Quick Fire Review: Her


Here’s The Trailer

Who is in it?

Joaquin (if there is a Magnum PI remake he’ll be first in line) Phoenix, Amy (where’s my Oscar already) Adams, Scarlett (just the right amount of sweet and sexy) Johansson.

What is it about?

Lonely dude falls in love with his self aware Siri.

Why did I want to watch it?

Spike Jonze is the man behind the Praise You & Weapon of Choice music videos, so he has a great creative vision. The festival reviews had been pretty encouraging. Oh and the Oscar nomination.

Did I like it?

I thought it was great. You have to worry that the idea is a little creepy, but even at its oddest points, the film does a great job of portraying the humanity of loneliness and looking for an ideal companion.

Should you watch it?

There is a good deal of quirk here, so if you like that kind of thing, the acting is top notch so definitely give it a watch.  Joaquin Phoenix is a very sweet romantic lead and Amy Adams balances looking simultaneously normal and adorable.  And who wouldn’t fall in love with the light-hearted whimsy of ScarJo’s voice?

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

Beats me.  I will say that there are a variety of interesting named female characters, who are people with well defined jobs and lives.  The problem lies with the fact that they don’t talk to each other, defeating the test.  That said there are named OSs with female personas, so it could be argued that they interact with women.  I would say it fails, but raises interesting questions and the female characters are nonetheless well rounded.

Some interesting discussions can be found here : http://bechdeltest.com/view/4860/her/

Other films it reminds me of:

Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind would fit in nicely into this universe.

Watch this instead/as well/before/after:

The Master .  Not only a thoroughly bizarre film sharing Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams in prominent roles, its lead is the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman.



Quick Fire Review: Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club ImageHere’s The Trailer

Who is in it?

Mathew “one day I’m an oiled up stripper in Florida, next I’m a homophobic Texan” McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto

What is it about?

Ron Woodruff is diagnosed with HIV in the 80s when treatments were few and far between and experimental.  He begins a self-serving crusade to prolong his life by any means necessary and as he learns more about his disease and sees a chance at finding a better treatment he meets bureaucracy and opposition.  He begins to draw scrutiny on the drugs companies bad practices as well as offering hope to fellow sufferers.

Why did I want to watch it?

To give a new answer – this is the kind of Indie film I find intriguing, based on a true story, the little man fighting a big corporation rather than submitting quietly to his fate. Old answer – because I try and watch as many Oscar nominated films as possible, like a crazy obsessed fiend.

Did I like it?

Yes.  It was nicely done, not too overblown with the dramatic aspects of the plot, non-judgmental about how the characters came to be HIV sufferers and felt very real.  In particular the way Ron reacts to his condition and the reactions of his friends is portrayed incredibly movingly.

Can we talk about Jennifer Garner for a little while? She isn’t getting any of the plaudits but her sedate, serious performance was utterly charming.  Jared Leto is also fascinating as Ray, completely self possessed but utterly vulnerable.

Should you watch it?

It’s a touching character portrait, I would definitely recommend it on dvd if you don’t get a chance to catch it at the cinema.

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

I say yes. There are some interesting comments on the site: http://bechdeltest.com/view/4660/dallas_buyers_club/

My view is that Ray is a woman, as this is the gender she self identifies with.  There is a line at one point which suggests she is a pre op transexual, but since she has clearly begun the transgender process she passes the test on all 3 criteria.

Other films it reminds me of:

Philadelphia meets Brokeback Mountain meets Magic Mike!

Watch this instead/as well/before/after:

Mathew McConnaghey’s SAG and golden Globes acceptance speeches. They are hilariously random.


OSCARS 2014… And our winners are…

best Picture Nominees 2014BEST PICTURE: American Hustle , Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTED WINNER LB – 12 Years a Slave – the most original and touching film I’ve seen in years. Truly  outstanding. I really wanted The Wolf of Wall Street to be better than it was and although it was an enjoyable way to spend 3 hours, it won’t and shouldn’t beat 12 Years a Slave to the gong.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – 12 Years a Slave – What she said.  It is not only an important film, it is a mesmerizing film, combining direction acting and writing beautifully.  Audiences can’t fail to be moved by it, so it will be a truly deserved win.

That said usually the film with the most nominations wins this.  It was however averted with The Hurt Locker which enjoyed a similar level of acclaim as 12 Years a Slave.  I would actually consider Gravity a serious threat, as it is likely to get a lot of technical wins.

Christian Bale in American Hustle
Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Ok, I think he will get pipped by either Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club or Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave but I really want Leonardo DiCaprio to win for his portrayal of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. Please read my post from May 2013 – Leonardo is long overdue an Oscar and he produced a stand-out performance in The Wolf of Wall Street. Jordan Belfort was charasmatic, enigmatic, funny, scary, disgusting and despicable.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I really want to make some of my predictions next week, after I’ve actually watched all of the films, but I am going to guess Matthew McConaughey.  His weight loss is remarkable, and he has never been nominated in the past and this is his best chance of a gong.  In another year both Leo and Chiwetel could have won this, so it’s very hard to have to pick a winner.  Leo could pull off an upset, just because he has been nominated so many times without a win. I was surprised that Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips didn’t get the Christian Bale nomination though.

Amy Adams in American Hustle
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Judi Dench in Philomena
Meryl Streep in August: Osage County

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. This was a case of the leading actress being better than the film and so I think Cate Blanchett deserves to get this. Very surprised though, that Emma Thompson has been overlooked for Saving Mr Banks.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Cate Blanchett.  Because she was fantastic. It’s an acting masterclass.

David O. Russell for American Hustle
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. A truly outstanding film. A massive achievement for McQueen.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I would have liked to have seen a nomination for Paul Greengrass instead of David O’Russell (I didn’t hate American Hustle, but I just preferred so many others this year and don’t think it’s deserves the awards love it’s getting)

I want it to be Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, although the commitment Alfonso Cuaron gave to Gravity is no small feat.  It’s a two horse race and ultimately I will go with whoever wins the Directors Guild of America award.  Best Picture and Best Director rarely go to the same person so I think Cuaron may edge it, although obviously I would be delighted if one of my favourite directors was the first Black winner of the Best Director Oscar. And you know he’s a Brit!

Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Difficult to separate my three main contenders – Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips, Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave and Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street. I think Fassbender will get this one though for a chilling performance in 12 Years a Slave.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Where is Daniel Bruehl for Rush?  I would have much preferred him to be nominated than Bradley Cooper, which was a good but not stellar performance.  I am actually torn between Jared Leto and Barkhad Abdi for this one, but think the latter will win for being a newcomer with the ability to match Tom Hanks onscreen.

Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
June Squibb in Nebraska

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I did like Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine but I think this will go to Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave. Her performance broke my heart.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – In complete agreement with Laura.   Jennifer Lawrence was great, and her consistency as an actress is phenomenal, but she should not win here.  Also Oprah wasn’t nominated for the Butler which surprised me.  My secret hope is that she has just told everyone to vote for Lupita instead.

Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years A Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I think and hope that this Oscar will go to Philomena.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – My favourites here are Before Midnight and 12 Years A Slave.  I think that Before Midnight deserves the recognition for the sheer amount of evolution the characters have been given and how natural the dialogue is.  12 Years A Slave  is fantastically compelling though and will doubtless triumph here.

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I’ve not go round to seeing it yet but I’ve heard very good things about Dallas Buyers Club and so think this could triumph in this category.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I am traditionally useless at predicting the screenplay category – I hope Her wins.  I love the plucky contender and Spike Jonze has a wonderful original voice.

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Frozen or Despicable Me 2. The Oscar could probably go to any though as it’s really difficult to predict winners for the animated category. I’m going to plump for Frozen. Feel-good and subversive at the same time.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Frozen is fantastic. It’ll grab this one and Best Song if there is any justice. A playlist of  Best Song nominations is here: http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/all-the-best-original-song-oscars-nominations.html

The Grandmaster
Inside Llewyn Davis

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Gravity should definitely be recognised in this category. Cuarón’s space set feature film was the most original film of last year.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – God I have just realised why Prisoners was nominated.  Roger Deakins is the most nominated Cinematographer without a win.  It gives me actual tears to know such a skilled cinematographer who should have won many times over will be overlooked again.  But it will of course go to Gravity.  It is continually dubbed “most realistic film about space”.  It should be a shoo in.

American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years A Slave

PREDICTED WINNER LB – I loved The Great Gatsby for this but I suspect that the Oscar will go to American Hustle.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC –  The Great Gatsby .  This category  tends to go to the showiest outfits.  Also I’ve not heard a thing about the Invisible woman, but surely that indicates a dearth of visible costume?!

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Ok, it’s the only one I know anything about but The Act of Killing should get the Oscar here.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – I was sad to see that Stories We Tell was overlooked.  As with Laura I am going for the one I’ve heard of and heard wonderful things about.

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years A Slave

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Captain Phillips. Award-winning editing made for a thrilling edge of your seat experience.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – 12 Years A Slave for no other reason than I can’t imagine that the best film would only win one category.

The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Missing Picture

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Admittedly, I’ve not seen any of these but I am really glad that Blue is the Warmest Colour wasn’t nominated here. I found it too long, self-indulgent and a chance for Kechiche to play out his own fantasies.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – This is my favourite category and I always prefer all of these to most of the best film nominees.  As is usual when Mads Mikkelsen is in a film with a  wide release it gets and Oscar nomination, as yet I don’t think a film he’s in as won, but there is hope. The buzz around The Great beauty is pretty high so I will go for that, however just the fact that these films get wider recognition as a result of nomination makes me happy.


Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa????? Really??? Dallas Buyers Club of course.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – Best make up to make everyone look really, really ill,  some random Hollywood in joke I am just not getting and interesting makeup in a film no one cared for– Dallas Buyers Club it is.

American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
12 Years A Slave

PREDICTED WINNER LB – American Hustle will probably pip the others to the post here.

PREDICTED WINNER ELC – A toughie, as there are many great accomplishments here. I’ll go for Gravity, because of the space detail.  Also my patriotism is high on this one, as this was done in the UK.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

PREDICTED WINNER LB – Gravity, surely?


So do you agree?  Not all of the categories are here, but we’d love your thoughts and responses.  I will of course be putting my money where my mouth is, so I will update you on what I actually won!