Saturday, 29 July 2017

Old School (2003)

Genre

Comedy

Director

Todd Phillips

Country

USA

Cast

Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Piven, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Perrey Reeves, Craig Kilborn, Patrick Fischler, Sara Tanaka, Simon Helberg, Seann William Scott, Elisha Cuthbert, Patrick J. Adams

Storyline

Three friends, Mitch (Luke Wilson), Frank (Will Ferrell) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn), disillusioned with their personal lives try to recapture their glory days by forming their own fraternity in Mitch's new house that happens to be on a college campus.

Opinion

If there’s something I’ve learned from watching a lot of movies is to expect nothing good from a comedy starring Will Ferrell. And that’s exactly the case with Old School. It is a demential and moronic film, but you know what, it works as a comedy.

The story isn’t very original; it’s pretty much the typical frat house story meaning it doesn’t have much depth, there’s a lot of nonsense going on and it’s pretty lame, and there are also some annoyingly predictable subplots – as if the main plot wasn’t predictable enough – and yet it manages to be engaging and fun.

And the credits for that entirely goes to the cast. There isn’t much you can do with flat stereotypical characters completely lacking development, but the leading trio, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn, is hilarious, especially Ferrell. And it was nice seeing actors such as Sean William Scott making an appearance.


At last, there’s the humour. It isn’t great. Actually, it’s pretty shitty – yes, I’m talking about the toilet humour -, and vulgar – I would have never expected anything different, to be honest – and some jokes are really worn, but there’s plenty of laughing-out-loud moments and that’s exactly what a comedy like this one needs.  

Friday, 28 July 2017

Adventureland (2009)

Genres

Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director

Greg Mottola

Country

USA

Cast

Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynold, Martin Starr, Matt Bush, Margarita Levieva, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Mary Birdsong, Josh Pais, Jack Gilpin, Wendie Malick

Storyline

In the summer of 1987, college graduate James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) takes a job at Adventureland, his local amusement park, where he meets and falls in love with a co-worker,  Emily (Kristen Stewart).

Opinion

Although I’ve recently come to appreciate her acting, I’m still not a fan of Kristen Stewart, and I still don’t like Jesse Eisenberg – actually, I’m starting to believe nobody does – which is why I’ve been putting off Adventureland forever. However, I read good things about it in last week’s Thursday Movie Picks and decided to watch it; I’m glad I did because it isn’t bad for a teen movie. 

Although there’s barely a plot, everything moves very slowly, there are most of the clichés of a coming-of-age and there’s no such a thing as a twist – so it’s pretty predictable -, the story is interesting to follow and quite enjoyable. The ending though, it didn’t really work for me.

Anyway, this is one of the few (maybe only) times when I did not find Jesse Eisenberg's character utterly annoying. Actually, he was very likeable. It’s probably because it’s easy to relate to his character, he’s decently written and the performance isn’t bad. Also, the character feels real. It’s the same with the other characters. They are not that developed, but they aren’t as shallow as I was expecting either.

The most enjoyable part, however, is the quirky and at times awkward humour. Although it’s nothing new, the cast delivers it nicely, especially Ryan Reynolds who once again blesses us all with his amazing sense of humour. 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Television Edition: Non-English Language TV Series


Hello there, it's Thursday Movie Picks's time, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.

Wow, this week was hard. There are so many non-English TV series I've seen in my short life I did not know which to pick. So, to make my life easier, I'm going theme within a theme, and I'm picking three German language TV series I love. Now that I think about it, it's a double theme within a theme since they all are about cops.

Kommissar Rex (1994-2004)

In Vienna, a cop and his colleagues solve crimes with a German Sheppard named Rex. I grew up watching this series and it's pretty good. I've seen the episodes so many times I know them by heart and still they manage to keep me interested until the end. They made an Italian version too recently but I never got into it because I didn't like the cast. I only watched an episode because it was set in Vienna and it had one of my favourite characters of the original series. 

Der letzte Bulle (2010-2014)

A cop reawakens from a 20-year-long coma only to find out that the world has changed completely. This one is awesome. It's the kind of cop who doesn't like playing by the rules and doesn't care about laws. Along with his younger partner, he gives the show the perfect balance between humour and seriousness. And those 80s/90s songs? Absolutely amazing! 

Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei (1996- )

In Koln, two police inspectors and their team fight all sort of criminals they encounter daily on the highway. If this was a film, I'd probably give it 1.5 stars because of all the nonsense, plot holes, impossible stunts and because basically every single car explodes, but it's fun. The leads have a great chemistry which is incredible since Erdogan Atalay's (he's in the series since the second episode of the first series) partner keeps dying or moving and a new character/actor arrives every two or three series. 

Quo Vado? (2016)

Genre

Comedy

Director

Gennaro Nunzinate

Country

Italy

Cast

Checco Zalone, Eleonora Giovanardi, Ninni Bruschetta, Sonia Bergamasco, Maurizio Micheli, Paolo Pierobon, Lino Banfi, Ludovica Mudugno, Azzurra Martino, Lilia Perno, Diego Verdegiglio

Storyline

All Checco (Checco Zalone) wanted as a child was a guaranteed job as a public servant and all the privileges that come with it. And his dream has come true, but when a new reformist government vows to cut down on bureaucracy, he is forced to accept terrible conditions in order to keep his job.

Opinion

When Quo Vado? hit theatres back in January 2016 everybody was talking about how great this film was. Still, I didn't care much for it because I have seen some other Checco Zalone films and, while they were funny, they weren't comedy masterpieces. And neither is this. Actually, this one is not even as funny as I was expecting it to be.

The first reason why I didn’t care much for this film was the plot. The story of the average Italian man who only cares about his guaranteed state job and the privileges that come with it and does everything to keep it didn’t appeal me much simply because that’s the ugly truth, that kind of person is everywhere here in Italy and nobody *politicians* does anything about it. Eventually, the story turned out to be very flat, quite boring and predictable – so I guess I was right.

Also, Zalone’s mockery of the average Italian man does not work as it should. If there’s something I’ve learned watching Italian comedies is that we are usually great at making fun of our flaws. Quo Vado? fails at that. The satire is indeed pretty flat.

The humour just doesn’t work here. There’s a terrific lack of comical elements. Most of the jokes fall flat and, overall, the film just isn’t funny. I had some laughs here and there, but that’s not enough in a comedy.

The characters and acting are terrible as well. In spite of that, Checco Zalone is able to make you kind of care for him, and you’ll eventually end up rooting for him.

Still, in my humble opinion, this film is widely overrated and the only thought of it being the highest grossing Italian film of all time makes me sick. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

To the Bone (2017)

Genres

Drama, Comedy

Director

Marti Noxon

Country

USA

Cast

Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Preston, Lili Taylor, Alex Sharp, Liana Liberato, Brooke Smith, Leslie Bob, Kathryn Prescott, Ciara Quinn Bravo, Maya Eshet, Lindsay McDowell, Retta, Joanna Sanchez, Alanna Ubach

Storyline

20-year-old Ellen (Lily Collins) enters a group home run by an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) as her latest attempt at healing from anorexia. 

Opinion

To the Bone came to my attention a couple of weeks ago when the media across the world labelled it as a movie promoting anorexia. Having suffered from an eating disorder myself, I was very curious to see it. And frankly, I don't think it does such a thing. If anything, it can be an eye opener for those suffering from this illness.

Though the story of Ellen and through her eyes, the film offers a good insight on anorexia and eating disorders in general. It is quite hard to sit through, especially if you have gone through something similar - watching Ellen obsessively doing all those sit-ups to burn calories, scrapping the bread of the chicken breast, well, I went through that and it was almost unbearable for me to watch. All I could think of was, I cannot believe I used to do this to myself. It's experience that tells me this movie has the potential to help.

Truly astonishing is the lead, Lily Collins. Although at times her character is making fun of the illness, laughing about spitting food or using laxatives, and it doesn't seem to have a lot of depth or care for the illness - I have to say though that Noxon crafted a very detailed character -, it's thought Lily Collins's eyes that Ellen's suffering transpires. She is really excellent.

However, To the Bones isn't perfect. While it is interesting and engaging and it has a nice balance of dark humour and drama, the story is a bit flawed. The romantic subplot has too much room and takes away the focus from the main storyline. Also, the ending is pretty terrible. It feels like Noxon was out of time and had to finish as soon as possible. It's just not the right ending for the film.

That said, overall this is a pretty good film, so, if you have Netflix, I do recommend you give it a chance.