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Monthly Archives: September 2013

To underline the fact that he is a little unconventional Grant (Joel David Moore) occasionally wears a polar bear costume

A rarity in that here is a film that Jason Biggs is in that isn’t American Pie. All credit to him because he is very good in the role of Phil Campbell, a journalist who loses his job, and then becomes campaign manager for his slightly crazy but well-meaning friend Grant (Joel David Moore). Grant is running a one-issue political campaign in an ambitious attempt to get the Seattle monorail expanded.

Although not outstanding this is a good drama based on a true story. Grant steals most of the scenes as the crazy over-the-top funny and unpredictable one, while it’s Phil’s emotional story that gives the film it’s depth. He struggles with his conscience at having to rubbish the competent and likeable black incumbent Richard McIver (Cedric the Entertainer). However his satisfaction at running a successful campaign is tempered as at the same time his relationship with his long term girlfriend suffers.

I enjoyed this film, the ‘hook’ is that you hope Grant will get into power, as his craziness and passion begin to win him fanatical support, and this keeps you watching. It’s funny at times, is well observed, and there is good acting from all involved. It just lacks something which would  raise it above the level of a ‘nice drama’. A little bit too ordinary at times maybe. 6/10

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Max (Matt Damon) is forced to have a mechanical exoskeleton fitted, otherwise he would be too weak from his accident to reach Elysium.

Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) lives on Earth in the year 2154. He is a factory worker and after being injured in a serious accident at work is given just 5 days to live. He realises his only chance is to make it to Elysium – a floating artificial man-made paradise in space where all the rich and important people now live. There he can be healed easily in one of the Med-Bays. However as fate would have it he does more than just make it to Elysium, he changes the world.

I was a bit disappointed with this film because the trailer made it look very good. The first thing that’s a bit sour is that despite the title all you get to see of the paradisiacal world of Elysium up close are the backs of a few houses and some white corridors. The rest of the film is set on a grimy derelict overpopulated Earth – a dilapidated future Earth that we have seen many times in other films. Then there is the story – there isn’t enough of a proper emotional element to the film. That’s not to say there isn’t an emotional backstory – Max is dying from his sickness and also rekindles a relationship with childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga) and her sick daughter. It’s just you don’t feel much emotion from it. So what you get is mainly a lot of action, and none of it is spectacular or impressive enough to carry the film by itself. There is also the slightly too over-the-top bad guy of the piece, Kruger (Sharlto Copley). Here think of a South African great white hunter version of the already over-the-top bad sergeant in Avatar. This caricature of a bad guy becomes even more extreme when he is fitted with his own mechanical exo-skeleton to match the one Matt Damon had fitted earlier on in the film. This is purely so that they can face off in the finale on equal terms.

Then there is the slightly clumsy allegorical nature of the story. Which seems to be making a point about how all the rich people have access to health care and the poor people don’t. It also touches on immigration too. It seems too ridiculous at times – even if Elysium sent down just one Med-Bay  to Earth they could cure thousands of people. But then you realise that’s exactly the point the director is trying to make about our world. We have drugs and medication in the West that could easily save thousands of lives in the developing world. It’s idealistic of course  – in reality yes rich people look after themselves but even rich countries are unable to properly care for their own population and they already sent huge donations overseas. Still there is much that could be done and the film’s message is a virtuous one.

Matt Damon does a good job as the hero of the piece although he probably isn’t the most charismatic leading man. Alice Braga is believable as his beautiful doctor friend, and the robot guards are impressive, as is their ability to detect sarcasm – which unfortunately for Max results in a beating. It’s not a spectacular film or even one that particularly makes you think, and overall is just average but you do always want to see what happens next. Watch it at home, but don’t make the mistake of watching it at the cinema like I did.  Disappointing. 5/10

The only time you would be happy to see a mad man with a gun show up and start firing indiscriminately.

Bad Points : This is shit. Imagine Step Up 2 castrated and with it’s dance sequences neutered, then throw in a couple of bland Twilight-style pretty boy male actors and a lead actress whose street-dancing skills aren’t up to scratch. Add to that zero-chemistry between the 2 main leads and you end up with a dull and lifeless sequel. Even the big dance scene at the end isn’t worth waiting for.

Extra Bad Point : The film truly sinks to a nadir when Moose (Adam Sevani) turns up late to a dance contest on his BMX, knocks over a couple of fire hydrants and one of the most embarrassing wet-dance scenes ever committed to film begins.

Good Point: The computer-controlled LEDs they wear for the final dance sequence *are* actually quite impressive.

2/10

Going through a break-up can make you dance in a strange way as Lola (Greta Gerwig, on the right) proves here while dancing with her friend Alice.

“I’m slutty but I’m a good person”, a line Lola (Greta Gerwig) says to her best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) after she has led him on, slept with him, and then had sex with someone else. It pretty much sums her up. She actually comes across as very likeable and well meaning. It’s just that she does things that someone not so likeable would have no chance of getting away with.

She does have a good excuse though – she is currently an emotional and needy mess having just been dumped by her fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) right at the point when they have been making the final plans for their wedding.

This was described by my digital box as ‘a sparkling comedy’. A description which does the movie a bit of an injustice since if you’re looking for a sparkling comedy you will be disappointed. It’s more of a romantic drama that features some quirky and amusing situations.

I actually thought this could have been good if there had been more drama in the second half of the film. This could have then led to the story spiralling off into interesting and unexpected directions. However as it is this section of the film just meanders along and then there is a wooly play-safe type of ending, where we find out that everything is probably going to be just fine for Lola and her friends. This means after a promising start to the movie that not a lot happens of interest, and what does happen is all a little boring, expected and comfortable, which is a shame.

To sum up : it’s really a snapshot of Lola everyday life, albeit one that shows how she copes after the break up of an engagement and it feels a little like a chick-book brought to life. It is interesting for a short time, but mostly it’s just ok. 5/10

Jim (Jason Biggs), Finch, and Kev can’t help staring at Oz’s model girlfriend Mia.

It’s a fact that no one in their right mind dreams of a future where they are settled with a job, kids, and mortgage. But that’s what we end up with – if we’re lucky. For the rest of us it’s loneliness, illness or drug problems. I bet you’re glad you found my reviews!

There’s always that element of sadness with this film. The crazy, immature characters you knew 13 years ago have now (mostly) grown up, and have wives, kids and boring jobs. Just like you have or will have soon. Whatever happens on this high school reunion your know it’s only going to be a brief moment of fun, and then all too soon it will be back to the dullness of everyday life.

So thank god for Stifler (Seann William Scott) who is still the immature idiot he always was. It’s  thanks to his efforts that the reunion doesn’t go entirely to plan. After getting revenge on some kids on the beach : “I thought you were just going to steal their beer but you did a sh*t in their cooler box and trashed their jet-skis. Don’t you think that’s a bit extreme Stifler?”. Stifler’s answer : “But they splashed us!”. Jim (Jason Biggs, remember him?) revists his past by finding himself in yet more awkward and embarrassing situations. These usually involves him either being naked or half naked with similarly undressed women who are not his wife (Alyson Hannigan).

In fact this time around it’s all a little less extreme and more grown up but there’s real affection and warmth here too. That’s where American Pie was always superior to it’s rivals which easily managed to out gross-it but failed to define their characters as people you might actually like and care about.

At the end of the film of course the characters go back to their boring lives and so do we. They also kid themselves that they will meet up every year from now on. Hmm of course they will. Fun, yet predictable and with a little sadness and nostalgia thrown in. 6/10