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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: David Walliams

The Look of Love (2013)

The Look of Love (2013)

At one point in his life, Paul Raymond (Steve Coogan) seemingly had it all. He was a Soho adult magazine publisher and entrepreneur that seemed to have all of the money, all of the drugs, all of the women, and all of the fancy people around him to help him out. However, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, before he got on top, Raymond started with just a few adult burlesque houses, where nudity and sexual innuendo was a constant cause for controversy. Eventually, it all came to work out for him, because not only did people want to see naked women, they also wanted to be in the company of them, as well as Raymond, who was, in all honesty, a charming chap. And while he was closer and closer to becoming one of Britain’s wealthiest men, he had some issues to deal with, mostly those in his personal life with wife Jean (Anna Friel), who he can’t seem to stay faithful to, or his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots), who seems to be taking all of the drinking, sex, and drugs a little bit to hard and may prove to be her ultimate undoing.

Life is good when you have Anna Friel on your arm.

The Look of Love is one of those glossy, glammy, and glitzy biopics about rich people having all of the fun in the world. It doesn’t really try to inform or educate us, nor does it ever really set out to change the nature of biopics as we know it; it has a subject, it has a story, and it has a sort of hook. That’s all we need.

But for some reason, coming from director Michael Winterbottom, something seems to still be missing. See, it isn’t that the Look of Love can’t be entertaining when its living it up with all of the excess of drugs, sex, booze, and partying, because it does, it’s just that when that is all said and done, it doesn’t have much else to offer. A good portion of this can have to do with the material just not working and Winterbottom’s rather lax-direction, but it may all just come down to the fact that Paul Raymond himself just isn’t all that interesting of a fella to have a whole movie about.

Or at the very least, a movie in which he is shown as a flawed, but mostly lovable human being.

And it’s odd, too, because Raymond definitely gets the whole treatment; everything from his success as a businessman, to his failure as a family man is clearly shown and explored. But for some reason, it still feels like the movie is struggling with what to do, or say about this man. Sure, he brought himself up from nothing, to become more than just someone, or something, but is that about it? What did he do to get to that? Who was he with? What was the rest of the world like? Any sort of conflict?

And above all else, why do we care?

Truth is, we sort of don’t.

It’s even better when you’ve got a fine ‘stache.

That isn’t to say that Winterbottom and Coogan especially, don’t seem to try here, because they do. As Raymond, Coogan gets a chance to be light, funny, and a little dirty, which is something the man has always excelled in. But when it does come to the movie showing us more to Raymond behind the lovable and wacky facade, the movie stumbles a bit and Coogan’s performance can’t really save things in that department, either. We see that he loves his daughter and is fair to his ex-wives and lovers, but does that really give us a total reason to have a whole hour-and-a-half-long movie about his life and successes?

Once again, not really. It helps that Anna Friel and Imogen Poots are good in supporting-roles, but even they feel a bit underwritten. Friel’s ex-wife character is gone for such a long stretch of time that we almost forget about her, until she shows back up, gets naked, gets drunk, and has some fun, and Poots’ daughter character, while initially promising at first, turns into a convention that biopics like these love to utilize. Granted, she was a real person and the movie isn’t taking any narrative short-cuts in this respect, but still, it just doesn’t wholly feel right.

Was there more to her? Or her mother? Or even Raymond? Once again, we may never know.

Consensus: At the very least, the Look of Love is an entertaining, if also by-the-books biopic of a man we probably didn’t really need a whole movie dedicated to in the first place.

5 / 10

And when you’ve got plenty to drink and snort. But that’s obvious by now.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Whoever thought that walking, flesh-eating, pieces of meat could be so darn humorous!?! The Brits, that’s who!

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is your typical, 29-year-old Brit: He has a lousy job that nobody respects him at; he’s got a loser best friend named Ed (Nick Frost) who doesn’t clean up after himself and pisses off the other roommate; he’s having problems with his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) who just wants him to grow up and take charge for once; and his mum (Penelope Wilton)’s annual-visit is coming up, which he doesn’t mind showing up for, except that he hates his step-dad (Bill Nighy). And yet, as if his life couldn’t have gotten any worse or depressing enough, now human-beings are starting to keel over and become reanimated as zombies. No reason is given, but everybody is told to stay in their houses, lock all of the doors, and keep away from the zombies. However, Shaun and Ed do otherwise, and decide to fetch up all of their friends and family, go on down to the pub where they can stay safe, and also have a few pints and smokes as well. Sounds like the perfect plan, except they’re SO MANY ZOMBIES.

With The World’s End coming out this weekend, I thought it’d be best for me to not only catch back up on two of Edgar Wright’s movies that I haven’t seen in awhile, but review them and remind myself why I should be as hyped-up as everybody else in the world (especially the Brits) seems to be for the end with the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. So, with all of that out of the way, why not go back to a day when nobody outside of America knew who the hell Simon Pegg or Bill Nighy were, and when every horror-comedy had to live up to An American Werewolf in London.

Cause we've all needed a good reason to get rid of that dreadful mix-tape you got from your high school sweetheart.

Cause we’ve all needed a good reason to get rid of that dreadful mix-tape you got from your high school sweetheart.

I almost want to say “the finer days”, but they really weren’t because this movie came around and shook things up like never before. And believe it or not, but the horror genre hasn’t been the same since. Screw the comedy aspect, this is a horror movie through-and-through. It’s just done by a bunch of Brits, so obviously it’s got to have wit and sly humor! Duh!

Anyway, this is probably the 5th viewing I’ve had of this flick and I have to say, I could go 5, 10, hell, even 20 more times of seeing this flick and never getting bored or tired of it! One of the main reasons behind that, and with all of Wright’s flicks, is that there is always something new or inventive to spot-out, especially when you’ve seen what goes down and know what happens. Sometimes the lines are so ironic and so full of foreshadowing, you’ll wonder how in the world it got past you originally, but such is the talent of Wright and Pegg. I mean, Christ, it only took me to my 3rd viewing until I realized that the whole “Queen, pool-stick fighting sequence” was all choreographed to go along with the song. Call me slow, call me an idiot, call me a Yankee, call me what you will; but it slid by me, and you’re only a bigger fool if you don’t admit to at least missing a few jokes here and there. Even some of the most loyal natives of Britain will find themselves scratching their heads at a few references and that’s the beauty behind it all.

It’s hilarious, but in a way that doesn’t take any cheap-shots. Yet, it’s still able to make you hold your gut with the most simplest forms of comedy like slapstick, like farting, and even the simple, dart-accidentally-sticks-into-someones’s-head joke. Even then, it’s still very, very funny and continued to make me laugh, while also holding my attention up on the screen, just hoping that I didn’t miss out on something that everybody else seemed to understand or be laughing at. So glad I didn’t see this in a movie theater with a bunch of smarter, more-sophisticated people, or else I would have felt like an even bigger idiot than I originally did when I first saw this. But, nonetheless, it’s still funny any way you write it, and that’s some big, effin’ credit to Pegg and Wright, aka, the two script-writers who understand the horror/zombie genre, yet, at the same time, know its limitations to where it can get serious, as well as jokey, but also be quite effective.

And that aspect behind this whole movie is what really separates it from the rest of the pack of horror-comedy flicks, and will continue to do so until a better one comes along down the drain-pipe (highly doubt it, at least not for awhile anyway). Everything starts off all goofy and witty, as if everybody involved knows how far-fetched it is for these things to actually be waking up from the dead, and start eating/infecting others, but with also a smudge of realism, where the people involved (you know, the ones not zombified) could easily be doing the same things in real life, had this actually ever happened. They realize that even though the rest of man-kind may be screwed for eternity, you might as well suck it up and have a good time while you still can; hence why they go to the pub, plan on getting blitzed, and enjoy whacking the shit out of zombies whenever one gets in their way. However, it also gets very serious by the end, and you realize that not only is this a satire of what we expect from a horror movie, but it’s also its own horror movie in and of itself. Wright and Pegg not only conquered the unimaginable by having us laugh our assess off by the way these characters interact and make jokes, but also by having us scare our pants off and actually care about these people once they begin to kick the bucket, and get eaten alive. It’s not just a funny-take on the horror genre, but it’s also a love-letter as well; one that makes me really glad to know that George A. Romero actually loved.

When you’ve made that man happy and give his seal of approval, then you know you’ve done something right in this world.

Quite your moaning! *Reference

Quite your moaning! *Reference

Hell, while I’m speaking about these characters, why not just talk about them right now, rather than wasting all of your time! It’s great to see how big Simon Pegg hit it after this movie, because not only is he very funny with his dry wit and humor, but he’s also very capable of coming off as the everyday, kind of loser that anybody could relate to or cheer on. Shaun is a bit deadbeat, but he’s a nice guy that you care for right away, and can’t wait to start seeing lay down the law when the dead begin to come alive. Same goes for Nick Frost as Ed, who keeps things light and punchy, whenever it seems to get all dark, cold, and surprisingly scary. Both have a lovable chemistry that makes me no less surprised knowing that it all came from their real life friendship. Good for those two, cause lord knows I would not be able to get along with any of my friends when I’m going all “method”.

And everybody else in this small, but effective cast is great, too. Kate Ashfield is a nice fit as Liz, Shaun’s present/ex-girlfriend that just wants him to grow up and stop being such a boob, which makes it easier for us to actually care about her, as well as them, since they not only seem good for each other, but may even make it out of this thing alive, together; Penelope Wilton is funny, but also quite endearing as Shaun’s clueless mum; Bill Nighy is a great fit as her husband/Shaun’s step-dad (and don’t get it mixed up!), proving to us that he’s got the comedic-chops to make this strict, weird dude work, but also give us a scene that touches us on more levels than we’d expect from a horror-comedy, especially because it happens so early in the game; Lucy Davis is fine and snappy as Liz’s roommate, who is also is a wannabe actress; and Dylan Moran is her sheepish, deuchey boyfriend who can’t stand up for himself, or anybody else for that matter, but seems to be taking Liz’s side the most out of everybody else’s. There’s plenty more cameos and hidden-roles here as well, but way too many to get into, just make sure you keep a close eye on some of these zombies; some may be famous faces, hidden underneath layers and layers of blood and gore, aka, make-up and prosthetic, but you catch my drift.

By the way, “Sorry”. Thought I’d leave it at that.

Consensus: Still funny, still smart, still quotable, and still able to be taken seriously enough as a full-on horror movie, regardless of how many times you see it, Shaun of the Dead did the horror genre a favor 9 years ago, woke everybody up out of their conventionality, made them work for their laughs and violence, and it hasn’t quite been the same since. Hallelujah!

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

Wait, did they steal this scene from Warm Bodies or something?

Wow! Like rip-off Warm Bodies, much?

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Just eat cakes! Who cares if she said it or not!

If you were the one who fell asleep during “the French portion” of World History Class, don’t worry; this movie has you covered. Kirsten Dunst plays the Archduchess of Austria and soon-to-be Queen of France from her beginning days where her and her husband, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) struggle to bang and get pregnant, to the latter where she had a whole country demanding her head. Funny how time changes, isn’t it?

Even though I know the song about her, and I know the (untrue) statement she apparently made, I still know a lot about Marie Antoinette; who she was, what she did, and all of the other background shizz about her. No, it’s not that I’m some weird dude who enjoys looking up historical figures, it’s mainly because the class I’m taking now for college, just got done covering her, France at the time, and the aftermath. So, yeah, basically: I know my shit.

Apparently, by the looks of it, Sofia Coppola doesn’t. There were plenty of times in this flick where I wanted to slap her, or slap something by all of the historical inaccuracies here, solely for the fact that it probably would have helped the film. I get that Coppola couldn’t be any less concerned with the nitty-bitty details of M-A’s life, but when you have a movie that’s focusing on making her a sympathetic/real person; you need to have all of those details in there and not simply make random shit up. I don’t mind when a movie does that just for shits and gigs, but it didn’t feel right here. It felt like Coppola tried to do whatever she could to keep this movie fun, entertaining, and interesting, but even taking liberties with the story didn’t seem to help either. Something else was going on here that I still need to put my finger on.

Ehh, I've seen bigger and more lush!

Ehh, I’ve seen bigger and more lush!

Coppola has that certain style to her directing and writing that works wonders, and other times; totally misses the mark. Here’s one of the latter-instances. Coppola is a gifted-filmmaker in the way that she is able to tell a story and an emotion, not just through having the characters say something, but by giving us a visual or a single-shot that convey whatever it is that she wants to convey. She’s one of the very-rare filmmakers that can do that now, and actually get away with it without being labeled as “pretentious”, “snobby”, or “an artsy-farsty mofo”. However, it doesn’t aid in her in anyway here, and makes the story seem duller instead.

For instance, there are plenty of scenes where it seems as if Coppola didn’t really seem to worry too much about the story, and decided to focus on what made the movie look pretty. It works, that’s for sure, but it does seem like over-kill and a bit of a waste, considering that this is a 2 hour film, that’s primarily dedicated to shots of Dunst playing in the grass and looking happy. Once again, doesn’t matter if you want to pull off a good shot once or twice, but when it starts to take over the rest of the movie and get rid of the substance, then it gets dull. Very, very dull.

But I can’t talk too much crap on Coppola and her visuals, because she does a hell of a great job with them. Not only is this movie beautiful from head-to-toe, but it’s also very impressive by all that it was able to capture on film. Apparently Coppola was actually able to film in and out of the actual Versailles, which is an opportunity that Coppola does not take for granted, considering she makes us feel as if we really are with all of these high-class, royal S.O.B’s, and watching them as they party, drink, smoke, have sex, fondle, and play games as if they were at a P. Diddy party.

Oh, and they are all doing it to the sweet tunes of whatever the hell Coppola had on her iPod at the time of filming. In the beginning of the flick, we get a bits and pieces of actual, alternative-rock songs playing somewhere in the background, but for the most part; Coppola keeps it cool with the anachronisms. Then, out of nowhere, Coppola seems to have had enough with 18th Century ways, and decides to unleash what she’s got ringing in her ears, and it’s all thanks to that Bow Wow Wow song that you’ve heard a million times (and done better by this guy, by the way). After this track comes seemingly out of nowhere, then Coppola goes ball to the walls with any punk rock/alt. rock song in the history of man that she can find, and it works more than it doesn’t, because it actually glues you into the party-atmosphere that these snobs seem to be reveling in. Goes to show you that Tarantino and Luhrmann aren’t alone when it comes to using songs randomly, but perfectly to fit a tone.

The fact that Coppola was able to make this story more centered towards M-A, what she went through, how she got through it, and all of the problems she had to overcome, worked in most areas, but didn’t in others. The areas that it did work in were all thanks to Kirsten Dunst as M-A because she gives not only a great performance that shows her being young, nimble, wild, and free to do whatever she wants and (sort of) get away with it, but it’s also a very subtle one in the way that she’s able to convey so many feelings this lady must have been going through in real-life. The fact that M-A was so young when she got married, was forced to get pregnant, and basically thrown on the throne as queen is something that makes you think about how she got over all of it, but also makes you feel for her a bit, the same way you would want someone to feel for you, had you been thrown into the same situation. This part of the character is where Dunst works best in and once the movie decides to drop the champagne, the cakes, and the sex-games, then that’s when Dunst decides to take herself a bit seriously and you see a young girl who has seemingly come into her own. However, as we all know: it was too little, too late for her.

"Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year."

“Not tonight, honey. Maybe next year.”

In a role that seemed more like an in-joke, rather than anything worth even taking seriously, Jason Schwartzman does fine with what he has to do as Louis XVI, but the movie isn’t all that bothered with him or his character. The whole first-half of the movie is practically dedicated to him just being a pansy, not being able to make love to his wife, and knocking her up. Once that’s all said and done with, then the guy is shown as a pansy who can’t keep his wife satisfied and basically allows for her to stay at these parties where she (presumably) bangs other dudes. Don’t know how much of that is actually true, but from what I’m able to gather: Louis XVI was a bit of a wimp.

The rest of the cast is fine and seem like they had a great time going on the set for a little play-date they liked to call dress-up. Rip Torn plays the philandering king to perfection because he’s grimy as you could imagine; Asia Argento loves scumming it up as the whore that the king is philandering with; Judy Davis does her usual, weird-face thingy that we all know her for; and Steve Coogan is here as well, but not really doing anything funny. When you have “The Coogs” in a movie, I don’t care what it is: you have to make him do or say something in the least-bit funny. Without any of that, what’s the point of even having him around in the first-place? Just for show? Baloney!

Consensus: Coppola’s style and vision slows the feel and pace of Marie Antoinette down, especially when it doesn’t need to, but at least it’s still left to be seen with it’s beautiful look, desired-attention to the finer-details (talking about the set-pieces, not the actual story), and fine performance from Dunst in the lead role, that showed that she was maturing more and more by the roles she began to take.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"One day, you're going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, just like your mother was."

“One day, you’re going to grow up to be a royal, pain-in-the-ass, who wasted all of her country’s money on lavish parties to satisfy your boredom.”