Begin Again

MV5BNjAxMTI4MTgzMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAwODEwMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Catherine Keener, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, CeeLo Green

Gretta and her boyfriend move to New York to launch Dave’s music career – he skyrockets to fame and leaves Gretta behind.

She meets Dan. He’s a music producer who’s founded an independent record label. They team up, put together a band, and record Gretta’s album – an outdoor album. Will Gretta’s own musical experience bring her back to Dave, or will she strike out on her own?

This film generally has a good vibe – that is if you don’t mind Keira Knightly, or the fantastical idea that songs can be recorded quite so easily and so quickly. Some film reviewers comment on the film’s realism – they’ve obviously never worked in the music industry!

Realism aside, I like the romance angle. I also think there are great performances throughout. It’s light, yet passionate. It’s fun, yet moving. This isn’t a stand out flick for me because there’s not quite enough comedic content, but it’s still a good movie and worth seeing.

 

 

 

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

MV5BODYwNDYxNDk1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAwMTk2MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Kristen Wiig, Ben Stiller, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine

Walter wants to date Cheryl but he can’t get up enough courage to ask her out. Life in his daydreams is so much more interesting than real life.

One day Walter gains enough courage to go on an amazing adventure, an adventure that rivals his daydreams. It may have started out in order to save his job, but it manages to save his life from going so very wrong, or simply going nowhere.

There are quite a few high points in this film – one is Wiig singing Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, another is a very cool downhill skate run in Iceland. Stiller is brilliant and Wiig is likewise – they are a great match and fit their characters perfectly. Also good to see Hahn with a bit part, she’s always a laugh.

I love this film – it’s funny, well paced, and charming. Possibly one of the best rom coms around.

 

What If?

MV5BMTcyODc4Njg4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDIwNDA4MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_Zoe Kazan, Daniel Radcliffe, Megan Park, Adam Driver

Chantry and Wallace meet at a party. Although nursing a broken heart, Wallace feels sure that he has met the girl for him. Sadly though, Chantry has a boyfriend, and the best that Wallace is going to get from her is friendship.

Surely being friends is better than nothing? But how long can it last? I can tell you how long it lasts – it lasts the whole movie!

I don’t mind Radcliffe in the role of Wallace, but I don’t love him in the rom com genre. He certainly struck it lucky getting cast with Kazan, who’s short and perky and a good match for him. There aren’t too many female rom com actors he could get matched well with, and I don’t think he should risk another rom com in case he’s not so well matched in the future.

This is an ‘okay’ film, a sweet film. Kazan is lovely (I like her in Ruby Sparks and happythankyoumoreplease) and she did a great job here. But I warn you – only watch this film if you really love a traditional rom com because it won’t satisfy much else!

 

 

 

 

 

A Long Way Down

MV5BMTc0MTg0MDI2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzM4MDYwMTE@._V1_SX214_AL_Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Pierce Brosnan, Aaron Paul

Four people meet on a roof top in London on New Year’s Eve – they are potential ‘jumpers’. The disgraced talk show host, the single mother, the politician’s daughter, and the mediocre American rock star are randomly thrown together and awkwardly form a sort of support group for each other.

The group sign a pact that they will not commit suicide before Valentine’s Day. A lot happens to them in the next month, but at least now they have each other to lean on. Who will make it and decide to live life, and who will not?

Although this film is pegged as a comedy/drama, there is room for a bit of romantic action. All four actors do a pretty good job with this Hornby novel, particularly Collette who never fails to perform expertly in these kinds of roles.

I’m not over-excited about this flick, but nor am I overly critical. It does flow well, the story hangs together easily, and it contains some touching issues. It’s worth a watch, mainly because Toni Collette is such a terrific actor.

 

Magic in the Moonlight

MV5BMTQ3NDY5NjIwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQ2ODkxMjE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Simon McBurney Here is Woody Allen’s annual rom com. It opens in Berlin in 1928 with famous magician Stanley, played by Colin Firth. His childhood friend and fellow magician, Howard, arrives at his show to offer Stanley an interesting proposition.

Stanley is to accompany Howard to the south of France where his friends are being ‘wooed’ by an American spiritualist. Stanley’s job is to unmask Sophie Baker (played by Emma Stone) as a fraud. He is best suited to this job because he is an outspoken opponent of spiritualists and fortune tellers, being strictly driven by rational thought, logic and common sense.

Sophie undoes Stanley’s rationality very quickly. She shows him that life has more magic and mystery to it than he will admit. As he embraces life and finds himself very happy, will the biggest sceptic in the world be won over by Miss Baker?

Emma Stone does a very convincing job being charming, but I think the script was a bit limiting for Firth. Excellent performances from veteran actors like Eileen Atkins and Australian Jacki Weaver.

Woody Allen is pretty ‘hit and miss’ these days. He has a cracker of a film like Blue Jasmine one year, and then he has a regular ‘Sundayafternoon-teaandbiscuits-lovethedresses-kissColinFirth-goodbutnotgreat’ movie like this one. It’s a bit slow in places and doesn’t contain the rapid dialogue that Allen fans love, but it’s still enjoyable and worth a watch.

Life After Beth

MV5BMjA3OTUwOTMxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODg4NTkwMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Aubrey Plaza, Dan DeHann, John C Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Anna Kendrick

Zac’s girlfriend, Beth, dies from snake bite when she’s out hiking. He grieves for her deeply, until one day – Beth’s back! He can love her again. That is, until he discovers she’s become a zombie!

This is a terrific film. I don’t think it’s quite as good as Zombieland or Warm Bodies, but it does come pretty close. And like its zom com predecessors, the theme is about love and relationships rather than horror or ‘end of the world’ anxieties. It has a beautiful, delicate humour.

This film is funny, well-scripted, and the casting and acting is excellent. Aubrey Plaza is sensational as Beth and I believe that this must be her best role yet. This is definitely a film that is worth a watch.

 

What’s happening in 2015 with rom coms?

MV5BMTk3MjQyNTUxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjM3Mjk1MzE@._V1_SX214_AL_Where are all the romantic comedies? It looks like slim pickings to me so far. Coming up in 2015 we’ll have another wedding rom com to test out called The Wedding Ringer which looks like a Bromance, and there’s a sequel to Pitch Perfect. But apart from that, everything looks very drama-esque. I’ll keep you posted.

The Best and Worst Rom Coms of 2014

love-blog1.jpgI think this has been a very disappointing rom com year. One of the good things has been the absence of wedding rom coms which were prolific in 2012 and 2013 and kind of wore out the theme. But we’ve seen nothing amazing to take their place.

I put very little on the Recommended Rom Coms list this year. But if I were to suggest some films for holiday viewing, it would be Sex Tape (which isn’t that good), Some-one Marry Barry, BarefootDate and Switch, and the new zom com Life After Beth. If you’re a Woody Allen fan, try Magic in the Moonlight, but don’t expect too much.

Most disappointing films were The Other WomanThat Awkward Moment, And So It Goes.

Other rom coms in 2014 were just plain ordinary!

Rom coms to try and catch before the end of the year include A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, and Goodbye to All That. I’ll get reviews up ASAP.

And So It Goes

MV5BMTUwNDAwODY2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDI2MTUxMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Diane Keaton, Michael Douglas

Retiring real estate agent, Oren, suddenly has to look after a grand daughter he never knew he had. His wife is dead and his only son is going to jail. So he turns to his neighbour, Leah, for help. Maybe if he’s lucky, he’ll also find love again.

You get the feeling that you’ve seen this movie before – instead of Jack Nicholson, you’re watching Michael Douglas instead!

I’m all in favour of the more mature rom com, with more mature rom com actors. But this theme seems a bit stale – the grumpy widower who finds love again and is made to mellow by his lover. It’s time for Rob Reiner to refuel his creative juices.

I had a hard time finding much to really like in this movie. I wouldn’t bother with it.

Sex Tape

MV5BNDYzMzg5OTA0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjQzNzExMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Cameron Diaz, Jason Segal

Annie and Jay marry young and have a family. A decade or so on, they still love each other, but they have lost some of their sexual spontaneity and passion.

So they decide to make a film of themselves working their way through The Joy of Sex in an attempt to spice up their love life. Afterwards, Annie insists that Jay delete the film. But he accidentally uploads it to ‘the cloud’ which is then synced to a pile of iPads that he’s given away. So now they have to hunt down all the gifted iPads in order to delete the video on each one, which turns into an all-night escapade.

I do love both Diaz and Segal as rom com actors. And we’ve seen them together in Bad Teacher. But this flick is a bit ‘hit and miss’. There were some funny moments, but everything else was a tad ordinary. Are rom com directors running out of ideas?

This movie is one in a group of new rom coms that portray the more mature, established relationship. Rather than the couple who have pre-marriage jitters, or the fiance who cheats, or the disgruntled husband, this approach is looking at the couple who are not only really in love, but who are totally into each other for the long haul and like each other immensely. And when the couple really like each other, the viewer really likes them. Like in this film with Annie and Jay.

This theme has also made its way onto TV screens with rom com shows like Up All Night, Friends with Better Lives, Gavin and Stacey, and I suppose Modern Family.

This film wasn’t a total waste of time, I did enjoy most of it, but it’s definitely not a keeper.