Movie Review: Shall We Dance? (2004)

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Plot:

A romantic comedy where a bored, overworked Estate Lawyer, upon first sight of a beautiful instructor, signs up for ballroom dancing lessons.

Rating: 6.5/10

Shall We Dance was quite a surprise to me. I was ready to go on a rampage if it turned into a film that tried to justify an older man cheating on his perfectly nice wife. It seemed inevitable when John Clark joined a dancing studio because of the lovely Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) staring out into the night dramatically every time John’s bus drove past the studio where she worked. He is warned early on that Paulina has a broken heart and a dented ego and that she’s really talented. He tries to connect as he feels the need to be involved in some stranger’s personal business. Luckily she tells him where to get off and that she’s on to his shit. The movie steers in another direction then at least, with John (Richard Gere) learning to love the new skill he’s acquiring. His busy wife is alerted by their daughter that John is happier and acting very twinkle toes suddenly. She gets PI Devine (Richard Jenkins) to investigate and he delivers the real story – John is dancing, but not cheating. Through a whole lot of escalation and dance competitions, John eventually finds himself with a wife whose feelings have been hurt because he hid so much of what makes him happy in the past few months from her.

What I liked?

The cast is charming. Richard Gere is as classically handsome as always, Susan Sarandon is as always beautiful and talented, and Stanley Tucci provides a whole lot of funny moments and impressed me with his comedic ability. The same can be said for Lisa Ann Walter, who plays the really honest and abrasive Bobbie. I liked her attitude and while she could be harsh, I really enjoyed the character. I also really thought Bobby Cannavale and Omar Benson Miller had some great moments as John’s classmates Chic and Vern.

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How Shall We Dance concluded. As I mentioned, I was sure this film would be a justification of cheating episode and I don’t have time for that. It turned out differently than expected and I am grateful for that.

The dancing was a whole lot of fun. I really enjoy dancing movies a whole lot even if they have questionable plot lines.

The pace of the movie is well executed and didn’t drag out for ages.

Stanley Tucci’s role as Link was quite funny and had some gentle reminders in that straight men are also able to be dancers and entertainers, and that society generally gives them a really hard time. His whole costume of wigs and false teeth entertained me to no end and some of the funniest moments on screen come from him.

What I didn’t like:

Jennifer Lopez can dance, she can sing, she can be Jenny from the Block, but what she is unable to do is act. I was left as uninspired as usual by her. No real emotion or even a hint of conviction in her character, all she has to rely on is her dance moves and girly voice to complete the role as Paulina. I’m not even sure why she is on the DVD cover as there were a ton of characters that deserved to be on it rather.

I enjoyed Shall We Dance. It is a reminder that life doesn’t have to be over after a certain age and that you can still experience new things. It is also to a lesser degree a film about being yourself and owning what you believe in. It also contains Richard Gere, one of the most handsome older men still alive. For a romantic drama, Shall We Dance fails to annoy and is enjoyable to sit through, which is as much as you can generally expect from these type of films.

Have you seen this? Tell me in the comment section 🙂

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Movie Review: Spotlight (2015)

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Plot: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Rating: 8/10

I was so in the mood to watch this at one point, and it paid off. Spotlight deserved its nomination and victory in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. It is combined as a solid film with packed performances and a thrilling plot. Liev Schreiber was particularly good – I’ve always considered him an accomplished actor, but this is some of his finest work. I was initially convinced that this man had to have had a motive – he was so clear on where he was heading to reveal how underhanded and terrible the Catholic Church was with dealing with the rampant child molestation in the Church. He also immediately requested that the project be started as soon as he walked in. However, truth was his only motive – he wanted the story out there. No secret vendettas or dramas, just the truth.

It is quite amusing how desperate they were to have Rachel McAdams appear ordinary. You can’t hide that level of beauty. She is an actress that can convey so much with her eyes. Her sympathy and anger and compassion towards the victims came through without her touching the people she was interviewing at the most once. I loved her role;she was equal to her male colleagues and treated as such.

Mark Ruffalo gives another outstanding performance, but I’ve come to accept and expect that from him. He’s quite the celebrated actor, but I feel he deserves more accolades – I can’t really name one movie where I thought he did a bad job.

Michael Keaton delivers another important and noteworthy performance. He’s in a class of his own, and I must say, even though he’s quite old now there is a virility and energy to him that remains appealing after all this time.

I can actually list the entire cast here – it is outstanding work and I cannot praise that enough. It made the movie so much better.

As for the storyline – it is harrowing and even more disturbing when you acknowledge that this is the truth. I was raised Catholic as a child and although we left when the clergy couldn’t answer religious questions from my father properly, it is still upsetting to think that at least a percentage of these priests are child molesters. Spotlight isn’t even the brainchild of some gifted writer; it is based on true events. The Catholic Church is one of the most controversial bodies that have ever existed. I loved that line from sasf that the Catholic Church thinks in centuries. I see that the Catholic Church had some issues with the depiction but it is obvious that they would have done so however the movie turned out. I personally thought it was a clear minded approach to the horrors that these children had suffered under the hands of those who were meant to protect them. The movie could have gone on a witch hunt against the Catholics and it didn’t a great achievement by the script writers and directors.

I liked the anger these journalists developed. Professionalism only goes that far and if they continued through without getting angry or upset it would have been too cold. Mark Ruffalo’s outburst was raw and powerful and completely justified.

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Spotlight is a slow burn – don’t expect quick bursts of drama with this one. It is intelligent and thought provoking. It will make you feel outraged and sickened. I think it does exactly what it is supposed to do. I enjoyed it, not in a happy way but in a understanding more of the sick human race way, and would recommend that you give it a try. Definitely worth the watch.

Movie Review: The Mockingjay Part II (2015)

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Plot: As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Rating: 7.5/10

Mockingjay Part II had a lot to live up to. The not so stellar opinion of Mockingjay Part I probably increased the pressure significantly. Did it live up to the hype? You will have to go see it to decide for yourself, but I liked it well enough. It doesn’t come close to disrupting what I consider my favourite films of 2015, but I found the movie well done, very sad and a good end to the franchise.

What is it about this film series that makes it much more palatable than other Dystopian dramas? I really enjoyed the Divergent books but the movie adaptions run great risk of falling into complete obscurity. The Hunger Games, however, does not run this risk. Why? Firstly, the cast is stellar. Secondly, the directing is spot on and I think a great visualization of what Suzanne Collins thought. Lastly? The story itself carries resonance in a world plagued by terror and war. No one can possibly watch the Hunger Games series and realise that no, we aren’t sending people into an arena to fight to death, but that it is very close to our every day of warfare.

I considered Mockinjay Part I fine, much against popular opinion, but Part II is definitely better than its’ predecessor. It is mostly due to the fact that the last part of the book has all the action – part I had the unfortunate task of making a movie out of a very dull and depressing part of a very thin book.

The biggest flaw in the film is most certainly that the watchers who didn’t read the book will be confused in many places – even I, who did read the book, thought that the movie was confusing at places.

It also feels rushed – the film is short for a last film and there is so much action that a few breather scenes – something I rarely recommend – should have been included.

My favourite part? Josh Hutcherson. I am a full out Gale Hawthorne fan, but Josh Hutcherson was born to play the sweet Peeta Mellark – that incredibly kind person who managed to keep something of himself despite the fact that he had gone through enough to destroy kindness once and for all. He broke my heart in places, and watching him struggle through the lies the Capitol had fed him was really very painful.

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The best scene? Definitely those fucking mutts. Pardon my French there, but what WERE those things? I was terrified. I expect them to show up in my dreams soon. WTF. And the death there that supposed to happen? It did, and it was as terrible as in the books.

Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for what she does for Katniss Everdeen. Say what about how annoying she is on the red carpet, because she is, Jennifer Lawrence brings so much character to that selfish girl in the books. You get to understand that Katniss is going mad – she’s been through too much and has seen so many horrors that she is not stable and she has lost most of her kindness.

I am slowly becoming a big fan of Liam Hemsworth as well – not near to the admiration I have for older brother Chris, but quite a lot. I think that he did very well in here and acted his best since the start of the series. I do wish that they could have included something about what happens to him in the end – the book leaves that out as well, but I think the movies could have concocted something.

There are a few changes between book and movie, but as nothing major is altered it isn’t something I would complain about just yet.

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I think I am always going to consider Catching Fire the best of the series, but Mockinjay Part II is a good end to a very good franchise. It is a bit sad to say good-bye, and if you have no clue what to expect in the movie, just be aware that Suzanne Collins made J.K. Rowling look like a merciful goddess who spared all your favourite characters from a grizzly death. That is all I’m going to say. I hope you enjoy it, and can speak fondly of a great franchise, as I am planning to do.

Marvelous Mondays: Captain America COLAB: Me and My bestie!

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Abraham Erskin: “Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”

So, if you are wondering if you are hallucinating whether you are seeing double (it is Monday) because there was just earlier another Marvelous Mondays post, do not fret, you are not losing your lovely mind. I, however, lost mine earlier this month when exams started. I planned TWO posts (Rob’s Daredevil review) for today, and now I am keeping up the awesomeness by posting this one too.

This post is something I’ve been excited for for ages… me and Zoë watching something together and then bringing thoughts out into the world. I do love Captain America a whole lot, I think they are great movies, excellently produced and directed and some of the best after the Iron Man franchise.

So, read and enjoy, it is a bit lengthy but we have really intense conversations, me and my best friend.

Plot: Steve Rogers, a rejected military soldier transforms into Captain America after taking a dose of a “Super-Soldier serum”. But being Captain America comes at a price if he attempts to take down a war monger and a terrorist organization. (via IMDb)

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The above slide refers to where Peggy clocks the bully soldier that enrolled with Steve. I love Peggy! She is actually an admirable lady who doesn’t need a skintight black jumpsuit to save the day.

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We were suitably outraged that Sebastian Stan’s ice bucket challenge didn’t have him drenched in ice. (it’s because he didn’t follow the rules, you know :D)

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I have always had such issues with “colonel” being pronounced Kernel. I mean really.captain america 14

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Movie Review: Burlesque (2010)

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Ali Rose (Christina Aguilera) quits her job as a waitress in Iowa and moves to LA to become a performer. Because her manager won’t pay her the rest of her salary, she takes it from the till. Her friend warns her that he will come after her because of it.

After unsuccessfully applying at dance clubs she finds herself at a burlesque club. She is fascinated by the show they put on, and becomes determined to get a job there. Jack (Cam Gigandet) the attractive bartender tells her to ask to speak to Tess (Cher) for a position. Tess is very busy and sends Ali to Sean (Stanley Tucci), who in turn sends her back to Jack to leave her details. She takes matters into her own hands and starts working as a waitress, telling Jack that if she isn’t better than all his waitresses she will leave. She gets to keep her job.

Ali works as a waitress and keeps an eye on the girls, memorizing the routines. After her room gets trashed presumably by her ex-boss, Jack offers Ali his couch until she has the cash for a new place. She accepts, thinking he is gay (because of his eyeliner). He quickly tells her that he is engaged to a Natalie, a girl who is working on a play in New York. When Natalie’s play gets extended he asks Ali to become his roommate until she returns.

One of the dancers Georgia (Julianne Hough) learns she is pregnant and a replacement is needed for her. Ali auditions and convinces Tess and Sean to give her a chance. Nikki (Kristen Bell), the lead singer and bitch in the club is angry because she is jealous and competitive.

Tess and her ex-husband Vince (Peter Gallagher) co-own the club. They are in deep financial problems and the bank is threatening with closing them down. Marcus (Eric Dane) is a business man and frequent visitor of the club who wants to buy them out, but Tess is determined to keep control of the club even if Vince is trying to get her to sell. When Marcus sees Ali dancing he shifts his admiration from Nikki to her and intensifies Nikki’s dislike in Ali.

Sean notices Jack staring at Ali and tells him that she won’t be single forever. Nikki arrives drunk at work for the umpteenth time and Tess tells her that Ali is going on in her place. Ali goes on and Nikki pulls the plugs to embarrass Ali because all the dancers lip-sync the songs. As Sean is lowering the curtains Ali starts to sing and she is a raging success. Tess tells the dancers they are rewriting the show around Ali’s talent and Nikki just gets angrier about everything. Ali starts seeing Marcus socially and Jack knows it is his fault for not making a move earlier. Nikki pics a fight with Tess and she resigns and tells Tess that she slept with Vince the night after their honeymoon ended. Tess smashes Nikki’s window with a crowbar in anger.

At Georgia’s wedding, Jack fights with Natalie over the phone when she extends her stay in New-York once again. He tells Ali that he broke off the engagement and gets drunk. They sleep together afterward. The next day a furious Natalie (Dianna Agron) shows up to find them in bed together. Jack claims they broke it off but Natalie insists that she doesn’t just get dumped that easily over a phone. Jack asks Ali to leave the flat so he and Natalie can fight in peace and she leaves, very angry with him. She heads to Sean to cool off and accepts a dinner invitation with Marcus when he calls. At Marcus’ house she notices the set of buildings he plans to build on the ground where the Burlesque is. She tells him that he is wrong and leaves, and remembers something he told her previously – “air rights” – which means you buy the empty space above a building so that nothing can be built above a certain height. Ali gives the idea to Tess and they go to the CEO of the company that is building flats in front of the Burlesque club claiming beautiful views. They get them to buy the air rights on top of Burlesque and Tess has enough cash to settle her debts and buy Vince out.

Nikki shows up a few days later to apologize and admit she never slept with Vince. Tess accepts her apology and takes her back into the club. Nikki and Ali don’t make peace but acknowledges each other’s existence. Jack finds Ali and asks for her forgiveness and that tells her it is definitely over between him and Natalie. They reconcile and hey give her the song he finished “Show Me How You Burlesque” and she and the dancers perform it at the club.

Rating: 5.5/10

Burlesque was enjoyable but not spectacular.

The movie is a B-star all-star cast with people who are busy making it in Hollywood. The more things I watch the more I see how Julianne Hough climbed the ladder. Her acting has definitely increased in the last four years but I enjoyed her as Georgia, the girl who found happiness when she didn’t think she deserved it.

The movie was something that went aiming to be Moulin Rouge and never fully got there. Firstly, Baz Luhrman wasn’t involved. I think of all the directors out there he is the only one with a heart artistic enough to make musicals properly work on the big screen. Secondly, the lead cast (Cher and Christina Aguilera) are not as good as Kidman or McGregor – although both have significantly better voices. Thirdly, the script wasn’t that good and the punch lines and sarcasm not delivered with conviction – it seemed terribly rehearsed. Christina Aguilera debuted as an actress in Burlesque, and she will never be Oscar worthy, but she isn’t a complete hopeless case. Her voice is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. The woman gives me goosebumps when she sings. Cher was distinctive and entertaining but I don’t find her a good actress. She did well as Tess, a faded star who is determined to keep what she dearly loves. I liked her stubbornness to not sell her club.

The movie had this one gaping plot hole that left me frustrated. Ali runs away from the bar she works at in Iowa, taking all the money she is owed and another waitress warns her that the manager will find her and make her pay. Her apartment is later trashed but it is never really clear that it was the guy from the bar. So did he really let her get away with everything?

The more I see of Cam Gigandet (what is with the weird surnames in Hollywood these days?!) the more I like him. Not just because of his looks which is mighty fine, but he seems to have a definite charm. He was hilarious in Easy A and played James in Twilight very well. He wore a lot of eyeliner in Burlesque as bartender slash musician. I completely understood Ali wondering about him being straight there for a bit.

Stanley Tucci is always so much fun to watch. I love him in everything. He is in the Hunger Games (excellent), the Devil Wears Prada (Really good), and he plays a mindboggling straight character in Easy A (I don’t care if he is straight or not, he is just always cast as a gay man). I always find him true to his character and he always gives an in-depth portrayal no matter what.

The costumes were spectacular. I thought the movie gave great attention to detail with the outfits and how every dancer’s was different but worked together.

Only worth watching if you enjoy musicals.