Tag Archives: Bradley Cooper

Burnt

Burnt

I’m not really a fan of sweary, obnoxious cooks, give me Mary Berry and The Great British Bake Off any day! However this comedy-drama tries to entice the fans of Bradley Cooper into watching this film set in the world of a down on his luck chef. But is the result appetising enough?

Adam (Bradley Cooper) was an up and coming chef whose arrogance and drug use brought him down to Earth with a bump. Having wrecked his and other people careers, he’s looking to get his third Michelin star and a chance at redeeming himself.

Despite including my two favourite things – Bradley Cooper and food – I wasn’t too interested in seeing this movie. But stuck with nothing to watch- and wasn’t going to be seeing Spectre for a few more days, I settled myself in to watch Burnt with low expectations. To my surprise I actually enjoyed Burnt. Its nothing original but it’s constantly funny, the performances are good and there are some darker moments I wasn’t expecting. Yes, Cooper is main part of the appeal but not just for his looks. Adam can be quite an unlikelable, arrogant character who is self-destructive and shouts at people. Cooper manages to make Adam watchable and interesting enough to follow on his journey despite his many flaws. It probably isn’t til the end of the movie that Adam becomes more likeable and that’s due to Cooper’s charm. The film also doesn’t try to make out that Adam is just misunderstood. He behaved appallingly in the past and it’s no surprised people are angry at him. Even the supposed antagonists of the film have good reasons to be mad at Adam and the film doesn’t pretend he didn’t bring it all on himself.

The supporting cast is good, from Emma Thompsons small scenes as Adam’s Doctor and Daniel Bruhl as the matradee Tony. I also liked Sienna Miller’s sous chef/love interest Helene. In the past I haven’t though much about Sienna Miller as an actress either way, but in this and American Sniper she seems to be able to create more memorable and sympathetic characters. Working with Bradley Cooper must be agreeing with her. Or maybe she’s now getting parts that have more to them then being the hot girlfriend.

A word of warning though make sure you bring some snacks with you cause the food on-screen looks delicious and it will make you hungry.

Rating 3.5/5 – sizzling and hot, but enough about Bradley Cooper, the film is good too

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American Sniper (2014)

Another week, another Oscar contender. This time we have acclaimed director Clint Eastwood teaming up with Bradley Cooper in this film based on the autobiography by Chris Kyle.

American Sniper is the story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history. We follow Kyle as he goes through four tours while being hunted by the enemy snipers and the effect war has on his family back home.

This is a tense and thrilling movie throughout. The opening scene in particular had my nerves on edge as Kyle has to make a decision no one would ever want to be in. Clint Eastwood directs the movie well as Kyle is repeatedly sent back into danger. And as his reputation as the best American sniper gets bigger, so does the danger he finds himself in. You’re getting everything from the soldier’s view, where you don’t know what’s around the corner, if the people you meet are friend or foe and you only have a moment to make a call that can be life or death for you and your team.The film doesn’t feel like it’s trying to preach, instead it tries to show what combat is like in the eyes of a sniper. We’re told that killing is what he is good at. He has to kill to protect the soldiers but what toll can that take to a person?

Bradley Cooper is more known for his comedy roles like The Hangover then in serious films. Although we’ve seen him take on dramas before like Silver Linings Playbook, that was still a comedy in places. American Sniper puts Cooper in full drama mode and he puts in a great performance. I know there’s been some debate about whether he should be in the Best Actor category when many other actors got snubbed (and yes I would have preferred Jake Gyllenhaal’s disturbing performance in Nightcrawler to have gotten recognition over some of the actors who got the nod instead). However his performance here is strong and he captures his character well. Torn between his family and his duty to his country but doesn’t stray into cliché territory (just about).

Sienna Miller finally gets a role where she is not just the pretty girlfriend. Her character actually seems like she has a personality, and just about manages to stop her going into ‘nagging wife’ territory that these biopic about men seem to love painting women in.

While I was mostly engaged in this film, by the time it got to Kyle’s fourth tour I was feeling, like his wife, that it’s probably about time he goes back home and let this come to an end. For those who are looking for the film to give a wider view on the War on Terror this does not really offer debate or contemplation. This is war seen through the eyes of one man and this film makes no apologies for that.

Rating 4/5 – an exhilarating and satisfyingly tense thriller

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Guardians of the Galaxy

So we’ve had Iron Man, Thor and co in their solo films and together in the mighty Avengers movie, now Marvel brings out the newcomers. But as one of their lesser-known properties can Marvel work their magic on this band of heroes.

Abducted from Earth as boy Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), otherwise known as Star-Lord was brought up among thieves. As an adult he finds himself in trouble when he steals a sphere shaped artifact with unknown powers, which everyone seems to want. He soon crosses the path of an array of aliens including Gamora (Zoe Saldana) a remorseful assassin, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) whose looking for revenge, Groot (Vin Diesel) a tree-like humanoid who can only say “I am Groot”, and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a genetically engineered talking raccoon. These strangers soon have to work together when an enemy bigger then themselves start looking for the artifact, hoping to use it to cause as much death and destruction as possible.

The basic plot may not be original-a ragtag bunch of misfits must overcome their differences to work together against a common enemy. It could basically be the Avengers-in space! But what marks out Guardians of the Galaxy is the sense of pure fun and weirdness that ensures that this superhero movie is anything but a bog standard adventure.

James Gunn was considered quite the risk as a director having directed mostly indie films such as the body-alien horror Slither. But just like Joss Whedon before him Marvel have proven that the risk has payed off. Gunn clearly enjoys the sense of anarchy and wackiness that is embodied in this film. When your main characters include a talking raccoon you must have a director that has the balls to run with the weirdness and make it into something that is funny, exciting and at times quite touching without diluting all the oddness that comes with it.

It helps that our guardians are all equally as engaging as each other. There is no weak link here and everyone has a chance to shine. Chris Pratt has had quite the year being the lead in the mega hit The Lego Movie (another film that was a lot better than everyone expected it to be), and as Peter he’s the everyman that the audience can identify with. He’s not a squeaky clean goodie-goodie and is all the better for it. Peter is funny, likeable and probably gone a bit mad having listen to the same music (Awesome Mixtape 1) for the past 26 years. Saldana gets a lot of excellent fight scenes as the remorseful Gamora and has good chemistry with Pratt. Burista is surprisingly funny and has a sad back story that drives his anger. Vin Diesel as Groot is sweet and conveys a lot for someone whose character has a limited vocabulary. Rocket will probably be a lot of people’s favourite character and Cooper manages to make this talking raccoon as twisted and hilarious as you imagine he would be but also more than just a one joke character that could have been very annoying.

As for the villains we get Lee Pace as the main baddie, the psychotic Ronan The Accuser, and former Doctor Who assistant Karen Gillian as Nebula his right hand woman. Between them they don’t make things easy for the Guardians and get lots of good fight scenes and plenty of boo-hiss moments to get you rooting for their comeuppance. Also one of my favourite bits of the movie is Ronan’s reaction to Peter’s interesting attempts at distraction. How Pace did not crack up during filming I don’t know.

It’s a movie which on paper probably looks mad, and it is but that doesn’t make Guardians any less enjoyable. In fact it’s to be commended for being a bit different to its other Marvel siblings. Plus any film that mentions the awesomeness of Footloose and Kevin Bacon has my vote.

Rating 4/5 – give the crazy lesser known heroes a try and I guarantee you’ll be hooked, and if nothing else it’s the best movie featuring a talking raccoon this year!

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American Hustle

Combining key cast members from The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook director David O’Russell brings us this crime comedy drama  based partly on a true story.

When con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) are caught by FBI agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper), they strike a deal that they won’t get prosecuted if they assist Di Maso with four additional arrests. Things get complicated when a politican Mayor Carmine Polito comes on the scene and Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) gets herself involved.

As a big fan of Silver Linings Playbook I was excited to see this movie. However the experience left me rather cold. It may have been that I was expecting to see a different type of film. I thought it would a fun heist flick  with some great twists up its sleeves and although American Hustle has its moment it’s more a case of style over substance. I’m not sure what enticed a cast this talented to be a part of the movie-I guess they enjoyed working with O’Russell on his previous projects. 

The performances however are great. Bale, Cooper and Renner are all convincing in their respective roles but it the women who really shine in this film. Ever since I saw Adams in Enchanted I’ve been a huge fan of hers and she is fantastic as hustler Sydney, a woman who will do whatever she has to in order to survive. She’s tough, intelligent and more than a match for the men around her. She’s already bagged a Golden Globe and Bafta nomination for this role and I expect an Oscar nom will also be on the horizon. Lawrence also gives another amazing performance as Irving’s boozy, wildcard wife Rosalyn. A whirlwind mess of big blonde hair and ballsy attitude, she manages to be funny, hideous and vunerable often within the same scene. Another possible Oscar nomination should be within her sight.

Good performances aside the story is just not as strong. The plot rumbles on well enough but fails to captivate or intrigue as a good crime drama should do. I guess I was waiting for a really great plot twist or character reveal to come. However I just found myself not caring what happened to anyone in the film or how things would work out. It looks great and the cast perform well but all in all it’s not the modern classic I thought it would be.

Rating 3/5-a great cast elvates an otherwise average movie

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The Hangover Part 3

The Wolfpack return for part three of the world’s longest hangover. Strangely enough the film doesn’t revolve around an actual hangover. Probably to avoid the same criticisms as the second film did, which repeated several plot points of the original.

The third outing starts with the Wolfpack trying to help Alan (Zach Galifianakis) cope with the death of his father. He’s off his meds and acting more strange than usual. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) conduct an intervention and concince Alan to go to a centre to recover. Along the way Doug is kidnapped by man named Marshall (John Goodman) so that the remaining Wolfpack can track down Chow (who it seems only Alan can reach) to track down the gold Chow stole from Marshall. If they fail, Doug dies.

The film starts off slow with Alan’s antics becoming more irratating than amusing. However the film picks up once the gang meets up with Chow. Ken Jeong (Senor Chang from the excellent  US TV series Community) is hilarious and steals many of the scenes he’s in.

Besides our heroes there are some familiar faces from the first film back again and a few memorable new ones. Goodman is great as the villian Marshall but it’s Melisa McCarthy’s cameo that’ll have most people talking. Her interactions with Alan are side splitting and also allows us to see a new, suave side to Alan (well sauve for Alan).

The film is given an extra boost when the the characters return to Las Vegas. It seems to help regenerate the characters giving them a new lease of life that was missing earlier in the film. Vegas looks awesome and the film uses it’s setting to their advantage, with a nailbiting scene featuring Alan and Phil on the roof of Caeser’s Palace.

The third part of the trilogy may not be quite as funny as the first film, and probably won’t make as much money as the second, but it drives the franchise to a natural conclusion and gives us a fond- hopefully final- farewell to the Wolfpack.

Rating 3/5

Stay in your seats for for the end credits for a scene which is both hysterical and wrong in so many ways.

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Silver Linings Playbook

Oscar season is now on the way and Silver Lining Playbook is a strong contender to pick up a few awards this year.

The film follows Pat (Bradley Cooper) who has just come out of an institution after beating up his wife’s lover into a bloody pulp. Pat still wants to make his marriage work while dealing with a restraining order, his well-meaning parents (including an OCD Robert De Niro), and his bi-polar. Thrust into his life is newly widowed Tiffany-who deals with her grief by sleeping around.

This sounds like it could be some wacky Hollywood comedy about some oddballs, and it kind of is in a way, but the film is also serious at times. Pat and Tiffany’s mental illness are not brushed away or there to be an entertaining quirk to the lead characters, they are treated seriously and the characters are shown to be deeply flawed and in need of help. The fact they are also likeable comes down to the great performances by Cooper and Lawrence, in any other hands these characters could have been unsympathetic and irritating. Bradley’s Pat is someone struggling to get his life-and marriage back on track and it is shown to be a struggle for him. You are willing for him to get better and turn his life around. It’s a great performance by Cooper who we’ve seen mostly in broad comedic roles. It’s still a comedy but there are tough edges to his performance.

Lawrence is also on brilliant form as Pat’s new friend Tiffany. It’s a wonderful performance that could easily have fallen into the annoying, “kooky”, girl role, but Lawrence restrains from allowing her character to fall into that trap. It’s a three dimensional character who is hurting deep inside and has dealt with her grief badly at times, but she is also trying to build her life back and throws herself into a dance competition, blackmailing Pat into helping her.

It’s a film which also shows the difficulty families have in dealing with a loved one who suffers from a mental illness, while also showing us that maybe everyone has a bit of craziness inside them too. It’s probably one of the better portrayals of mental illness I’ve seen in mainstream Hollywood film.

Maybe some will feel the cheesy ending is too much, but having been on this journey with the characters I was rooting for them the whole way, and as Pat says why can’t there for once just be a happy ending?

Rating 4.5/5

A comedy that deserves to do well come Oscar time, and Cooper and Lawrence deserve all the nominations going.

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