Movie Review : Last Vegas

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Billy (Douglas), Paddy (De Niro), Archie (Freeman) and Sam (Kline) have been best  friends for 60 years. Paddy is still mourning the death of his wife Sophia, pining away for her in their Brooklyn apartment. Archie has recently suffered a stroke so is on (well-meaning) house arrest by his son and daughter in law. Sam is feeling the 40 year itch after being married…..well 40 years to the lovely Miriam (Gleason).

So when Billy, the last remaining single man among them, calls and tells his buddys he is finally getting married ….. and yes of course it’s to a woman more than half his age….. an impromptu bachelor party is organised for the following weekend.

Billy is getting married in Vegas so where else would they hold it but Vegas.

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Movie Review : Silver Linings Playbook [M] #SilverLiningsPlaybook

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Movie Title: Silver Linings Playbook [M]

Director : David O. Russell

Starring : Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher

Running Time : 122 minutes

Release Date :   In Cinemas Now

When I started writing this review, I found myself becoming distracted by listing the awards this movie and it’s actors have garnered. So, to make things easier not only on myself and you, my adored readers, but to highlight just how well received and lauded this movie is, I am simply going to list the major awards now. And this is by no means the entire list …. (any inaccuracies are purely unintentional)

Best Picture – Won – AFI (Australian Film Institute) International, Independemt Spirit Awards. Nominated – Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globes

David O Russell – Director/Writer – Nominated and/or Won – Academy Award, AFI (Australian Film Institute) International, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Independemt Spirit Awards

Bradley Cooper – Best Actor  – Nominated – Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globes, AFI (Australian Film Institute) International, Independent Spirit Awards

Jennifer Lawrence – Best Actress – Won – Academy Award, Golden Globes, AFI (Australian Film Institute) International, Independent Spirit Awards. Nominated – BAFTA

Jackie Weaver – Best Supporting Actress – Nominated – Academy Award. Won – AFI (Australian Film Institute) International

Robert De Niro – Best Supporting Actor – Nominated – Academy Award. Won – AFI (Australian Film Institute) International

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Pat Solatano ( Bradley Cooper) is serving a mandatory eight month sentence in a mental institution. He feels he is now ready to leave and reclaim all that he has lost….his wife, his career, his home, his life. His mother Dolores (Australia’s Jackie Weaver) has agreed to bring him home and as part of his release, he must live with his parents. His father Pat Sr (De Niro) is unaware of this agreement. It doesn’t take long before we realise this is a family fractured by their son’s mental illness. It is not an angry, bitter fracture but more a silent resignation of how things are.

Pat Sr is recently unemployed and is attempting to make enough money to start a new business via bookmaking. He bets mostly on the Philadelphia Eagles football team. The entire family are unswervingly loyal Eagles supporters and the rituals and superstitions that go hand in hand with this obsession…. well let’s just say that it is easy to see where Pat Jr may have inherited some of his ummm quirks.

Pat does not want to take his medication for bipolar disorder because he doesn’t like the way it makes him feel. This causes some interesting moments, some amusing, some rather serious and as anyone who has lived with family or friends who are ‘off their meds’ can attest, it can go either way at any moment.  One of his biggest goals is weight loss. It is never addressed exactly how much weight he has lost during his stint at the institution but as most people comment on how well he looks, one can assume it is rather significant. To this end, Pat runs every day wearing a full tracksuit and a black plastic garbage bag…..the garbage makes him sweat thus hastening the weight loss.

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It is during his daily runs that he is consistently ‘ambushed’  by Tiffany (Lawrence), a young woman he was introduced to by a friend at a recent dinner party. Their initial interactions are awkward and mildly hostile. Tiffany has issues of her own and she seems to instinctively know how to push Pat’s buttons. The two form an almost unbearably uncomfortable relationship with the most basic of social interactions difficult for them. Yet it’s good for both of them, this much is obvious and thus gives the fledgling relationship momentum.

Tiffany agrees to help Pat win back his wife and he in turn agrees to enter a local dance competition with her. The relationship changes and flourishes as the pair prepare for the competition.

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This movie is touted as a dramatic comedy and there are some laughs but it is heavier on the drama. And this is a very good thing. The developing relationship between this emotionally damaged pair is lovely to watch. It did take me a little while to warm to this movie but in hindsight, this was possibly because it was very real.

The reality is that most of us are damaged in some way and just because you are not diagnosed or on medication is irrelevant. Too often in movies the dialogue between couples is fluid and clever and witty. This rarely happens in real life, despite what those dating website advertisements want us to believe. There are awkward pauses and confronting comments. The wrong things is said and reacted too. You try to be on your best behaviour but why should you have to be? Why should someone not accept you for who you are?

And that is the secret to this movie.

It is about relationships that are not perfect between people who are not perfect. And that is okay. We learn to adjust and live with and love these non perfect people and if we are very lucky, they will love us right back. We can try and fix ourselves and try and fix those we love but when all the superficial stuff is gone, love is just love. Sometimes the one we love is not the one for us and we have to deal with that before we can see clearly. Most of us have been in this situation and can relate to the frustrations and pain that it causes. To lose the one you love, no matter how it happens, is painful. It’s what you do next that is important.

Try and see this movie because it does live up to the hype and all the awards are richly deserved….

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