Tag Archives: Woody Harrelson

The Edge of Seventeen

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Apologies for the lack of posts over the past two months. I’ve just been a bit exhausted, a tad lazy, and having a bit of writer’s block, but now I’ve had my winter hibernation I can come back out into the world again (or the internet anyway). So onto the next review!

17 year old Nadine (Hailee Steinfield) believes her life is falling apart when her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating Nadine’s older brother Darian (Blake Jenner). As she tries to cope with this new development she finds herself getting into more arguments with her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and getting close to another student Erwin (Hayden Szeto).

The Edge of Seventeen is one of those superior teen movies in the veign of Mean Girls, Clueless, 10 Things…etc. However it has it’s own distinctive voice that means it’s not another clone riding the hightails of these movies. It also has an argueably less likeable lead character as Nadine’s flaws are not overlooked by any means. As there is no mean girl clique or bully, most of the time Nadine is her own worse enemy, self absorbed, melodramatic and well, sometimes just awful to the other people in her life. She is also a more realistic teenager then we normally get to see on screen, and just because Nadine can be a pain at times doesn’t mean she can’t be relatable (painfully so at times) or sympathetic. Aside from being extreamly well written, Steinfield gives extra layers to Nadine, perfectly displaying her awkwardness and self-hatred.

While Steinfield is the stand out she is excellently supported by the surrounding cast with Harrelson being absolutely hilarious as her teacher who doesn’t put up with any of her crap. Former Glee star Blake Jenner (not related to those Jenners) also brings depth to the role of Nadine’s jock brother and newcomer Szeto is sweet as Nadine’s hopelessly sweet admirer.

Writer/Director Kelly Fremon Craig gives us a gem of a movie that’s not just a great teen flick but a great film in general. It’s just a shame that the lack of advertising for this film and the fact that it’s a 15 rather than a 12A (like it’s contemporaries) means that it will miss out a huge chunk of it’s intended audience. Hopefully it’s recent Golden Globes nomination for Steinfield will bring the film the attention and love it deserves.

Rating 4.5/5 – Steinfield shines in a sharp, emotional and very funny movie you should go out and watch now

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

The end is near for The Hunger Games movies. But like all franchises these days the concluding book has to be split across two films. But is there enough material to spread over two movies?

Katniss is now in District 13 but she is still suffering from her experiences in the Hunger Games and her guilt over Peeta being left behind and under the Capitol’s control. But with District 12 having been destroyed and the other Districts looking to riot against the Capitol, Katniss is needed to become the symbol of the rebellion so they can win the war against President Snow. But is Katniss up to the task?

Splitting the final Hunger Games books could be seen as a purely cynical move, and while the obvious motivation is clearly all about the money, that doesn’t mean its a terrible idea. When I heard that Mockingjay was to become two movies I actually liked that idea (and I’m normally not a fan of such thing – I’m looking at you The Hobbit movies). This way I get to see more of the characters I like and it allows all the subplots to get fully developed.

So the main themes around Part 1 is about propaganda and perception. To win a war you don’t just need to fight in battles but you need to win the hearts of the people, or in the case of the villainous Snow frighten them into submission. I liked that the film showed how both sides use the media to get the public’s support and both are not afraid of using teenagers to their own ends. Katniss and Peeta are both being used  as puppets of the two Presidents, although they both aren’t as easy to control as they’d hope.

It’s almost redundant at this point to go on about how great Jennifer Lawrence is as Katniss but I’m going to anyway. Everyone’s favourite moody teenager is back (not that she doesn’t have reason to be sullen), and while she may not be in the arena anymore, the games are still being played, even if they are more political in nature they are still as dangerous. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Katniss is only about 17 and yet so much expectation is on her shoulder. Lawrence perfectly captures the trauma that Katniss has been through due to her experiences and how that is affecting her behaviour and decisions. She is trying to do right by everyone-Peeta, Penam, President Coil- however she doesn’t know what the consequences of her actions will be or how others will retaliate.

So there’s a lot of heavy scenes and political manipulation. Thank god for Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) to bring some much-needed light relief. But they are not just there for comedy as they provide Katniss with support and reassurance that she so desperately needs, and they actually do care about her wellbeing too. Out of the new characters Natalie Dormer is striking as Cressida the director of Katniss’ propaganda films, and  Julianne Moore’s gives District 13’s President Coin makes the cold and calculating more interesting than she could have been. With so much going on that does mean some characters are neglected a bit such as Finnick but at least  Sam Clafin makes the most of the few scenes he’s in and he has much better chemistry with Katniss than she does with either of her supposed live interests Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) or Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

Being the first of two movies does of course have its drawbacks, including a lack of a proper ending to the movie. Also without the tension of the arena there’s not as much action in this movie compared to the previous instalments. At least after the build up during this movie, Mockingjay part 2 should give us the more than enough action when the Capitol is finally stormed by Katniss and co.

Rating 4.5/5 -while it’s not as action-packed as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire it’s still as gripping and smart as ever with Jennifer Lawrence once again on spectacular form

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Now You See Me

I was hugely anticipating this film. Magicians using their skills to pull of crimes. It’s a great idea. But does it live up to my expectations?

Now You See Me is a crime caper following a group of magicians called The Four Horsemen who use their stage show to rob a bank. They come to the attention of FBI and Interpol who start investigating them and asking how four street performers could suddenly have the money and knowledge to commit these crimes. Is there a fifth Horseman pulling the stings?

The best part of this film is  The Four Horsemen themselves, street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), escape artist and Atlas’ former assistant Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), new magician Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and mentalist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson). The film starts off great as we are introduced to these characters, seeing their respective skills and them being brought  together to eventually perform in Vegas.

However overall Now You See Me is a mixed bag of tricks. Director Louis Leterrier has collected a great cast but fails to really use them effectively. The Four Horsemen are an intriguing bunch, unfortunately they get sidetracked in the film so we can follow Mark Ruffalo’s grumpy FBI agent Dylan Rhodes and Interpol detective Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent).  In supporting roles Michael Caine (as the Horsemen’s Vegas investor Arthur Tressler), and Morgan Freeman (as Thaddeus Bradley an ex magician who now reveals the secrets behind the magic) are reliably good as always but they don’t seem to have much to sink their teeth into.

The film starts off strong and The Horsemen’s tricks are involving but they do seem to get bigger and ridiculous as the film goes along, which goes for the film in general. Also a lot of their magic acts are spoiled in the trailers.

The film’s main problem is with the ending.  When you watch a magic trick you want to be blown away  by the performance wondering how the hell they did that and then be amazed by how simple and clever the revelation is about how it was all done. Here the film’s revelations just seem a bit ridiculous and relying a lot on blind luck.

It would have been a much more interesting film if we had been following The Four Horsemen as they perform their tricks while they wonder who they are actually working for. Considering the trailers seem to show the Four Horsemen as the main protagonists it’s a shame they are missing for great chunks of the film. Harrelson, Fisher, Franco and Eisenberg work well together bouncing off each other and light up the screen when they are performing their acts. There are hints at back stories for some of them but not enough for my liking. There is also a great fight scene involving Franco’s Jack, whose uses weapons such as card tricks and sleight of hand to evade capture of two FBI officers.

Perhaps it will be improved on repeated viewings and things might make more sense when you can go through and see how everything was done. However it’s not as good as films such as Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (which  also starring Michael Caine).

Ratting  3/5

There was potentially a great film about these Four Horsemen but unfortunately this is only an  entertaining but average  one.

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