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DVD Review - We Own The Night (2007)

We Own the Night


I found this DVD in a local shop's bargain bin for the ridiculous price of 75p. For that price, my thinking was that I had nothing to lose so I bought it blind as it were. I didn't even bother reading the synopsis, I just saw that it starred Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line) and reasoned with myself that that was enough to give it a bash.

I am not a fan of the gangster genre but although We Own The Night fits that at first glance I wouldn't describe it as such. It isn't as 'in your face' violent as the past gangster films I have witnessed although it definitely has all the ingredients within it's premise to be one.

The story centres around a nightclub with drugs, cops and gangland mentality all thrown in for good measure. Phoenix plays Bobby Green, a night club manager, who comes from a family of highly reputable police officers. Bobby keeps his business and family separate but the two intertwine over the course of the film leaving him to face dilemmas and ultimately decide which is more important.

It sounds like a 'paint by numbers' crime film doesn't it? And I suppose it is really but what emerges is a neat story line that doesn't flounder in anyway by sticking to a tried and tested route within it's genre. The pace is steady and didn't feel slow at any point. There was enough action to compliment the building up of each character but, for me at least, never too much to take over. Directed by James Gray whole scenes in slow motion sat alongside those that were staggered and quick in action. It's probably nothing new in all fairness but if something isn't broke then why fix it? The overall feel of the film is one done very well.

What actually made this film for me was the acting talent of both Phoenix and Robert Duvall (Godfather), who plays Bobby's father. Again, one could argue that Duvall is comfortable in this form of film and that well may be true. However the chemistry between the two actors is unmissable and incredibly emotional to watch.

Phoenix is stand out, his character is well developed and the moral and emotional roller coaster Bobby Green rides is gripping (and sometimes heartbreaking). I don't think I'm spoiling too much by saying that they are side changes within the gangland/cop dynamic which put morals into question and pull at the heartstrings. Phoenix's acting is testament to the way some of these scenes made me feel and he was able to project real torment through the screen. There is a funeral scene that is particulary tragic as well as some tense (and touching moments) with his on screen girlfriend Amada, played by Eva Mendes (Hitch).

The third act and comes with a twist in the tail, and we all know how much I love one of those. This one however I didn't figure out because for once I was engrossed in a story that I was simply enjoying. With a plot of revenge the film makes you wait for it's conclusion but pleasantly (and probably why it isn't overtly gangster in my opinion) there is no huge shoot out or torture gore. Instead the focus remains on Phoenix's character and made justice an intimate affair.. much better for me.

All in all, I would go far as to say I loved this film and sometimes a bargain really is just that. The 75p DVD now sits proudly on my shelves ready to be watched again and again.




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I Saw It On TV - We Were The Mulvaneys (2002)

We Were the Mulvaneys (2002) Poster

I don't know how it works for everyone else, since I live in the U.K, but we have certain TV channels that show 'made for television' films on loop. Sometimes, usually late at night when I can't sleep, I find myself watching such channels so I thought I would add some of those film into my usual loop of reviews.

I watched We Were The Mulvaneys the other night and until then had never heard of either it or the novel it is based on. The Mulvaneys (in the title) are a wholesome American family who live on a farm and are grateful for what life has bestowed on them and each other. Comprising of parents, three sons and an only daughter they live together quite content until the daughter is attacked at her school dance. The aftermath pulls everything apart and the plot follows this turmoil.

The film starts (as is pushed along throughout) with a voice over narrative from the youngest son Judd played by Tom Guiry (The Sandlot Kids). It's something done time and time again with book to film adaptations and although nothing new it does work.

The first act of the film is an introduction to the family and if I am totally honest, comes across a little twee and very 'Little House on the Prairie'. As the film progressed I understood why the family were portrayed this way but as for believability, I'm not so sure. That said,  Blythe Danner (Meet The Parents) and Beau Bridges (The Descendants) star as the God fearing parents and are both wonderful in their roles. In the early stages Danner's Corinne is soft, gentle and devoted to her husband; something that demands a whole load of emotion later on. There is one particular scene between her and her and Tammy Blanchard (Moneyball), who plays daughter Marianne which is simply heart breaking and made me cry.

It is easily Bridges and Blanchard that steal the show particularly after Marianne's attack. Its here, towards the middle of the film when the earlier righteousness of the family makes sense. Some bad choices are made, some horrible things happen and the whole unit falls apart with consequence. Blanchard becomes frail and caught up by her earlier faith and I have never wanted to reach into a TV screen and hug a character more. When this film flips it's switch, so to speak, and comes into it's own it emerges as a solid piece of drama with more than a handful of tragedy thrown in for good measure.

This is apparent in Marianne's character and Blanchard's acting but I would say it was even more so there because of Bridges. It's crazy but I didn't even feel like he was acting half the time, instead I just watched a man break apart in front of my eyes with raw emotion and almost chilling precision. I went from hate to sympathetic over the space of about a hour and by the time the credits rolled I was wrecked. This film is worth a look just for Bridges talent alone.

There is an absolute seriousness with the film of course and the subject matter is dealt with in a thought provoking way. I found parts of it intense and sometimes wished for a break in the despair, if only to catch my breathe, but in reality the pace of the film is good. There was a couple of times when I raised an eyebrow and thought 'that wouldn't happen' but it wasn't enough to ruin it for me and even the ending (which was surprisingly optimistic seemed to fit. I'm now on the hunt for the novel, I hope that doesn't disappoint.

 
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Looking Forward - Pan (2015)

Pan-new-poster
Last week brought with it a look at this movie poster for the upcoming movie Pan and boy it looks good. It features for main characters but let's be honest here and state from the off that all the focus is really on Hugh Jackman. There again, why wouldn't it be? He is stood in the foreground and menacingly great. I didn't want to forget what the film was all about though so I thought I would dig a little and the the opportunity to talk about the low down so far.
Pan is due for UK release in October and is a live action telling of the story of the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan. What makes it a little different is this film is set to lift the lid on the origin of the story that everyone loves and to provide a back story to not only Peter but Captain Hook as well.
With Warner Brothers at the helm I foretell a Harry Potteresque epic sweeping into cinemas and although I am usually an indie girl at heart, I am excited to see what is in store. Even more exciting to me is the directorial talents of Joe Wright who has huge period dramas Pride and Prejudice and Atonement under his belt. For me, origin films should take on elements of a historical film so of course I am hoping for big sweeping scenes to offset the action. I am not worried about the dramatic aspects either because Wright also directed The Soloist which I wrote about at University (if you haven't seen it and like a gritty biopic, put it on your list).

So, that's the feel, look and flow of the film in good hands. What about the actors? Who is playing who?
Levi Miller
Levi Miller is stepping into the magical role of Peter Pan. I'm afraid I can't tell you very much about him because he is relatively unknown. I love it when major films do this with casting young actors as it keeps the role fresh and new. Remember when Freddie Highmore was announced as the new Charlie Bucket? I hope Levi can inject that same untainted feel into Peter Pan.





Rooney Mara (2012) 5 (cropped).jpg
When Rooney Mara was cast as Tiger Lily people were not happy deeming her 'too white' and demanding the role go to a Native American. I say shush up and let the casting directors do their job eh. Most people will know her from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but I absolutely loved her in Side Effects. Although little is known about what role Tiger Lily is going to play in this particular adaptation, I always saw her as a comforter to Peter and implacable in his journey. I have no doubt that Mara is right for this and look forward to seeing her (her costumes alone are marvellous).


Garrett Hedlund Picture


Most exciting for me is Captain Hook. I never found him scary as a youngster and this film offers to tell us a lot more about him. I love a good back story and for me Hook has always been a bit elusive, like the Joker in Batman. I look forward to finding out more about Captain James and bringing him to life is Garrett Hedlund. I'm thrilled at this choice. With only a handful of films behind him he is fresh enough to BE Hook and as an actor he isn't shy to action.. I expect some mega cool swashbuckling!




So there we are some faces to remember and some characters to love dearly. Pan looks immense and I will be queueing for a ticket. Don't believe me? Look at the trailer...








































































































































Rooney Mara (2012) 5 (cropped).jpg
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Screen Kisses I Crave - A List 10-6

Everybody wants to feel loved and I am no different in that respect. Believable love scenes and tender kisses are some of my favourite things to watch on screen for various reasons. Below are my first five favourite kisses. I wonder what yours are..

10. E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

I have included this one purely because of the cutesy factor. Drew Barrymore was absolutely adorable in her role as Gertie and well, you'd have to have a heart of stone if you didn't fall in love with E.T itself. This kiss is a 'goodbye' kiss (and the first of a few in my list) between the child and alien and it's more than touching enough to belong here.... awwwwww! ps: it ALWAYS reduces me to tears.

Gertie gives E.T. a goodbye kiss.

9. Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (2007) 

What isn't there to love about a kiss during a wedding that is in the midst of a crazy sword fight? This kiss between Will and Elizabeth in the third Pirates film is a culmination of of their love affair played out over the three films and has all the passion that you would expect. Add some stormy weather, a rushed together wedding (so romantic) and a battle of all battles and this kiss truly left me breathless. Knowing that Will dies moments later makes my stony heart melt and makes this, for me, the most poignant of kisses across the Pirate's franchise!


8.Spider-man (2002)

Of course I was going to include the infamous upside down kiss between Mary Jane and Spidey in the 2002 film! I remember seeing this particular kiss for the first time and thinking how utterly romantic and yet unpractical it was. Nevertheless it is such a beautiful moment that it deserves it's place in my list. It takes place in the rain (again) and is meant as a thank you from MJ as Spider-man has just saved her from possible rape. It's one of my favourites because it's female lead and the intensity of the kiss mirrors the fact that Spidey's identity may be fully revealed at any moment.

Spiderman

7. Ghost (1990)

No, I am not talking about the kiss at the potter's wheel as unchained melody is blaring. Instead I have chosen Molly and Sam's final goodbye as he makes his way up to, I presume, heaven. This one is personal to me because I recently lost my mam and would of given anything for a final goodbye. The kiss happens as Molly finally believes that Sam has still been around to protect her and even though she is kissing an apparition, it's totally beautiful. 

 ghost kiss

6. Don't Look Now (1973)

  
Oh my, this kiss starts as licking toothpaste from a face and ends in one of the strangest sex scenes I have ever witnessed on screen. The reason it's made my list however is the sentiment behind it, it's all about reconnection after loss and guilt, and for that reason alone it's so loving. For me, there's something really special about absolute love and for me it's never been more believable than between Laura and John Baxter in Don't Look Now. The film itself is so tragic that this kiss means even more.


So there it is, the first five on screen kisses I crave in a list of ten. Can you guess what made my top five?
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Be Our Guest (Or Let Me Be Yours) - Guest Bloggers Required

guest

What Do You Need To Know - I am looking for the opportunity to guest blog on someone elses little bit of web space. Not only that but I am looking for people to come and have a little bit of mine!

What Can I Offer? - I can offer a guest post on your blog either on something I have covered her in more detail or something completely fresh, within the realms of movies of course. I am willing to discuss topics and genres with yourself so I fit in with your blog style.

Who Can Help Me? - Anyone who has a film or media based blog who has the space to allow me to guest post as a one off (at least to start with). Also anyone who has a more generalised or lifestyle blog and would like maybe a DVD or cinema review from myself to add to their mix.

What Can You Offer Me? - I am interested in allowing some guest posts to take place here. Maybe you have a fave film that you want to talk about or you've comprised a list of your favourite fight scenes? Anything with a film angle goes really, I would love to hear your ideas.

How Do You Get In Touch? - You can leave a comment below or contact me any of these other ways.

I look forward to hearing from you

L x
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3 Of A kind? - Adam Sandler

A couple of weeks ago I asked for comedy suggestions and I was told to check out Adam Sandler. Obviously I did I was told and throughout the week I've been fitting in his films when I can. As they are so many I thought I would save one in particular for a full review (to come soon) and bang some of the others in today's 3 of a kind..

I'm still looking for comedy films to watch by the way so if you can beat Adam Sandler GET IN TOUCH

Little Nicky (2000)
written by Adam Sandler. directed by Steve Brill

Little Nicky (2000) Poster

Who Does Sandler Play?: As the title suggests he plays Little Nicky who happens to be the devil's youngest son.

Who Else Does It Star?: Among others Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs) plays the devil himself while Rhys Ifans (Mr. Nice) and Tommy 'Tiny' Lister play his other two sons.

What Is It About?: The two older sons escape from Hell and decided to create some mischief down on Earth. With no other choice, the devil sends mild mannered Nicky to bring them back.

Good Bits?: Oh my, is so sweet! Sandler's character is quirky and adorable and although the film doesn't break any boundaries you will be rooting for Little Nicky in more ways that one.

Bad Bits?: There's some juvenile jokery in there that verge on a little vulgar but that could just be me and my humour.

Overall, Is It Funny?: Aside from what I have mentioned, yes it was. There was some giggly moments but it wasn't packed with them. What really shone through was a good little story and because of that I loved this film.

You Don't Mess With The Zohan (2008)
written by Adam Sandler. directed by Dennis Dugan

You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008) Poster

Who Does Sandler Play?: Zohan, an Israeli special forces soldier.
Who Else Does It Star?:  John Turturro (Transformers), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Wrong Turn) and Nick Swardson (Just Go With It).

What Is It About?: Zohan who is an Israeli special forces soldier fakes his own death to escape to New York and pursue his dream of becoming a hairdresser.

Good Bits?: Look out for the taxi driver and a disagreement over the loss of a goat. It really is hilarious.

Bad Bits?: Again, there's some verging on vulgar moments but I am beginning to realise that perhaps I just don't have THAT sense of humour.

Overall, Is It Funny?: Oh my gosh YES! I laughed nearly all the way through this one :)

Hotel Transylvania (2012)
various writers. directed by Genndy Tartakovsky

Hotel Transylvania (2012) Poster

Who Does Sandler Play?: He voices (because this is an animation) Dracula!

Who Else Does It Star?: The voice of Dracula's daughter Mavis is provided by Selena Gomez (A Cinderella Story) and the human of the film is voiced by Andy Samberg (Hot Rod).

What Is It About?: Dracula is the manager of a hotel that is a haven away from the human world, that is until a human finds the place!

Good Bits?: Seriously, EVERYTHING! From beginning to end this film is so endearing that I forgot I was essentially watching a cartoon. The characters are rounded and the story is great!

Bad Bits?: Does it's not long enough count?

Overall, Is It Funny?: It is but it is also more than that and that's why I included it here. Also, a second film is in the making so hurrah for that!!  
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DVD Review - Detour (2013)

Detour



This review started off a little differently than normal so I thought I had better explain before I jumped into it. Writer/Director/Micro-budget extraordinaire William Dickerson and I started following each other on twitter and I became interested in his work. He offered to send me over his films for me to have a look at and Detour is the first of two that I have watched and reviewed. Even though I was sent the film directly, it is available on amazon and as with everything I write, my opinions are my own and true to myself.

Okay so with that out of the way, what is Detour all about?

Put simply, the film is an account of one man's survival when he becomes trapped inside his car due to a mudslide. Billed as a claustrophobic thriller it is reminiscent of films like Buried and Wrecked but it is no way a carbon copy, not even slightly. What unfolds is a definite story of parts of the human Psyche that intertwine to create the complexity of wanting to survive.

The man in question is L.A quick talker and business man Jackson Alder who is (quite terrifically I must say) played by Neil Hopkins. I knew little about Hopkins apart from trying to watch the TV series Lost years ago until I became well... lost but trust me when I tell you that in Detour, he is more than watchable!! Hopkins manages to convey all the emotion of a man facing death while playing up to that almost cocky business like persona that dwells within Alder's personality. At one point I became unsure whether on not Alder was a complete genius or slowly going mad but came to the conclusion that it was probably a bit of both, I'm not sure I would of acted the same in such a high pressure situation but Hopkins made me believe.

As with many of these survival films the start is frantic with very little build up. The subject soon becomes the focus (and vice versa) but as I am a mystery loving girl I didn't need explanation. Alders was trapped underground and I wanted to know if he was going to get out! For me it was that simple, but as I touched on above it wasn't within the plot. What followed the start was about forty minutes of gripping stuff as Alders creates and existence around him within the confines of his tomb.

I loved this act of the film because as I said I wasn't quite sure if the character was an utter genius or slowly verging on a mental breakdown. Dickerson as writer and director offers us no real concept of time lapse which only adds to the confusion and it was brilliant. Unlike other survival films Alder's main focus wasn't about getting out, instead it was about making sure he could survive where he was.. great twist and it worked well.

The second act of the film and the next glimpse at human Psyche is one of connecting with the outside world. This is done through some flashback snippets but even more emotionally, through playbacks of home videos on Alder's mobile phone. Together, they both answer questions about the type of man Alder's is while adding other elements of mystery. Even the poignant parts don't seem very bleak though because by now hope was instilled in me through this mans sheer strength. Again, clever because act three was an absolute emotional roller coaster.

I am going to leave it there and urge you to go watch and while watching, bear in mind that this film was made on a minuscule budget and is testament to Dickerson's craft. It definitely is claustrophobic, that elusive third act more so and it is a tale of surviving BUT it is cleverer than that, it played at parts of my mind I didn't even know existed.

Spot on!
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