The Bay (2012)

Found Footage movies is not something I would associate with Barry Levinson, the Oscar winning director of Rain Man. Yet this 2012 film sees Levinson dipping his directing toes into the horror genre. Will the resulting film produce somehting new into this tired genre?

On the Fourth July 2009 the population of Chesapeake Bay are meant to be enjoying the festivties. However when the townsfolk start developing a blister like rash on their bodies they realise there may something in the water of the Bay.

For a found footage movie this at least tries to do something a bit different. Levinosn has given the film a touch of class and it certianly looks more impressive (and it probably had a bit more money) than than the average film of this genre. It also helps that there isn’t just one person running around capturing the action as it unfolds when they should put the camera down and get the hell out of there. We see various people’s videocameras, Podcasts, police car camera, Skype etc. It helps make this seem like a widespread problem affecting a whole town as we see snippets of mulitple storylines as it moves across the whole town. The acting is affective and not melodramatic as can sometimes be in horror movies. The special effects and makeup is also very good and appropriately disgusting and grusome as one would hope for.

Although the film does come up with reasons for people to be filming the events,as at some points it does stretch credibility. As one character asks another “Is it really necessary for you to keep filming?” you can’t help but feel like they are speaking the minds of the audience. Also the film is more about the build up of tension and dread with one or two shocking moments rather than a wtaching behind the pillow full blow terror. The ending feels rather abrupt as well, maybe needing a more clixmatic ending.

Rating 3.5/5 – If you’re looking for an Academy Award winning director’s take on the found footage genre then give this thrilling eco-disaster movei a try

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Inventing The Abbotts (1997)

Produced by Ron Howard and with a starry cast, I had high hopes for Inventing The Abbotts even though I hadn’t read much about it. Was I right to have such high expectations?

Brothers J.C (Billy Crudup) and Doug (Joaquin Phoenix) live with their single mother (Kathy Baker) in a small town in 1950s Illinois. their lives have been intertwined with that of the rich Abbott family and their daughters Alice (Joanna Going), Eleanor (Jennifer Connolly) and Pam (Liv Tyler). While J.C is grows increasingly obsessed with the Abbotts and what he believes to be injustice in his life, younger brother Doug is falling for Pam. But with so many complications between their families can they ever get together?

This film begins promisingly, a good cast, simmering tension beneath the surface and a good-looking film makes you hope for the best. However while the cast do their best to hold your attention they are weighed down by a plot that becomes increasingly tedious. J.C anger against the Abbotts is interesting to start with but his actions become repetitive and boring. I kept thinking “Just get over it already.” It also felt his issues could have been sorted out earlier if he had just an honest conversation with his mother over her history with the Abbotts.

Doug is a bit dull and his on again off again relationship with Pam becomes just as boring as J.C antics. Again you feel everyone would have been better off if they just communicated a bit better and stop being such jerks. The whole ‘rich father having a problem with his daughters’ poor boyfriend’ storyline is also unoriginal and lacks any proper drama. The Abbott sisters are also thinly drawn, basically just there as pawns and objects of desire for the leading men.

A disappointing and mediocre film overall.

Rating 2/5 – the cast may hold some appeal but ultimately this film is too dull to hold an audience’s attention

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The Moth Diaries (2011)

Adapting a young adult novel seems to be all the range at the moment. This movie from 2011 (but only recently released in the UK) The Moth Diaries comes with model turn actress Lily Cole in a lead role. But does it hold the same magic as its contemporaries?

Sixteen year old Rebecca (Sarah Bolger) loves her life at her boarding school, including her friends, especially her BFF Lucy(Sarah Gardon). However when new girl Ernessa (Lily Cole) arrives at the school Lucy grows distant from Rebecca and closer to the mysterious stranger. Rebecca is suspicious of Ernessa but is it just jealousy or is there something supernatural about Ernessa?

I’ve never read the original novel so I can’t say if this is a good adaptation. However what I can say is that it’s a below average movie. It becomes fairly obvious who Ernessa really is, and the film bludgeons you over the head with references to popular literature so even the less genre-savy viewers can guess her secret. The film tries to suggest that Rebecca is perhaps mentally unwell due to her tragic past and obsessiveness over Lucy but it’s pointless considering how unsubtle the movie is about Ernessa. A lackluster ending also disappoints, needing a proper final confrontation to really raise the stakes. Even hints about schoolgirl lesbians doesn’t make it more interesting.

Perhaps whats most disappointing is that the director Mary Harron also made a little film with Christian Bale called American Psycho. Now of course I don’t expect characters to start killing people with an axe while Huey Lewis and The News are playing in the background (although maybe it would help), but I thought she could bring more horror and imagination to the movie.

The acting from the girls isn’t terrible, although Cole suffers from playing such a one-dimensional character. It’s also fairly watchable as long as you don’t expect anything too original. But if you’re looking for a new twist on an old genre movie then you should give this a miss.

Rating 2/5 – it may be easy watching but it’s also easily forgettable

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Happy 2nd Blogiversary To Me!

Two years ago today I started this blog! I know it’s difficult to imagine a world where you weren’t being forced my opinions and reviews on the latest movies-those were dark days indeed! 

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read, like,  comment and follow this blog. With so many excellent blogs around (look at the Blogs I Follow section for a list of just some of the many excellent blogs I enjoy reading)  it’s nice to know that someone out there is reading mine, and I’ve had some lovely conversations with people on this blog.

So go have a piece of cake, a drink or whatever your vice is and celebrate another year of mykindofmovie.

Cheers everyone! :)

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The Fault In Our Stars

Based on the bestselling novel by John Green (which I loved) The Fault In Our Stars has exploded into the summer box office making great numbers for a romantic drama.  But can it possibly be as good as the book?

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is 16 years old and has terminal cancer. Kept alive by an experiemental drug and dragging round a tank of oxygen with her everywhere she thinks she knows what to expect from her probably short life. Then into her cancer support group comes Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), an eighteen year old boy in remission who lost his leg to cancer. As the two bond over Hazel’s favourite book and seek to contact the author, they find themselves slowly falling in love despite Hazel’s terminal situation.

OK from that summary above this film sounds like a overly sentimental affair with all the cliches that you come to expect from these kinds of films. The fact that The Fault In Our Stars avoids most of these tropes makes it special in itself. That fact that you care so much about the characters make it exceptional.

I may be biased becuase I’ve read and loved the book but I loved this film. I was nervous beforehand considering how much I liked the book but this is a faithful adaptation that does justice to John Green’s novel. The two lead characters are wonderful-snarky, funny, intellegent, heartwarming. You feel like you could be friends with these characters. They are played brilliantly by Woodley and Algort. Both roles must have been difficult to cast but Woodley makes for a likeable and sympathetic lead and Algort steers his character away from being the bland romantic lead to give Augustus charisma and believeability even when he’s sprouting his philosphoical musing. We also get to see Gus’s more vunerable side as he worries that one day he’ll fall into oblivion and he will have left the world withoutmaking a mark. Something which Hazel has long resigned herself to before Gus came along. The chemistry between them is fantastic, so much so I can’t imagine them playing brother and sister in Divergent.

Of course there are faults to be had with the movie. Although Grace’s parents are great (played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell) some of the other supporting characters are either written out or  reduced. Augustus’ best friend Issac gets sidelined into more of a comedic role than I remember in the book. Some viewers may also find the scene where Hazel and Gus kiss at the Anne Frank House a bit distasteful although I just saw it as them realising they should seize the moment while they have the chance (the clapping from the other visitors was a bit much though).

I got so into this film that I started crying about halfway through the movie-to my embarassment. I can’t garentee you’ll cry like I did but I think even  the hardest of hearts may find themselves falling under the spell of Hazel and Gus.

But I would also recomend you read the book first because it’s so wonderful and adds so much more to their story in the way the film doesn’t have time to.

Rating 4.5/5 – with wonderful performances from Woodley and Algort I can’t fault this adapation of one of my favourite books of recent years

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Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit

Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck have all had a turn playing CIA analyst Jack Ryan, with varying results. Now Captain Kirk himself Chris Pine steps up to be the hero of Tom Clancy popular book series. But will he be the definitive Jack Ryan?

Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is recruited into the CIA with a cover working on Wall Street. when he notices some suspicious transactions by Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) he must go to Moscow to prove his suspicions.

I really like Chris Pine. He has charisma, good looks and is a great Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. However he makes for a bland Ryan. In fact everything about this movie is bland from the script, acting and direction. It’s a shame because everyone here could do better.

Pine seems stifled in a generic action role that doesn’t showcase any of his personality. Keira Knightly is stuck in the nagging girlfriend/damsel in distress role that is really irritating. Presumably Kevin Costner had some bills to pay which is why he’s playing such a thankless mentor role. It was also a mistake for director Kenneth Branagh to put himself in the role of the main villain sporting a dodgy Russian accent. It’s disappointing seeing him here as everyone knows Branagh can act and direct so much better than this.

For a film that’s trying to update its hero to the modern time Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit feels old fashioned-but not in a good way. Nothing feels particularly new or exciting is brought in to freshen up the movie. This feels like it could be any bog standard action/thriller rather than a Jack Ryan movie. It’s telling that this movie is not based on one of Tom Clancy’s novel but an original plot.

I watched this film with my mum and my twin sister Daisy, and after watching it my mum demanded that her thoughts be mentioned in my review. So here are my family’s thoughts on the film:

Mum “Absolute rubbish, I think it was terrible. Nothing like a Tom Clancy novel. I blame you two for making me watch it.”

Daisy “I just thought it was boring.”

I won’t even mention my mum’s view on Keira Knightly. Safe to say she was not a fan before this film so this only compounded this opinion more so.

So unless you really fancy Chris Pine and are prepared to sit through any rubbish to see him, I suggest you give this movie a wide berth.

Rating 1/5 – not even bad in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way, just a terribly bad film all round

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Stories We Tell (2012)

Sarah Polley is a talented Canadian actress mostly seen in independent movies such as Go and the odd mainstream movie such as the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. She has more recently made the leap into directing with films such as Take This Waltz and the Oscar nominated Away from Her. But will her documentary film Stories We Tell be as well received?

The film focuses on Polley’s own family with interviews from her relatives and family friends. Her father Michael Polley narrates the movies while the film switches between interviews to Super 8 footage made to look like home movies of Polley’s family.

To give more details about this thoughtful and accomplished movie would spoil what the film is about and it’s best not to do much research before seeing this film.  Part of the intrigue with this film is trying to work out what is the secret within Polley’s  family. As Polley slowly reveals the purpose of the movie you will have already been drawn in to this family and their different perspectives of the truth.

Towards the end of the movie Polley is asked many times why she decided to tell this story through film and why she would choose to feature so many interviews of people who were not actually part of the events and who are mostly repeating what they had heard from others or how these events later impacted on them.  Polley is also questioned about whether or not it should only be the people directly involved who should be telling this story. But Polley’s film is not just about the truth, it is about how we tell the truth. It raises a lot of questions about how families tell stories, memories and how each person can tell the same tale but can have small or major differences depending on who is telling the story or how they feel about the subject. She could have left the narrative to one person, to one perspective but I think that would have been a lesser film and it wouldn’t have had the same emotional impact that this movie does.

Perhaps Polley drags the film out longer than it needs to, as I thought a few times the movie was going to end and then it continued on. However as the film ponders on why we feel compelled to tell these stories and why choose to make them public, you can’t help but be won over by Polley and her film.

Rating 4/5 – allow yourself to go in blind and give yourself over to this powerful movie

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