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Very good, could have been more
Based on the book series by Daniel Handler (aka, Lemony Snicket), this offbeat film follows the adventures of the three Baudelaire Orphans, after their parents are killed in a fire that destroys their mansion. They are taken by a delusional Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall) to live with their distant relative Count Olaf (Jim Carrey) who turns out to be a creepy, self-obsessed, greedy pyromaniac who wants the Baudelaire fortune.
Jim Carrey injects grim humour into Olaf and is hilarious with his theatre troupe (he is an actor)which consist of a few big names including Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Adams and Craig Fergson.
The Baudelaire Orphans Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken) and Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman)deliver capable performances, particularly Emily Browning, a timeless young beauty who is able to carry the emotions of the siblings on her shoulders with credibility and maturity. Liam Aiken is also not bad, he's not woodenly but could show more emotion. With a little time and practice he could be quite good.
Meryl Streep is highly entertaining as the paranoid Aunt Josephine and Billy Connoly is quite fatherly and touching Uncle Monty. Dustin Hoffman also steps in for a cameo as a stage critic.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, while episodic, is still a good adaptation of the first three novels in the series.
The film is technically great, with a distinct 50's Gothic, Edwardian, old-fashioned, Broadway, carnival freak show, expressionistic feel to it. It has outstanding costumes and sets (apparently filmed in ten different stages at Paramount Pictures). The musical score is also great, adding to the already well established dark atmosphere.
The film is times charming, funny, intriguing and consistently atmospheric, but lacks some emotional punch. At some points it is sad and moving, but that needs to be high-lighted more.
This may be due to the toning down of the books' dark content to make the film more "kiddie friendly". What I don't understand is that these books are meant for and read by kids yet the film version still tones down some of the content.
Don't be mistaken, adults, this is not your average "kid" film, it is still quite enjoyable for an older audience too.
I would give this film 7/10. I also look forward to the rumoured sequel, as the next few books deal with more provocative material.
Oh, and make sure you watch the credits, they are amazingly done.
I would suggest seeing this film. It is, despite it's title claim, quite a fortunate event.
You've gotta see it to believe it
Saw the film last night and what can I say? BRILLIANT! The great thing about these films is that they keep on improving, which seems like a hard thing to do as they are all extremely good films.
Critics say this is the best one yet, and they are not wrong. These films have the knack of turning Non-Believers into major fans. It's great to hear professional critics rave about the films.
It is sad also, that just because these films are a "franchise", they are written off as something not worthy of an Oscar or any other prestigious awards. They are constantly being compared to their predecessors and so it can be hard for them to get the positive recognition they deserve.
It sux, because if these films were not in a series (say if Order of the Phoenix was released as an independent film) I would bet just about anything that it would be nominated for an Oscar or something.
But enough of that, this film follows Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) personal journey of being suppressed by authority (authority comes dressed in pink in this film) when most of the Wizarding Community (Harry's only real home and comfort) feels he is lying about the return of the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
There are claims that this film has too many plots and is hard to follow, but I found it quite straight forward (more so than the last film). Director David Yates has a great knack of explaining all the necessary details clearly and in minimal time. (This is the shortest film, which comes as quite a relief).
For all of the media attention to how "grim" and "dark" this film is, I entered the cinema thinking all I would leave with severe depression. But I was surprised. This film has quite a few funny moments, but yes, it is grim and rather sad towards the end, but it wasn't that depressing.
Yates has a good sense of visual imagery, despite what some may believe (a shot I particularly liked was after Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) murdered Harry's Godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). Harry (after a moment of slow-motion grief whilst he watches his Godfather die) is overcome with anger and charges after Bellatrix. The camera work is shaky (for a "rush of anger" effect) and is just simply brilliant. These kind of rare shots are the kinds of things you wouldn't see in a previous Potter installment.
A sequence I enjoyed (and it hasn't been done in a Potter film before) was when Professor Umbrige (played brilliantly by Imelda Staunton) was exercising her power as High Inquisitor. It is tied to together with a series of juxtaposed scenes. It's fresh and ingenious.
The special effects are again, great. I loved the scene with Grawp (Hagrid's giant half-bro). It was hilarious. Watch out for the hint of romance between Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) not only in this scene but throughout the whole film.
On the subject of romance, the kissing scene between Harry and Cho (Katie Leung) is beautiful. It actually made me a little sad because I wished I was in Cho's position.
Speaking of the actors, I'm not surprised someone wanted to kiss Harry, he's looking damn fine in this film. The three main actors (Radcliffe, Grint and Watson) are all looking more handsome and beautiful, but not only that, they give their best performances to date. They seem to slip into their roles so comfortably.
Grint's performance isn't just about stupid jokes this time, he gets to show more depth in his character (though he does have a rather funny line when he calls another student a "tosspot"). Watson is still as bright a star as she ever was, and I'm becoming so concerned she's going to leap off of the screen anytime now she's that good.
Daniel Radcliffe has this ability to slip into the role of Harry and give a raw and deep performance, making the audience really sympathize for him. (I wanted to cry in several parts of the movie). He really give a great performance in this film. I was so impressed.
There is a real sense of unity between the three; you can really tell that they have spent the last 7 or so years together. One especially beautiful scene in this film is after Harry gets his first kiss. The trio are just sitting by the fire in the Common-Room together talking. It's a real stunner of a scene.
The adult actors are brilliant, all of them. It's altogether a phenomenal cast.
All in all, these films are not really kids films anymore (ever since the 3rd film). This film is the most mature out of the lot. And as I said, the best.
As a book fan, I was very pleased with what had been left in the film. It was a good adaptation, but moreover a stunning film. The books and the films are two different mediums, so everyone stop moaning about the films not being "faithful" and get a life.
Loved the film. Loved it , loved it, LOVED IT! Go see it, everyone.
Rove Live (2000)
Pretty Good Entertainment
Now that Rove has moved to a better time slot I have become a regular viewer. Not that I didn't always want to be, it was just on too late.
This show is always entertaining. It's great to see someone as committed and energetic towards his profession as Rove. Every week he attempts to up the entertainment factor (whether it includes slipping rather awkwardly into Lisa Mcune's dress for example).
Rove is a confident performer. It makes the viewer feel at ease. If Rove slips up, he covers it with some quick and witty humour. He's really good at what he does.
Every week there is a string of cool guest stars, which sometimes come back for a second stint on the show. Rove is a natural interviewer. This man is an Andrew Denton in the making.
I love this year's set-up. It's paced but leaves you feeling satisfied. Rove has a new homier set (complete with a couch). He also has better segments from comedians like Peter Helliar (love that PeteSpace!).
All in all this show is one that I make sure I tune into, and I'm not a television addict (except for The Simpsons, I LOVE that show).
Good, all round entertainment.
The Saddle Club (2001)
I have to say, when I was younger I had a short obsession with The Saddle Club. Yes, I know, it's tragic. But now that I have grown up I can see what utter sh*t I left behind.
Firstly, okay, so I am not a horse fan so I find it mundane to sit through this girly, horsey sh*t. It's sad because I love animals (I like horses but all this Saddle Club stuff reeaaallly put me off).
This show is lame to the extreme. Really, it's for tweens, not all ages.
And as for it being filmed in Australia, well get over it people! We are just as much apart of the world as any other country. Our country has obvious beauty (as seen in the show). I suppose that is one of the only good things in the show.
Also, because it's good to see that the typical Australian has not been portrayed as some Slack-Jawed Yokel by the likes of Cletus from the Simpsons (except the Aussie version. The Simpsons rocks, by the way). We are just portrayed accurately as NORMAL PEOPLE, NOT UNLIKE YOURSELVES!!!
Okay, so the only one who can really act is Heli Simpson, Lara is not too bad either, but she is too dramatic at times and it looks pathetic. The rest of the cast is pretty sh*thouse.
All in all, young girls will like this show. I personally find it to be boring and stupid (especially the second season, the first at least did not have insipid story lines crammed into it).
My verdict: Craptacular!
Date Movie (2006)
"C'mon Kelsey, c'mon!" My classmates were encouraging me to watch Date Movie at lunch time.
I was reluctant to watch it. We'd watched enough of these brainless spoof flicks at lunchtime and I didn't want to watch another.
So I gave in. Five minutes later, I was sitting watching a disturbing and derogatory scene where Alyson Hannigan was in a fat suit, dancing in a street. Sooooo not funny.
It just got worse from there. I'll spare you the details.
My classmates had mixed reviews too. Some of the intellectually challenged breed found it hilarious, while the guy who egged me on the most even found it lame, nevertheless kept glancing at my facial expressions every five seconds to see whether I found it funny or not. Which I didn't.
What else can I say? If I went into a movie theatre and payed $15 odd dollars alone just to get in I would be furious. This movie sucks, really.
When you ponder on how much money goes into crap like this when in less fortunate countries poverty is just a normal part of life it makes your blood boil.
I like a good film, but stuff like this is just so pointless. Why bother? Oh, and on a last note, Sophie Monk, eat something. Don't take your thinspiration from poverty stricken individuals which desperately need all that money your craptacular film wasted.
You just gotta love this episode. It's brilliant. It has the markings of a true classic.
After Marge stops Snake and his shoddy street money schemes, she is excited by what life has to offer. So she decides to put her skills into becoming a cop, joining the Springfield Police Force.
She soon loses her initial passion for the job when she has to arrest Homer. Homer, when released from a temporary lock-up makes the habit of inviting a few friends over for gambling and drinking at his house.
Among his buddies is Herman, who is secretly smuggling counterfeit jeans (ingenious!) into Homer and Marge's garage/car hole.
Marge ends up catching Herman and wins respect as a cop from Homer, but after the jeans "mysteriously disappear" (Cheif Wiggum and the crew steal them for their own leisure) Marge decides to quit being a cop.
This episode is so Simpsonesque it's great. Lots of great and memorable jokes, a wacky but cleverly crafted storyline and a whole lotta heart is what makes this truly special. Another standout episode from the flawless season 6 of The Simpsons.
The Hill Street Blues music that plays is also fantastic. The performances (notably Dan Castallaneta's and Julie Kavner's) are spot on. The animation is just what it was supposed to be in a '96 episode of The Simpsons: a little glitchy, but that is what adds heart and character.
Love it love it love it! Go see it, be you Simpsons fan or not.
The Simpsons: 'Round Springfield (1995)
The Simpsons at their finest
I have to say, The Simpsons don't get much better than this. Season 6 is a stunning season, but this episode is definitely a stand-out.
This is one if not my favourite Simpsons episode; it's paced, witty, sad and sweet.
Bart eats some Krusty-O cereal, accidentally eating a "metal Krusty-O" in the process, which gives him appendicitis. When he has his appendix removed, Bart's family visit him in hospital.
Lisa wanders around and fortunately meets her hero for the second time, jazz musician Bleeding Gums Murphy, who is residing at the hospital because of an illness.
The two become stronger friends and Bleeding Gums gives Lisa his special saxophone as a token of friendship for Lisa's school band recital.
Bleeding Gums passes away and Lisa is overcome with grief at the loss of her friend and hero. Meanwhile, Lionel Hutz (as Bart's lawyer) sues the Krusty-O Cereal Corporation and Bart receives $500, thinking he is getting a good deal.
Lisa wants to pay a tribute to Bleeding Gums Murphy through the local jazz station, but doesn't have his record to play.
Androids Dungeon has it on sale for $500 and Bart decides to buy it with his money for Lisa.
The jazz station plays it and Bleeding Gums takes on cloud-form and the two of them jam together (playing a rendition of Carole King's 'Jazzman') for the last time.
This episode is classic. There are plenty of funny moments, and touching and sad moments. The ending (a rendition of 'Jazzman') is sung by the talented Yeardly Smith (Lisa Simpson) and is just beautiful, leaving the audience on a high.
I'm surprised this episode didn't win an Emmy, it's well liked by many fans. But The Simpsons is just such a good show, they have won many Emmys so it doesn't really matter.
Everyone: SEE THIS EPISODE!
Mean Girls (2004)
It's so great to see a truly clever teen movie. This film depicts the vicious pecking order of the average American High School.
Good cast, good to see Lindsay Lohan looking healthy before she turned anorexic. Surprisingly she can act, but that talent is going to waste with her excessively unhealthy lifestyle.
Racheal McAdams is just delightfully bitchy as Regina George; she does what every bitch does best: sugar coats her mean intentions with cutesy smiles, a batter of her eyelashes and a sugary sweet voice that dominates and manipulates everything and everyone until they are submissive and miserable.
Twists and turns in this film keep it fresh, which is something of a challenge for many teen films. Many are just corny and stupid. This film does have a little sentimental moment at the end, but the upbeat comedy of the film keeps things on track.
This film has a lot of stereotypes in it; we can all see a bit of our popular school peers in the plastics. The whole stereotyping makes the film funny, and it gives edge.
I really wish there were more teen films like this, so far the only teen movies that I have really loved were Clueless and this one.
This film is edgy, stylish and oh so fetch. Go see it.
Step up from the last installment
Each new Potter installment out does it's predecessor.
This is particularly evident with this film. While Alfonso Cuaron brought Gothic visuals to the third film, Mike Newell (director) brings great vigour to this installment.
While I believe that Azkaban came closer to conveying the book, this film is still a little better than the last.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a much darker installment, the darkness mixed with the light, humorous and romantic events of the Yule Ball (a ball that takes place at Hogwarts because of the Triwizard Tournament, which Harry has been unwillingly chosen to compete in).
The Yule Ball sequence is one of the most memorable and enjoyable sequences of the film; the cast get spiffed up in their ball gowns and tuxedos except Rupert Grint (whom plays Ron Weasley) who has to wear a ragged, horrible looking thing.
Love is in the air at the Yule Ball, Harry proves he is hopeless when it comes to conversing with the opposite sex, getting tongue-tied and standing there looking like an absolute tool.
It's all very awkward, giddy and British. But I love it.
The special effects are really something to marvel at, if you believe that they are special effects at all.
The Hungararian Horntail (dragon) which Harry faces looks so real that I did not even question that it was a special effect; I was just sitting in the cinema utterly engrossed in the film. The whole dragon sequence is overblown but thrilling.
The film becomes even more darker (if that is possible) when Harry's enemy Lord Voldemort makes a much anticipated appearance. He's pasty, skeletal and has no nose. It's freaky.
The actors are definitely improving; Emma Watson as Hermione is still the best out of the trio (watch out for her shining moments at the Yule Ball), Daniel Radcliffe rises to the occasion and delivers his best performance in the Graveyard scene.
The one performance I really feel that should be acknowledged is Rupert Grint's performance. He's seen as the third wheel in the trio in the films, but in this film he delivers a much more nuanced performance, playing a delightfully jealous Ron. We finally get to see Grint's acting chops.
Yes, there are deep cuts in in the material from the book in this film, but I believe that (and I say this as a book fan) it's about staying true to the STORY, not necessarily the book.
As long as the important stuff that foreshadows the future is not left out, which it hasn't been.
Besides, the whole film has been crammed full of knowledge already so much that I feel sorry for the people who haven't read the books; the cogs in their brains must be in some serious need of re-oiling.
Nevertheless, this film is one thrilling adventure of highs and lows, funny moments and sad and frightening moments. If it's going to be anything like this one, I can't wait for the next film...
First Daughter (2004)
Would you like insipidity with that?
Okay, the idea of the American President's daughter breaking away from her life under the media microscope and going to college isn't a bad one, but I felt it could have been done more justice.
Nearly the whole film felt like it had been dipped in chocolate fondue it was that sappy.
I expected more excitement, the kind of exciting and hilarious adventures you see these teenagers have at college in movies, but in this film hilarity and vigour failed to ensure.
There were a few moments which were entertaining though, and that was when Sam (Katie Holmes) was trying to make James (Marc Blucas) jealous of her so he would show his affection for her (which entailed buying a heap of pregnancy tests). Yeah...that and the bitch fight scene between Sam and Mia (Amerie) were the only parts in the whole film that really appealed to me.
I often wonder why professional and grown up actors go for such lame parts in teeny flicks like these...But then again, work is work and if I was getting paid some good cash then I would degrade myself to that level of shame.
Speaking of teeny movies, this one's a little soft for the mental capacity of the average teen, so I would recommend it to tweens instead. It's predictable and insipid.
I mean, who could stand to watch Katie Holmes (pretty as she is) waltz around in slow motion for nearly a quarter of the movie? This film is really badly written, with sappy and symbolic dialogue crammed in waaay to much.
Leave it for the tweens. If they can stand it...
Third Time Lucky
We all know the saying: third time lucky! Well this film is living proof of that.
Prisoner of Azkaban comes the closest to depicting the story of the book so far. Azkaban seems to really go that level further than COS or PS in so many ways (special effects, mood, narrative style, performance from the actors and storyline in general) and it seems in this case the book was definitely suited to the director (Alfonso Cuaron).
This film has such a richness to it, and it's easy to see that this book is easily the most cinematic from the series. POA flows so much more smoothly than PS and COS, which seem to have more of a repetitive structure to them. POA has a freer structure and style, which is really symbolic of the characters, whom are now teenagers.
Which brings me to the actors. Well, they all seem to be maturing not only physically but in their performances too. Danile Radcliffe is transforming into quite the spunk; his transition from a child to a young adult is truly amazing to watch. He brings a more nuanced performance to this film, exploring more emotional territories.
Rupert Grint gives his best performance to date, playing an awkward and comical Ronald Weasley. He has good on screen chemistry with Watson and we see the first pangs of romance between Ron and Hermione kick in. It doesn't help that Grint is becoming more handsome...
Full marks also to Emma Watson as Hermione Granger. Watson has proved herself more than capable once again to display the real human emotion in these films. She is maturing into quite a beauty and has excellent screen presence. I especially liked her performance in the Time-Turner sequence. She led and dominated the scenes with such procession and style while still being true to the clever Hermoine. She brings insecurity to the character, while delivering a rather gutsy performance.
As always, the adult cast of Harry Potter deserve a huge mention. Gary Oldman was a perfect choice as Sirius Black, David Thewlis as Professor Lupin gave a sensitive performance as a father figure to Harry. The rest of the cast (Sir Micheal Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson)all step up to the mark as the films are heading in a more mature direction.
The thing I really loved about this film and that I feel separates it from it's predecessors was the Gothic style visuals that Cuaron brought to the film. The dramatic and beautiful landscape of Scotland, with it's mountains and valleys, really symbolize the emotions you feel when you are 13 years old. This stunning cinematography makes the characters, events and all of the quirks and emotions felt by all in the Potter world leap off of the screen.
These dark and eerie sights are matched with humour and the occasional romantic emphasis between the trio. Cuaron has a true sense of humour and infuses a slight sexual tension between the main characters into the story.
While the three are obviously maturing, Hermione as the only girl, is usually caught in the middle of all of this sexual tension. (And when I say sexual tension I mean it's very subtle and you can read into it any way you want, but it is in no way inappropriate). Cleverly with Watson though, Cuaron makes the wise play of acknowledging her development without drawing perverse attention to it.
There's the obvious signs like an awkward glance here and there, a consoling hug that lasts a little too long, the awkward flouncing around of Watson and her co-stars in the action parts of the film, in which they are usually bent awkwardly and breathing heavily as they try to escape/set things right, the odd hand grabbing and odd touch or unaware brush, just small things like that.
Cuaron uses tight framing in these shots to suggest intimacy (the scene where the trio hug when Buckbeak is slaughtered, the quick close up of Harry reaching his arm around Hermione's behind to take her wand out of her pocket, the awkward moment when Hermione grabs Ron's hand when Harry is trying to tame Buckbeak, when Harry is conveniently behind Hermione when they are riding Buckbeak to save Sirius, etc).
As I said before, Cuaron tries not to draw perverse attention to it, by deliberately (I would say accentuating) the awkward moments so as to not draw bad attention to the young stars's obvious maturity.
On a different note, the special effects are really something in this film. There's the beautiful Buckbeak, the frightening and splendidly eerie Dementors, the hilarious Knight Bus sequence, all of the special effects have really improved. Everything looks so realistic yet still retains an old-school magical look and feeling.
Another thing I have to mention is the Hogwarts castle and the musical score. All of the things in the castle, the props (especially the divination room) has such a beautiful but old-style look to it; it's really a visual feast for your eyes. The musical score infuses a little 40's big-band pizazz (think the Knight Bus scene and the Boggart scene) and the general score is very grandiose old-school but with a modern sound. It somehow seems to retain earthiness at the same time. One special piece of music that deserves recognition is the Irish style music (think medieval pan flutes and strings) that plays over some of the really touching and heartbreaking moments in Azkaban.
Azkaban is essentially a coming of age story, that really has such a mature look and feel to it that it will attract a larger Potter audience. It really is just one big exhilarating adventure with highs and lows and I truly believe that no other director but Cuaron could have mastered this.