NERVE

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MNerve

Directed by: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Screenplay by: Jessica Sharzer

Based on the novel by: Jeanne Ryan

Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Colson Baker, Kimiko Glenn, Marc John Jefferies, Brian Marc, Samira Wiley and Juliette Lewis.

NERVE is a thrill ride with directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman putting the audience in the middle of the action.  Shot in New York, the camera work and streetscapes made the film more entertaining and better than expected.

Vee (Emma Roberts) is living in the shadow of her best buddy, Sydney (Emily Meade).  Always the cautious, wilting violet, Vee is terrified of putting a step wrong until she’s had enough of being a loser in love and life.

Sydney, being the dare devil, has managed to make it to the Top 10 of a new online game, NERVE, where the Players earn money and fame by completing dares given by the Watches.

And Vee, sick of towing the line, feels a wave of reckless youth and takes the plunge into the world of being a Player.

Knowing that she’s pushing her limits but finding a part of herself that she likes, Vee meets the hunky Ian (Dave Franco).  Loving the couple, the Watches dare the partnership on more challenging dares until the dare becomes a sinister reflection of mob mentality – where being anonymous allows behaviour that borders then becomes that of a sociopath.

It’s all about the moment recorded via the Watches’ camera phones; information about the Players taken from social media and everything available online: purchases made, banking details.  The film highlights how much information is available and how easy it is to take over a person’s life via the internet.

NERVE makes the point it’s no longer Big Brother we need to be afraid of, it’s us who are recording and sharing with each other.

Based on a young adult novel written by Jeanne Ryan, teens living adolescent lives leads to the expected awkward moments of unrequited love and the usual we’re-best-friends behaviour.  Thankfully, I was happily absorbed into the action of the online game rather than the film dwelling on the drama.

The character Vee had cringe-worthy moments, but only a few.  And the adolescent aspect was overcome by the creative camera work; where the audience was taken along for the ride.

NERVE was a lot of fun but I found it hard to take seriously when the story turned into the realm of giving a lesson.

Tapping into the teen angst of wanting to break free was still present and this was shown with unexpected edge.  I enjoyed the ride but the attempt at depth gave the film more meat not more meaning: we’ve already heard about the dangers of social media, right?

But drawing the audience into the world of NERVE and being given the feeling of taking those dares along with the characters made a suspenseful and entertaining film.

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Sunset Song

GoMovieReviews Rating:

 

Directed By: Terence DaviesSunset Song

Based on the novel written by: Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Starring: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan; Kevin Guthrie.

Set in the early 20th century, Sunset Song is a heart breaking film but as director Terence Davies states, a story that needs to be told.

Chris (Agyness Deyn) is a young girl growing up in the beautiful enduring and sometimes harsh Scottish country of the Aberdeenshire.

This is a place where beauty may not last but will be the more beautiful for it.  Where love may not last but the land will continue to endure.

The story centres around Chris and her life from family tragedy to marriage to the First World War.

Sunset Song is a love story but also a story of Scotland and the bittersweet nature of life.  There’s such cruelty yet such sweetness that feels lost in this modern age.  And to be reminded of the sacrifice of our Grandparents and all those who lost their lives during the war and broke their family’s heart is truly humbling: Lest We Forget.

I was immediately captured by the opening scene of Chris lying in the middle of a crop of wheat, hidden from view; the sun on her face.  I used to do the same thing but amongst the green stalks of canola.  Being hidden from everything and everyone except the sky.

I loved the simplicity of this film.  The soundtrack mostly the characters themselves singing.

A close friend of Chris narrates the story, describing the poetry of Chris’ life.  The lightness of the words used to balance the harsh reality sometimes endured.  And that’s the main theme here – the endurance of the characters like the endurance of the Scottish landscape.  The camera work showing the rolling green hills, the rain, mud and filtered sunlight another character of this classic Scottish story.

Plenty of space and quiet was allowed into the film.  Personally, some of the scenes could have been cut or shortened.  But that’s just my mile-a-minute modern city brain.  The film slows the mind to grasp the sweetness, the tragedy; cruelty and humility.

I wondered at the use of nudity in the film, somewhat jarring in the context of modesty, but then there was also length given to the cruelty, the light from the church window and the sermon given, to the poetry and the singing – all given in equal measure, all giving weight to the film.  This is a modern understanding of a classic story to the heart of remembering and never forgetting.

So easy to get carried away with such an emotive story.  I find war films difficult because it’s too close; too real.  The times where child birth could so easily kill the mother, the times so easily forgotten.  But Sunset Song is beautiful film and well worth watching.

Bring your tissues, lasses, and lads, bring your heart.

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War Dogs

GoMovieReviews Rating:

 

Director: Todd Phillips

Writers (screenplay): Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips; Jason Smilovic

Based on an article written by Guy Lawson, “Arms and the Dudes” published in Rolling Stone (2011)

Starring: Miles Tellers, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas; Bradley Cooper.

When does telling the truth ever help anybody?  Is the title of a chapter in War Dogs.  Ironic in that the film is based on the true story written by Guy Lawson: a fascinating exposé about two 20-something year-old’s who put together what is now known as the Afghanistan arms deal worth $300 million dollars.

But War Dogs isn’t an action-packed war movie, this incredible story is about two mates seeing an opportunity and taking it.

It’s not about war, it’s about making money.

Combining this have-to-see-to-believe story with a great soundtrack (I’m talking golden oldies such as Creedence Clearwater), director Todd Phillips has brought to life the two characters, David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill): The laugh Jonah Hill gives his character Efraim is unforgettable.

And I just had to laugh at the balls of these kids.  You can’t make this stuff up.  What a story and well worth reading the article originally published in Rolling Stone back in 2011: Arms and the Dudes.

I saw a recent interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon where Jonah talks about War Dogs and the need for a daily slathering of fake tan because he was allergic to the stuff.  Combined with the laugh and standout performance from Jonah, Efraim was the highlight of the film for me. And then there’s the legendary Henry played by Bradley Cooper: an arms dealer who was said to have sourced the rope to hang Saddam Hussein after he was convicted of crimes against humanity.

These guys are the bottom feeders, where War Dogs are those who make money out of the misery of war without ever seeing combat.

This is a film to get people talking, to shake at the incredulous cunning and open for business policy of the American Government.  And I congratulate director Todd Phillips for getting the feel just right.

The film is shown as a series of chapters, a telling example entitled: I love Dick Cheney’s American War.  And reminiscent of, The Hangover trilogy, the voice-over narrative of Miles Teller as David Packouz gives the story a personal touch.

The freeze mid-action gives the audience a chance to absorb the craziness where if someone were to tell you this story, it would be too far out there to be believed: The American government posting arms contracts to the general public for 20 year-old’s to bid on and win?

Making such an incredible story believable with fantastic acting (Jonah Hill, what a legend) and thought put into the pacing of the film, gives War Dogs a winning quality.

Whether the truth of the story will help anyone is a statement worth discussion, but War Dogs is certainly entertaining and thought-provoking.

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Bad Moms

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MA15+Bad Moms

Directors: Jon Lucas; Scott Moore

Writers: Jon Lucas; Scott Moore

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Haln, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, David Walton, Clark Duke; Jay Hernandez.

I just had a Bad Mom moment.  Leaving my notebook in the cinema.  And not realising until I started drinking a glass of red wine and then fluffing in my handbag, looking for it.  That’s about the extent I related to Bad Moms.  The sense of panic.  The humiliation if someone had started reading my scribbly notes.  Like someone else finding your child and having to pick them up from a stranger…  Jeez, it’s like pulling teeth.

If you’re not a mother, relating to Bad Moms is difficult.

Ami (Mila Kunis) is trapped in a world of kids, work, looking after her infantile husband, PTA meetings and everything that life can throw at you.  When she finally gets knocked unconscious at her kid’s soccer match, to then be late (again) to the PTA meeting, and then be volunteered by everything-must-be-perfect super mom, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), to be the ingredients police at the upcoming bake sale, it’s enough.

Ami decides she’s sick of trying to be the perfect mom.

Now, along with fellow mothers, Carla (Kathryn Haln) and Kiki (Kristen Bell), she decides it’s time to be… A Bad Mom.

Thank goodness for the comic relief of Kiki and her cheeky, loud-mouth antics.  It wasn’t that the acting was bad, there just wasn’t enough comic relief.

I had an expectation of many laugh-out-loud moments, and there were a few, but coming from Jon Lucas and Scott Moore as the writers and directors (the guys who co-wrote The Hangover I and Wedding Crashers) I expected there to be wider appeal.

I hear stories from my sisters and I can see how much pressure parents are under these days.  Women have to work and keep: home, family, kids and society in general happy.  Our mothers have worked hard for equal rights and now there’s this need to be able to do it all.  Perfectly.  I get that.  And Bad Moms is a surprisingly insightful film.

Watching the girls getting into it because they’re sick of having to be perfect was a lot of fun. But to me?  These girls needed sleep.  For a week.  So unlike The Hangover and The Wedding Crashers, I found this movie painful, and not in a funny way.

I can see a group of mums going to Bad Moms, to escape the house and kids for a couple of hours with glass of wine in hand and the relief that they’re not the only ones feeling the pressure of motherhood.  And I congratulate Bad Moms on shining a spotlight on what a modern-day mother has to go through.  But as a film, Bad Moms is made for a select audience.

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The Most Underrated True Crime Movies Ever Made

Despite all the horrors criminals perpetrate, despite how terrifying a real gangster, mobster or murderer truly can be, one thing is certain: when it comes to movies, we as a people love crime. There is something intrinsically interesting about getting into the heads of degenerates as they break the law and seek ways to avoid getting caught.

It’s no surprise then that True Crime stories are some of the most well-received films. Some are well remembered, while others are unjustly forgotten. With a new generation of viewers, there’s some real value to be gained by looking back and thinking about just what is still worth watching.

 “GoodFellas” (1990)

No matter how many times I see “GoodFellas,” it remains one of my favorites. I don’t mean to suggest it was underrated in its time either—ratings for the film are superb overall. But today, over twenty years later, new audiences may not have heard of the movie much less seen it. For that reason, I list it first.

“GoodFellas” is not the original story about working for the mob (others existed before it), but it is based on the biography of Henry Hill, a former mobster who is eventually forced to turn in his friends and bosses to save himself and his wife. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that. “GoodFellas” gives some excellent insight into what it was like to be a Mafioso, both the good and the bad.

“Heavenly Creatures” (1994)

Our next film is perhaps a little stranger. Based on a well-known murder in 1954 known as the Parker-Hulme murder case, the story follows Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme as they conspire to commit (and then naturally follow through) murder. Their target is Pauline’s mother.

While this is another film that received praise, it was actually a New Zealand film, which isn’t surprising considering the original murder took place in New Zealand. And although the center of the origin story is murder, the film focuses much more on the development of the two protagonists’ relationship as things slowly get worse.

 “In Cold Blood” (1967)

One of the biggest challenges in keeping good movies alive is the huge difference in production value between now and then. This is certainly true for “In Cold Blood,” with its fiftieth birthday just around the corner. The entire film is black and white, so it definitely has that old movie look to it. But make no mistake: the use of black and white is entirely intentional.

Like “GoodFellas,” this film is based on a book that was written about true events—in this case, the murder of the Clutter family. Perry Smith and Dick Hickock conspire to rob the Clutters’ house, but their crime instead escalates into a quadruple murder which leads them to flee the country. Their eventual return leads to their arrest and conviction, but not before some very dramatic interrogations.

Contributor: Caroline loves true crime stories, whether they’re depicted on screen or through audio alone. As an entertainment enthusiast and internet security specialist, the minds of criminals fascinate her.  If you’re interested in some of her other works, check out Secure Thoughts or Culture Coverage.

Suicide Squad

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MSuicide Squad

Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Jimenez Fitzsimons, Ike Barinholtz, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Cara Delevingne, Jai Caurtney, Joel Kimaman, Adewale Akinnuoge-Agbaje, Viola Davis, Ben Affleck, James McGowan, Jim Parrack, Ezra Miller; Jay Hernandez.

With such a huge amount of hype my expectations were duly high for Suicide Squad.

Was I impressed?

It comes down to the entertainment factor for me. Without a doubt, I was entertained.

Suicide Squad is an inverse to the usual superhero movie, where the bad guys are good and the humans, particularly Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), have become the devil incarnate to keep the human race feeling safe.

It’s a time of fear where mere mortals are faced with the idea of being over-powered. What would happen if Superman decided to take the President and drop him from the sky? No one would have been able to stop him.

To protect the human race, Amanda Waller puts together a squad of super-villains. Those with superpower but those locked away for being, well, bad. And now an Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a genie let out of the proverbial bottle, has come to take over the world.

There are a lot of big names here, the stand outs for me: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. I’m not always a fan of the Smith, but he played Deadshot well, managing to give the character warmth and depth.  There’s also a chemistry between Margot Robbie and Will Smith that works and appears genuine on film.

I have to say I was let down by the Joker (Jared Leto) after so much hype. The Joker in a film full of big characters felt crowded, but the twisted love story with Harley Quinn was a nice twist to the usual superhero love story.

The editing was conducted so even a second was counted.  A couple of jolts at the beginning and the rest of the film was seamless.  To fit so much and still give air to the story and characters, director and writer David Ayer is to be commended. And the rock’n soundtrack gave a great pace to the film.

A few gaps have to mentioned. If you don’t have prior knowledge of Suicide Squad or included characters, some of the backstory was a bit thin.  How a psychiatrist becomes a marital arts expert because she’s suddenly crazy was a stretch. And I would have liked more heart from Katana.  But more backstory of some characters would have meant cutting others.

Suicide Squad isn’t just a superhero movie, there are elements of fantasy (which I thoroughly enjoyed) put together with fun characters, a great soundtrack and a story held together enough for the film to be entertaining.