Comedy-movie

Movie Review : The Sweetest Thing


So who says that girls can’t be as gross as the guys? The Sweetest Thing is an equal opportunity offender, piling as many unsavoury jokes as possible into this tale of three clubbers who after decades of dedicated partying realise there might be more to life than studying their reflection in the mirror ball.

This bitter and brittle comedy has the exceptionally sweet presence of three appealing actresses who don’t mind getting down and dirty. Cameron Diaz seems to be having fun playing screwball these days in such high profile projects like Charlie’s Angels. Christina Applegate has shed her bimbo image she cultivated for a decade on Married… with Children to appear as the sensible one in this sordid trio. Selma Blair has to suffer innumerable indignities in this film involving Lewinsky style stains and an unfortunate incident involving genital jewellery.

It’s a brave statement of girl power with enough gross out gags to keep you gagging. The sweetest thing about this flick is that it doesn’t shy away from shock, demonstrating these babes can be just as bold as the boys.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $36.95, click here.

Columbia Tri-Star The Sweetest Thing Merchandise Competition!

Thanks to Columbia Tri-Star, She Said and Total DVD have five merchandising packs of Panic Room to give away. Each pack consists of a stylish and sexy top from Classic Girl with sleek glittery design. If you want your chance to own these fashionable accessories, click click here.

Charlotte Gray

This is a women’s film in every sense of the word. Not only does it have at its centre a poignant heroine who makes extraordinary sacrifices and survives incredible threat all for the sake of the greater good, it’s very story is one that only a woman could tell.

In this case the woman in question is Gillian Armstrong, the Australian who brought us other feminist classics like My Brilliant Career and Mrs Soffel. Here she has chosen the remarkable story of an English woman who joins the French Resistance to go under cover in the picturesque countryside and fight the Nazis.

It would be difficult to cast a more extraordinary actress in the role than Cate Blanchett. Her presence is never short of incandescent and she projects the right blend of courage and dread, vulnerability and strength.

What makes this truly a woman’s film is not that it is by a woman telling a woman’s story to presumably a largely female audience. It is because it refuses the absolutes of most male identified films. There are no timely explosions to set the story right. Moreover there are no absolutes to conveniently tie up the tale. When Charlotte makes her final desperate gesture to find meaning in the chaos and seeming failure of her mission, she makes one more gesture to instil hope in the hands of a desperate few. It’s a moving moment and one that harkens back to a comment made earlier in the film in answer to the question, “What is the most important: faith, hope or love?” to which she answers, not love, but hope. So in the end it’s mission accomplished after all.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $33.95, click here.

 

February 11, 2003

Movie Review – “About a Boy”


About a Boy

(Based on the book by Nick Hornby)

Directed by Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz.

Comedy and a beautiful soundtrack.

Will (Hugh Grant) is a lonely selfish loser who learns some important lessons from an unavoidable relationship with young geeky-boy named Marcus (Nicholas Hoult.)

Will’s day is made up of units. Filling in units of time with leisure activities. Watching countdown, buying CDs, playing pool, shopping for designer clothes and conjuring up ways to meet women. Will doesn’t work and he’s never had to either. His father’s success as the writer of a Christmas song keeps the royalties flowing in and keeps Will at home and on the couch.

Will develops a single mother predator strategy when he hits on the idea that single mother’s make brilliant no-strings attached flings. With this in mind he seeks out the local support group SPAT (Single Parents Alone Together) armed with the a single father sob story a fictitious 2 year old son called Ned.

It’s here Will meets his first target of prey, single mum Suzie (Victoria Smurfit) and scores his first date, a SPAT picnic in the park. Their first date brings with it, along with Suzie’s own baby, a tag-along kid, Marcus, the son of Suzie’s friend Fiona (Toni Collete.) This is the beginning of the unusual bond that develops throughout the film between Will and Marcus.

Will plays a reluctant default-type guardian as Marcus pushes his way into Will’s life seeking comfort, security and shelter from the bullies at school and his mother’s suicidal depression at home. As this is happening , much to his surprise, Will finds himself taking an interest in Marcus’s well being. His first adrenaline hit of caring outside his own miserable life rushes through his heart when he takes Marcus to buy a “cool” pair of trainers to help him blend in at school and escape the vicious bullies.

That’s when Will meets Rachel, the most desirable single mum yet and he finds himself falling in love for the first time. “Oh what a tangled web we weave” the situation is complicated by the fact that Rachel is under the impression that Will is Marcus’s father. Will’s heart is struck when Rachel angrily pushes him away pointing out the shallowness of his deceitful behaviour. Will crawls back home, finds his place on the couch, and reverts back filling in units of time.

Will’s solitude brings him to the realisation of how much he cares about Rachel, Marcus and Fiona – a realisation that sees the normally self-obsessed Will put himself on the line to help Fiona and Marcus. The care and support he uses to save his friends actually pulls him out of his own self-centred hole and he end up saving himself at the same time.

The Soundtrack is from “Badly Drawn Boy” and it’s brilliant and definitely one of the best elements in the film. Lots of full lush guitar sounds and simple effective basslines. It’s beautifully complementary to the film.

7/10

Caroline Kinny-Lewis

August 7, 2002

Movie Review: The Princess Bride

The term “cult classic” could have been invented for this gem. With little fanfare this humble fantasy flick has ingratiated itself to film buffs and romantics ever since.

What makes the film so surprisingly successful is that it can reach a number of different viewers and affect them in different ways. The gals may enjoy the romance while guys might enjoy the adventure while kid of all ages will appreciate the fantasy. It would be a mistake to label it a family film as that would make it sound sanitised when in fact it has cheeky sense of humour and an almost surreal grasp of the genre that elevates it far above films of its kind.

The Princess Bride is basically a story within a story. A young boy is bed-ridden when his grandfather reads him a story about Buttercup and the band of heroes that defend her. Fred Savage and Peter Falk are perfectly cast here and they provide the backbone for this beautiful tale about the healing and redemptive powers of the imagination.

The story itself is a jolly fable which grandad promises has “Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Bad men. Best men. Monsters of all shapes and sizes. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles.” It also has cracking cast with Cary Elwes as the dashing hero and a remarkable collection of character actors including Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest and cameos from the likes of Billy Crystal.

The Princess Bride is a treasure and a treat and one of the finest fantasy film ever made, a film with its tongue in its cheek and with its heart in the right place.Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $32.95, click here.

The Princess Bride DVD Competition!

Thanks to Magna Pacific, She Said and Total DVD have three copies of The Princess Bride to give away. If you want your chance to own this fabulous fantasy film, click click here.

Lantana

In many ways Lantana may prove a watershed in Australian filmmaking. It signals a new sophistication with a story that is as complex as the emotional worlds it opens up.

Stated simply, Lantana follows the romantic entanglements of a small group of people who are brought together inexplicably and inextricably by the disappearance of a psychiatrist. Although the framework is a murder mystery, this film is more interested in the mysteries of the heart, the convoluted path of passion that leads us to act in ways we would never have imagined.

The film was directed by Ray Lawrence, a giant in the advertising industry who rarely makes films but has turned out classics on each occasion. In fact his only other film was made 15 years earlier. That just happened to be Bliss, another benchmark of quality local film. It was definitely worth the wait as he assembles an extraordinarily strong cast including Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake, Vince Colosimo, Peter Phelps and Glenn Robbins are all equally remarkable.

The lantana of the title appears to be a metaphor for the tangled web of circumstances and coincidence in the film but it could also represent the messy web of emotions that make up the heart.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $33.95, click here.

Bedazzled

Bedazzled was originally a devastatingly dry British film from the classic comedic pairing of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Directed, astonishingly, by Hollywood giant Stanley Donen, this tale of a hapless man bewitched, bedazzled and bedevilled by the Prince of Darkness who offers him a hand of his fair maiden in exchange for his soul has been a favourite since the ’60s.

This contemporary update may not be quite the classic of the original but director and writer Harold Ramis has a strong sense of style and timing so this remake is surprisingly strong. This is largely due to the casting of the hunk with a heart Brendan Fraser who is one of the few actors these days with matinee idol looks and a goofball persona that allows him to send himself up silly. He’s given plenty of opportunity to satirise his beefcake image in a series of vignettes that have him as a Columbia drug lord, a guitar strumming hippy snag and a poorly hung sports star.

What really enriches the mix is sensational turn from Elizabeth Hurley as the devil. She has delicious way around a one-liner and invests the film with a much-needed sense of sex and sin.

Be ready to be bedazzled by this film and given the rarity of a remake holding its own against the original classic, one might wonder if all concerned may have signed a pact with the devil.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $24.95, click here.

July 30, 2002

Ocean’s Eleven DVD Competition

Back in the cocktail-swilling ’60s, a group of entertainers towered over the neon-studded landscape of Las Vegas. The Rat Pack, as they came to be known, were the epitome of cool. Entertainers including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and a couple of lovelies like Shirley MacLaine and Angie Dickinson made the town their own and have excited our imagination ever since.In their glory days many of the members of this club land fraternity made a crime comedy called Ocean’s Eleven and now Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh has assembled a rat pack of his own with Hollywood’s sexiest and smartest stars including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia and Matt Damon in this slick, stylish thriller.

In Ocean’s Eleven, dapper Danny Ocean (George Clooney) orchestrates the most elaborate and breathtakingly ambitious casino heist in history. In one night, Danny’s handpicks an eleven man crew of specialists, who will attempt to steal over $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the elegant, ruthless entrepreneur who just happens to be dating Danny’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). The crew includes a card sharp (Brad Pitt), a pickpocket (Matt Damon), an explosives specialist (Don Cheadle), a casino dealer (Bernie Mac), two drivers (Casey Affleck, Scott Caan), a surveillance expert (Eddie Jemison), a veteran con man (Carl Reiner), a money launderer (Elliott Gould), and of all things, a Chinese acrobat (Shaobo Qin). This unusual gang are given an even more unusual mandate: “don’t hurt anybody, don’t steal from anyone who doesn’t deserve it, and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose”.

The new version of Ocean’s Eleven is that rare thing: a remake that is actually far superior to the original. It has much of the casual swagger of the original rat pack yet with rivetting action and razor-sharp repartee, thanks to some of the finest comedic performances we’ve seen in a while. Indeed it’s escapist entertainment of the highest order and what is created when one of Hollywood’s finest directors gets a taste for popcorn.

May 21, 2002

DVD Review – Bedazzled: Special Edition

A re-working of the minor Dudley Moore and Peter Cooke ’60s comedy classic that infamously featured Racquel Welch as the seven deadly sin ‘Lust’, the basic story line of Bedazzled is itself merely a variation on the age old Faustian theme – a person who sells their soul to the devil for love, riches, immortality? (insert suitable enticement here).In the original Bedazzled, this perennial morality tale was warped and re-fashioned to delightfully ridiculous if lightweight comic effect, with the devious, wily, British foppishness of Cook effectively pitted against the dimwitted Two Ronnies buffoonery of Moore. Relocated to America and given a devilish boob job three decades later, the new <Bedazzled perhaps lacks some of the original’s frothy comedic oomph – after all, it was a pretty stale concept even way back then, not withstanding the cheeky decision to upgrade Satan to the role of mischievous seductress with flawless supermodel beauty.

However, the remake is saved by two key factors. Firstly, Brendan Fraser is a delectable hunk with a genuine comic flair, who is always eminently watchable, even when his films aren’t. Secondly, Liz Hurley has great fun with the role of Satan, giving the film a sparky, nudge-nudge Benny Hill meets Not The 9 O’Colck News playfulness. Add to that a solid Special Edition package, complete with behind-the-scenes featurette, entertaining interactive menus, deleted scenes and two engaging audio commentaries, and you have a sturdy little DVD performer that’s just perfect for an undemanding Saturday night at home on the couch.

Available from www.totaldvd.com.au for only $27.95

March 13, 2002