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Non-Review Review: Going in Style

At one point in Going in Style, octogenarian would-be bank robber Albert decides to craft an alibi for an elaborate bank robbery while working at a cotton candy stand.

This image might just encapsulate Going in Style, a very light and fluffy bank robbery film about a trio of senior citizens who embark upon a bank robbery in order to balance the books. The movie is consciously (occasionally suffocatingly) feel good story of a bunch of cynical wise-cracking pensioners embarking upon wish fulfillment revenge against the banks that have taken so much from hard-working and decent Americans. Think of it as Hell or High Water that swaps the moral ambiguity for a clumsy score.

Dinner of champions.

Going in Style is not an especially complicated film. It never pauses to evaluate what is happening, or why. It is anchored in the assumption that people are basically decent, even when pushed to extremes. It goes for as many obvious jokes as it can cram into its ninety-six-minute run-time, from a few cheap laughs about the embarrassment factor of old-age sex to other jokes about bodily functions. But its heart is in the right place, as it goes out of its way to repeatedly assure the audience.

The extent to which Going in Style could be said to work rests in the easy charm of its three leads, in the pleasure of seeing Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin play off one another. None of the trio is pushing themselves. All three leads are essentially offering some minor variation on an established schtick, with no nuance or strain. The result is a heist thriller that never feels like it is racing against the clock, more ambling in its own time.

Benched.

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Non-Review Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I was really looking forward to this movie when I heard about it, Steve Carell and Jim Carey in the same movie? Excellent.

Burt Wonderstone’s (Steve Carell) interest in magic sparked as a young boy when he received a Rance Hollaway (Alan Arkin) magic set and began to share his magical tricks with Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). The duo, now established and respected as world renowned magicians, have been performing in Bally’s hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip for many of years, gaining money, fame and love. Over the years, their show, like their friendship, has become old and stale, and is threatened by street magician, Steve Gray (Jim Carey). Gray baffles his audiences via self-harm and endurance acts, quickly grabbing the attention of Bally’s owner, Doug Money (James Gandolfini). Money demands for the duo to update their act, and so Wonderstone and Hollaway are forced to rethink their performance, with the help of their assistant Jane (Olivia Wilde), and show they still have what it takes to rule the Las Vegas strip.

He's in a glass case of emotion...

He’s in a glass case of emotion…

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Non-Review Review: Argo

Argo might not seem like it, with the action unfolding amidst the Iranian embassy siege and the stakes involved in the rescue of six hostages, but it is something of an affectionate love letter to cinema from Ben Affleck, who is emerging as one of the most talented actors-writers-directors of our time. From the moment that the grain scratches across the retro Warner Brothers logo to the closing credits where fact and fiction compare and contrast, Argo feels like a celebration of movie magic. Perhaps it’s a little tooself-congratulatory at points, as films made by Hollywood about Hollywood tend to be, but Affleck’s direction keeps the movie surprisingly focused. The film maker does an exceptional job wringing real tension from a true story – no small accomplishment, and a testament to his ability.

Standing out from the crowd…

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Non-Review Review: The Change-Up

This movie was seen as part of Movie Fest, the rather wonderful film festival organise by Vincent and everybody else over at movies.ie. It was well worth attending, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Good job all.

Body swap comedies are pretty much a subgenre unto themselves. There’s a fairly standard formula, much like the conventional romantic comedy, but the success or failure of a given movie rests pretty much entirely on the execution of that formula. It’s finding the wit and energy to inject into a familiar structure, to produce an interesting and compelling result. It’s been done with considerable frequency. However, The Change-Updoesn’t really generate enough laughs consistently to make a memorable addition to this category of comedy.

Just kidding around...

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Non-Review Review: Edward Scissorhands

Perhaps no film better exemplifies the key themes of Tim Burton as well as Edward Scissorhands. It recalls the broad strokes of the Frankenstein story – in particular the iconic Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie from the thirties – telling the story a hideous scientific experiment which seeks acceptance in the outside world (and is turned upon by the villagers after a tragic misunderstanding). While Frankenstein’s monster responded with anger and murderous rage, Edward seems unable to full fathom what is occurring. The movie offered the first collaboration between Burton and Depp, a delightful pairing which we’d see on the big screen many times in the years that followed – there’s a reason the two have continued to work together for so long: they just work really well together.

Blades of glory...

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