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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Lindsay Duncan

Gifted (2017)

Math is hard. But man, it sure can bring families together.

Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is a single man raising a child prodigy named Mary (Mckenna Grace), who also happens to be his niece. His sister/Mary’s mother, unfortunately, killed herself due to issues with the family and it’s because of this that Frank has taken it upon himself to ensure that Mary doesn’t turn out to have too much pressure put on her. However, she’s incredibly brilliant, is very good at math, and doesn’t just know it, but also allows for everyone around her to know it, too. It’s both a blessing, as well as a curse – a blessing because she’s smart and will always be successful, but a curse because going to the public school that she’s at, doesn’t really challenge her. Like, at all. Eventually, people around Mary begin to take notice and worry that she’s not being challenged as much as she should. Enter Frank’s mother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), who sees it as her task to help get Mary the right treatment she deserves for her genius brain and ensure that her career is an accomplished and masterful one, much like hers was.

You can find out what the square-root of 3,005 is, but you still can’t read? What child prodigy you are!

Everything about the way Gifted looks, feels, hell, even sounds, just brings gags to my throat. It’s not that I don’t mind these schmaltzy tales of hot, attractive people battling happiness and love, but it’s that so often, they aren’t done correctly. Of course, Nicholas Sparks is definitely to be blamed for that, but it goes one step further than that – it almost feels like these kinds of movies are bound to fail, right from the instance that they are announced, filmed, and released to the wide public. The only kind of schmaltz that seems to work nowadays is the pure Oscar-bait that cares about as tears, as much as they care about votes, which means that they want people to cry, by any means necessary.

And then, like I’ve said before, there’s Gifted, a movie that should have absolutely despised and hated, yet, somehow, came away thinking, “Man, why can’t all these kinds of movies be like this?”

Which is to say that, yes, Gifted works. Is it a perfect movie? Nope. Is it an original one? Not really. Is it still kind of schmaltzy and manipulative? Sort of, yes. But everything about it still kind of works in the way that you wouldn’t expect it to. For one, it actually has a heart and soul that you can feel, not just because it’s telling you to feel it, but because the characters are so lovely, the relationships are so well-drawn, and yes, the actual story is worth getting wrapped-up in.

It’s not a very complex tale, but it didn’t need to be; Sparks’ movies are always so bogged down in silly twists, like alcoholic, abusive ex-husbands, or plot-contrived cancer-scares, that after awhile, it’s nice to get a movie that gives us characters, a conflict, and allows it all to play out, without trying too hard to add too much into the rest of the mix. Director Marc Webb and screenwriter Nick Flynn know what they’re working with here and because of that, it doesn’t feel like they’re taking any cheap shots.

Essentially, what we see is what we get.

Don’t worry, everyone: Octavia is just the sassy black neighbor. Not the sassy black nanny. For once.

Of course, that sounds so easy when put like that, but honestly, it’s just nice to get one of these movies. Flynn’s screenplay is solid in that every character has at least one funny-quip to use at their disposal, but everyone still feels like well-rounded, three-dimensional characters, not made out to be god-like creatures, of fire-breathing devil-worshipers – everyone here is a human being, and in that sense, they’re all complicated. Flynn doesn’t forget to overdue the cute nature of his story, but hey, it’s not cloying, which is all that matters.

And Webb, while no doubt trying to get back in his good graces after the two Spider-Man movies, finds himself giving us a smart, humane tale about humans again. Sure, it’s nowhere near (500) Days of Summer, but then again, not many movies are; it’s just nice to have him back, directing original flicks for a change. Hopefully, he’s here to stay and not ready to get sucked up by the machine that is known as Hollywood.

Because what better way to stick it to the man than have your movie star Captain America himself, Chris Evans?

No, I kid. Regardless, Evans is good here in that he’s his usual charming, snappy-self, but there’s also more to him than meets the surface; the relaxed, chill nature he gives off, eventually starts to show signs of sadness that’s deeper than you’d think. Evans has been looking for a hit outside of the Marvel universe for quite some time and it’s nice to see him finally get it here. Of course, though, the movie is definitely Mckenna Grace’s for the taking and as Mary, she’s quite great. Sure, the character is a type, in that she’s precocious as hell and seems like a 30-year-old trapped inside of a 7-year-old’s body, but it works because you believe in her as this character. If she ever is annoying, or a bit of a pain, it’s because she’s meant to be and not because the movie thinks that she’s just way too cute for our own good.

She is, surprisingly enough, like a real kid. And we get so very few of them in movies nowadays.

Consensus: As schmaltzy and sappy as it can sometimes get, Gifted also works because it has a heart, well-written script, and most of all, solid ensemble of characters who all feel realized and interesting, despite the eventual conventions of the plot.

7 / 10

Like uncle, like niece. Right?

Photos Courtesy of: SlashfilmThrifty Jinxy, Indiewire

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Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Never have hallucinogenics been so dull.

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is a girl who dreams big, beautiful and often times, crazy things. So often so, that the real world surrounding her just doesn’t do anything for her. That’s why when it turns out that she’s set to wed a British chump, she can’t help but run away to her own world of extravagant and out-of-this-world beings. However, in this world, Alice does’t know if she’s dreaming it all, or if it’s really happening. Either way, Alice is thrown into a whole new world that she’s just getting used to. In this world, Alice meets all sorts of colorful and wild characters like the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), her sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), and then, there’s mystical characters like the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and most importantly, the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry). All of whom are characters that Alice has at least one or two interactions with in this world, but mostly of all whom make her wonder if she’s in a dream that she needs to wake up out of, or a world that she needs to escape from. Either way, she needs to do something, and quick!

Tim and Johnny loved dress-up just a little too much.

Tim and Johnny loved dress-up just a little too much.

It’s an honest surprise how bad Alice in Wonderland turned out to be, because you’d think that this would be something in Tim Burton’s wheelhouse. Alice in Wonderland is the kind of oddly strange, but endearing story that benefits from an extra bit of weirdness, as well as visuals, and considering that Burton is quite solid at being both “weird”, as well as “visual”, it’s almost a no-brainer that he’d be chosen for this.

So why oh why did everything go so wrong?

Well, I think it’s safe to say that the script Burton may have been working with here was probably really, really bad. For one, it never knows if it wants to be overly-goofy, or just plain weird, but with a darkening and serious tone. Burton himself never quite figures that out, either, but it seems like the script is going to battle with itself over whether or not it wants to set out and scare people, or if it wants to just be a silly old time, where colorful things and characters do crazy, over-the-top things.

Honestly, I’m perfectly fine with the later, because Burton himself has proven, time and time again, that he’s more than able to handle all of that and make it fun, even when it can get brooding. Here though, it never fully comes together. Burton always seems as if he’s trying to settle on one style, but instead of sticking to one in particular, he goes back and forth so often, that we never know what to expect with the movie, nor do we actually care. It’s just such a mess in its own right, that the time it takes to figure its own identity and mood out, it gets to become too late and we already don’t really care.

And that’s a shame because Burton is obviously way better than this here, and it’s clear that he took the visuals very seriously. Sure, some will complain that there’s an over-reliance on CGI and special-effects here, but honestly, what did you expect? It was a live-action adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, in the year 2010 – how could it have not been mostly all CGI? The visuals themselves do look quite impressive and it’s clear that certain details from the original flick are here as well, except on a greater scale, but there gets to be a point where you wonder for how long can pretty colors and things make you forget that a story is clearly lacking?

In the case of Alice in Wonderland, not long.

Creepier than Snape? Maybe.

Creepier than Snape? Maybe.

It’s clear that a lot of this story is plodding along, introducing its zany characters one by one, but never really giving them any arch or sustainable personality that makes us want to see them, again and again. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter may have been perfect casting, in hindsight, but in the movie, it’s a typical Johnny Depp performance: He over-acts a whole lot, switches up accents half-way through for some reason, and seems like he’s just making everything up as he goes along. Helena Bonham Carter is at least fun to watch and listen to as the Red Queen, if only because her gags are the only ones that land; Crispin Glover plays her right-hand man and is suitably creepy, although, maybe not creepy enough, given that it’s Crispin Glover we’re talking about here; Anne Hathaway is pretty as the White Queen; Mia Wasikowska seems like she’s interested in doing so much more than what she has here, but instead, has to do a lot of looking around and staring into space; and the voice talents all come in and add another level of charisma to the CGI-creations.

But really, do any of them even matter?

What ends up happening by the close of Alice in Wonderland is that the story goes from point to point, without ever really caring about anyone, or what’s happening. We’re told that the Red Queen is out to take over Wonderland and is this evil, ruthless Queen who doesn’t care about anything that exists, but are we supposed to take any of it seriously? Or, are we supposed to just laugh at her big head? The movie never knows what the answer is and that’s a huge problem.

Eventually, there’s a big battle that comes into play and seems absolutely random, even by this film’s standards. There’s no rhyme, reason, or understanding of what’s happening, for what reasons, and what is to be accomplished; all we do know is that Tim Burton wants his characters to battle it out with one another, for one reason or another. Which maybe would have been fine in any other Tim Burton movie.

Just maybe not in Alice in Wonderland. Sorry.

Consensus: As messy as you can expect a Tim Burton movie to be, but for all of the wrong reasons, Alice in Wonderland never makes sense of its tone, its character, or even its plot, but knows that it’s pretty to look at and only focuses on that.

2.5 / 10

Bobblehead! A ha!

Bobblehead! A ha!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

Death to Jar-Jar.

In order to tell the story in its fullest form, sometimes, you have to go to the very beginning. In this case, we start with two Jedi knights, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), who are sent in to break up some sort of intergalactic trade embargo that’s going on and interrupting all sorts of people. However, while they’re on the case, they also manage to uncover a secret, scary plot by a bunch of aliens who’s sole plan is to take over the planet Naboo by sheer force and power. While all of this is going on, the two Jedi’s also discover the presence of two Sith warriors, who were thought to be long extinct by this point, but are still a force to be reckoned with. And of course, the Jedi’s end up crossing paths with small, young slave boy who has something about him that just makes them want to work with him to be the next great Jedi. The kid’s name? Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) and he is destined to be “The Chosen One”. Even though certain folks like Yoda, aren’t too sure of the kid and make it their top priority to test him every chance they get.

2-on-3 has never been so cool.

2-on-3 has never been so cool.

It’s become almost second nature to despise the Phantom Menace. When I was around six or seven and saw this movie, I’ll never forget the feeling; there was just a certain rush of joy and excitement that I couldn’t get out of my system. I was hooked from the very beginning and all I wanted to do was see it again. Then, once that happened, I got the awesome PS1 video-game, caught up on the other Star Wars flicks, and considered myself a fan for so very long. But now, after all of these years of constantly pushing it away and not wanting to admit it, I can easily say that, well, yes, the Phantom Menace is not a very good movie.

Does that mean it’s an awfully terribly crappy one that deserves every cop in existence to burned and steam-piled?

No, of course not. In fact, there’s very few movies that actually deserve that; while my mind automatically jumps to Adam Sandler’s flicks, even then, I still find something here and there to take away. With the Phantom Menace, you get the sense that because the movie had so much hype surrounding what it was supposed to be, that when it ended-up actually becoming something of a let-down, it wasn’t just a disappointment – it was a sign of the end of the world. That the movie and George Lucas was given as much money and time as he needed to make this movie and do whatever he wanted to with it, already puts everything into perspective: Like, is this really what he wanted to do?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a nice couple bits within the Phantom Menace that are still fun and exciting, even if they feel thrown in a jumbled-up mess. The pod-racing scene, of course, is neat to watch, even after all of these years; the Jedi-battle duel at the end is by far one of the very best of the franchise; and Liam Neeson, playing the almighty dad-like figure as he’s best known for, does seem like a genuinely nice and warm figure to have around. Do all of these factors add up to a good movie? No, they do not. However, by the same token, they at least help the movie out in ways that, quite frankly, people don’t give them enough credit for.

Once again, I am in no way saying that the Phantom Menace is a misunderstood masterpiece that people just wanted to hate because they could – what I’m saying is that, well, it’s pretty lame and misguided, but not terrible.

Most of this has to do with the fact that George Lucas, who returned to directing and writing after 22 years for this, doesn’t seem like he’s always clear of what he wants to do with this story, whom to put the main focus on, or set things up for the next two movies. It’s obvious that, from the very start, Lucas set-out to make a Star Wars movie that his kids could enjoy and because of that, we’re tragically forced to sit through and watch as Jar-Jar Binks and Anakin take over the film, and hardly bring out any emotions whatsoever. Everything’s already been said about Jar-Jar, his faux-Jamaican accent, and the fact that the movie itself couldn’t get enough of his slapstick, so without trying to beat a dead horse, I’ll just say that, yes, when I was six or seven, Jar-Jar was awesome – now, he’s just super annoying and makes you feel like you’re watching a different movie.

Someone misses Leon.

Someone misses Leon.

But really, I still can’t wrap my head around the casting of Jake Lloyd in the iconic role of Anakin Skywalker. For one, as much as it pains me to say this, Jake Lloyd can’t act; though the movie seems like it wasn’t helping him out much either, there’s still the impression that the kid doesn’t know how to read his lines without seeming like he’s confused and in need of some help. This isn’t me ragging on him and being a cruel, miserable a-hole, because it’s not just his fault, but why he was pushed so far to the front of the line for this role, is totally beyond me. There’s also the idea of why he’s so young to begin with, but hey, that’s another post for another day.

And what the real shame about Lucas putting all of his focus on the likes of Jar-Jar and Anakin, is that it takes away from the overall impact of the story. Because this is the first movie of the supposed trilogy, after all, it makes sense to start things off slow, easy-going, and relatively peaceful, but really, a lot of this film just seems meandering. It’s as if Lucas wasn’t ready to scare his audience just yet, so in a way to wind them all up, he just gave each and everyone a film that’s perfectly serviceable for the whole family. Of course it worked for me when I was younger, but now, it just feels like a waste of what a great opportunity this movie could have been.

Thankfully, it gets better from here on out.

Sort of.

Consensus: George Lucas clearly had some rust when making the Phantom Menace, which will always and forever be known as the unwanted and unloved “Annie and Jar-Jar Show”, despite it not being the end-all, be-all disaster people love to hop on the band-wagon and go on about.

4.5 / 10

"Get out of this business while you still can, kid. Trust me."

“Get out of this business while you still can, kid. Trust me.”

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Birdman (2014)

Val Kilmer, here’s your future, bud.

At one point in his career, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) was on top of the movie-world. Not only was he selling movie tickets out the wahzoo by playing a superhero character by the name of “Birdman”, but his popularity was at its highest-peak where it wasn’t that fans knew exactly who he was and loved him, but because he was respected amongst his peers as well. However, that role for Riggan was quite some time ago and now, in the present-day, things aren’t going so fine for poor old Riggan. For starters, he’s washed-up and senses his popularity is waning so quickly that he could be considered practically nonexistent. He plans on changing this, though, by producing, directing and even starring in a stage-adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. He’s got the cast in line and while there’s the occasional hiccup here and there, Riggan is feeling confident enough that this show will not only be a smash hit, but bring him back to the world wide hemisphere of pop-culture where everybody will know and adore him, just like they did before. Problem is, aside from the fact that the show runs into quite a few problems, is that Riggan has a voice inside of his head that not only pushes him to do certain things, but even bends the differences between fiction and reality.

Consider Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, which is its full-title), the perfect Alejandro González Iñárritu film, for people who aren’t fans of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s work. Because see, while the impression is with all of Iñárritu’s films so far is that they are dark, depressing, and downright ugly in its depiction of human being’s lives, there’s something fairly different about Birdman. I mean, yeah, sure, it’s a meta-comedy that sometimes jumps right over that hoop into satire, making it a huge leap in terms of versatility for Iñárritu, but there’s still that sad feeling we get here with our main character, and the situation he’s thrown himself into here.

However, rather than making us ache from his pain and suffering, Iñárritu focuses most of his attention on just letting the movie itself run loose, without ever trying to hit us over the head with some random melodrama; he just lets his movie glide right along, at a perfect-pace. And considering that this movie is shot in a way to make it like one, long tracking-shot (courtesy of cinematography genius Emmanuel Lubezki), it’s a wonderful combo, albeit a very surprising one.

Batman vs. the Hulk? Fuck yeah!

Batman vs. the Hulk? My money’s definitely not on the character once played by Eric Bana.

Because yes, if anybody out there has ever seen either Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful, or all of them (like yours truly), then they’ll know Iñárritu is all about showing us that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel and that, well, life can pretty much suck for everybody. But though I like most of his movies, I myself am even glad to see this change-of-pace for Iñárritu; not because it shows that he can do more than just make me want to leap off of a bridge, but because the guy’s got a perfect tendency here to just let his movie go on its own tangents, seeming as if it could practically fall apart at any moment.

Which, for a movie that’s about a Broadway play being produced and the people involved with it, seems perfectly fitting. It not only puts you on-edge practically the whole time, but gets you up, moving around, and constantly paying attention to what is happening, what is being said, and what a certain character is doing, and to whom. Which, yeah, I know, sounds incredibly obvious, but there’s something fun and vibrant about this movie that just keeps you awake here, even when it seems to go off into these strange places that I don’t even know if Iñárritu himself could fully describe in perfect, full-on detail.

You sort of just have to go with it and see where it takes you – which is a perfect summation of the whole experience I had while watching Birdman.

But even while Birdman is an exciting and rather fun movie, there’s also a couple of moments splashed throughout here where the hip b-bop score is turned off, the camera settles down (although, to be fair, it is constantly moving no matter what is going on), and Iñárritu allows us to focus in on these characters, their relationships to one another, and exactly what they should mean to us. Cause, trust me, this goes a long way for a movie as brutal and as a painstakingly honest as this.

Yes, earlier I alluded to the fact that Iñárritu has made Birdman as a comedy of sorts, but sometimes, it’s so harsh and on-point about who it’s poking its finger at, it’s almost like a horror movie. Everything and everyone from the actors to directors, assistants to lawyers, Hollywood to the stage, the Baby Boomer Generation to the current Generation Y, and hell, even from the fans to the critics – no one here is safe from the sharp-edge knife that Birdman is waving around. Which is, of course, hard to stomach at times, but incredibly hilarious that it feels like maybe Iñárritu has almost too much knowledge on the subject matters at hand and really has a grind to ax. But nonetheless, it’s a constantly hilarious that has more to say then just, “Yeah, people who act are usually pretentious dicks”. Instead, it’s more like “Yeah, people who act are usually pretentious dicks, but hey, they’re people, too.”

So yeah, it’s not all that mean.

Regardless though, where Birdman the movie really excels at, like I was getting to talk about early before is whenever Iñárritu just lets his cast do the talking for him. Sure, Iñárritu employs a directorial-style that’s, literally, all-over-the-place and constantly moving, but when he settles everything down to a low-volume and allows for his story to really tell itself, then it makes the whole experience of watching this movie all the more enjoyable, if incredibly emotional as well.

But still, if you look at the cast, there’s still some hilarity to be had; most especially with the character of Riggan Thomson. The reason being is because, well, think about this: Riggan Thomson is an aging, washed-up actor who hasn’t had a role to keep him relevant since the days of him playing a superhero-ish character back in the good old days. So yeah, it would seem pretty perfect to cast somebody like Michael Keaton in the role because, well, that’s practically his story. Which is to say that, yes, this is total stunt-casting at its most painfully obvious. But it’s stunt-casting that actually works.

This is mostly due to the fact that the role of Riggan Thomson is a rich one that finds Keaton (a favorite of mine ever since the early days of my childhood), showing all of the shades in his acting-ability; the guy can be funny, mean, nice, determined, sad, and most of all, angry as hell. It’s the kind of comeback role that so many older actors wish they had come their way, which makes it all the more of a joy to see Keaton relish in it and actually make us care for this Riggan Thomson guy, even if he is sort of distasteful dick at times. Because yeah, he treats his ex-wife and daughter like shit sometimes, but at the end of the day, you feel bad for him because he’s put so much work into making this play work that you sort of want him to succeed, while also learning a major life-lesson to hopefully turn things around for himself, as well as those who actually care about him.

I sincerely do hope that Keaton gets a nomination for his work here. Not just because it will put his name back on the map like it deserves to be, but because it’s a role that literally goes in all sorts of different directions, yet, never rings a false note.

How I imagine Emma Stone greets the day every morning. Except probably with that damn Brit next to her.

How I imagine Emma Stone greets the day every morning. Except probably with that damn Brit next to her.

And trust me, this could have been a big problem for everybody in the movie, had nobody been able to adapt well to Iñárritu’s style; because it’s all filmed in one shot (or at least, edited in a way to make it appear so), the camera is constantly on them, watching their every move, whether it be a physical one or a mental one. That’s to say that everybody here feels perfect for their roles and makes it seem like they actually are having real-life conversations with one another, giving us more of the impression that we are right there with them, along for the ride that is this play being made.

Another actor who gets away with stealing this movie a bit for his bit of stunt-casting too, is Edward Norton as the pretentious, Marlon Brando-ish thespian, Mike Shiner. Anybody who has ever worked with Norton, the person, will tell you that the guy’s a handful, which is why I found it incredibly fitting that he’d play the same kind of person that’s like that both on, and off the stage. Shiner’s a smug a-hole and is definitely all about himself, which allows for Norton to really just take the piss out of his image and play all of this up. But, like with Keaton’s Riggan Thomson, whenever there’s time for us to see more in Shiner than what’s originally presented to us, the movie makes sure to do this in an understandable way, with Norton’s dramatic-abilities coming into full play.

Most of these scenes come from when he’s around Emma Stone’s character, Sam, the ex-junkie daughter of Riggan. Stone’s charming here, as usual, but she’s got more of an edge to her here that makes it seem like she’s more than just about being sassy, she’s downright pissed-off and willing to let everybody know it. This side to her is exciting and it makes me wish she’d just step away from making movies with Spidey, and testing out her obviously capable abilities as one of today’s best-working actresses. And trust me, there’s plenty more where she came from – Zach Galifianakis is hilarious as Riggan’s co-producer that’s all about making sure the show does in fact go on, while also fearing that he may be out of job if this all goes South; Naomi Watts gets a rare chance to be funny playing an actress who wants to make it big with her first appearance on Broadway; Amy Ryan has a few sweet scenes as Riggan’s ex-wife; Andrea Riseborough deliciously plays Riggan’s co-star who he may, or may not be, having a child with; and Lindsay Duncan plays the New York Times critic that Riggan despises the hell out of, yet, wants nothing more than to impress the shorts off of, if only so that she can give him a good review and not have to worry about people dismissing his play.

Don’t have to worry about that here, Riggan. You’ve got me sold, man.

Consensus: Loose, wild, perfectly-acted, and altogether, fun, Birdman is a hilarious satire that takes a bite out of everybody involved with the entertainment-business, while also not forgetting about those said people and remembering that they all have feelings, too.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

Fly away, Mikey. There's a better career ahead of ya. I promise.

Fly away, Mikey. There’s a better career ahead of ya. I promise.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Le Week-End (2014)

Paris: The place old people go to boink when in desperate need of doing so.

Aging, rusty couple, Richard and Meg Burroughs (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) decide that their marriage needs some more spice and excitement thrown into it. So, instead of just spending time at their boring house, with their pot-loving, they decide to spend their 30-year-anniversary in Paris for a little weekend. Both think that this will be a great, opportune time for them to catch up on things, get to chat about some problems they’ve been happening, get drunk, smoke some ciggies, run around town, go to fancy restaurants they clearly cannot pay for, and, if at all possible, get a chance to make some sweet, olde lovin’. However, all those good and fun plans they had originally planned, sort of go right out the window once they begin to fight and unearth some mean, nasty feelings they’ve had for one another for quite some time. Even worse, things get mixed-up when Richard runs into an old friend of his (Jeff Goldblum) and gets invited to his nice, cozy-pad for a little get-together. If they thought things were bad when they were just with each other and nobody else, they don’t know what’s going to happen when they have to be ar0und others in a peaceful, civil manner.

Right from the beginning of this movie, something hit me slap-dab in the face and made me think of this whole film in a different light: Richard and Meg Burroughs, despite being 15 years older and British, reminded me exactly of Jesse and Celine. I think anybody who has seen this blog more than a few times, knows that I love the Before trilogy and love the couple of those two star-crossed lovers that just so happened to meet on that one, fateful day on that train-ride to Paris. So, that’s why when anything, anything at all, comes at me and resembles them in the slightest way, I automatically go crazy and can’t help but compare the two.

It's okay. They're in love, so it cancels it all out, right?

It’s okay. They’re in love, so it cancels it all out, right?

But, being that this is in fact a movie about two different characters, in a different movie, I have to take them for what they are and who they are. Just something I guess I should have pointed out, you know?

Anyway, on with this movie and these two lovers!

Movies about old people either falling in love, or trying to rekindle the spark in their long-lasting marriage, is always a movie that’s easy to win people over. Most of the time, it depends on the talent that’s involved with it, but other times, it all depends on the viewer themselves, and whether or not they can relate to these two older people and all their love and whatnot. It’s not hard for me, despite being quite the youngin’, because I know what love feels like, it’s universal; so any story, no matter who it involves whatsoever, that is about love and its lasting-form, always touches a soft-spot with me. Sometimes, like in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, it can be a bit cloying and totally throw me off my guard, but in this case and with this relationship, I couldn’t help but love these two together and be happy that they’ve been together for so damn long.

See, this is the type of movie that wholly depends on the natural chemistry/performances from its leading-stars, and here, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are perfectly cast and give this material all that they’ve got. Not only does it help that they seem like the type of married-couple that’s been together through the thick and the thin, but also because they seem like real people that wouldn’t have a problem with getting a little freedom thrown their way, but also know that they can’t quite live on the same without their loved-one in their lives.

Take, for instance, the character of Meg (aka, Celine in 15 years): She’s the type of woman that seems like she’s so fed-up with life and having to answer to certain people or things, so instead of just waiting around for life to pass her by as she continues to get old and closer to dying, she’s decided that she’s going to live it up, like an everlasting party. She runs through the streets, walks-out on a restaurant-check, gets drunk, smokes cigarettes, messes with her husband’s affections and overall, just have a great time with this weekend and make the most of it. Reason being? Well, because she knows that once this weekend is over and she’s back in Britain, that it’s time to go back to regularity, where boredom can never be escaped out of.

Of course all of the decisions she makes aren’t the best – at one point, she tells her hubby about how she’s going to go out with some guy and catch a couple of drinks, when it’s clear that he doesn’t want to hear that (then again, what loving, adoring and dedicated husband would??!?!), but you can tell that her life-loving spirit comes from a genuine place in her heart and what makes her a person. She’s not a perfect woman, nor is she a perfect wife, but Duncan plays her so damn well, that we almost never think of her being a bad, dishonest wife, or even one that you yourself would cheat on; but instead, you see her as a woman that just wants to live life, for all that it is and all that she is.

Look at him! Gotta love that mug!

Look at him! Gotta love that mug!

But it isn’t like Duncan steals the show and gets away with it, because Broadbent himself is damn fine as well. He makes us see the type of hubby that is always there for his wife, loving her, supporting her and wanting to be the best man for her, but still can’t seem to be able to catch-up to her and her forgetful ways. You feel bad for the guy, but you know that he loves her, she loves him and that they are great together, when they’re happy. When they aren’t, things get a bit messy and dark, but in an understood-way that isn’t just thrown in there to create some sort of drama. Instead, it feels honest, raw and real, as if we are watching a real-life couple, right in front of our own eyes.

The only time that the movie really seems to lose its flavor, or emotional-core for that matter, is by the end when the family gets to Jeff Goldblum’s character’s house for the a little shin-dig. Goldblum, as usual, is hilarious and as perfect as you could get, but I couldn’t feel like his character and his story was a little tacked-on; as if the movie just made the character for Goldblum, because the guy had some time set-aside out of his schedule. No problem with that really, because having Jeff Goldblum in your movie, is definitely a heck of a lot better than not, but it did take away from what really seemed to matter: Meg and Richard Burroughs. Nonetheless, they’re a great couple, seem to really, truly love one another and just by watching them, you won’t be able to help how many times your stomach gets all warm inside. It’s just inevitable. They’re old, and they’re in love. Everybody feels for that at least one time in their lives.

Consensus: Though we’ve all seen this story done before, Le Week-End still taps into that everlasting idea that love, no matter how damaged it may get over the years, with whichever person it may be, is always there to stay, in a sweet, sometimes too-honest way.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Just saying, but Jesse and Celine, there's your future. Just saying!

Just saying, but Jesse and Celine, there’s your future. Just saying!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider, ComingSoon.net

About Time (2013)

I feel like plenty guys wish they could time travel, but only so they could bang the same hot girl, again and again.

Right as soon as Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) turns the ripe age of 21, his father (Bill Nighy) lets him in on a little family secret: They can now both time travel. Of course, there are some rules; ones like not being able to travel to the future, only to places in time you’ve been to, and only that the males can perform this act. But regardless, it’s time travel, so take advantage of it while you can, right? Well, that is exactly what Tim does, but mostly so that he can pick up chicks and hopefully meet the love of his life, which he does do, and many of times too, with Mary (Rachel McAdams). Together, they build a relationship that Tim makes sure actually happens and stays put, but what he’s about to be awoken with is the fact that life shouldn’t always be re-played, over and over again. Sometimes you just have to live it the way it was meant to be lived, or else sometimes, bad things happen to the ones you love.

Since it seems like most rom-coms have been getting pretty stale as of late, it makes sense to throw the idea of time travel in there to spice things up, right? Well, yeah, because honestly, who doesn’t like a to manipulate time whenever they see fit? Especially when whomever it is that you’re manipulating time for just so happens to be Rachel McAdams, you know? So yeah, it’s definitely an inspired idea on the part of Richard Curtis, and one that he surprisingly sticks with for a good portion of the movie.

Shoes on the sandy beach? Must be a British thing.

Shoes on the sandy beach? Must be a British thing.

What this flick does so well with its idea for the first 30-45 minutes or so, is that it actually sticks to the ground-rules it lays down and also has a bit of fun with them as well. Any guy that sees this movie (seeing as that the only way that they would go is if they got roped into seeing this with their spouse or significant-other), will probably be able to relate to Tim right off the bat because he does everything with the time travel ability, that every dude would do. He goes out to meet women, and if he fails at making an impression on them, he takes notice of what he failed at, goes back in time, tries it again, and sees what can happen with this new approach. This goes on for quite some time and it was fun to watch, while also being quite humorous since it seemed like it had this honest-take on what lies within female, and male attraction, and what dudes will do to win their “dream girl”.

Eventually though, the whole romantic aspect of this movie does pillow in, and even then, the movie was still working and having fun with itself, if instead, this time, in a more “cute” way. Tim and Mary do make an appealing couple, especially since they both seem to ACTUALLY like one another, which makes it easy for us to want to see them happy, together, and always remaining in love. It’s very hard for most rom-coms out there to make us actually believe in the couple without having to make us see why they are perfect for one another, but this film somehow achieves that goal. They aren’t each other’s soul-mates, however, they work well for the other and keep one another happy. That in and of itself, made me, the cynic, happy, so yes, it’s safe to say that this movie’s magic was working on me.

And then, somewhere right slap-dab in the middle, the movie changes from being a rom-com, to a very dramatic, very sentimental movie about the sake of family and why it’s so important. And in case you couldn’t tell just by how dramatic I’m making this seem already, this is exactly where the movie began to lose me.

Not only did the movie begin to lose me because the edge of what made the first-half of the movie so honest and hilarious in its own sly, British way, but because Curtis begins to betray his own idea that seemed so key in making the film appealing in the first place. People who aren’t supposed to be involved with the time travel, all of a sudden have the ability to and are able to do it as easy as 1, 2, 3.; and terrible stuff that is supposed to happen due to time itself being tampered with, somehow doesn’t happen or seemed to be affected in the least bit. Everything just sort of stays the same, without any real effect or punishment.

But this is where I began to realize that not only did Curtis seem to be slipping up on the idea of time travel, and how to use it in a smart, well-done way that worked for the heavy-thinkers and regular-viewers abound, but he didn’t even seem too interested with it anymore either. In a way, dare I say it, Curtis was just using the time travel as a crutch for when he really wanted us to cry or soak in a puddle of our own tears, or simply, when he ran out of well-written ways to make us feel emotional. This is also where the character of Mary sort of gets thrown to the background, and Tim’s dad comes more into play, which was all fine because Bill Nighy’s an awesome presence to have in any movie, but it felt like a sudden-switch that wasn’t deserved for many reasons; the main which being that it just didn’t make sense.

Yes, maybe that’s just me picking it apart a tad too much, but I still feel like they would have had some really good material if they just stuck to their guns and cut-down the running-time. I mean, seriously: a 2-hour rom-com is enough as it is, but a 2-hour romance-movie where one-half is a rom-com, and the other is a family-drama? Yeah, you just about lost me about 50-minutes in, which sadly, is true.

Men, word of the wise, just stick around and seem interested if your lady promises you “something special” by the end of the night. Only reason why you should stay and hold your hand under your chin.

Usually, the creepy ginger kid on the subway doesn't get the girl, but that's why it's called the "fantasy genre", eh?

Usually, the creepy ginger kid on the subway doesn’t get the girl, but that’s why it’s called the “fantasy genre”, eh?

Keeping this ship afloat, even when it seems to be cruising without him, is Domhnall Gleeson who really feels like the perfect male-lead in a rom-com like this. Not only is he a ginger, but he’s a self-deprecating one that’s easy to feel sorry for, and even hate when he makes a bone-headed move. However, you always like him because he’s a lovable guy with his heart in the right place and you know that, no matter where his life takes him, he will always strive to make those around him happy, pleasant, and want to keep on living life just as much as he wants to. Gleeson definitely isn’t a big name for anybody outside of London, but I feel like if this movie gets a big enough audience, then he may be somewhat of a name to look out for here in the States. Only time will tell on that. That was sort of a pun, by the way.

Somebody who is a big name in the States, and probably in London, is Rachel McAdams who feels like she’s in her comfort-zone playing the meek, quiet, and sincere Mary, which is okay and all, but it also does feel like a bit of a waste of a very good talent who can do so much more with a character when she’s given the opportunity to. But I guess, for now, McAdams will stick with these sappy, melodramatic romance movies so that she can get a big enough paycheck and do something daring with her career. I don’t know, something like, say, Passion? Okay, bad choice. Never mind. Just stick with what you’re good with gal.

And of course Bill Nighy’s in this, stealing the show like usual. Not much more needs to be said about that guy other than the fact that I am just happy to see him doing more and more stuff to make us audiences happy. Keep it going, Bill!

Consensus: As soon as About Time begins, it is inspired, determined, smart, funny and faithful to its idea, but then soon begins to escalate into melodramatic, over-familiar trappings of what can easily make any audience member cry their eyes out, even if it doesn’t make much sense as to how they got there in the first place. In other words, it doesn’t make sense.

5.5 / 10 = Rental!! 

Must be saying something witty to her. Damn British bastards.

Must be saying something witty to her. Damn British bastards.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net