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Non-Review Review: Home Again

Home Again is an attempt at a classic screwball comedy where anything resembling a hard edge has been softened to a smooth felt.

Writer and director Hallie Meyers-Shyer is clearly hoped to construct an old-school Hollywood farce, centring on a relatively recently singled mother who finds her world turned upside down when three handsome young strangers move into her guest house down the end of her garden. Naturally, Alice Kinney cannot anticipate how quickly these three young aspiring film makers will disrupt her family life, but the situation quickly escalates in a relatively unthreatening manner.

Home Again has a solid premise and a charmingly committed performance from Reese Witherspoon, but the movie feels far too gentle to really work. There is something strangely bloodless about Home Again, which means that the movie often struggles to get its own pulse racing. There is a sense that Home Again is far too worried about the possibility of offending anyone, even its own characters. Home Again is a film full of selfish, shortsighted and manipulative characters, but it never allows them to embrace those qualities in a way that might threaten the happy ending.

Home Again feels far too comfortable in itself to really work.

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Non-Review Review: Rush

In many ways, Rush quite resembles the last collaboration between director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan. Both are built around contests between two larger-than-life personalities. One is old-fashioned and conservative, averse to risk and obsessed with victory; the other is young and impetuous, arrogant and self-assured without the experience to back that up. However, while Rush lacks the screen presence of performers Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, it benefits greatly from the fact that it refuses to choose a side.

As much as Frost/Nixon might have offered a slightly more sympathetic-than-usual Nixon, it was clear that the audience was intended to root against the corrupt former president, and champion the ascension of young up-and-comer David Frost. Rush manages a more delicate balance, firmly refusing to favour one protagonist over the other. Both the reckless young go-getter and the safety-conscious number-cruncher are portrayed as sympathetic and well-developed characters.

This makes Rush that rarest of sports movies: the one where the audience is rooting for both contenders.

Not quite to Formula...

Not quite to Formula…

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Non-Review Review: Twilight – Breaking Dawn, Part II

Here’s the thing. Despite all the derision that the Twilight films generate, they actually have any number of ingredients for a perfectly workable young adult horror romance. Despite the sizeable and significant flaws, and those fundamental issues that are very hard to overlook, the film does have a number of very clear thematic roots that can be traced back through horror cinema. The problem with Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II isn’t that it’s inherently cheesy or trashy or absurd. The problem is that it’s never enough of these things. It feels far too comfortable and too casual to ever really grab the viewer, and everything feels far too safe and generic to get any mortal’s blood pumping.

Baby trouble…

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That Pivotal Second Viewing…

As a film blogger, I tend to write reviews of films that I have never seen before. I occasionally take the opportunity to share my thoughts on classic films I have seen countless times, but most of my writing covers films I’ve only seen once. In some cases, that will be the first and only time that I see a movie. I have, for example, no desire to ever site through This Means War again. However, I occasionally find the second viewing of a film to be a much more enlightening and inspiring film, whether it crystalises my original opinion or perhaps even prompts a re-evaluation of my earlier thoughts. It’s interesting how different and distinct a film can appear each time you happen to watch it.

Twice the excitement...

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Non-Review Review: The Queen

The middle part of Peter Morgan’s “Blair” trilogy, sitting between The Deal and The Special Relationship, the movie is perhaps better known for its portrayal of the eponymous monarchy than of the controversial British Prime Minister. It’s also a rather wonderful exploration of the British monarchy, and how it struggles to remain in touch with the people that it (nominally, at least) rules, and yet remains heavily insulated from. Taking the death of Princess Diana, perhaps the most trying period in the reign of the current queen, as a jumping-off point, the film wonders what the public expects from their royal family, and how the public and private lives of those born into the family must be balanced.

A skilful portrait...

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Non-Review Review: Tron Legacy

I admired the original Tron perhaps because of what it attempted rather than because of what it accomplished. It was brave and bold, and it demonstrated more than any other film of its time what was possible with computer-generated imagery – it was a statement of intent and a proof of concept. However, it was also somewhat awkward and clunky – to the point that several sequences in the movie had to hand-animated rather than digitally modelled, because time and technology worked against the crew. It was very much a movie of its time, held back by the status of the industry at the time – and yet inspiring a whole new generation of film-goers and film-makers as to the possibilities. It seems only fitting, perhaps, that Tron: Legacy took so long to make it to the screen – those impressionable young future movie-makers have come of age in the thirty years since the original. In many ways, the sequel feels like a debt is being repaid – here’s a chance to see the original and daring vision as it was imagined all those years ago.

I haven't got a Clu...

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Non-Review Review: The Special Relationship

The third part of Peter Morgan and Michael Sheen’s superb “Tony Blair trilogy” seems perfectly timed. In fact, being honest, I’m surprised that HBO couldn’t muster up enough enthusiasm for a small-scale cinematic release, what with Blair’s political memoir A Journey doing the rounds at the moment (I’m working my way through it and it’s probably the best political memoir I’ve read since Churchill). Blair is easily one of the most fascinating political leaders of the last few decades, and Morgan does well to juxtapose him against perhaps his greatest political influence: Bill Clinton. Still, all that being said, and with this reportedly the final part of the trilogy, it might have been best to focuse on his relationship with the leader who most strongly defined his legacy. However, Morgan has admitted time and time again that he simply didn’t want to write Bush. While I’m happy with what we got, it doesn’t exactly feel like a fitting coda.

Bro's before interns accusing you of gross impropriety...

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