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Ted is one hilarious movie.
So It's school holidays and I decide to go and see a preview screening of Ted at 7pm. The cinema is full and I am entirely surrounded by teenagers, sucking furiously on their frozen cokes and jittering around in their seats as if they were under the influence of some extremely high uppers. The movie begins, yet the kids don't settle down at all. Now normally this would completely annoy the hell out of me, and to some extent it did (hence me still thinking about it now), but it didn't take anything away from this farcical comedy written and directed by the very talented Seth MacFarlane.
Ted, voiced by MacFarlane, is absurdly hilarious, with his crazy antics, insane innuendos and the occasional racial slur, it is hard not to laugh out loud. This is all created by the wonderful sound of Seth's voice. I really don't think it would have worked half as well if they have of got someone else. The rest of the cast bounce off him wonderfully. Mark Wahlberg as Ted's best friend for life, fits the bill perfectly and Mila Kunis is great as the girlfriend. For me though, Giovanni Ribisi, when he arrives on screen, plays creepy, camp and evil all too well. He is a joy to watch. (maybe joy is the wrong word here).
This is an intelligent and very cleverly thought out comedy. Don't get me wrong, I know the image of a little teddy using the F word and smoking dope continuously, is going to be funny no matter what, yet doesn't sound like it would have to be too clever. The script is 10 out of 10 and this coupled with the perfect pace of the film means never a dull moment. My problem with most comedies is they can't keep the laughs going for the full running time. Here the jokes are very witty, insightful and out of the ordinary and stays that way for the full 106 minutes. The fact that this movie is about a teddy bear whom magically comes to life and then seamlessly blends into day to day life, for me, has failure written all over it. Yet, MacFarlane creates a world where all this doesn't matter and the viewer takes the magic for granted and goes along for the ride. And the ride is most certainly worth the trip.
And lets not forget the animation. Ted never looks out of place. The special effects are seamless, even in high action fight scenes, they don't miss a beat.
Ted is one hilarious movie. This, for me, is right up there with the best comedies of the past few years. Crude, intelligent and totally entertaining. http://www.filmnotion.com/ted-movie-review/
The Deep Blue Sea (2011)
A well crafted film
THE DEEP BLUE SEA is set in the 1950′s and flashes back to the War years of the 40′s so it is appropriate that the title also features in a popular song lyric of the time ' we are all between perdition and the deep blue sea'.
London in 1950 was still very much showing the effects of the War and amid this drab and shattered cityscape, in a small dingy flat, Hester ( Rachel Weisz) has decided to commit suicide using the gas meter, but is revived. Hester had been married to the wealthy but tightly wound Judge, Sir William Collyer, but left him to live with a dashing ex RAF pilot, Freddie Page. The story takes place over a single day about ten months after Hester leaves her husband.
This was originally a Terence Rattigan play that first went to screen in the 1950′s with Vivian Leigh in the lead role and Kenneth More as Freddie and Eric Portman as the stern judge. Rachel Weisz is nothing short of incandescent in the part. She is a polished, accomplished actress who keeps getting better as she goes on. Hester has taken what many would say, a wild and foolish step in leaving her safe and affluent husband for the feckless Freddie and a relationship that while initially passionate, intense and thrilling, is ultimately doomed, as less than a year after the move, Freddie is more centred on drinking in pubs and playing golf while Hester sits forlorn and neglected in a shabby, dingy flat. It is her birthday, Freddie has forgotten. She is alone.
The editing, direction and cinematography are extremely good. Two scenes remain with me for poignancy. In a flashback to the Blitz, Hester and Sir William take shelter in a tube station, huddled with other cold and weary Londoners. Above, the bombs rain down thunderously upon their city, while on the platform, a lone soldier sings 'Molly Malone'. The other has Hester and Freddie dancing in a pub, smoke sits heavy on the air, the light is fractured through the window slats and the Jo Stafford song that was so popular at the time ' You Belong To Me' has the patrons singing with it.
The film was both written and directed by Terence Davies. Perhaps because both Terences ( Rattigan and Davies) were / are gay men, there is a nuanced sympathy for Hester whose life from its start as a Vicar's daughter, through to her marriage to a hidebound upper class man whose mother loathed her as unfit for him, and culminating in her last chance at happiness and love being smashed because Freddie is a shallow and fickle man whose greatest time was as a RAF pilot during the Blitz and he will never move on from that.
A mature, well crafted film, with occasional echoes of BRIEF ENCOUNTER, it has many strong points, but none stronger than Rachel Weisz. 3 and a half stars.. filmnotion.com
The Avengers (2012)
A Perfectly Crafted Super Hero Movie
So they all come together to fight a battle they cannot fight on their own. They don't exactly get along or have much appreciation for each other to begin with, but this is what makes this film work. This has been a long time lead up, starting back in 2008 with Iron Man and then ever so slightly linking each of these individual films together. It has been a hugely lucrative series for Marvel, sometimes good and other times not so good, it has all been leading to this point.
For me, the picks out of these previous films are Iron Man and Thor, with The Hulk behind that and then right at the bottom, Captain America. Iron Man was fantastically fun with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.), the larger than life character who has it all. He is smart, witty, funny and extremely like able and loves what most boys do, his toys. With a great visionary director in Jon Favreau at the helm both the Iron Man films were extremely enjoyable. Thor, had a great cast in Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hiddleston. Kenneth Branagh really captured the fun and excitement of the story. The second attempt at The Hulk was quite good, but Norton, as much as I love him was not quite the right choice. The CGI Hulk was never really there yet and always felt very animated and never part of the furniture. Captain American, as a movie didn't work for me. There was not enough about him to keep me interested, not enough fun had. I love Chris Evans and thought he was the right choice, but with a fairly dull script and a much too serious approach, I was quite bored by the end.
Now the question was always going to be, can they work as a group? With the much needed change of Bruce Bana to Mark Rufallo, and a few additional characters thrown in, the answer is a gigantic yes! Joss Wheddon does an amazing job of keeping a huge number of characters in tune. It is always the toughest element in story telling and here it really had a huge potential of being jumbled and disjointed. It is none of the above and on the contrary it is, in its entirety, exceptionally well balanced. The banter between the characters is priceless and gives the film a consistent flow and usually arises in what would normally be fairly dull background scenes. Everyone is extremely good, but the newcomer Mark Rufallo shines as Bruce Bana and 'the other guy'. The special effects for The Hulk are incredible and they have finally got him pretty much perfectly moulded into his surroundings. With the CGI sorted and the right actor behind the green monster, he seriously works and almost steels the show. Not quite, but he certainly steels any scenes he is in. Downey Jnr. as Stark is his usual witty, charming self and sets the banter off with great timing and finesse. Newcomers to the series in Black Widow played by the luscious Scarlett Johansson and Hawkeye played by the always solid Jeremy Renner are both commendable additions and both fit in marvelously. Tom Hiddleston as Loku, the villain of this story, plays his part impeccably well and deserves much praise and respect for this outing.
The special effects are superb and the fight scenes are tremendous. Joss Whedon has definitely shown he is an avid comic book fan himself. He shows that he is not afraid to have fun with his material, and this really is the whole point. Where Chistopher Nolan has brilliantly turned Batman into a dark knight, Whedon constantly lightens the mood, which really is the only way this type of ensemble film could work. There is never a dull moment as the pace of the film is constant and this makes for a hugely entertaining film in ever way. This really is a perfectly made comic book adaptation.
Smart, witty, funny, and hugely entertaining! This action packed joyride is brimming with different personalities, huge egos and awesome super powers. They work together perfectly in this marvel from Marvel! Go Joss!! filmnotion.com
It is a mindless, popcorn super spectacle - but like so many these days, it works on that level.
Battleship is yet another blockbuster movie adapted from a board game. This time from Hasbro. The FX are mammoth, the action fierce, the soundtrack booming macho Rock. So if the audience is composed of young males, or gun toting rednecks they will swoon with delight. Of course there is risible dialogue, so-so performances and more plot holes than a block of Swiss cheese so it is purely an outing for action junkies and CGI effects lovers.
Taylor Kitsch, fresh from his encounters with aliens on Mars in John Carter takes the lead again. He is the younger brother of Alexander Skarsgard, a high ranking Navy Officer and after yet another brush with the law, he is forced by his brother to enlist in the Navy to straighten him out. His love interest is played by Brooklyn Decker ( the swimsuit model and wife of Andy Roddick) who to her credit does a reasonable job of her role. She is the daughter of the Naval Commander ( Liam Neeson, who seems to be having occasional trouble taking the whole thing seriously.) Rihanna has her screen debut as a cool and tough navy girl.
Well Taylor soon gets his share of responsibility, action and heroism as aliens that have landed four spacecraft in the Pacific off Hawaii begin to demolish aircraft carriers, destroyers, cities and humans at a swift rate.
The finale throws everything into the maelstrom including the massive battleship U.S.S. Missouri crewed by a mix of W.W.2 old timers and the remnants of Taylor's surviving crew. ( The Missouri Big Mo was the last battleship built by the United States and it was on its decks that Japan surrendered which formally closed World War Two. Sadly, since 99% of the audience at my session were young males between 15 25, I daresay this historical fact slipped by unnoticed. But perhaps they recall Cher sprawled over the Missouri's big guns in her ' Turn Back Time' video back in 1989. )
No doubt owing to its video game genesis, this movie has undeveloped characters and poor narrative, but, does it work ? Yes, very much so- for the target audience in question at least. Outside of that, it will no doubt be blasted and levelled by serious critics to the same degree that the aliens managed to blast and level much of Hong Kong. But I speak purely to that target audience now, and have to admit that the finale where the Missouri roars into action after 70 years as a museum is well choreographed and directed. It smacks of the Michael Bay / 'Transformers' directorial school of epic action adventure visuals. filmnotion.com
Breaking Bad (2008)
If I could give 12 stars I would. Totally gripping, exciting, insightful and at times harsh and hard to watch.
This is and will always be a great premise. Older guy who has nothing to lose starts kicking some seriously bad butt. Over the past few years there has been some really great examples of this. Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood, is for me, Clint's best work to date and will be a hard one to beat. Harry Brown with Michael Caine could be classed as the British version and is every bit as good. There is just something about watching a man maybe past his time in society come back and show everyone they are a force to be reckoned with. A man with nothing to lose is certainly a huge part of what makes up Breaking Bad.
Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher who could of been so much more. The man is a chemistry genius and has had chances throughout his life to really make something of his career, but alas life got in the way. He is happily married with a 16 year old son, who has cerebral palsy but doesn't let it bother him, and a baby on the way. The premise of the show is that Walt is diagnosed with lung cancer and it may be terminal. He needs to go through chemo and radiation which his insurance will not cover. Walt needs to A) find money for the treatments and B) find a way to be able to provide for his family when he is gone. By chance, Walt stumbles upon the methamphetamine world. Producing crystal meth is basically good old fashioned chemistry, something Walt lives and breathes.
There are a few concerns for Walt. Obviously he can't tell his wife or son what he is doing. They would flip. But he has to somehow come up with stories of where the money is coming from. Also, Walts brother in law is a DEA Agent whose primary job is the fight against the methamphetamine world in which Walt has just immersed himself in. Jessie, Walts new found partner in crime, is a young junkie, dealer who doesn't know as much as Walt would of first assumed. But the major concern for Walt is his fight against himself. The fight not to become a criminal, the battle not to become bad.
Walt is played by Bryan Cranston. If you've seen Drive with Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston is his mechanic boss with a limp, who seems to always get himself in trouble with the wrong people. Cranston is ridiculously good in this and plays the role to perfection. The ups and downs, decisions and desperations he has to go through would be a mean feat for any actor. Jesse is played by Aaron Paul, who as the episodes and seasons go on, certainly equals Cranston's ability in the acting arena. Everyone in the series is very well cast and does a wonderful job in their part of the story.
Breaking Bad is very well directed but it's the writing that is so wonderfully entertaining. The series has brilliantly thought out highs and lows and the story retains a very real feel, which considering some of the occurrences is genius. There is also quite a bit of humour thrown in which at times is totally hilarious and lightens the mood ever so slightly. Watch out for Saul Goodman.
I had been told a few times by friends that this series was very good, but it took me a long time to get around to it. I picked up for first season only 3 weeks ago and have now finished all four. I have been completely engrossed in this show and over the past 3 weeks have really wanted to watch nothing else. filmnotion.com