21st century girl

reviews – my way.

Category: 2000s

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ follows the story of a female CIA operative named Maya (Jessica Chastain) who locates and hopes to hunt and kill Osama Bin Laden following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

I watched this film, not only because it is apparently my younger brother’s favourite film, but rather as research for a module on auteur directors for my university studies, and Kathryn Bigelow’s being one of the auteurs that we looked at in lectures and seminars (though we looked into the Hurt Locker more specifically). While watching this film, I could not help but think that it draws many similarities to the TV show Homeland (one of my personal favourite TV shows), and at times, it had that Homeland vibe. Had Damien Lewis, Rupert Friend, Clare Danes or Mandy Pantinkin been in Zero Dark Thirty then I would have assumed that it would be Homeland all over again, right from the theme of terrorism and the CIA and some of the familiar filming locations.

Right from the very start, we are pulled into the danger zone, from the audio clips of panicked presumed victims or family members of 9/11 victims right from the beginning. This gives an emotional touch to a seemingly heavy film. It’s as if Bigelow is giving a statement on the post 9/11 America and Pakistan and applying it to these characters finding what some say was the most wanted man alive-Osama Bin Laden. In a scene that we think is relaxing is soon interrupted by the disruption of a suicide bomb or a bomb going off. Even as viewers, we feel as though we are being surveillance.

Overall, a film that gets you thinking right from the very start, and gets straight to the point in the opening scene.

3.5/5

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Cherie (2009)

‘No one is ever as busy as someone with nothing to do,’ 

Cherie is a film about a passionate affair between a courtesan named Lea (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her colleague’s young and spoilt son Cheri (Rupert Friend). It also stars Kathy Bates as Cherie’s mother and Felicity Jones as Edmee, Cherie’s wife (who he was arranged to marry).

The cinematography was great. The costumes were wonderful. The musical score was quite interesting and it set the tone for the movie. They had a good choice for the cast, as Rupert Friend is currently one of my top favourite actors at the moment, I have watched Michelle Pfeiffer in a great deal of things and I had seen Kathy Bates in other films such as Titanic. She seems to be the go-to actress for period dramas.

My interest in the movie stopped at the cinematography, the cast, the costumes and the musical score. The rest of the movie fell flat for me. It’s not the fault of the cast. I’ve watched Rupert Friend in other things such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, the Young Victoria, Starred Up, the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice and the tv show Homeland, and he was fantastic in all of them, especially Homeland. He’s a terrific actor, and he played the part very well and brought charm and stage prescence to the film, although I think that this movie isn’t his best, though he saves it by a mile. I also saw Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, and I’ve heard that she’s in Star Wars: Rogue One. The cast isn’t to blame for this abysmimally dull movie (Cherie, I mean. Not Rogue One). It’s the script that I cannot stand. I think it’s just the witty one liners and the constant stupid ‘I love you’s’ exchanged between two characters that we are supposed to believe are supposedly having an affair with each other/in love, along with the many awful romantic scenes. Sometimes, the dialogue even made me roll my eyes. Perhaps I needed to have read the book beforehand. Also, that Cheri character really has Mummy issues that he needs to sort out.

Maybe this movie is supposed to have some dramatic inner meaning about desire and sexual curiosity towards an older woman or a younger man, and the rejection of someone of their own age. Perhaps I watched the film expecting other things. Either way, despite the incredible costumes (Cherie’s red coat looked lovely and the gowns looked amazing) and the fact that Rupert Friend is shirtless for most of the film, along with the pretence that it’s supposed to be a period drama, it just came off as being overly dramatic. Again, it’s not the fault of the cast or their acting. It’s just the fault of the script and the plot and the chemistry-less romance.

Overall, an average film with a good cast, musical score and costumes. Everything else fell flat for me personally. That, however, is just my opinion.

2/5

 

 

Stardust (2007 film)

What do stars do? They shine,’

Stardust is a movie based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman. It follows the story of a young man called Tristan Thorn (in the book, he was named Tristran), played brilliantly by Charlie Cox, who goes on a quest to win the heart of a woman named Victoria Forrester (Sienna Miller). When he gets to the star, he discovers that it is actually a woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes) but the evil queen Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants Yvaine’s heart for eternal youth. It also stars Henry Cavill, David Kelly and Robert deNiro.

I read the book before I watched the film, so I knew all the background story that was either cut out or not explored in too much detail in the film. I was aware of the Take That song ‘Rule the world’ that played in the end credits, and it suited the context of the film perfectly.

The cinematography is brilliant and so were the actors. At times, it did feel like the Michelle Pfeiffer show, but she nevertheless captured the role of the evil witch incredibly well with her screen prescense and her female villain aura about her. I think it would be really cool having that magical green light coming out of your finger, and I spent the entire film paying attention to her character. Good characters are boring. The scenery looked incredible as well, though it gave off the impression that it was set in medieval times when it’s actually set at some point in the Victorian era. I like how a children’s film like this one can sweep you off somewhere magical, though I am aware that a lot of the mature bits in the book had either been condensed down, assumed or cut out entirely. The unicorn also looked quite sweet.

I would probably watch this film again. The ending was quite sweet and I watched the film and looked out for all of the cast members that I recognised. Though I don’t tend to watch Robert DeNiro films that much, he is rather good and quite legendary. The best part is that it’s narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. I didn’t, however, like the character of Victoria Forrester. If a guy promised to give me stardust, I wouldn’t laugh at him. I also don’t like how Ricky Gervais has to be in every film, this one included. Some of the lines in the film made me laugh, for instance ‘I’m not your mother, get off me!’. It was also quite sweet how he reunited with his mother eventually and became king.

I would highly recommend that you watch Stardust if you haven’t already seen it, and if you have a spare two hours.

4/5

The Big Bang Theory (TV Show)

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I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested!’ 

The Big Bang Theory is an American TV show about a group of scientists/physicists called Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny  Galecki), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Neyyar) and an engineer called Howard Wollowitz (Simon Helberg) and the women in their lives, to include Amy Ferrari Fowler (Mayim Bialick), Bernadette (Melissa Raunch) and the blonde and slightly bimboish Penny (Kaley Cuoco).

I watched the series because some of my friends are obsessed with the show, and when I was less familiar with the programme, we watched the scene about Sheldon’s explanation of the Doppler effect in GCSE physics. I also knew that Sheldon’s favourite number is 73 long before I began to watch the show.

Generally, some of the episodes make me laugh, while some of the plot lines are quite repetitive throughout some of the seasons and therefore aren’t that funny. I don’t really like the character of Penny, particularly in the earlier seasons. I felt that if you threw something at her character then her character would either fall down or not budge or react, but I suppose that she grows on you as the seasons progress and she’s only there for the same appeal that the character of Charlotte brought to The Inbetweeners. The show also plays on a lot of common stereotypes. I particularly like the characters of Amy and Sheldon. Sheldon is a man child and Parsons brings so much geeky, bittersweet and childlike charm to his character. As for Amy, her comic timing and stage prescence is fantastic and I identify more with her character rather than any other female in the show.

Likewise, the show is heavily quotable, one of my favourites being the common Sheldon quote ‘That’s my spot’. Despite all the cliches, I think that it is quite a good show and I watched it because it was convientantly on Netflix. I like the social aspect of most American TV shows. You walk into each other’s apartments (using the secret knock first), have takeaway every night and occasionally go down to the lab.

An interesting, heavily quotable and slightly addictive programme with a catchy theme song that does not insult the geek culture,but rather makes all the everyday people look stupid. In some ways, it also explores the opposition of views of the beginning of humanity I.e the religious version from Sheldon’s mother and the slightly more realistic and scientific view from people such as Sheldon.

4/5

 

Duplicity (2009)

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A little professional courtesy would make this a lot less awkward’ 

Duplicity is about two corporate spies called Ray (Clive Owen) and Claire (Julia Roberts) who are involved in a passionate love affair when they go on a mission to grab the formula for a product that their opposing companies are prepared to launch.

This is definetly not my favourite film, and it’s very hard to find a Clive Owen film that is better than Children of Men. I’m not a very big fan of most of Julia Roberts’ films, and the two previously starred in Closer together about five years prior to this film being made. Their romance in the film was passionate but often kind of wooden and forced. I think they were suppose to have chemistry as an on screen couple but I didn’t feel anything between them, except for when they woke up in that hotel room. They would be yelling at each other for a good ten minutes, followed by an intimate scene that would either cut to after wounds or you would presume what they did. After a while, it got a bit repetitive, and I had no idea why Paul Giamatti and the other guy were having a slow motion fight in the rain at the beginning of the film until it turned out that they were from opposite companies. It was comical, though. It was a good attempt at the ‘opposites attract’ idea but the jumpy ‘enter city or country, three weeks earlier’ thing made the film a bit repetitive but I think it was used for effect.

Regardless of that, Paul Giamatti was very good in his role, and it makes you realize about competitors when launching a product, in this case, pizza and anti baldness shampoo. It was also a pleasure to see Clive Owen strutting around looking dapper and getting to hear his lovely deep voice but other than that, the film fell flat, and as I have an odd celebrity crush on him, the bit where he walks into the room wearing the towel was probably the best part of the movie, but he looks bored for the rest of it. At one point, he puts on an American accent, and that was certainly interesting to watch. His disguise of wearing a suit and aviator glasses at every location that they were in and meeting up with Julia Roberts showed coinincidence. I was only really watching him, and the film made good use of montage and parallel editing, and using a fast paced soundtrack in the action scenes.

The movie teaches about having trust if you have a supposed passionate romance only for a formula for a product, and it shows that people will always be listening in on you, having your voice messages and tricking you. The ending scene where they are both alone in that large room with the marble floor wondering if they were only in Rome was also a coincidence, and leaves the rest of it up for interpretation.

So-so movie with a fairly ok cast but some scenes fell flat and the movie itself seemed a little too complicated and repetitive, though it might require a second viewing to fully understand it. There were also a lot of familiar faces. The film wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either, but they made good use of the establishing shot as it isn’t just set in one place. Some scenes were more memorable than others, and it was a generally ok movie but it doesn’t help that I’m not a huge fan of Julia Roberts.

2.5/5

 

Elizabeth:The Golden Age

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We must act!’ 

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the sequel to the first Elizabeth film, and it is about the threat of the rule of Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) and the relationship between her and Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) as he develops a relationship with her favourite, Elizabeth, otherwise known as Bess (Abbie Cornish) as she uncovers the treason plot involving Mary Stuart. It also stars Geoffrey Rush and Eddie Redmayne in one of his first roles (It’s quite obvious that it’s one of his first acting roles because of the drama school approach that he brings to his character).  I also vaguely remember watching bits of the first Elizabeth film when I was younger.

Generally, the costumes look really good. There is a scene where she’s the only one in yellow and the rest are in grey, or a better example is the position of her being lower than Walter Raleigh, suggesting an abuse of power and despite the fact that she is queen, he has more authority. Clive Owen’s costumes looked brilliant and he suited them along with the majestic and dark good looks that brought his charming character forward. Cate Blanchett looked brilliant as Elizabeth as she always is and the other cast were ok. The editing also played a good part of the film in conveying a level of violence and sexual or romantic tension, an example being the regular use of the 360 degree shot.

However, I felt that the film was a bit too rushed and they gave up towards the end. The rude scenes in the middle slowed down the pace to the point where I switched off at some point and they never really got to the point. All star casts used to amaze me and now they annoy the hell out of me. It just shows that you have the fancy costumes, the top actors that you can get, the best sets and props, the best camera techniques but below all that it’s basically a sunken sponge cake. Cate Blanchett had a flawed character with a bit of a temper, and I liked watching her mood dramatically change until she was quite literally a bit of a drama queen. Abbie Cornish was also very stunning. Clive Owen looked really fit in costume but I can’t help feeling that if you want a decent Clive Owen film, go and watch something like Children of Men or Closer or maybe even have a go at watching the Knick because he puts a more emotional performance into those roles rather than just looking hot, occasionally giving some excitable girl a smoldering look, reciting deep lines and standing around in fancy Elizabethan outfits. Moreover, he gives a lot of promising charm to his character and I loved it whenever he came on screen, right from when he first appeared with his smoldering looks and fantastic stage presence. His performance kept me engaged in the film, and I generally admire his as an actor, which is the only reason why I bothered to watch this film. The ships that they used within the last half hour or so of the film looked really good and I might use the scenes involving water as inspiration for an art project.

If my mother ever watched this film, she would probably critize it heavily due to the inaccuracies. If I wanted an accurate portrayal, I would watch a documentary about Elizabeth I,but Hollywood seem to be obsessed with making very dramatized films and adding all star casts into it.

Brilliant cast, great sets, costumes and an interesting colour palate made up of yellow and black and orange. Big budgeted films need to realize that there needs to be a flow of plotline beneath all that, and Elizabeth:The Golden Age gives up on it towards the end. They were probably also trying to show that she was an independent woman and a strong leader through obvious symbolism and camera angles.

Generally, I might give this film another go if I really had to but for now I’ll stick to books.

2.5/5

 

The Office Season 1

The Office (U.S version) was a mocumentary TV series that ran for 9 series and it followed the lives of workers at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Factory, from the boss Micheal (Steve Carell) to the office worker called Jim (John Kransinksi) who has a thing for the receptionist Pam (Jenna Fischer), Dwight, the guy who thinks he’s in charge (Rainn Wilson) to the handsome rep Ryan (B.J Novak).

It follows the norms of every office drama but mocks the hell out of the other ones and actually makes it funny. Rainn Wilson had amazing comic timing, Steve Carell reminds me of my drama teacher and I’ve seen B.J Novak in other things such as Saving Mr Banks and Inglorious Basterds but he can also do comedy really well. I also think that he’s the most good looking one out of the entire cast.

I got into the series because my friend loves it and always talks about it. Although Season 1 was a warm up series, it got me hooked on the show but the show sadly ended a few years ago.

Anyway, great series with an amazing cast but it starts to know where it is going in season 2. I haven’t seen the original Ricky Gervais version and I don’t really intend to.

4/5

 

The Dressmaker

‘I’m back, you bastards,’

The Dressmaker is a novel by Rosalie Hamm and it is about a dressmaker called Tilly Dunnage who returns to Dungatar in the hope of looking after her ill mother Molly. She develops a friendship with Sargeant Farrat (played by Hugo Weaving in the film), the town’s policeman who likes to secretly dress up in women’s outfits and therefore challenges gender norms and she falls in love with Teddy McSwiney, a football player.

In terms of the book, the narrative is a bit all over the place. I can’t really keep track of many of the characters and I don’t really care about most of them anyway but I liked the humor and the vivid descriptions of the littlest things, such as the food and the clothing that they design and wear. Sargeant Farrat was a flexible character who was loved by everyone and I’m sure that Teddy is probably our ideal man.

As for the film, Kate Winslet was very stunning. People obviously loved her character Tilly because of the dresses that she made or they hated her because of what she did to the little boy when she was younger which they have never forgiven her for, including her own mentally unstable mother Molly (Judy Davis). The film clearly makes a statement about how your choice of fashion can change you with a few sequins. I think Liam Hemsworth was written in for sex appeal but he did a decent job as Teddy, Tilly’s toyboy. They missed out big chunks of the book but luckily the parts that they missed out were the unnecessary plotlines. William and Tilly’s childhood friend Gertrude’s relationship was explored a little more in the book but I wasn’t really bothered by it.

Hugo Weaving clearly loved wearing all the outfits in the movie as Sargent Farrat. He was loveable and he opposed gender norms. For instance, as the town’s only policeman, he would ideally be strict, masculine and nearly always in uniform but he was wearing all sorts of stylish, and usually women’s outfits and being popular with the people in the town. He would be the type of person who everyone would want to have as a friend. I liked the use of closeups of fashion items i.e shoes, dresses, to emphasise the importance of fashion.

Not the best film in the world but it does have its good moments, especially when Tilly can make the plainest of people look fantastic, and she can promise feather boas to an eccentric policeman. Tilly and Farrat’s characters were flawed, Tilly’s mother was a bit unstable and the I-killed-the boy storyline dragged a bit but it was a central plotpoint anyway. I might have to rewatch this movie to get details that I didn’t catch before.

The director Jocelyn Moorhouse also directed Hugo Weaving in his early movie Proof (1991) and it was good that they did another film together.

3/5

I, Robot

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‘My responses are limited’

I, Robot is a movie set in 2035 and it is about a detective guy called Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) who investigates the suicide of a robotics creator called Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) and believes that a robot who actually killed the robotics creator goes by the name Sonny actually murdered him and investigates with a very smart robot expert called Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan).

I was allowed to borrow this movie from one of my guy friends, who is fascinated by motorbikes and humanity related stuff. I came to enjoy it despite the fact that I switched off for most of it. My brothers and older sister also watched alot of it when they were younger.

This movie differs from other dystopian movies. For starters, Will Smith’s character lives in a fairly nice apartment. The point is that robots are starting to take over humanity and we are already living against computers anyway, which will be programmed into robots which will eventually have human minds (I honestly think that I’ve been writing/watching too much robot and dystopian related stuff).Why should a human, for instance, have to do something that a robot could do faster can a human ever could? It was very much a human vs robot battle in the movie which will only end in robots taking over the world for good. Despite the fact that Sonny could kill people, he was oddly loveable as a robot.

As for the cast, they were very good. Bridget Moynahan was badass in some ways and the movie also starred the young Shia LaBeouf. The whole hologram idea is regular in all science fiction stuff nowadays.

Decent cast, cool film and it is one of those film that will eventually predict what is going to happen to humanity in twenty or thirty years. The only thing that concerned me; what happened to the cat in the boot of the car?

4/5

 

Last Ride (2009)

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‘It doesn’t matter anymore because he’s dead now,

Last Ride is an Australian movie about a father Kev (Hugo Weaving) and his son Chook (Tom Russell) who are on the run but things start to dwell into something more harmful as they battle their troubled relationship in order to survive as he’s trying to avoid suspicion for a crime that he committed.

I have now watched a few of Hugo Weaving’s smaller films, such as The Mule, Healing, Strangerland, Oranges and Sunshine, Priscilla, Mystery Road and Proof. The material in Last Ride is raw and he plays the part of Kev incredibly well. One minute, he’ll be telling his son how to survive with a rabbit and a rifle around a campfire and the next he’ll be abandoning him in the middle of nowhere to teach him a ‘lesson’.  His character clearly had some emotional issues and you forget that he’s in The Matrix when you watch his low budget films. The temperamental emotion that he puts into the film is unbelievable and Tom Russell (the little boy) is a very promising actor and I think he’s done a few other things since then. Despite the fact that I began to hate Kev (but not how Hugo Weaving played it), the ending was moving. However, due to the topic of child abuse, domestic violence, violence and crime explored in the film, I feel like I can’t really like the film as much as I could.

I felt scared, like the little boy, of the unpredictability of Hugo Weaving’s character. I wouldn’t consider this as my favourite film but Weaving and Tom Russell worked together so well on screen, backed up by the smaller characters. I can also see why it is highly underrated yet it is visually stunning. The boy’s red safety coat could also represent a feeling of security.

Great cast and a generally touching film. I also feel like this could be compared with Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ and the film of the same name for many reasons. I also like how it makes you think long after you’ve finished watching the movie. It is also based off the book ‘The Last Ride’ by Denise Young.

3/5