Showing posts with label michael shannon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label michael shannon. Show all posts

24 April 2014

Sundance London 2014 Review - They Came Together (2014)

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Sundance London 2014
Genre:
Comedy, Indie
Rating: 15
Location:
Cineworld,O2 Arena, London
Release Date:
26th April, 27th April 2014
Director:
David Wain
Cast:
Paul Rudd, Cobie Smulders, Michael Shannon, Amy Poehler
Buy Tickets: Here

We’re all familiar with the rules of a rom-com by now. Boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl fall out, boy and girl get back together and live happily ever after. In fact we’re so familiar with the pattern that we could probably make one ourselves. Well there’s no need to anymore as David Wain has already done it for us in the sniggeringly titled They Came Together.

This skewed version of the genre takes all the conventions of an average rom-com and knowingly lampoons them to send up the formulaic nature with which they unfold. Paul Rudd stars as the “vaguely, but not overtly, Jewish” guy to Amy Poehler’s “klutzy but adorable” gal as the pair describe the story of their relationship to their friends over dinner.

It’s a story complete with all the well-worn traits which leads to a gag heavy 90 minutes, some landing slightly heavier than others. Crammed in are sight gags, slapstick gags, innuendo and nods to countless Meg Ryan, Jennifer Anniston and Katherine Heigl movies not to mention a pre-McConnassaince Matthew McConaughey.

The targets are certainly large and, for the most part, successfully hit but with the volume of jokes coming this thick and fast you’d be forgiven for hoping for a better strike rate. There is too a sense that this could easily have started as an idea for extended Saturday Night Live sketch and merely padded out to stretch to the length of a film to ape the genre that further bit.

Spoof movies range wildly in terms of success, by sending up entire genres they can sometimes have a rather scattergun approach; for every Airplane there’s a Scary Movie 4. Thankfully They Came Together is closer to the former than the latter, helped in no small part by the sheer likeability of the two leads Rudd and Poehler – cast perfectly and just as easy to root for as the characters they mimic.

★★★☆☆

Matthew Walsh


5 August 2013

Boardwalk Empire – Season 3 Blu Ray Review

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Rating: 15
DVD/BD Release Date: 5th August 2013 (UK)
Creator
Cast:  , Bobby Cannavale
Buy Boardwalk Empire Season 3: [DVD] / [Blu-ray]

Boardwalk Empire – the winner of 12 Emmy Awards – finally sees its third season released on DVD and Blu-ray, and fans of complex television drama will not be disappointed. Picking up sixteen months after season 2’s shocking finale, this latest season kicks off on New Year’s Eve 1923. Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and Margaret’s (Kelly Macdonald) marriage is tense at best, and there is a new high profile bootlegger in town, in the form of Bobby Cannavale’s Gyp Rosetti.

As can be expected, HBO has once again delivered a first rate show; one which not only rivals, but surpasses in quality most Hollywood films right now. In many ways, parallels can be drawn between Boardwalk Empire and The Wire (another much-praised HBO series). Each episode requires the viewer’s utmost attention if they mean to understand the plot fully, for there is a large amount of characters – residing in a variety of US states – for us to follow. This factor has both its upsides and downsides. On the one hand, this means that each individual storyline cannot be given as much air time as – I for one – would like them to; but on the other, this does result in the few moments we have with them seeming all the more exciting. This is none more true than in the case of the excellent Michael Shannon’s government agent turned outlaw Nelson Van Alder, a truly fascinating character, whose narrative I hope will be given more attention next season.

With season 3, Boardwalk creator Terence Winter has delivered a beautifully constructed period piece, filled with impressive performances from its cast, and outstanding production values which really bring the roaring twenties to life. While many of the show’s themes – loss and loneliness for example – are sombre in tone; these are alleviated by a quirky, upbeat jazz soundtrack and magical photography work. Not to be missed.

★★★★★

Sophie Stephenson