Lights, camera, action!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wow, it's nearly a year since I last posted a review. That's quite bad. But I just felt compelled to, you know, after so much time away. So here we go!

The Christmas Card (2006)
Dir: Stephen Bridgewater
Starring: John Newton, Alice Evans, Edward Asner

Just the title of this film gives you an impression of what it's going to be like, doesn't it? You think, 'No self-respecting, intelligent movie would actually call itself The Christmas Card!' But this one has, although it is only actually a TV movie.

Right, the plot: A fairly stoic, if good-hearted, military general in Afghanistan is sent a Christmas card from a woman in a small California town, who sends him good wishes and tells him about her perfect little town, perfect little family and perfect little church. Urgh. Anyway, he seems to rather like this and when he's given his leave of absence the next winter heads off to Nevada City, where she lives. There he meets the woman, Denise-Van-Outen-lookalike, and her open-hearted, good-natured parents, the Twinkly-Eyeds. Anyway, after saving Mr Twinkly-Eyed from a car accident, Military Man is invited to stay with them for Christmas in their picture perfect log cabin home. As the days lead up to Christmas Military Man takes part in all sorts of festive activities such as a tour of the family's logging company, a village hall dance, the selling of Christmas trees, the taking of photos with a crappy disposable camera and the carving of a very special bench. Meanwhile he (without telling her about the card) falls in love with Denise-Van-Outen-lookalike and Mr and Mrs Twinkly-Eyed decide he'd be the perfect son-in-law. Only one problem: Denise-Van-Outen-lookalike is getting engaged to Most-Boring-Man-Onscreen-Ever, but he's obviously not right, so Military Man has to rectify the situation immediately, learning (obviously) the True Spirit Of Christmas. How nice.

I absolutely loved it. Seriously. I know, with that plot, I should hate it but I don't. Military Man and Denise-Van-Outen-lookalike just make such a great couple, and the town is so utterly postcard perfect, and it's all so heart-warmingly sweet I just can't hate it. Every character is so selfless and good-hearted - with the exception of Most-Boring-Man-Onscreen-Ever, who isn't even evil, just... boring.

I shouldn't even like this family that much, seeing as they own a logging company (um, protection of the environment anyone?) and are sickly sweet, church-going, probably Bush-supporting Americans, but damnit, I want that family! I'm thinking future in-laws???

See this film. You'll probably hate it, and it really should be hated. It's so incredibly sentimental and the performances aren't even that good but it's going to be a favourite of mine from now on, I can tell. A Christmas regular, I should think...


Tallie xxx
P.S. Merry Christmas!

There aren't any memorable quotes. Sorry. The dialogue wasn't the wittiest.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Dir: Cory Edwards and Todd Edwards
Starring: (voices) Anne Hathaway, Andy Dick, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, David Ogden Stiers

Hoodwinked tells the 'behind the scenes' story of Little Red Riding Hood. It begins with the tale as we know it (almost) then moves onto the police investgation about the crime. Each character (Red, Granny, the Woodsman, and The Wolf) tells their version of the story to help tie all the threads together and help the police catch the 'goody bandit'.

It's very original, I must say. Despite a kind of boring premise (modernising fairytales, a la Shrek) the story is not what you'd expect, and all I can say is it must have been great fun to write it. Twists include an extreme sports-loving grandma, a German (possibly Austrian) actor auditioning for a bunion cream commerical, a caffeine-induced squirrel and a furry villain with a team of European henchmen.

I can't decide whether I liked the animation or not. It's not realistic-looking, in the style of Finding Nemo or Happy Feet, but is instead very stylised, and I can't decide if that's good or not.

There are some extremely funny lines in it, and probably some more gags that you'd discover the second time around. There are also some kind of unfunny bits in it, but what can you do?

My idea of a good family film is one that appeals to kids but has bits that keep the adults amused too. This film certainly has bits to keep adults amused - kids probably wouldn't get all the jokes - and it will appeal to certain kids. however, it will not go down as a really good family film because it's too much of a spoof, and it doesn't really have... I hate to have to say this, but a heart.

The plot is not great, and it really has stretch itself to fill the running time of 1 hour, 21 minutes. I think it probably have worked better as a short film or a TV special or something. There's just not enough substance to make it a feature film.

Still, there were some geniunely funny moments, and it's a mildly entertaining way to spend an hour or so. Give it a go if you feel in the mood, but you're not missing anything special if you don't.


Talliestar xxx

Flippers: Why do they call you Red?
Red: Because of this red hood I wear.
Flippers: What about when you're not wearing it?
Red: I usually wear it.


Boingo: Dolf - tie up the brat, Liesl - hold the book, Vincent - get the truck, and Keith - darn it, Keith, change your name, it's not scary and I'm embarrassed to say it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Holiday

The Holiday (2006)
Dir: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black

This is a romantic comedy at its fluffiest, a chick flick at its sugariest. And it's wonderful. It's a Christmas flick, but it's not really about Christmas, so you can watch it after Christmas. Bonus!

Iris is a sweet, sensible English girl (well, woman) who is hopelessly in love with her ex-boyfriend and colleague Jasper, and needs to get away for Christmas or she will explode. Amanda is a cool, bubbly American who has just broken up from her cheating boyfriend and needs to get away for Christmas or... well, she'll probably also explode. She discovers Iris's quintessentially English country cottage on a home exchange website, and the two decide to switch houses for Christmas, with Iris taking off for Amanda's swanky LA villa. While there, Iris meets Arthur, an aged Hollywood screenwriting legend, whom she sort of adopts as a grandfather. She also meets Miles, a film score composer, and the two kind of hit it off, but in a really sweet, mostly-platonic-at-first-then-kind-of-develops-into-something-more kind of way.
Meanwhile Amanda meets Graham, Iris's hunky older brother, and the two also hit it off, but more in a wow-we're-both-so-gorgeous-let's-have-sex-even-though-we-don't-know-each-other kind of way.

OK, so the settings are totally cliched. Both women live in stereotypically English/Californian homes, and it is always snowing in England (um, hello? When has THAT ever happened????). But still, I love this film. It's funny, touching and very sweet, and although it's incredibly long for a romcom (about 2 hours 15 minutes) the fact that you have two storylines saves it from getting boring.

The cast are superb, but they are all practically Hollywood royalty (I think Jack Black's making his way up there) and they are very good. Kate Winslet is wonderful, as always, Cameron Diaz knows how to hit all the right buttons, Jack Black is charming and utterly adorable and Jude Law doesn't do a whole lot but looks very handsome. It has all the cuteness you'd expect, with guys writing songs for girls they love, drinking hot chocolate with two endearing little girls, having tea in quaint National Trust properties, and much more. It's like heaven in a film.

I'd say this is up there with some of the best (and by best I mean fluffiest) romantic comedies. It doesn't require a whole lot of thought but it tugs at your heartstrings and bit by bit, even the grumpiest of viewers is won over by the film's soft goo melting your heart.


Talliestar xxx

Iris: [switching her phoneline to Graham] [I can't believe you went and had sex with that woman already!
Amanda: Um, this is Amanda.
Iris: Sorry! Hold on one second.
[tries to divert the call again]
Iris: I can't believe you had sex with that woman! She's only just arrived and you're already in her knickers!
Amanda: [awkwardly] Still me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Zathura: A Space Adventure

Zathura: A Space Adventure
Dir: Jon Favreau
Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Tim Robbins, Jonah Bobo, Kristen Stewart, Dax Shepard

Zathura is based on a book written by the author of Jumanji, and the two have very similar scenarios: two kids discover a board game with a funny name, play it, and it kind of comes to life, meaning they have to dodge and fight various invading people/objects/creatures who pretty much destroy their lovely house. The only way they can get out of the game is by completing. The differences between the two are that Jumanji is all about wild animals and safari type things, and the children are a girl and boy, whereas Zathura is all about space (obviously, see the title) and the children are two boys.

Both films are excellent. OK, now I'm just doing a comparison rather than reviewing Zathura. Sorry.

Zathura is excellent. Firstly, because of the casting. I don't know how they found those two boys but they are incredible. Walter, aged ten, the eldest, is pretty mean towards his little brother Danny, and generally thinks he's better and cooler. This does not go down well with Danny or their dad. Anyway, Josh Hutcherson, as Walter, is scarily old for his age (in mind, not body) and he is generally quite amazing. As is Jonah Bobo (I'm sorry, what kind of name is that?) as Danny, and he is also very sweet.

Zathura is directed by Jon Favreau, more commonly known as an actor than a director (he was that millionaire who then gets interested in wrestling that Monica dates in Friends. Remember?). He seems to really understand kids and how siblings behave towards each other, because the two boys are very believable as brothers.

The story is so-so, but the dialogue is very good, and very witty for a kids' film. The astronaut who comes visiting and older sister Lisa are both very good and extremely funny.

The special effects are very good, but not hugely noteworthy. It's all very realistic though.

Zathura is basically very similar to Jumanji but with a but more about family and siblings in, although amazingly, it isn't too sentimental. It makes a very good family film which everyone can enjoy becasue the screenplay is genuinely funny, and the cast is genuinely good. It's probably to scary for younger children (I remember being absolutely terrified at Jumanji when I was about six, and this is almost as scary, but not quite) .

Therefore, I recommend it, although it is not a must-see. It's comforting to know that good quality family films are still being made.


Talliestar xxx

Dad: By the way, it makes me uncomfortable when you say "hooking up".
Lisa: Why? It's not like it means anything.
Dad: Hope it doesn't.
Lisa: It doesn't. It's just an expression.
Dad: Hope it is.
Lisa: It is! God, when should never have rented Thirteen.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I'm sorry for the recent lack of reviews. The reason is that the past few weeks have possibly been the busiest of my life, which leaves little time for watching movies and reviewing them. Don't worry, I have still been watching movies, but not many. But never fear, blog readers (bloggers? Or am I a blogger? Who knows?) because I have three (possibly four) weeks of Christmas holidays ahead of me and a colossal stack of DVDs in my living room. Yay! So expect lots of reviews coming soon. Watch this space!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Rent (2005)
Dir: Chris Columbus
Starring: Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin

You know what I love about musicals? (And anyone who knows me at least a little well knows that I'm a huge musicals fanatic). How different they can be, but still all so good at the same time. I mean, take Oklahoma, full of cheerful singing cowboys and surreys with fringes and beautiful mornings. Then compare it to Rent, a gritty piece about a group of New Yorkers dealing with AIDs, homosexuality, homelessness and the bohemian way of life. Not a cheerful singing cowboy in sight, more cheerful singing drag queens. And yet both musicals are filled with plenty of good songs and both were stand-out smash hits of their time.

Rent covers a year in the life of seven people living in Manhattan's East Village. They consist of Mark, an inspiring film-maker, his ex-girlfriend Maureen who recently left him for lawyer Joanne. Roger is an ex-drug addict and Mark's roommate, whose girlfriend died of AIDs (I think), who meets Mimi, a junkie and a stripper, and they fall in love. Philosophy professor Collins meets Angel, a flamboyant and eternally optimistic cross-dresser, and they also fall in love. There is also Benny, who used to be a friend of theirs but who married their landlord's daughter and now only shows up to try and get them to pay their.... rent.

Firstly, it is a musical, and there is more singing than speaking, so obviously I liked it. The songs are much more rock than classical which makes it has always made it popular with a young audience. For those of you who don't know, Rent began as a stage show in New York in 1996 and I believe is still going to this day. It was a huge phenomenon and developed a vast fanbase, affectionately known as Rent-heads. The good thing is, almost all the main cast (with the exception of Joanne and Mimi) are the original Broadway cast and have been singing these songs for over a decade as they know their characters, the songs, the story and each other pretty well. The two newbies blend seamlessly with the rest of them and fit well in the group.

All the cast are pretty amazing, which I suppose is to be expected. Idina Menzel (Maureen, and also current star of Wicked) is incredible and has the most amazing voice. Anthony Rapp (Mark) is very sweet, as is Adam Pascal (Roger), and Colin, Angel and Joanne are all excellent. I thought Rosario Dawson as Mimi was fantastic and very realistic. She also has an incredible voice.

Director Chris Columbus does an excellent job with this, especially since I think it was his first musical. I've heard it is a very faithful adaptation which is also good. You have to keep an open mind when watching it - read the plot above and you'll see what kinds of things it is about. It is very much a musical for the younger generation and it is still as fresh, if not quite as shocking, as it was ten years ago. So watch it. It is a great example of how musicals can be gritty and real and not all airy-fairy as some people imagine. We need more of this ind of stuff.


Talliestar xxx

[They all walk into a cafe]
Waiter: No, no, no, not tonight!
Mark: What?
Waiter: You always come here and never order a thing all night!
Mark: Not true, last week I had a tea!
Waiter: You couldn't pay.
Mark: Oh yeah...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and Yours, Mine and Ours

Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (2005)
Dir: Adam Shankman
Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy

Yours, Mine and Ours (2005)
Dir: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo

Yes, I know there are two films listed above, No, I'm not combining two films into one review to save time (although that is part of the reason). I am doing it because those two films happened to arrive at my house from LOVEfilm very soon after one another and they are very similar films, so I thought I'd compare them. It'll make a change, anyway. Let the battle of The Movies With Tons Of Kids In commence!

OK, plots. Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (hereafter known as 'Cheaper'. No, 'Dozen'. No, 'Cheaper'.) is the sequel to the 2003 movie of the same name, only without the '2'. It is about the Baker family, who consist of Tom and Kate (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) and their twelve kids (I'm not going to name them all) and the fun, family-friendly antics they get up to. This movie is about their holiday spent at a cabin by a lake somewhere, where they meet their old rivals, the Murtaughs, headed by Eugene Levy, who have eight kids. Cue lots of chaos, dads getting covered in sticky/wet substances, out-of-control pets and ultimately, lots of heartfelt lessons learned about the importance of family.

Yours, Mine and Ours (hereafter known as YMO) is about two people, Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) and Helen North (Rene Russo) who were high school sweethearts and meet again after many years and after their respective spouses have died. They decide to movie into a big lighthouse together with their two families. That's the problem. He has eight children and she has ten. So, there are EIGHTEEN kids living together in one house. Also, Helen's kids are extremely carefree, artistic and used to being let loose, whereas Frank's kids are strictly disciplined (Frank is some important position in the military) and generally used to a lot of rules and regulations. Cue lots of chaos, dads getting covered in sticky/wet substances, out-of-control pets and ultimately, lots of heartfelt lessons learned about the importance of family.

I have somewhat of a fascination with large families. Maybe because I have a relatively small immediate family. I don't know. But it's the reason I wanted to see these two movies.

Firstly, Cheaper has the advantage of an already-established cast and characters. YMO doesn't have that advantage, but it kind of steals a lot of Cheaper's formula and characters, so I guess it does. The two films are extremely alike and basically, if you like one, you'll like the other.

The trouble with YMO is that there are simply too many kids. Eighteen is a heck of a lot. That means that you can't get to know the characters well, or get to knwo them at all. Towards the end of the movie a child would say something and I'd be like "Where the hell did he/she come from? Have I seen her before?". So perhaps it would have been better to have 5 and 7 kids, instead of 8 and 10. Because there are just too many.

Cheaper doesn't have that problem because we already know who all the kids are from the first movie, which I have seen several times. Yes, there are eight new kids added to the mixture, but we don't see a whole lot of them so we don't really need to get to know them anyway. The Bakers are the important ones.

Another problem with YMO is that it is not quite as family-friendly as Cheaper, despite them having the same certificate. There is more about teenage romance and parties (Cheaper has a thirteen-year-old going on her fist date, but that's just sweet.) and more (and I don't mean a lot, just more) about the parents' sex life. Now there's nothing bad about all that, it just doesn't quite fit in with a film that also featurs a pet pig running amok and little kids stuffing their faces with chocolate. The main thing that annoyed me was that two of the eldest kids, Phoebe and William, from each of the different families, had a lot of on-screen chemistry and you kind of knew they were going to get together. Then the film went on and you were wondering when it was actually going to happen. And then the film ended. They never got together, althugh they seem to hug and look at each other quite a bit. Maybe it was in an early draft but the writers decided it was a bit iffy due to them being stepbrother and stepsisters. Anyway...

I'm kind of rambling now so I'll try to round it up. Basically, I liked Cheaper better because the Bakers make such a nice family unit. Yes, the films has a lot of faults (the casting of Eugene Levy, whom I hate, for a start) but you can't help liking the family. Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo try to be as good as Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt but they just aren't. I would even not mind seeing a third film (dare I suggest it) becasue I want to see what happens to the kids. After the two films you really get to know them all and I want to see more of them. I barely saw all the eighteen kids in YMO so I don't really care about them.

Overall, YMO tries to do what Cheaper 1&2 did but they just can't outdo the Bakers. Yay!

Yours, Mine and Ours

Cheaper By The Dozen 2

Talliestar xxx

(Charming as the movies are (ahem), I had trouble finding these quotes. These are not the wittiest films in the world.)

Lorraine: You know how I feel about camping.
Tom: But, we're staying in a house.
Lorraine: A house with no air conditioning. That makes it camping.


Frank: Well, Mrs. Munion, what do you think about Connecticut?
Mrs Munion (the housekeeper): I'm delighted to be here in the birthplace of Lyme disease.