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Gossip Girl (2007)
TV for the easily entertained
Admittedly I only watch this type of thing with my girlfriend and I know shows like this aren't meant to be high art - but even as chewing gum TV this show fails miserably.
I can only imagine that the writers of this show hold their intended audience in utter contempt:- The characters are lazily sketched, the plot is improbable, the script bears absolutely no relation to the way real people talk - I know this is a show about the super rich American teenagers so it'd never going to plumb the depths of the human soul but even so you can almost hear the crank turning as the plot develops.
Some very crude and laboured cultural references paired with almost universally mechanical acting serve only to highlight the lack of quality writing in this show when compared to much better "teen shows".
In short this is dumb TV. The situations in which the protagonists find themselves in, make the similarly puerile "Veronica Mars" seem like gritty, hard-boiled realism. Watching the first episode of this was in fact the longest hour of my life.
It's like "Cruel Intentions" on heavy prescription pain killers.
I could actually feel my IQ dropping as one laboured, heavy-handed and obvious scene played into the next like so much paint drying.
Diary of the Dead (2007)
Come on! This is George A Romero!!! He's the best!!!
In truth I should be giving this film a nine, but I've decided to go for a ten if only to offset the ruthless reviews this film's had.
In a break from tradition, I'm not going to spend my time offering defences to the many criticisms I've read about this film - mainly because they're so bone-headed, but instead, I'll tell you why this film rules: I remember seeing Land of the Dead when it came out in 2005, and although I liked it, there was something missing. It was intangible, but definitely notable by it's absence. On paper, land should have been the greatest zombie film ever made: First Romero Zombie flick in 20 years, Greg Nicotero, CGI, Dennis Hopper,.... In reality it was good, there's no denying that, BUT there was something missing. I still haven't got the word for it yet, but whatever "Land" didn't have, "Diary" has in spades. Call it "Georgeness" if you will. Diary feels, looks, smells, shuffles, lunges, bleeds and staggers like a proper old school zombie film. None of this running zombie nonsense! The script is witty (sure corny in places). Romero's sense of humour is evident throughout. He shows us a society in collapse using around 5% of the extras (CGI or otherwise) wasted in Zack Snyders bloated rehash of Dawn of The Dead (For Shame!!) I don't want to say anymore because I don't want to spoil any surprises, suffice to say if you like your George A Romero you will love this film. I went at the weekend and I'm going back this week to see it this week. No way can I wait for it to come out on DVD.
George Romero!!!! Yyyyyyyeeeeessssss!
Definitely, Maybe (2008)
Seen worse. Seen a whole lot worse.
For some people, the romantic comedy genre is there to be sneered at. It's a lower art form subscribed to by the uneducated masses, the same plot regurgitated through a word processor with names, dates and locations changed: ("Girl meets boy, she's feisty, he's snobbish, they don't see eye to eye - How oh how are they ever going to end up together by the end of the movie?"). Admittedly, I'm not the biggest advocate of the ol' romcom, but this film falls into the "watchable" category of romantic comedy. Of course it's phoney and sugar-coated. Of course it has no resemblance to real life -
For goodness' sake it's a romantic comedy! If it wasn't shallow and improbable it'd be called a "drama"! I don't understand people who post comments on this site, taking potshots at films like this for being dumb and schmaltzy. Look at the poster before you go in. If it's got young people with good teeth on the poster, the title is a bit twee and the font is in pastel shades, chances are, it's a romantic comedy. If you don't like that kind of thing don't go in!
Anyway, my girlfriend took me to see this film yesterday (missed Cloverfield) but it was OK. Seriously. It was OK.
Ryan Reynolds is a solid enough lead, with enough comic talent to keep things ticking over. Abigail Breslin is charming too. Kevin Kline seems to growing gracefully into more senior roles, and Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks and Isla Fisher are all comfortable enough as Reynold's love interests.
The script isn't belly-laugh funny but it has it's moments, there's some good use of news footage from the time in which the story is set, and the plot ticks over nicely. There's also a bit of guessing for the audience too, and my bet is you'll stay to end if only to find out how it finishes.
So there it is: a better than average romantic comedy. Not weighty. Not cerebral. Not challenging. Just a mildly diverting story, about a nice bunch of nice looking people having a nice time and getting their nice little lives sorted out. Nicely.
To give this film the scathing it's had in some quarters, is like a food critic cruelly reviewing a bag of crisps. That is to say this film is not meant to be "food for thought" it's just a snack. And if you get your kicks out of inflating your own ego by raving about how much a dumb film like this offended your sensibilities, then "for shame!" is all I can say. You weren't led blindfolded into the cinema. You knew what you were getting into. It should have been obvious from the poster that this film is a romcom.
Trust me, as a man that's been dragged to more than his fair share of romcoms, this one is by no means bad.
Not bad at all
I suspect that if you didn't like Bobby Kennedy, or indeed the rest of the Kennedy clan, then you probably won't like this movie. The assassination of both Kennedy brothers has always been an emotive subject, and I'm deeply suspicious of some of the negative comments posted on this website: Alright, this wasn't the greatest film ever committed to celluloid, but I can't see how a normal, rational film enthusiast could describe it as "vaccous and maddening" or a "third rate soap opera". By the same token, I'm sure some of those ten star reviews came from dyed in the wool democrats. A movie about a politician (particularly the most iconic "also ran" of our day) was always going to stir political passions.
Looking at this with a little more objectivity (I'm British) I have to say that I found "Bobby" to be an intelligent, entertaining, thought-provoking and polished film. Some reviews have rabidly ranted that the back stories of all parties were embellished or in the case of Elijah Wood and Lindsay Lohan's characters - totally made up, and I must say that that revelation didn't annoy me in the slightest. Half of Braveheart was totally cooked up, and that was a belter. Same goes for The Great Escape. I'd be surprised if every line of dialogue in Schindler's List was spoken in exactly the same way as it happened in real life, but does that take away anything from that particular film's power as a testament to truth? Of course it doesn't.
Now let's not get ahead of ourselves here, "Bobby" is no Schindler's List (what is?) but despite certain artistic liberties it stands as a good film. Yes it's crammed to the lid with Hollywood A-listers (I was half expecting an earthquake, tidal wave or volcano in the first twenty minutes), but this was a good move. In a story where there are so many sub-stories, recognisable faces are an advantage. Estevez establishes his characters quickly and economically, then once the pieces on the chess board have been set up, he moves them, one at a time, methodically and patiently. This film is not a white knuckler. It is not "action packed". You need a good attention span to get the best out of this film.
Honorable mention amongst the cast goes to Christian Slater, who sneers and snarls his way brilliantly through the piece as one of the main protagonists, the ever reliable William H Macy (A one trick pony for sure, but what a trick!) and Shia La Boeuff (sure I've mis-spelled that) who I'm sure is going to be one of the greatest actors of our generation, and puts in a hilarious, touching and honest performance that really made me smile. Anthony Hopkins puts in a good shift too with usual deft understatement, the conclusion to his little story is perfect. This is not to say that the rest of the cast are bad or indifferent. I get the feeling that everyone who was in this film really wanted to be in this film. No one seems to be trying to hog their screen time. It's as if everyone came along, did their job, then went home.
Credit to Emilio Estevez for getting this made. It's not a world changing film, but nor is it a bad film. It's just a good, solidly made film executed with obvious affection, and two hours of your time well spent.
The Zombie Diaries (2006)
Weird in all the wrong ways
Zombie films are on the march again. Some are worth watching. Some are not. This is not.
An interesting premise, explored quite effectively as a DVD extra on Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (News footage, the web-cam fate of poor Andy the Gunsmith).
I'm sure with some serious investment, this could have been a great film, it was a great idea, after all.
Romero purist's will dig the fact that the zombie's are the lurching, staggering walking dead of old, not the all new singing, dancing, shrieking, screaming running dead popularised in the 28 / Romero re-makes (but unfortunately, that's where the similarities to Romero's works end). But to make a film about the dead/infected returning to life and attacking the living and play it 100% straight faced was a big mistake. I know the 28 films are 110% straight faced and technically different (infected NOT dead) but they succeed because the script was super-realistic.
Money should have been spent on better actors (uniformly awful), better special effects, and for the love of God, more extras! It's very hard to create the illusion of a Zombie holocaust with no more than a handful of Zombies in any given shot.
The plot tried desperately to be clever, chopping and changing scenes, but just confused me. Didn't get why the naked zombie chick was tied up (post or pre-mortem) and what happened to the actual journalist girl and what the scouse guy's motives were, either way it was a pretty schlocky end to an unsavoury film.
In short, the whole thing played like the best efforts of some enthusiastic, yet untalented sixth formers.
If you see this film lumbering towards you, do yourself a favour and aim for the head!
Match Point (2005)
Awful awful awful!!!
Where do you start, when attempting to catalogue the many flaws in this awful, awful film? Let's see....
1. The script. Gah! What nonsense! Here's a tip for Woody Allen - If you're going to write a story about English people, try listening to how they talk, before putting pen to paper, man! It just didn't sound like the English we here spoken every day in this country. Simply inserting the word "bloody" into every the odd sentence (and incidentally, inserting it in the wrong part of the sentence), does not make a script "English". In particular, the cringe-worthy scenes with Jonothan Ryhs-Meyers and his "chums" from Wimbledon came across as Dawson's Creek meets Shakespeare in Love by way of Dick Van Dyke. Also worth dishonourable mention were the constant, clumsy reminders to the viewers that they are watching a film set in England. Constant references to "Big red London buses" and everyone having "G&T" on the lawn! What ho!
2. The principle characters. Rhys Meyers is a fairly charmless leading man wandering through most of the film doing a faintly camp impression of Pierce Brosnan, and all this film taught me about Scarlett Johannson was that a) she's quite athletic and b) she's not much of an actress. Even so, had the leading man and lady been the greatest actors of our generation, they would have struggled to breathe life into such lazily sketched characters. The characters were immoral, vacuous and thoroughly unpleasant to watch - but these crimes could be forgiven if only they had shown a fragment of charisma, just something, a little glimmer that might have indicated to the audience that we were watching two good looking robots. The whole thing is just lazy, that's all I can say. When Brian Cox gets Rhys-Meyers' character a job "In Business" (capital i capital b), it's almost skipped over as an afterthought, oh and the dreadful scenes in "the office" - Meyers takes an Important Phonecall, Meyers Studies Important Reports - all smacked of a rather cack-handed attempt to illustrate that the young protagonist is now in the exciting world of "Business" and it's never explained as to what the father character sees in this sinister, unlikeable young fellow.
3. That ghost-story nonsense tagged on at the end. I mean, really! I think as an audience, we're owed a little more credit than that.
What really broke my heart about this film is that despite dodgy accents, acting and scripting aside, the premise is excellent (which side of the net the ball falls on - although they laboured that a bit after a while). It's quite interesting in the first half too, and seems to gather pace once he's decided to do away with Miss Johansonn. But it's not long after that that the whole jalopy runs out steam, and loses direction.
Just to give you a clue as to how bad I think this film is - I watched it when it came out at the cinema - and I still feel slightly cheated over 18 months later. At the time, after the first hour I tried to get some sleep, thus trying to ensure that although my money had been wasted the rest of my time would not. I couldn't sleep. I was too angry.
On the sunny side it features the excellent Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton, and I'd say that's about the only reason I gave it a "2". Even that however would not be enough to make me want to watch this film again. I doubt torture would be enough to persuade me to waste anymore time on this film.
In seven words - "stick to films about New York Woody"