robot and frank
Directed By Jake Scheier
Frank suffers from the later stages of dementia, sick of the ten hour round trip each week and reluctant to put his father into care, he brings him a robot helper, who he does not take kindly too, until he learns that its presence can be both beneficial for his health and more importantly profitable. Though this isn’t a movie that takes the cliche route of criticizing technological advancement, though it does wade mildly on occasions. Robot And Frank is a movie about companionship and its importance during the later years of life. It’s moving on occasions, unapologetically whimsical, hilarious and wonderfully human.
There isn’t very much to like about Frank, he is egotistical, hedonistic and a poor father who has spent much of his adult life inside of prison after a string of botched burglaries, despite this he is considered one of the best, and in his old age, very little has changed. Whilst some turn to gardening in their old age as his robot friend suggests, the only thing that keeps Franks mind awake is theft and he’s a master of manipulation, especially when it comes to his robot friend, who proves to be a useful counterpart to his dastardly deeds. Though we root for Frank, and much is too do with Frank Lagella’s performance, he is simply marvelous and adds sheds of depth to his character as he experiences his first real companionship of his life and adds real pathos to the film, especially its heartbreaking ending.
Robot and Frank is one of the best movies I have sat down and watched this year, which is all the more surprising considering it slipped totally under my radar, how could anyone fails to enjoy this one.
Rating - 4.3/5
Directed By Brad Siberling
Jake Gyllenhaal is Joe, living with the grieving parents of his recently deceased fiance which is all the more difficult considering she was murdered in an ice cream parlor just three days prior to when we join him, detached and almost unnaturally impassive. Her parents dote on him, as he’s the last part of their daughter which is still alive and breathing but Joe has a secret, a secret which he feels anchors him to her parents as sense of duty.
The film is a performance piece, it’s held together by some really great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, to the mentally unwinding father Dustin Hoffman and the mother Susan Sarandon who gives the film real pathos. The reason i say it holds it together, is that it’s brimming with undeveloped themes which Siberling fails to really explore from love, duty to redemption and retribution. Siberling just has too much to say with too little time and it makes for a film which feels stodgy at times and the plot forced at others. Though for all the gripes I have about its themes, Grief and Loss are dealt with perfectly adequately and Siberling explores some uncharted territory here and there which leaves you appeased.
Moonlight Mile in retrospect is a good film, its quirky at times, benevolent at others and thanks to a wonderful performance by Susan Sarandon introspective and funny. Although i feel it could be trimmed and at times it’s a little unfathomed, it’s an overall satisfying experience.
Rating - 3/5
our idiot brother
Directed By Jesse Peretz
Our Idiot Brother see’s Paul Rudd donning a hippie beard and hair combination complete with luminous red crocs, he plays affable yet naive Ned who recently is released from an 8 month stretch in the penitentiary, after selling marijuana to a uniformed police officer, perhaps stupid is more appropriate than naive. Consequently he is estranged from his equally bohemian partner and is forced to sofa surf from sibling to sibling to avoid staying with his suffocating mother. Ned learns one simple rule - that honesty in the “real” world has consequences for his successful and ideal sisters.
Our Idiot Brother is breezy satire when it is at its best with Peretz is using Ned as a tool to expose middle-class social issues such as infidelity and morality and the way people over-complicate situations which are on the surface very trivial and easy to rectify. At its worst the film is wholly bland and suffers from characters that lack any substance and personality. Don’t get me wrong Paul Rudd is delightful in the role of Ned, he has this innate ability to concoct laughs from the colorless of scripts, as well as creating characters who are like-able, Ned is perhaps even lovable. However the siblings are poorly written and developed, from Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) who has not one redeeming quality at all, to Liz (Emily Mortimer) who is there to tick the box as the neurotic wife on the Hollywood cliche rap-sheet and finally Nat (Zooey Deschannel) who as beautiful as she is, is about as interesting as a dog biscuit. The problem with this is that, although the film flaunts Ned as its lead and perhaps more accurately Paul Rudd, it is the female characters stories Ned dips in and out of, allowing Peretzs to explore them. In essence all four characters are essential to the film, yet with only Ned retaining our interest, how does the film still hold-up respectably? It’s the small-part players in the film who give Rudd the comedic support to keep this film afloat. Most notably Steve Coogan who plays the perpetual douche-bag in husband and farther form, to Kathryn Hahn who continuously bounces off Ned in free-thinking feuds.
Whilst Our Idiot Brother is easy to watch and boasts a few laughs here and there, it ultimately fails to inject the drama and heart it clearly reaches for time and time again, it’s not likely ill remember this one.
Rating - 2.5/5
ps i love you
p.s. i love you
Directed By Richard LaGravenese
P.S. I Love You’s tagline states “Sometimes There’s Only One Thing Left To Say” - I concur with this, just skip this one, that’s all that needs to be said. Gerard Butler plays Jerry, armed with possibly the most irritable Irish impersonation and about as much charisma as a loathsome weed, he leaves his widowed wife (Hilary Swank) letters to assist in the grieving processes after his premature death. As you imagine these go hand in hand with flashbacks of them moving through their relationship and many manipulative scenes that intend its audience to swoon or breakdown, but fall short of their desired effect.
P.S. I Love You’s concept is fairly admirably though, a romantic-comedy which focuses on the less explored territory of the passing of a partner. Though it’s intentions are distorted by the lick of Hollywood glam and cliches which encroach on every scene from the breaking down of relationships accompanied by excessive imitations and the make-up sex which follows accordingly to scenes of astounding coincidence which helps to keep its plot afloat. Though LaGravenese’s biggest leach, sucking the life out of this film, is its awful script, thick with Irish jokes, tiresome quarrels and more poignantly too many wrench educing singing scenes.
It does not pain me at all to give this rating
Directed By Jaume Collet-Serra
Liam Neeson continues to cash in on his midlife-crisis with Non-Stop, a film which is in love with the concept of coincidence, or believes that the audience will find itself susceptible to it when the credits roll. Liam Neeson is a cigarette toking, whiskey sipping Air Marshall who receives a text from an unknown number threatening to kill one passenger every twenty minutes if $150 million dollars is not transferred into a mystery bank account, the killer is aboard.
Collet-Serra believes this film is more intelligent than it actually is, he believes we are receiving something close to Source Code, when we are in fact getting something closer to those fun yet shoddy action movies that defined the 90’s, that were futile as oppose to slick and intelligent, that were so awful they were actually pretty good. The best way to describe Non-Stop is tongue in cheek amusement, we get hard-boiled Liam Neeson conducting an investigation under pressure whilst half-cut with a penchant for terrible one liners which helps to distract us from the plot which takes a life of its own literally, like death was still lingering from the Final Destination franchise and needed some work.
I think what is most ridiculous is the characterization that takes place in the film and the ridiculous themes which Collet-Serra tries to embed into a movie which his high-octane for 106 minutes. From human conformity in regards to the news to xenophobia with the rather shoe-horned Muslim doctor, so shoe-horned it’s actually quite offensive. To acceptance of the past, which is handled so awfully, you find yourself trying not to laugh during Liam Neeson’s heart-felt soliloquy towards the film’s ending. Oh and let’s not forget about the love-interest Julianne Moore, which is possibly the most affable of the many subplots the film has to offer.
If your expecting, like i know 99% of the audience is, an intelligent thriller then Non-Stop is something I can’t recommend. If your looking for something that feels like it has been uncovered from a hidden 80’s/90’s vault then Non-Stop might be something worth checking out.
Rating - 2/5