut drum skin here. This should not even warrant a comment but sadly it does in this day and age. And all of these ladies are magnificently beautiful. Glorious in their own skins.

Now I am off to dream of retiring to India…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twDfXKNwFuU

17 Again [M]

 

Director : Burr Steers
Starring : Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Allison Miller, Tyler Steelman
Running Time : 102 minutes
DVD Release Date : Sometime in 2010

‘Who says you’re only young once’

Mike O’Donnell (Efron/Perry) is 17 years old, a star basketball player with a beautiful girlfriend Scarlet (Miller/Mann) and the world at his feet. On the very day college scouts are at one of his games, Scarlet tells him she is pregnant. In a moment of all consuming teenage passion (ironically, possibly the exact same emotion that got the young couple here in the first place) he promises to marry her.

In the next scene, Mike wakes as a late 30 something man, bunking down with his childhood friend, the now incredibly wealthy and quirkily juvenile businessman Ned Gold(Steelman/Lennon). Scarlet, now his wife has booted him out because she is tired of hearing him complain about what he has missed out on by being with her. Mike goes to his old high school to visit his kids and while there, meets a mysterious janitor who asks if he wishes he was 17 again. Naturally, he says yes.

Mike wakes as his 17 year old self and decides to right the wrongs in his life by living it again. Ned agrees to pose as Mike’s father and he is enrolled in high school. His first day he shows up bedazzled in tacky Ed Hardy attire, complete with sideways facing baseball cap. Ned takes him shopping and a silver sports car, white t-shirt, black jeans and a leather jacket later, Mike is once again the hot, cool kid.

17 year old Mike befriends his kids at school and realises his son is being bullied and his daughter is running a little bit wild. He sees this as a failure on his part as a parent and sets about sorting out their lives.

A chance meeting with his almost ex-wife is memorable because she is immediately drawn to her son’s ‘new friend Mark’ as he reminds her of her husband. Hmmmm I wonder why. The two strike up an awkward friendship with Scarlet confused about her attraction to this ‘boy’ and Mark/Mike trying to conceal the love that is rekindling for his wife. As Scarlet prepares for a date, she and Mark dance together and both get momentarily lost in the moment. Their son walks in confused and the moment is gone. Probably a good thing because it gets a little intense.

Mike has to deal with lustful teenage girls and angry high school jocks as he tries to sort out the lives and relationships of his kids. His daughter is about to throw away her future on her loser boyfriend and his son is awkward and continually bullied.

The sub plot in the movie is Ned’s amusingly geeky seduction of the High School Principal. His pursuit is relentless and when she finally agrees to go to dinner with him, we learn along with Ned that she is a secret geek herself. It is true love. Awwwwwww

This is a great fun movie. It appeals to young and old and everyone in between. It has it’s fun flirty moments but nothing to extreme. It didn’t and was never meant to set the world on fire. Perry is solid and Mann is perfect as the older but still very cute Scarlet. If the role of Scarlet was cast with anyone else, Mann’s scenes with Efron may have seemed creepy instead of wistful and loving as they ultimately played.

17 Again was simply a vehicle to cash in on the immense popularity of Zac Efron who, at the time, was riding high on his High School Musical fame. I suppose it was also to introduce him to more adult audiences and more adult roles. He did very well walking the line between teenager and young man quite nicely. He was still on the nerdy side but was certainly showing he was growing into his looks and maturing as both a person and an actor.

You can probably find 17 Again on the $9 shelves at your local department store. It’s definitely worth a second look.

Battleship [M]

 

Director : Peter Berg
Starring : Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Jesse Plemons, Tadanobu Asano
Running Time : 118 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now

‘ The battle for Earth begins at sea ‘

Based very, veeeeery loosely on the Hasbro board game Battleship, this movie tells of a battle between the Navy and aliens. Yep aliens. Reptile eyed aliens. Oh be still my little conspiracy theory loving, tin hat wearing heart. You be quiet now, you hear!!

The movie begins with Tim Riggins and Sgt. Brad ‘Iceman’ Colbert drinking in a bar. Iceman is telling Riggins what to do. Iceman is a gorgeous, focused military man and Riggins is his useless but handsome loser brother. Oh wait…that’s not right. Riggins and Iceman are characters from TV shows. Riggins is Kitsch’s character in Friday Night Lights and Iceman is Skarsgard’s character in Generation Kill. Both excellent TV shows by the way. But I think you get my point.

Anyway, back to Battleship…..

Alex Hopper (Kitsch) and his brother Stone (Skarsgard) are drinking in a bar. Stone is telling Alex what a screw up he is. Alex spots the gorgeous Sam (Decker) and sets out to impress her. It ends with Alex being stuck on the zapping end of a stun gun. Think Hangover Vegas scene just not quite as funny.

At the same time, NASA is about to launch a signal into space. These signal towers are on one of the Hawaiian Islands. You see, they have discovered a planet very similar to Earth, engagingly named Planet G and they want to send out communication. A pulse is sent every 24 hours to Planet G. The initial signal is sent with great fanfare and lots of media coverage. Some scientists are not convinced this is a good idea though.

Flash forward 6 or so years and both Hopper brothers are in the Navy, Alex and Sam are madly in love and Alex is working up the courage to ask Sam’s father, Admiral Shane (Neeson) for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

The US Navy is hosting some Naval War games in Hawaii. We are treated to a not-so-friendly-friendly soccer game between the US and Japan where we are introduced to a few more characters, most notably Raikes (Rihanna) and Nagata (Asano). It sets the tone for the first part of the movie. Serious rivalry between the 2 country’s Navys. I won’t delve too deeply into the political undertones here because, to be honest, I’m just not sure if it was delved into by the writers. Maybe superficially but apart from that, not sure.

The participating countries are officially welcomed on board the USS Missouri. Yep, that USS Missouri and we see some original Pearl Harbour Veterans. I want to stray here and note that these are indeed real Pearl Harbour veterans. I wasn’t sure when I watched the movie but yes, they are indeed the real deal. If I say anymore, I will have to include a spoiler alert so that’s it for me on the veterans.

So the war games begin and these great big boats sail off into the ocean and prepare to engage in real time training exercises. Simultaneously, back at NASA, something is heading towards earth. 5 objects, in formation, are tracked as they hurtle across the skies and finally crash into Earth. 4 hit the ocean but one strays onto land and hits Hong Kong causing much damage and wreaking havoc.

Ironically, they land near where the naval war games are being held and the naval vessels are sent in to investigate. The investigating team manage to trigger the alien vessels and they start their attack on Earth. A force field is activated around the area so just one sole naval ship is left to fight the alien invasion.

Some aliens have made their way onto land and head straight for the transmission towers. So we have some alien ships/aircraft in the ocean, trapped within a force field with a solo naval vessel…..and we have some more aliens making their way to the transmission towers.

Okay…..

This movie is great fun. First of all it has lots and lots of gorgeous cast members. Pretty, pretty everywhere. Some of these pretty people can act, some of them cannot. Some are wonderful, some are cringe worthy. Let’s leave it at that.

But I will single out Rihanna, if only because I went into this movie expecting her to be terrible. She was not terrible at all. She is actually the stand out actor, staying true to herself but having some fun with her character. Girl can act! And when she is stripped down, she is a very beautiful young lady. It’s a shame she can’t just keep it natural all the time.

Battleship has lots of great special effects. I loved the alien craft. I loved their guns and how they attacked. I really loved the spinning metal cutting things and want to order one. So if anyone has a link……

The aliens themselves were odd. They were basically humanoid but with some kinda gross differences. But they didn’t come in peace so it’s okay they were so ugly. Not so ugly you couldn’t look but ugly enough. They were also dumb. You can travel across the universe and still not……..oops spoiler alert. Sorry!!!

The tin hatter in me was disappointed I must say. This was marketed as an alien movie so I wanted better aliens!!!

The movie was good. I did like it and think anyone who likes alien or Transformer stuff should go see it. Most alien type movies are pretty hit and miss anyway so you either love them or hate them. Unless it the Alien franchise which is in a class of it’s own. Or Star Wars. Okay, okay, I will stop now.

If you have a crush on Eric Northman, you should absolutely go. He is in a fair chunk of the movie so that alone is worth the $15. Liam Neeson is only in it for a few minutes. Boooo I say boooooooo.

I have been looking forward to this movie for ages and you know what…. it was just what I expected. Sometimes you just want to be entertained. You don’t want to think too deeply, you don’t need to ask the serious questions. You just want to see some hot men run around in uniforms and fight aliens. And that is exactly what you get.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpoabtbEJOI

New Year’s Eve [M]

 

Director : Garry Marshall
Starring : Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Hector Elizondo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jon Bon Jovi, Zac Efron, Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Seth Meyers, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Josh Duhamel
Running Time : 118 minutes
Release Date : Out on DVD now

‘Let love be your resolution’

It’s New Year’s Eve 2011 in New York City. This movie gives us a snapshot of just a few hours in the lives of a variety of people as they go about their day during the last moments of the year. The ensemble cast is a veritable who’s who of acting talent, from the most revered and respected (De Niro) to the child star (Breslin) blossoming into a young woman.

The movie comprises a series of vignettes that ultimately interconnect in some way. There is the story of 2 couples about to have a child, vying for the $25000 prize money given for the first child born in the New Year. An aging rock star, maybe not at the top of his game but far from the has been pile yet, trying to woo back his one true love.

We have a dying man, desperate to reconnect with his estranged family and see the great crystal Time Square ball drop one last time. A frumpy, dowdy woman has been pushed to the end of her quietly unravelling tether and is shown a glimpse of herself she could only ever imagine. A young man, utterly self-absorbed, learns that giving someone else their dreams can fulfil dreams of your own. A girl on the verge of womanhood tries desperately to escape the overprotective clutches of a mother trying just as desperately to hang onto her child.

The young and the old, the happy and the sad, the beginning and the end all meet, mix, meld and mould into each other as the movie progresses. We start to see the connections as the stories naturally progress. There are a few twists but nothing too dramatic.

The movie is also a story of New York City. More specifically New York City on New Year’s Eve. A night (or day depending on where you are in the world) when the eyes of the world turn to this city that pulses and vibrates on the energy of it’s millions of inhabitants and visitors, all keen to share in this special event. We see the inner workings of the famous crystal ball that descends each New Year’s Eve and the behind the scenes work that goes into making this all run smoothly.

This movie has all the elements of a great movie. A wonderful Director, an unrivalled cast, great setting, fantastic city, a pivotal event most of us can relate to and feel excited about. But there is something lacking. Perhaps it is because it is so very similar to Marshall’s last Director’s outing, Valentine’s Day. I loved Valentine’s Day. I watch it every time it’s on Foxtel. Okay so I don’t sit down and watch it but I have it on in the background and glance at it as I do other stuff….like write movie reviews.

This movie just lacks the zing of Valentine’s Day. Maybe because it has been done before and this one tries just a little too hard.

I think there are just too many stories so you never get the chance to really relate to the characters. The setting and scenery is spectacular. New York City at night is beyond magnificent. There is nothing wrong with the acting…..okay there is one thing. Jon Bon Jovi, I love you. I have loved you since I was a teenager. You are an okay actor. You are. But you should never, ever, ever again accept a role in a movie starring the likes of de Niro, Pfeiffer or Elizondo. It’s just not a good idea. Strut your stuff on stage and sing your heart out. It’s what you do best.

I loved this movie more when I saw it at the cinema but in hindsight that may have had more to do with the circumstances than the actual movie. Now when I watch the DVD, I only like the movie. It is not a bad movie, not at all. It’s just not a really great movie. You will get a few laughs, shed a tear or two, have a couple of nawwww moments and a few scenes are really great. Pfeiffer and Efron dancing during the credits is truly a delight.

New Year’s Eve is a great DVD to rent on a cold rainy night and watch while snuggled under a blanket.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoS7Tlz-lBg

Mirror, Mirror [PG]

 

Director : Tarsem Singh
Starring : Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Mark Povinelli, Jordan Prentice
Running Time : 106 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now

‘The Snow White legend comes alive’

We all know the story of Snow White. King and Queen have a baby they call Snow White. Queen dies and King remarries beautiful but evil Queen *boo, hiss*. Queen uses magic mirror to reinforce self esteem and body image but eventually Snow White grows up and mirror doesn’t lie and tells Queen that Snow White is fairest of them all. Queen loses it and orders Snow White be killed. The killer can’t do it and lets Snow go, making her promise never to return. Snow ends up living with 7 hard working dwarfs. Snow meets Prince who sweeps her off her feet, saves her and her Kingdom. Evil Queen is thwarted and they all live happily ever after.

This retelling is a little different. This one is told from the point of view of the evil Queen (Roberts). She has her devoted-ish underling Brighton (Lane) who does all her dirty work but mostly everyone is afraid of her. During early exchanges in the movie, it becomes clear that this Queen has an acid tongue and is not shy of sarcasm. Eye rolling and sneering and all. I like it.

Many years before, her husband, the King, went missing and she barely tolerates the presence of the young Snow White (Collins), making her keep mostly to her bedroom all by herself. The castle servants adore Snow and never let her give up hope the Kingdom will be hers once more. Today is Snow White’s 18th birthday so changes are afoot.

The Queen has basically drained the life out of her Kingdom with heavy taxes to fund her lavish lifestyle so is disliked by everyone. She is also broke and thus needs to find herself a new rich husband. Enter the dashing young Prince Alcott (Hammer) who is very handsome and very rich. He has also just had a nasty encounter with thieves in the forest. These thieves are 7 dwarfs. He meets a beautiful young woman whom he falls instantly in love with. You’re starting to see it all, right?

Okay, this is where the fun really starts. The handsome Prince is bought to the Queen shirtless and as they talk, the Queen is amusingly distracted by the handsome man before her and, as she fumbles around for words, she reluctantly requests that a shirt be bought for the Prince to wear so she can concentrate. The kiddies in the cinema didn’t quite catch why the grown ups were chuckling.

So the Queen sets her sights on the handsome young Prince and throws a grand ball in his honour. It’s a costume ball and the costumes are really rather dazzling. Spectacular in fact. Lots of food, dancing and merriment ensues. The Prince dances with Snow White and the smitten young couple only have eyes for each other.

Alas this is a fairy tale and true love never did run smooth. Snow White is sent to her death but survives and stumbles upon the 7 dwarves…..or they stumble upon her….it’s not really a pivotal plot point. She is not very welcome by all of them but manages to negotiate one night under their roof. Of course, as we know, she proves her worth and moves in permanently.

I loved the dwarves. I loved the different personalities and the quick, sharp wit. Of course, this is partly due to writing but the delivery by the various actors is fantastic. They quickly became my favourite characters, especially the love struck Half Pint (Povinelli) who is so endearingly in love with Snow White that you cannot help but smile each time he tries to charm her.

Snow White joins her band of merry thieves and becomes quite the swordswoman. When she encounters the Prince again, once more stuck in a sticky situation, she decides she has read enough of Princesses being rescued and sets about doing the rescuing herself. This could have been overtly feminist and awkward but it is not.

Remember how Snow was sequestered in her bedroom and had little to do but read? Yeah, her feisty nature comes from the love of her people and from the fairy tales she herself has read. Team Snow!

So she sets about claiming what is rightfully hers with her new skills and new friends in tow.

I liked this movie. It made me laugh, smile and giggle. It had plot holes as big as plot holes can be but it just worked. This is a Disney movie after all and with a PG rating, it was as snippy, clever and sarcastic as it could be without putting itself out of reach of it’s main audience. I would go so far as calling it campy good fun. Nice clean campy good fun but campy fun nonetheless.

Roberts was really great as the evil Queen with just the right amount of bitchiness. Hammer was gorgeous as the handsome Prince. But it is Collins who stole the show. She was really engaging as Snow White and walked the fine line between fairy tale Princess and modern chick with apparent ease.

This is a great movie to take your own little feisty princess to see. This movie has all the elements of a lovely afternoon out for mums and daughters…..or any other variations you care to think of.

Is it a great movie? No it is not. Should you wait till DVD? No, you should not. Well maybe, yes. This is a good movie if you are pulling your hair out during the last week of the school holidays (here in NSW least).

Make sure you hang around for the Bollywood ending. No one can accuse this movie of taking itself too seriously, that’s for sure.