Day 90 – Grown Ups 2 – 2013

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Look how bad this poster looks, it’s like the producers asked some kid to photoshop fun on to the posterNow the original Grown Ups was a comedy vehicle for Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade. It was funny and had some genuine laugh out loud moments. It was a film destined for the bargain box at your local DVD shop. But according to Sandler, it was a success, so he asked his buddies to make a second one. They all agreed, and here I am reviewing a film no one asked for.

Essentially Lenny and his friends move back to the town they grew up in. They all have great jobs, and their families are actually enjoying living there. It is a great time to be Adam Sandler. The jokes are crude, childish and overall slightly cringe. It’s a film designed for the person who can’t follow the plot. The film you put on when the kids come over, the film you play on a Sunday evening when you can’t find anything on Netflix.

Every joke in the film is at someone else expense, and that the entire concept of the film. Gag after gag, crude joke after crude joke. It gets worse and worse. And that’s the problem, I love it. The jokes are so lame, something that I do in real life. The physical comedy is also gross, and it’s so self-deprecating that the humour comes full circle. The first film was Sandler having fun, this is him cashing in the check for more money at the box office. Ohh and what was the deal with Nick Swardson. Why was he always drunk, high or off his rocker throughout? The guy was the brunt of all the jokes.

This film is like watching Adam Sandler and friends asking the devil to be great again. Unfortunately for them, they did not achieve this. His jokes are just so lame. I don’t know why Netflix asked him to make films exclusively for them.

The cast is impressive, with Sandler asking some of his old Saturday Night Live crew to join in the antics. Also Shaquille O’Neill, Stone Cold Steve Austin and even an appearance from old time pal Jon Lovitz. Cameo galore.

Overall a bad (but funny) film from Sandler, and his friends. He brings the gags, and even the emotion but unfortunately there is no plot development what so ever. Just a day in the life of Lenny, and the crap he gets up to in the small town where everyone and I quote “swam in the lake aged 8”. Rob Schnieder, you were lucky you were busy making another film, instead of starring in this car crash. Terrible.

Should you watch it: NO

Day 89 – Ghost in the Shell – 2017

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Scarlett Johansen is probably one of the sexiest stars in Hollywood at this moment in time, and it’s only fitting to put her in this remake. Based on the 1995 Japanese anime by Masamune Shirow, mixing elements from this film and the various incarnations of the manga, it tells the tale of the Major, who was the first person who’s brain was implanted into a cybernetic body by the global conglomerate Hanka Robotics. She then is taken by the government’s Section 9, who work in counter-terrorism and combat threats across the city of Tokyo.

It is a beautiful tale, showcasing the fantastic cyberpunk style of which has rarely been seen on the silver screen. The only problem that I found was it lacked the magic of the original anime from 1995. The story was an amalgamation of the film, the second season of Stand Alone Complex and the more recent anime film, all merged into one. Don’t get me wrong, it worked well. The director Rupert Sanders has done a fantastic job of finding the right balance of old and new to satisfy both veteran fans and people new to the GITS universe.

The best part of the film was the worldbuilding. Sanders and his team have truly captured the wonder and excitement of Neo-Tokyo with its large projected adverts, the colourful neon shop faces and even the futuristic vehicles feel like they were taken straight out of the anime. It’s perfect. I love the look of how the characters jack into the minds of others, reminding me of The Matrix. The again The Wachowski’s did borrow the idea from the original anime. Both Weta and the visual effects team have created the world where technology is clearly right and centre of the way people work. An example I found that truly captured the essence of the futurism of the film was when the Major (Scarlett Johanssen) was being taken to be operated on. She sees the doctors and scientists all working on her, with the quintessential futuristic displays all over. It was incredible, and both satisfying to see that the makers of the film had really delved deep into the anime and taken out the subtleties and placed them into this adaptation.

The first 2 acts of the film are well paced and introduce us to the characters with ease. Batou (Pilou Asbaek) in the anime has electronic eye implants, and the film tells us how he receives the implants thanks to an explosion during the film. The film also introduces us to Section 9, all taken from the anime such as Togusa (Chin Han), who has his trademark 80’s style haircut, Saito (Yutaka Izumi) who is the sniper with the digital eye and finally the head of Section 9, the Chief who is played by Japanese star Beat Takeshi. All of his lines are delivered in Japanese which fitted his onscreen character perfectly. The casting is spot on, The Major, Batou and The Chief have been perfectly cast, and mix that with a gloriously technological soundtrack, we would have the perfect adaptation. Unfortunately, the final act is where the film let itself down. The villain, taken from season 2 of Stand Alone Complex: Kuze is weak. All he does is attack and reprimand various hosts in the film. His backstory is interwoven with the Majors, and it is sad to hear of his origins but overall he was a weak villain.

To be absolutely transparent about this film, it is a great world of which The Major, Batou and the rest of Section 9 work in. Unfortunately for them, the story lets them down. It wasn’t as magical as the original 1995 anime film it came from. I wished they had used the original villain in this to make it more exciting. It is not bad, but then again it is not great. Worth a watch, just to see ScarJo nearly naked, and hear the incredible soundtrack again.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 88 – Purple Rain – 1984

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Purple Rain is a semi-autobiographical film on the life of Prince, and how he came from the streets to stardom. The Kid is the main singer with his band named The Revolutions.

The film itself is mediocre itself but is brought to life by Prince and his plethora of songs performed throughout. They are placed all over, with the main song aptly titled after the film’s name placed at the end showcasing the talents of the main star. It is a fantastic soundtrack only bogged down by a slow and coma inducing story about The Kid’s former life at home with his father. It also shows what kind of domestic abuse that his father did on his mother and himself thanks to alcohol and the suicide caused by all of this. It is actually a better tale on how he tried to become opposite of his father, only to slowly become him by having the same attributes.

The beauty of the film is the main star: Prince. His presence is felt from the opening with him performing the classic “Let’s go crazy” as the opening song as Apollonia appears in the club he plays at. His costume is flamboyant, his attitude is gritty and his motorcycle is probably the coolest thing ever created for a music star on the silver screen. He oozes the suave, sophisticated look that all men strive for and pulls it off thanks to his personality.

The film is a musical in all respect, but as I said before it was more a story about domestic abuse and the mindset of a man wanting to escape it all, and done via music. The plot is silly, but it’s only generated to showcase the talent of the main star. It actually won an Oscar back in 1985 for best original song, Prince and The Revolution took the stage to receive the award which is unique even to this day.

The look of the film is thrust with loads of dark colours, and purples to connote the dark nature of the film’s premise. The unique inner workings of the great but lost artist on a mission to become big and finally showcase his talent in the world. The composition of character on the screen is also very clever, with The Kid always in the centre to show that he the lead, and Apollonia the love interest is always at the side to show she is secondary. It is also done when they are on a bed and facing the camera. Its angled cleverly.

The music is the greatest thing in the film, with Prince topping the film with songs such as the aptly titled Purple Rain, Let’s go Crazy, Darling Nikki and even I Would Die for You. They are all head banging, and you just can’t stop and dance to some of them thanks to the great beat and tempo that he arranged to make you feel more upbeat.

Overall an interesting take on the world of the music. Prince created a film to show his talents to the world, and to be fair it paid off well.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 87 – Everybody Wants Some!! – 2016

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I love films that are nostalgic. This film is about a group of college football players who live together in 2 large houses in 1980s America. It’s a study of the student mindset, the freedom and responsibilities of adulthood. A fantastic daze of the days that every used to live like, and the fun that they had, with a nicely told story all of which is set to an incredible collection of music from that era.Written and Directed by Richard Linklater, a swan song and spiritual successor to his first film (and a favourite of mine), the coming-of-age film set in the 70s, Dazed and Confused (1993).

Linklater takes us to the early 80s, just as it began. America was about to elect Ronald Regan as the next president of the united states, Star Wars fever was on its second sweep across the world and marijuana was smoked everywhere. The world was in a great place, and everybody seemed to be having fun. This story is based around a group of college football players, who live together. They all like to have fun, some more than others. There is an aura of which Linklater has written these characters. They all intertwine with each other in different ways.

Jake, our main star is a hotshot pitcher who has joined the team. He is the one we follow throughout the film, but then again all the lads in the film are the stars. Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin (who plays Superman in Supergirl), and Wyatt Russell (who you may remember from 22 Jump Street) are some of the stars in this film. They all kind of remind me of the character from Dazed and Confused named Wooderson, who had this laid back look on life – and to be fair all the characters in this film all felt the same way.

The beauty of the film is the way that Linklater wrote his characters, they are all fleshed out with dialogue to connote what they are like. At random points in the film we see characters talking about attributes that they see, and then they are applied on screen as an example. It’s a great use of dialogue, and he totally nails it with this film. And mix that with really great and fantastic soundtrack, he makes the film an energetic ride through the life of a college football player. The music he has in the film showcases what mindset he had when writing scenes in the film such as Van Halen to kick start the film with some energy, The Knack for some trouble inducing antics and finally some DEVO for the fun in all of us, bringing back some old school dance moves.

The trials and tribulations the boys have with their coach, the girls and even the law. It is both refreshing and relaxing to see the 80’s calm and collectively enjoying life. The American college scene was for partying, having a great time and learning who you wanted to become.

Overall the film is a great spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused and the stars in the film will become great like the former film did with its cast.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 86 – The Last Kiss – 2006

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The Last Kiss is a story about four friends who go on a journey of discovery about relationships in their lives. From partners, wife, family and even one-night stand. How does it affect one another’s lives, and how to overcome the obstacles in their ways. Featuring an all-star cast comprised of Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson.

The film was written by leading man Zach Braff, showcasing his screenwriting talents taken from former roles in Scrubs, and even his own directorial debut in Garden State. It tells the story of four 20 somethings reaching a middle point in their lives, balancing their crazy lifestyle with their responsibility and how one can impact the other and affecting everyone around them with dire consequences. Every story is interbred with each lifestyle, with the majority being on Braff’s Michael and the choices he makes.

The film is both a comedy with Zach Braff’s comedy timing, but also delves deeper into the world of infidelity. It’s more a drama than a romantic comedy, and this really surprised me after watching. The story is very clever interwoven with his 3 other friends, and there life choices such as Casey Affleck’s marriage to his angry wife who caters to their young child. Then we have Kenny (played by Eric Christian Olsen, who is a total stud in this movie), and his happy go lucky bachelor lifestyle, meeting woman and totally getting all of them into his bedroom with no consequence. Until one tries to make him settle down. There is also the story of Izzy (played by Scrubs alum Michael Weston) who is trying to win back his girlfriend and at the same time trying to care for his dying father.

The plot is clever, witty and directs the attention of the audience down a path of which normal rom-com’s do, but this film is slightly different. I won’t spoil it, but the consequence of Braff’s character and his commitment to his girlfriend is felt across the motion picture. Its loving, and it’s shame that films in this day and age don’t offer the same idea anymore.

The supporting cast is fantastic, with major props going to Blythe Danner and the sexy Rachel Bilson who is trying to gain a better life with an older man. Did you know this was her first foray into acting on the big screen.

The music is something that also got my attention with some fantastic songs taken from Zach Braff’s personal collecting which consists of: Snow Patrol, Athlete and a personal favourite of which was introduced from the TV show scrubs: Joshua Radin. His music is both beautiful, and uplifting which is used in conjunction with the emotions wich the film takes you through.

Overall an interesting take on the romantic comedy genre, of which flips the table on how it should be done. Taking the affair, and showcasing it from the perspective of the male and then showing how he makes is right is completely new in the world of cinema. Zach Braff’s take on the genre is really good and I recommend it completely. Just don’t expect to laugh out loud a lot.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 85 – Whiplash – 2014

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Directed by Damian Chazelle, it tells the tale of Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller) who is studying at Shaffer Conservatory, learning to play drums in a band. He is approached by the ruthless Terance Fletcher (played by an enigmatic J.K Simmons, who steals the show completely), to play on his in-house band to perform at various concerts and win competitions.

The film is insane, with fantastic performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons who won an Oscar for his portrayal of the ruthless Jazz instructor. A truly revolutionary role for Simmons who from the direction from Chazzelle was to become a gargoyle, and blur the lines between monster and man. It was a complete change for J.K. Simmons, who usually played light-hearted and humorous roles in films prior to this. The intensity is cranked up to 11, thanks to the fantastic direction, and the overall pace of this inspiring tale of a man’s struggle to become something extraordinary.

Damian Chazelle first foray into directing is great. He brings the vibrancy to the world of jazz, as he is a big fan of it and plays it into every single seam of the film. His sway on the actors is shown with impeccable details in their movements, in particular with Miles Tellers hands bleeding on set while playing the drum kit for his onscreen mentor, who is shouting at him in the foreground. J.K. Simmons is truly the gem in the stone, the amount of emotion he makes the audience feel during the film is extraordinary. The man truly did earn his oscar thanks his portrayal of the insane, yet humble jazz teacher.

Another element in the film which is touched upon is the psychology of the artists. Could they handle the pressure of being the best, all whilst losing everything around them. This happens to the main character Andrew, who loses his girlfriend and father to Terance Fletcher’s emotional grip, generating a field of regret. It is used against him multiple times in the film, and at one point he flips and attacks J.K. Simmons Fletcher. Betrayal is the theme, and the use of the rhymic cues used throughout showcase the emotional torture of which Fletcher has been getting. It is cruel, but at the same time satisfying to see him getting the outcome he rightfully deserves.

This film is a must see, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it until now. Maybe it was the incredible La La Land rise in a culture that had driven me to watch Chazelle’s first directorial debut. Both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons bring their A game to a different kind of drama. Performances at their best, it clearly showed us that the world wasn’t ready for Chazelle and his way of film.

It’s a film that really gets under your skin, the end is subtle but you keep running the story over and over in your mind and that is what makes this film great.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 84 – 127 Hours – 2010

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This film chronicles 127 hours in the life of Aron Ralston who was climbing in Utahs Canyonlands National Park and is trapped by a boulder inside a canyon trapping his right arm in the process. Written and Directed by Danny Boyle, it showcases the vast emotion Aron goes through, and the struggle for survival in the canyon all while contemplating his life choices. It’s both a biographical and humour at times portrayal of the real life Aron whose life is chronicled in the book and then film.

As the film is a biographical retelling of a true story, most of it is true. The fact that adventure/thrill seeker was able to free himself from being pinned for 5 days (and 7 hours) with a blunt multi-tool knife and his sheer will to live. Its both heroic and disgusting to watch thanks to his humorous persona of which takes a turn into the morbid when he cuts his arm off. The fact that he did it, and Danny Boyle showing it on screen with as much blood as in real life is a testament to the filmgoer. Boyle creates a truly believable experience, with James Franco capturing the emotion Aron goes through, and all this withing a claustrophobic small set. Incredible filmmaking as its most raw point, the human element a man goes through all while contemplating death.

The film is short (at 1 hour 33 minutes), but it covers all the bases. The lead up to fall, the reveal of the arm and then finally the escape. It’s all done fantastically, thanks to direction from Oscar winner Danny Boyle who crafts a fantastic tale with some gut-wrenching moments. I love the ability to show less is more, as it adds a sense of realism instead of showing something and then not feeling the same. James Franco really became his character, with the mannerisms, the ego and even down to chronicling the 5 days ordeal with the same camera that Aron Ralston used in 2003. The authenticity of his portrayal is thanks to his relaxed way of acting, he slowly moulds into the character with his own take on it. This is why James Franco is one of the best actors in Hollywood today.

The use of stock videos inter-spliced with footage of Ralston on the way to the canyon is really clever. Danny Boyle cuts in footage of people doing things that we take for granted, and this is a precursor for the viewer to know what is going happen in the film. Its both inspirational and an experience thanks to the journey that Aron takes during the 5-day ordeal.

Overall a great biographical tale about a man being trapped in a canyon, and trying to hold onto his humanity.

Should you watch it: YES