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Shirin in Love (2014)
A wasted opportunity
We had recently seen, and enjoyed, "Appropriate Behavior", a movie also featuring the Persian community in the USA, so we thought we would give Shirin a look. The one star review from Dr Farhad Javidi was scathing, but I thought maybe he was just being too critical as you can be with movies purporting to involve your own culture. Other reviews were seriously glowing. And we enjoy rom-coms, so let's go!
Well let me say, having just re-read Dr Javidi's review, that he was spot on. This is not a good movie. The script is poor, even inane. The titular Shirin is certainly attractive, highly educated and a capable writer, but inexplicably stupid. The apparently difficult, reclusive and cantankerous author Shirin goes to interview is warm generous and welcoming. Yes, we learn why she is not what we think but it is ridiculous. Shirin virtually moves in for several days (?) and they talk like old friends.
The editing is strange too - jumping from one thing to another with scenes that are disconnected and too short. There is no proper logic to the narrative, and even the most willing suspension of disbelief will not convince you that the story has any legitimacy at all. The "romantic" walking and kissing scenes against beautiful backdrops and with sickly sweet music would not be out of place in Bold and Beautiful. Good grief!
On the plus side (and hence 2 stars) the northern California coastline is spectacular, and some of the actors are half decent even as they deliver terribly under developed dialogue.
This is very low grade stuff - Dr Javidi, I am sorry I ever doubted you.
Space Station 76 (2014)
Aimed at a VERY Specific Audience
This is a clever movie, full of nostalgia and humour, all of which will be lost on, dare I say it, the young. The premise is that the Space Station is as imagined in the seventies, and is therefore a reflection of life in the seventies, in behavior, in attitudes, in style, in design and in technology. If you didn't live during the seventies as an adult, (i.e. if you were born after 1960) you are really going to struggle with this movie, you just won't get it.
Just a few of the magic elements....
- The car type cigarette lighter built into the "dashboard" of the space station
- The woman having a glass of red wine while breastfeeding
- Most people smoking most of the time, with just the barest hint that smoking might be bad for you (we first started hearing this in the seventies)
- Half full ashtrays everywhere
- The green/yellow/orange geometric wallpaper (we all had this in our bathrooms, or we wanted to)
- The attitudes towards women, even (or especially) by the women themselves
- The clothes, hilarious but exactly what people wore
- The technology such as the phones, the clock radio, etc
- Jerry Connelly's hair
- The robot waiter bringing the captain a Harvey Wallbanger on the bridge
- The robot psychiatrist sprouting psychobabble and prescribing ever increasing quantities of Valium
- The "cryogenically frozen" pet which is delivered to the station and is actually just a dog in a huge block of ice!
- The fantastic soundtrack featuring several seventies classics from Todd Rundgren
- The bloke growing dope in the arbortrarium
and so on.
There isn't much in the way of a story, that is not what this movie is about.
So, if you were born in the mid fifties and can still remember the seventies, jump on board Space Station 76.
Adam Sandler is one of those actors who, if he can just hold back a bit on the wackiness, can be an enjoyable character. That is just what is achieved in Blended. The story is OK and provides the setting and situations for the laughs. Drew Barrymore is great, of course, and she and Adam Sandler make really good and comfortable leads together.
The supporting actors were good too, Terry Crews is over the top but very funny, Wendi McLendon-Covey is great as Drew's friend, Jessica Lowe as Ginger is hilarious and likable, and as Sandler's oldest daughter, Bella Thorne is excellent and a beautiful young woman. I can see Bella being a big name in the next few years.
There are a few stupid bits, but overall this is an enjoyable couple of hours with some good laughs and likable characters. A couple of mild adult concepts creep in but it is, overall, inoffensive and good natured with some great laughs.
The Wedding Pact (2014)
Light, Fluffy, OK
At the time of this writing, there is one other review giving the movie 10/10. Yikes! What we have here is a very light rom-com with good actors, a lot of clichés and some significant improbabilities in the story. However, it is inoffensive, it has high production values and looks very good, and there are a few chuckles along the way. You won't get any spoilers from me, but we all know how this will turn out.
If you go in expecting anything more than harmless light entertainment, you will be very disappointed. If, however, you are looking for 90 minutes of easy fluff that you could watch with your niece and your Gran, you are in business. Special commendation to Buddy the dog, played skillfully by Hooligan the dog.
Firstly let me say that Expecting is most definitely worth watching. It looks a little bit like a midday TV movie in some respects, but do not be fooled, this has some pretty raunchy dialogue. Raunchy and very entertaining, mostly fairly dramatic but occasionally hilarious.
The four leads are very well played and their characters are all the more interesting by being flawed (i.e. normal) and sometimes surprising. Cudos to writer/director Jessie McCormack.
The film has a few things which don't quite make complete sense, such as why Peter stays away from home even after moving out of Casey's place, but these are minor issues. And generally they serve to progress the plot.
Special mention to Mimi Kennedy as the counsellor/therapist, she has some very funny lines and the three scenes with her are highlights (particularly if you have ever been to a counsellor - they are not this funny), and also to Joyce the dog. Other supporting roles are well handled and the side stories are good, specially the prospective house buyer (the character listed as "Douchebag").
I look forward to seeing more of Jessie McCormack's work, and can commend this movie to you as one to watch.
White Reindeer (2013)
Great acting, interesting story
I have given a spoiler alert as a safety measure because just about anything about the story in this movie will be a kind of spoiler.
First of all, although this is listed as a comedy, it is not. It is a drama, thoughtful and measured and at times sad, with a few funny moments.
At the heart of the movie is Anna Margaret Hollyman as Suzanne Barrington, a woman living a low key but happy life, and whose life is completely turned around by a terrible event a month from Christmas. Hollyman is amazing in this role as she barely reacts to all manner of strange situations and actually delivers a great deal in the process. I thought she was absolutely sensational, and I will definitely be seeking out her other movies.
All the cast is good, the story - while maybe a bit improbable - is engrossing and the whole production punches well above it's indie weight.
Zack Clark has written and directed a great "little" movie here, and I hope he continues in the same vein. And watch out for Anna Margaret Hollyman, she has massive star potential.
It's Not You, It's Me (2013)
Good work from first time director Nathan Ives
This smallish movie uses a device that we saw in 1991's Herman's Head. The internal workings of each of the two leads are represented by five characters representing lust and anxiety and the inner child and so on. It is an effective device - and very funny at times - and it is used well in this entertaining comedy which is actually an intelligent romcom.I think most viewers will be able to relate to the inner turmoil, Ross McCall and Joelle Carter are great as the protagonists and all the supporting cast is very good. Maggie Wheeler (you will remember her as the annoying Janice from Friends) plays a sensible counsellor, and in fact everyone is realistic and believable.
Nathan Ives has written a thoughtful and funny script which is not particularly predictable and has a commendable ring of truth to the events (aside from the wacky goings-on inside the heads of McCall and Carter's characters of course) This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie with high budget production values and acting in what I assume is a low to medium budget movie.
Best Man Down (2012)
Excellent and moving drama
It never ceases to amaze us that so many of the "smaller" movies have more substance and interest than the so called blockbusters. Best Man Down is a fine example. Interesting from the start, and with a few different threads in the early stages which inevitably come together and make sense as the movie progresses. Very strong performances from all the cast, with a special mention to Addison Timlin in the pivotal role as Ramsey.
Set mainly in the fairly bleak backdrop of Minnesota, this movie is engaging and thoughtful with a satisfying and believable resolution.
This appears to be the first movie directed and written by Ted Koland, and I hope he does more.
Divorce Invitation (2012)
This is not a good movie
You know how sometimes you are watching a movie and you are wondering, how did someone involved with the production not see that there are significant shortcomings. This is one such movie. The cast isn't all bad, Elliott Gould is excellent of course, Lainie Kazan has seen better days, Nadia Bjorlin has something weird going on with her eyes (apparently she is from Days of our Lives), Maeve Quinlan and Robin Riker (both from The Bold and The Beautiful according to IMDb) look and act like soapie actors.
Jonathan Bennett in the lead as Michael is all over the place. Andrea Bowen (Julie from Desperate Housewives) is quite good, and Keith Robinson as Michael's best friend is probably the best in the movie. The wonderful Richard Kind has a very small but good part. I should mention Jamie-Lynn Sigler, she is very good, but her character is not likable, and the presentation she is giving early in the movie in a college lecture room is ridiculously banal. Embarrassingly so.
Stuff just doesn't make sense, the internal logic (even for a rom-com, and we like rom-coms) is in tatters, and the script is very poor indeed. On the plus side, the movie is well shot - at least it looks professional.
But, it just isn't any good. I can only give it 2/10.
6 Month Rule (2011)
Good movie, well worth viewing
Like some other reviewers, I am surprised at the low rating. We just watched this and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a strong cast and the characters were well developed. There may have been a few plot points which didn't completely make sense, but certainly no more than other movies of the romantic comedy/drama genre.
Blayne Weaver wrote, directed and played the lead, and did all of those things pretty well. There were some particularly well written scenes. Martin Starr was excellent as his friend Alan, and the very beautiful Natalie Morales as the love interest was very good. Great to see Dave Foley in there (I love News Radio) and Patrick J Adams was fine as the "rock star".
The story line is not as predictable as similar movies, and is all the more believable as a result.
Good movie from a great cast and recommended.
A Previous Engagement (2008)
Just fair. Only just.
This movie has received some astonishingly positive reviews, and sounded good. So we watched it. Unfortunately, it isn't very good. Warning - when you see five or so reviews giving 10 stars (ten!!) from people who only ever do one review, the alarm bells should be ringing. In no universe is this ever going to be a 10 star movie. There are some funny bits, a couple of mild twists, and a few nice shots of Malta, but otherwise the script is unlikely, the characters not believable, the whole thing is simply ridiculous.
One acting high spot was Valerie Mahaffey as Grace - she was pretty good.
So if you feel so inclined, watch this movie, then read the 10 star reviews, and prepare to be annoyed at the obvious attempts at rating manipulation.
Slap Her, She's French! (2002)
Strong performance from Jane McGregor
I don't think that this movie has aspirations to greatness, but it was enjoyable enough, and has some very good performances.
Top of the list for me was Jane McGregor. She really gave her all in playing Starla who was, after all, not a particularly sympathetic character. She has a real flair for comedy - at the tender age of 19 - and is very attractive as well. I will be looking out for Jane's work in future.
I also enjoyed the minor role from the little brother, not too overdone, and the mother with the ever present "iced tea".
Overall, a pleasant diversion, fairly lightweight, but with some good work from the cast.
Lover Come Back (1961)
Rock Doris and Tony deliver the goods
This movie is a gem. And there are so many things to like.
Others have commented on Doris Day's hats throughout, and they really are something. That shocker on the beach is a highlight.
There are a couple of lines which have humorous overtones given that we now know that Rock was gay. When Doris abandons him, naked at the late night swim, he gets a lift back in a Fur Delivery van and strides across the lobby wearing a full length mink. The two guys who have seen him throughout the movie in full on playboy mode - always very admiringly - see him and one says to the other - "He is the last guy you would have suspected". Very ironic. The other was when Doris was persuading Rock to stay the night in the guest room, in an apartment, she said "You even have your own back entrance". Made me laugh anyway.
Great to see TV favourites Capt Binghampton (McHales Navy) and Ellie May Clampett (Beverley Hillbillies) with roles.
Tony Randall is his usual brilliant self.
We have been watching a few Rock Hudson movies of late and he is invariably a joy. He really was a fine comedic actor. If you haven't seen it, Man's Favourite Sport (without Doris or Tony) is pure gold.
The Accidental Husband (2008)
Better Than Expected
The reviews for this movie had not been good, although reviews for romantic comedies are notoriously unreliable. RomComs are not high art, and while there is still an abundance of difference between a good RomCom and a bad one, they are light entertainment and benefit from being viewed as such.
Accidental Husband certainly had flaws, but was still a lot of fun. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a funny bloke, Uma is Uma (always at least good), Colin Firth is assured as always. I was impressed with an exchange between Jeffrey and Colin's characters which was unusually realistic for this sort of movie.
Some commentators have expressed displeasure at the fate of Colin's character because they like the actor, but it is only a character.
The involvement of the Indian family was slightly curious, but enjoyable, and Ajay Naidu put in a solid performance as Deep.
If you are after a RomCom and you can cope with a bit of logical nonsense, you should find this an enjoyable diversion.
Immortally Yours (2009)
My wife and I stuck with this through to the end meaning that we experienced the astonishing "heads in space" finish.
There are so many things wrong with this movie, we thought it may have been a spoof, but alas, I don't think it was. It has the potential to be one of those classic bad movies (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes anyone?) but I suspect the idea was to make a proper movie and it just went terribly wrong.
Really, nothing works. The acting is amateurish and corny (at best) - the snarling vampires dancing around were genuinely funny, but not on purpose, the romantic thread is as clumsy as these things can be, the story line is patchy and pointless (Illuminati! Immortality! Romance! Cops!), the sets and scenes have the lowest production values, the special effects were not special and barely effects.
OK, you might find some entertainment in the badness, the stilted dialogue, the odd bunch of extras in the club scene, the aforementioned heads in space, the little guy struggling down steps, I could go on, but it is amazing that someone didn't intervene before this embarrassment was made public.