Dumb & Dumber To (Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, 2014) 2/5*
Unoriginal and racist, with fart gags. Probably not the sentence to be looking out for when reading a review, but the biggest question of all is whether this sequel even needed to be made or, for that matter, if it did, why did they wait so long? The Farrelly Brothers appear to have become stuck in the early nineties, been force-fed Beavis & Butthead episodes and then told to just write what came naturally. Much like the first one of these that I failed to sit the whole way through because it was just too bloody stupid, even for me, when I was still decades stupider than I am now, this takes half-arsed laughs as its reason for being and never travels too far away from the starting point. Arguably, if you really liked the first and, like the main characters here, have failed to evolve any further, then chances are you will love this too. Yes, it’s puerile and inanely ridiculous, but to its credit, it does exactly what it promises. The audience is severely limited as, like I say, you need to be as daft as the characters or thirteen years old, which is roughly how old the biggest fans of this ‘franchise’ probably were when the first film came out. Persoswenally, thialis raised a couple of laughs, but for the most part, I was rolling my eyes at just how far the Farrelly Brothers had failed to come in all this time. I’d tell you the plot or even provide a synopsis, but really, do you honestly care?
Rosewater (Dir, Jon Stewart, 2014) 3/5*
The true-life re-telling of the experiences of Maziar Bahari, the Iranian-Canadian Newsweek journalist that was incarcerated and tortured under suspicion of sp the reasons the writers ying shortly after a revolt following the questionable results of the Iranian elections which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad secure another term of office, apparently sponsored by Empire Magazine (which the filmmakers here rather ironically refer to as ‘possibly porn’).Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Rosewater has benefited not least by the profile of writer /director Stewart as much as the story and performances and if we are honest, without his influence it would have been unlikely to have garnered as much attention or praise. Not that the project lacks its own worth, of course. The performances are solid if not entirely captivating and the story is certainly one that requires telling, even if Stewart insists on it being something of a labour for his audience, sometimes failing to have too much to say, resulting in often frustrating lapses in plot and occasionally too much navel-gazing. Nonetheless , serious and ekimportant, this is worthy of your attention throughout.
NB: Poured red wine all over my laptop yesterday so writing this using the onscreen keyboard. It’s a horrible trial but this is how much I love you.
Jupiter Ascending (The Wachowskis, 2015) 2.5/5*
Well, that was both exciting and thought provoking. Just not maybe for the reasons the writers and directors would have hoped. Plagiarising liberally from the likes of Superman, The Matrix (no real surprise) and even Brazil, if they had a kitchen sink they probably would have thrown that at it too. Here, the part of ‘The One’ will be played not by Keanu Reeves, but Mila Kunis, in the guise of toilet cleaner-cum-Queen of the Planet, Jupiter Jones, who is an apparent advocate for change, has a habit of falling extravagantly from great heights and is seemingly a dab hand at synchronised bee choreography. Somehow she has the same DNA as some rich sort from the other side of the universe, an occurrence so rare that it must mean she is the reincarnated version of Eddie Redmayne’s mum, and owner of Earth, which Eddie can’t wait to get his grubby mitts on, for the rather unsavoury purposes of harvesting all the humans to make pints of radioactive milk that can keep you young and beautiful for millennia. It may sound like sarcasm, but this really is the whole plot. The rest of the film involves Kunis trying a new frock on, Channing Tatum doing his best Sunset Overdrive impressions, Eddie Redmayne delivering his absurd lines like he has just had something long and thick stuffed up his bum and Sean Bean, well, being Northern. The cgi and the action scenes are, without doubt, the best part of the whole affair and those going on just this basis will be richly rewarded, if occasionally bored out of their minds by the exposition which wants to be as convoluted and complex as The Matrix, but fails quite dramatically, all told. Entertaining, absolutely. Fun, certainly. Taxing and inventive? Not a bit of it.
Intermission – Cinema Sins – Showgirls!
NB: Now ‘acquired’ a keyboard from work. God bless USB.
Say When (Dir, Lynn Shelton, 2014) 2.5/5*
“Did you hear the one about the grown woman who started hanging out with a bunch of pubescent kids?” This is the the rather pointed question posed by Sam Rockwell to Keira Knightley in Lynn Shelton’s ‘Say When/Laggies’. Sounds a bit weird right? And it is. If it was a bloke, then its almost certain he would only be one quick phone call away from the local police cells, but here, the telling thing is not the sex of the overage loiterer, but the reasons for her dalliance with those almost young enough to be her kids. Aimless and seemingly without a way forward that she can truly say she is happy with, Megan (Knightley) could be said to be having a quarter-life crisis and finds herself spending more time with Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and subsequently, her father, played by Sam Rockwell, in a rather cliched ‘finding yourself’ fashion that we can never really to fully buy into. As a character, Megan is difficult to get your head around and engage with, being a little too needy and unsure of herself in the company of others. She comes from a monied background and has friends she has grown further apart from over time, but this reason alone doesn’t convince the audience that she can be believed. Predictably, events turn towards romance and this becomes a good deal less interesting then the main premise of a twenty-something acting up like a teenager and the potential that the plot and comedy elements may have had. Moretz is subsequently under-used in favour of a pointless non-starter love story that doesn’t feel like it really belongs. Overall, a little all over the place to be honest, and it struggles lopsidedly, much like Megan herself, to know just where to sit.
The Rewrite (Dir, Marc Lawrence, 2014) 2.5/5*
The trouble with movies featuring writers is that you have to be pretty sure of your script, given that you are hoping to represent your own profession with at least some credibility. Seeing as Marc Lawrence both writes and directs here, you can take it as read that confidence is not one of his issues. This immediately smacks of arrogance perhaps, unless the subject matter and the script are handled with due deference and more care than usual. Casting too is all important. Your leads have to be able to string a sentence together that may be more taxing than most and not only that, be able to pull it off with verve. Essentially, if you aim high, you’d better hit the target. Aim anywhere else and it doesn’t really matter too much where you land, as those you are trying to impress won’t buy into it or care. Casting then for this Hollywood screenwriter at a loose end and short of a bob or two, despite winning an Oscar apparently, gives us Hugh Grant. Not quite as plummy or awkward as previously featured, nor as funny, Grant maintains the performances he has given in his ill-fated career following, well, Notting Hill, really. Here, you can’t help but think he has been cast not because of his pedigree, but because of the nice, fuzzy feelings alot of the target audience will have had for him in his heyday. Granted, not yet out to pasture, but the farmer has stopped trying to milk him as often. Dumped ceremonisouly by his agent in a nondescript public university in nowhere USA, Grant plays Keith Michaels, the Screenwriter/Teacher, as affable yet vain, a man one step from taking advantage at every juncture with little thought for the consequences, due to his alleged passion for success, which has so far deluded him since the one success made him (almost) a household name. Joined by Marisa Tomei (mature student, works more than one job, love interest), Alison Janney (stern educational matriarch, take no prisoners, has tenure) and J K Simmons (before Whiplash sent him rocketing skyward) as the University Principal, we do have a fine collection of talent, which if we’re honest, Grant is the least impressive. Should we be surprised? The writing is pretty good from Lawrence. It’s snappy when it needs to be and there are a couple of laughs to be had. Calling it clever would be being a little generous and engagement is limited as Grant’s characterisation is not overly likeable, be that by design or otherwise. Predictability is high which means this loses points on originality and innovation. I really wanted this to be better, but although not a tragedy, this is decidedly and disappointingly average.
Song of the Week – Daniel Bedingfield – If You’re Not The One from Say When
So, a short week from me after suffering from laptop anguish and general tech-rage. Next week is going to be another busy one, but as always, I’ll endeavour to ensure you all have at least something to read. Just what exactly is part of the fun, right?
Love and slop