Mr Osbiston and I are heading to Vilnius in Lithuania for a week tomorrow. So there will be no bloggage next week… well apart from Film Friday, which I have lovingly prepared in advance so keep your eyes open for my review of Star Trek Into Darkness. Try not to miss me too much!
After Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) rob a chicken shack, they head off for spring break with their altogether more innocent friend, Faith (Selena Gomez). Initially the girls revel in the wild party atmosphere but soon things get out of hand and they are arrested. At this point white boy “gangsta” Alien (an almost unrecognisable James Franco) sees an opportunity and bails the girls out. From here on in it’s a rest of the girls’ limits – how far will they go in their exploration of the video game they’ve turned their lives into and who is really playing who? This is one of those films that you walk out of kind of wondering what the hell you’ve just watched. Everything is done to excess. The colours are all on hyper drive, to the point where it’s just a little too bright - I believe purposefully. The soundtrack is intense. The nudity is… gratuitous. There is no denying that Franco has thrown himself into the role of the totally unhinged Alien with gusto and it’s an absolute joy to watch. If you don’t end up at home standing on your bed shouting, “look at all my shit!” after this, I’ll eat my hat. But whether there was supposed to be a message? I’m still not sure. 3/5
Simon (James McAvoy), an art auctioneer with a gambling problem assists a group of criminals, headed up by the suave, Franck (Vincent Cassel) to steal a painting worth £25m. During the robbery he is hit on the head and when he wakes up, cannot recall where he hid the painting. Franck is understandably livid and employs hypnotist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson,) to try unlock Simon’s mind. And this is where things get weird. It’s immediately obvious that Elizabeth has an agenda of her own – one that throws her into bed with both Simon and Franck – but what is it? And when you’re spending your time with someone who can plant fake memories, how do you know what is real? I wanted to love this film… but I didn’t. It’s slick and looks great but the story is unnecessarily convoluted and the characters behave in oddly illogical ways. Franck’s unquestioning belief in Elizabeth’s techniques and theories even when they are obviously bonkers, just doesn’t work. If you have always wanted to see Rosario Dawson’s perfectly hairless lady garden in glorious Technicolor, though this is definitely the film for you. You will get to see it. Lots of times. LOTS of times. And no… I don’t believe it was for “artistic” reasons. 2/5
Depressed teen, George (Freddie Highmore) is dragging himself through high school unable to really see the point of existence and squandering his potential. He feels disconnected from his teachers, fellow students as well as his highly strung mum (Rita Wilson) and interfering step father (Sam Robarts). However when he meets Sally (Emma Roberts) and her gaggle of hipster friends, he actually feels something. Something he might want to hold on to. But George has no idea how to tell Sally how he feels and he has competition from his older mentor, artist Dustin (Michael Angarano). This coming of age tale has a strongly autobiographical flavour and the often annoying George is dealt with a lot more delicately than he probably deserves. Maybe I’m too old for this one but I just wanted to shake George and tell him to get over it. 2/5
Simin (Leilah Hatami) wants to leave Iran to make a better life for her family but her husband, Nader (Payman Maadi) is reluctant to leave his elderly father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi) behind. Angry and demanding a divorce, Simin moves out, leaving Nader with their eleven year old daughter (Termeh) and his father. Nader hires Razieh (Sareh Bayat) to take care of his father while he is at work but when he finds his father home alone and suspects Razieh of theft, he violently throws her out of the house. Later she miscarries and her angry, deadbeat husband (Shahab Hosseini) accuses Nader of murder. This gripping tale is as much about morality as it is about family and relationships. The characters are rich and multi-layered and you find yourself deeply invested in the fates of all the characters, not to mention the Iranian legal system, which is very different from the Western equivalent. I was blown away by this film and the quality of acting. An absolute foreign language gem and no surprise that it won an Oscar. 4.5/5