Ted: Film Review

I have rarely walked away from a trip to the cinema with regret that the film had to finish. Ted is Seth MacFarlane‘s debut as director, co-writer and co-producer and if the tears of laughter throughout the cinema theatre were anything to go by, his first taste of working for the big screen is most definitely a successful one.

I must admit it was my husband who was the most keen out of both of us to see this film. However my sides ached with laughter by the end. I can understand how some people would be offended with the type of humour used. Most of it is what I would call ‘awkward humour’ the sort that makes you suck the air in between your teeth at the lack of political correctness of it all however most of it is what you wish you had the gall to say yourself. With Seth MacFarlane at the wheel of this motion picture, you can not help but draw similarities with Family Guy.

If you have ever enjoyed the humour of MacFarlane’s animation, Ted is most definitely the film for you. It is so close to that of Family Guy that the voice-overs are also playing lead roles in this film. Family Guy viewers will most definitely feel at home. Yet if you have never seen an episode of Family Guy you will in no way feel lost or indeed misunderstand the humour.

Everyone wishes for that one life-long friend and I remember falling asleep as a child and wishing my favourite doll would come to life and be my friend for life. Even now at the age of 31 I wish I had a life-long friend who I could call my own. Ted was for me an adult version of Toy Story but in no way is it a film for children and I was somewhat surprised at the leniency of its 15 certificate.

This is the hardest film I have ever tried to review as I desperately want to avoid any spoilers. Everyone remarks on my stubbornness and I am insistent on having you choking on your popcorn and pick ‘n’ mix with laughter at what I like to call ‘rewind scenes’ which I wish I could rewind and watch again and again.

Don’t get me wrong, Ted is not swamped in humour but also has action scenes that can in its own right rival any other film of that genre so much so that you forget you are actually watching a teddy bear on-screen. There are even scenes for the softies among us all of which clearly illustrates MacFarlane’s talent, skill and diversity in writing.

It has ultimately ignited my childhood wish: Can I have a teddy bear?

The Artist: Film Review

I must admit I was a little dubious as I settled in my seat at the Apollo Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. As I shredded my many layers against the cold, I enjoyed the intimate atmosphere that accompanied a small theatre and even managed to engage in conversation with fellow audience members. I am not one for silent films or even black and white films but wanting to treat my husband who is a big fan of both, I found myself reserving tickets. As the screen illuminates at the start, you are instantly taken back in time and it was a completely new experience for me to read through the credits before the film actually began.

The film opens in 1927 in the days of Hollywoodland and the power of the music literally moved me to a different place and time altogether. Although I cherished the window into my grandparent’s entertainment, I felt totally set apart. I was sometimes frustrated during key moments of the film when dialogue was key and yet we could not hear what was being said. In fact the cinema was so quiet at times that I could even hear a man sitting two rows in front of me chewing his popcorn.

Having said this, the film is very poetic in parts and the cinematography is breathtaking. I do not like to give away too much of the storyline in my reviews but what I will add is that I found the story very heartbreaking and reminiscent of many artists today and I found myself very close to tears. The story is ultimately about loyalty, love, friendship and pride. Slightly predictable but well worth those BAFTAs.

The film has the sprinkling of Americanisation with John Goodman acting in one of the key roles but what really charmed me the most was how very far apart the entire production was to the dramatised special effects that we are all used to these days. Unfortunately born of a different generation and time I sometimes found it hard to follow the story. Dialogue is essential in life today and I could not help but walk away feeling I was only told half the story.

I hope you will not let this put you off watching The Artist. In my opinion it is still well worth it and I would happily watch it again. The film is wonderfully crafted and I feel privileged to have tasted cinema history.

The Adventures of Tintin, Secret of the Unicorn: Film Review

Blistering Barnacles! It’s Tintin!

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect as I settled into my seat, notepad and pen at hand. For many, Tintin represents youthful excitement which crosses all cultures. Both my husband and I grew up with Tintin and Snowy and although we may have called them by different names, using different pronunciations, the excitement of seeing our favourite characters on stage was tangible. The portrayal of Tintin himself remains true to what Herge fist envisioned of the character and with Speilberg at the helm, not one iota of Tintin’s legend was lost in its recreation onto the big screen.

At a street market, Tintin comes across a model ship, The Unicorn, falls in love with it and purchases it from the vendor at a knock-down price. Little did he know that the very same ship held a deep secret, leading him to being kidnapped and travelling across seas and scorching deserts in search of answers and to save the secret of the Haddock’s.

Even before the first scene was completed, I was questioning whether the film was indeed computer generated. I was amazed at the special effects Steven Speilberg managed to portray in Tintin. The image of Tintin’s hair blowing in the wind, his famous anorak dancing behind him as he chases criminals through the streets. The transitions between the scenes were faultless, leaving an endless supply of action and story telling.

The film had the entire theatre (including myself) in laughter at the actions of Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock. Although the film is certified as PG, there was not a single person below the age of 30 in the audience. Tintin definitely was a guilty pleasure for those watching last night. I can’t imagine the younger generation will enjoy it as much or appreciate Tintin since the likes of Buzz, Woody and even Lightning McQueen have graced our screens. Having watched those films countless times with my niece and nephews I am a staunch supporter of Pixar. However for me, Tintin and the magic of Spielberg is somehow different, somehow greater than previous animations I’ve seen. Tintin is definitely my Buzz Lightyear!

The film ultimately left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling, looking forward to future installments of all things Tintin, rumoured to be The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. To wet your appetite here is the official trailer, not even half of the excitement and laughter you can expect this autumn:

 

The Social Network: Film Review

 The Social Network (i.e. ‘the facebook film) is not about money, power, greed or even Mark Zuckerberg himself, it is ultimately about acceptance – the need for acceptance that is in every one of us.

The film starts with Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg sitting in a bar with his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). The opening scenes of the film concentrates on the difference between obsession and motivation with Mark consumed with the longing for membership to the most exclusive all male societies of Harvard, known as ‘final clubs’. His obsession leads to a break up with Erica and he later vents his frustration and perceived betrayal through the Internet.

Soon afterwards the 6’5” stong, athletic, blonde and popular  Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) come into play, who are everything Mark is looking for: members of the Porcellian “final club”, and rich with inherited money. It is clear from the outset of the film and through his break-up with Albright  that Mark Zuckerberg craves the attention of such ‘powerful’ members of the Harvard community.

The twins invite Mark to a meeting at the Porcellian Club and encourage him to join them on their business venture: a social networking site exclusively for members with a Harvard university e-mail address.  From the outside it seems to be everything Mark has yearned for, however having not been given permission to cross the threshold of the club stairway,  he soon realises he is not friends with the Winklevoss twins, neither has he been accepted into a ‘final club’. Following this first meeting despite much correspondence from the twins to Zuckerberg, Mark does not continue this new business partnership but instead steals their idea (or more kindly, alters it to his own specifications) and ultimately creates  what many now enjoy and have indeed come addicted to as Facebook.

The main body of the film is a game of catch between the memories of Facebook’s beginning and the court case around Facebook’s conception. throughout the film and particularly during the storytelling of Facebook’s past, as a viewer you are struck by the irony of a man who created the world’s largest and most exclusive ‘friendship club’ and yet who has so few friends.

Mark Zuckerberg comes across as a man with a chip on his shoulder, drowning in the belief that life has dealt him a hard hand. It is ultimately this chip on his shoulder that leads him to weaken against the jealousy that enrages him. All in all, the film left me with a bad taste in my mouth and an increasing resentment of watching my life played before me across the pages of Facebook. It was somewhat alarming that no matter how many million of dollars he paid in compensation to the Winklevoss twins and even his once best friend: Eduardo Saverin,  it was to quote the film: ‘in the scheme of things, a speeding ticket.’

The film is worth watching, particularly if you want to gauge an understanding of human nature. The need for approval and acceptance. Mark Zuckerberg may well be the youngest billionaire in the world, but I wonder whether  it was worth losing his integrity and honesty to get there. The somewhat frightening thing is that we can all relate to Zuckerberg in this film. Our lives are fast becoming valued upon our popularity on Facebook and how many friends we have listed on our profile.

I did not particularly enjoy the film, mostly due to it touching a raw nerve, uncovering the desire in myself to be accepted.  Mark Zuckerberg comes across in a bad light, a backstabber, arrogant, jealous and obsessed individual. He originally founded Facebook in an attempt to improve his image after the rant he published over the Internet after the break up with Albright. In my mind, it’s a shame that The Social Network has now diminished Juckerberg’s work in enhancing his reputation.

The film touches on principles, principles of ‘Harvard gentlemen’, principles of friendship, principles of honesty. It is such a shame that an enterprise so potentially great should be marred by such a betrayal of these principles.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Film Review and Refection

As a half Persian myself, I insisted it was an essential element of my heritage to join the audience at a Marble Arch cinema, which was noticeably empty for a Friday night. Admittedly the film had been showing in the cinemas for just over 2 weeks, a lifetime in the cinema-going world.

The film opens with Dastan showing courage in a Persian street market and subsequently being adopted by the King. Fifteen years later, Dastan, and his foster brothers of true royal blood lead the Persian army in an attack on the sacred city of Alamut, under the false notion that the city’s people are selling weapons to their enemies (sound familiar?) During the fight, the city of Alamut is defeated and the mythical Dagger of Time is found. The dagger gives its holder the ability to turn back time for a short period so that past wrongs can be made right. The Persian’s celebration of victory is suddenly marred by sorrow at King Sharaman’s (Dastan’s beloved foster father) murder.  It is only in the release of the Sands of Time can Dastan prevent his father’s death and so the fight for ownership of time begins.

Personally, I did not venture through the popcorn-scented world with particularly high expectations. I did, however enjoy settling down at the start of the film to the traditional Iranian music that transported me back to my fragrant dreams of the Persia I once nurtured.

Although the film was not necessarily completely factual in terms of its depiction of Persian culture, it would have perhaps enhanced the audience’s experience if the geography was clearer. It may well have been through my ignorance of the Prince’s story but in my mind a simple subtitle detailing the location or indeed who was fighting whom would have enhanced the viewing experience and perhaps reduced the confusion I had, particularly at the beginning.

The landscapes were a little unreal and the action similarly unbelievable, having said this though, if you enjoyed Braveheart with the romance, occasional comedy and fight for good against evil;  you will equally enjoy Prince of Persia.

The film catches glimpses of Persian tradition and the story of Persians throughout the ages: “Everything changes in time, we should know that best of all”. Persians have a history of facing change and maintaining their cultural identity, a strength that is now such a strong part of the Persian psyche. It was heart-warming and each small open window into the heart of Persia and its Persians, opened the door wider to my past and once again made Iran my rose-tinted home.

For anyone who has loved their father as much as I or Dastan has, Prince of Persia will no doubt strike a heart-breaking chord. I couldn’t help but wish I had the Sands of Time to see my father again. Hearing the Persian language will always bring pain, hearing the words of my father and knowing regardless of how much I learn the language, I will never bring him back. I have slowly realised that I have searched in the wrong place for my father, I will not find him in the language tones of his country or even the boundaries of his country’s mountains, I only need to look in the mirror to find him occasionally there, standing before me.

Seven Pounds: DVD Review

My fellow readers, I am going to stand tall and shout from the rooftops what a fabulous film this was.

I was gripped at the very first scene and particularly at a depth to Will Smith which I had never seen before, even in The Pursuit of Happyness. It is so refreshing and very unique to find an actor who is extremely talented in both genres of sci-fi/action and serious drama. Smith is absolutely remarkable in this film and has definitely earned more respect from me as an actor.

I do not want to give anything away except to say in watching the film, you will be taken on a journey of redemption in Ben Thomas’ (Will smith) quest to quench his guilt for a past wrong and in his search to find seven people in deserve of his life changing, selfless gifts. It is a film that turns an ultimately ugly act into something beautiful. You will definitely need a box of tissues with this film as I did, in fact I may go as far to say that if this film (and indeed Will Smith’s performance) does not touch you, you must be made of stone.

If you have not already seen this amazingly beautiful film – watch it NOW!

The Blind Side: Film Review

Researching a little on the Internet prior to writing my review, although it received wide popularity in the US, it seems The Blind Side did not win as much critical acclaim as originally thought. Then again, it is a typical American film, predictable with good overriding the bad. On the other hand, if that is the true story, there is little more John Hancock as the Director could offer.

The film is based on the true story: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis about Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy who take homeless Michael “Big Mike” Oher under their wing. With the love from the Tuohy’s Michael receives top quality education and after showing an interest in playing American football, was encouraged to succeed in qualifying for an NCAA Division scholarship. Michael Oher went on to represent the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.

The film represents the coming together of the rich and poverty-stricken and highlights how people from both spectrums of society can learn from one another. Although Sandra Bullock was believable as Leigh Anne Tuohy, I was not entirely convinced her performance was to Oscar standard. However, as she was representing truth, I am confident it was Bullock’s true to life performance that won her the much coveted accolade.

 Overall, the film was very enjoyable and emotional. The Blind Side is about more than American football. It’s about family and acceptance. It’s about the breaking down of social barriers and of course it’s the perseverance of everyone that helped Michael reach such athletic acclaim. The film naturally revolves around the question “what if?” What if Michael had not been walking along that highway? What if the Tuohy’s had not stopped their car and invited Michael into their lives? Before the film credits roll, Sandra Bullock’s voice rings true:

“I read a story the other day about a boy from the projects. No Daddy, in and out of foster care. He’d been killed in a
gang fight at Hurt Village. In the last paragraph they talked about his superb athletic skills and how different his life
might have been if he hadn’t fallen behind and dropped out of school. He was twenty-one years old. The day he died. 
It was his birthday.
That could have been anyone.”

Watching The Blind Side, I was definitely inspired. Give it a chance and you will be too. 

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