Final Portrait

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MFinal Portrait

Directed and Written by: Stanley Tucci

Adapted from: James Lord’s memoir, ‘A Giacometti Portrait’

Produced by: Gail Egan, Nik Bower, Ilann Girard

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Tony Shalhoub, Sylvie Testud, Clémence Poésy.

‘No question of the portrait ever been finish’, states Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush).  As a portrait is never finished.

And it certainly begins to feel that way to James Lord (Armie Hammer) after agreeing to pose while on a short trip to Paris in 1964.

Based on James Lord’s memoir, ‘A Giacometti Portrait’, the film is written and directed by Stanley Tucci (also known for his acting and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in, The Lovely Bones (2009)), the film centres on the battle of wills between the two men: Alberto, the cantankerous genius, and the ever-tolerant James: forced to sit on a rickety wicker chair, day after day as Alberto paints and then repaints his portrait.Final Portrait

What began as flattery turns into a test of endurance as he bares the rantings of the aging Swiss-Italian.  Alberto at one point telling James, ‘Don’t scratch’

‘I itch’, James replies.

‘Don’t itch.’

Yet, through all his vitriol and terrible treatment of his ever-loving wife, Annette (Sylvie Testud), he shows warmth and love for his favourite model and prostitute, Caroline (Clémence Poésy).

Funnily enough, a film about an artist is shown in drab colours as most of the scenes were shot in Alberto’s destitute studio – filled with sculptures, finished and some just begun, with long faces resembling their maker.

But I couldn’t help smiling.

Geoffrey Rush is just so believable as this grumpy genius, embracing the artist’s technique of painting, speaking fluent French and Italian and most importantly showing the movement and attitude of the artist.

‘Have you ever wanted to be a tree?’ he asks James.

‘No’.

Alberto might be cranky, but there’s also vision.  And we’re given a glimpse into the mindset of the man.Final Portrait

The quietly knowing brother, Diego (Tony Shalhoub) balances the tone of the film, lightening the mood as he’s well aware of Alberto’s moods.  And still loves him in spite of it.

Set over two weeks, the idea of showing a character through the process of painting a portrait simplifies the peeling away of layers.

The film is really, a character study.

I was surprised when the film finished as I was happy to stay in the wry, exasperating yet thoughtful space.

And the clever way of showing Alberto’s personality was a pleasure to watch.

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MA15+Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Written by: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Produced by: Adam Bohling, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Edward Holdcroft, Michael Gambon and Poppy Delevingne.

I like to think I have a dark, somewhat, twisted sense of humour, but about 15 minutes into, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, it stopped being funny and became ridiculous.

As with the first, Kingsman (Kingsman: The Secret Service), there is the intentional push into the bizarre with sociopathic villains sporting robotic attachments – akin to a Bond film, yet modernised.

Which led to the huge success of the first Kingsman: entertaining action with a spot of difference that refreshed the British Secret Service while retaining all the charm.

The attempt to modernised the spy genre here, however, was a script filled with the cliché and the just plain stupid.

The inclusion of the Glastonbury Festival and the aged-before-her-years bimbo and terrible dialogue with pick-up lines such as, ‘My crow is looking for a place to nest’, led to confusion with a blurred line between the film making fun of itself and being silly, or not, and therefore coming across as stupid, try-hard and gross.Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Funnily enough (ha, ha, there’s my lazy pun for the day), the apparent obsession with the sh#tter was some of the most amusing parts.

Following on from Clara (Poppy Delevingne), the Swedish Princess getting it Greek style at the end of, The Secret Service, we now have Eggsy (Taron Egerton) swimming in a sh#t filled sewer, an old man having the best sh#t in two weeks, and Elton John offering a backstage pass if Eggsy once again, saves the world.

So, you can tell the style of humour… And those were the funny bits…

The storyline had holes (ha, ha, just can’t stop those puns) as well.

Enter Eggsy, battling Kingsman-rejected, Charlie (Edward Holdcroft) leading to the Kingsmen being hacked by drug lord, Poppy (Julianne Moore) – a woman stuck in the 1950s, living her days in the jungle in a replica of the setting of, Happy Days, but with robotic killer dogs and a drive to serve-up minced human flesh as prime hamburger meat.

This is a super-successful business lady who’s getting no cred.

So, Poppy decides she wants illicit drugs legalised and therefore taxed to get credit for being a successful business woman?  And to give the government control of the drug trade?  The elaborate plot Poppy, the drug lord, devices is not going to give Poppy more money or a prize for, Business Woman of the Year.  It doesn’t make sense.Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Add the American branch of independent secret service, resplendent with cowboy hats, code names like, Whisky, and the sound track of Country Road that seems to be following Channing Tatum around after, Logan Lucky, you’ve got the original idea of Kingsman, a modern James Bond, to modernised B.S. (the sh#t included).

What I did like was the amazing camera work with the audience being spun around and skidding and kicking and Kung Fu fighting right along-side Eggsy.  And the character, Eggsy, was still likeable here.

But instead of the class of the iconic British gentleman, it felt like the entire cast was given a touch of the idiot.

Even Colin Firth as Harry Hart played a doe-eyed, brain-damaged, butterfly enthusiast for most of the film.

So, yes, there’s explosive, huge-budget action, but riding on a patchy plot, filled with the ridiculous.

The LEGO® NINJAGO® Movie

GoMovieReviews Rating:
PGThe Lego Ninjago Movie

Directed by: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, Bob Logan

Produced by: Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Chris McKay, Maryann Garger, Roy Lee

Screenplay by: Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Jared Stern, John Whittington

Story by: Hilary Winston, Bob Logan, Paul Fisher, William Wheeler, Tom Wheeler, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman

Based on: Lego Ninjago by The Lego Group

Starring: Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Michel Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, Fred Armisen, Olivia Munn, Jackie Chan.

The second spin-off from, The LEGO® Movie, The LEGO® NINJAGO® Movie is based on characters from the Ninjago books, TV series and LEGO® toy-line.

Being a complete novice to the Ninjago world, I took my 5-year-old nephew, an avid fan, to provide some background information (which he enthusiastically supplied, bringing his book full of Ninjago characters).

Thankfully, for a newbie such as myself, the film focussed on the basics of the story, opening with a very human, Jackie Chan as a shop keeper, explaining to a young boy the philosophy and wonder of Ninjago.

And diving into the world of Ninjago, the animation begins:

An evil warlord, Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) AKA, The Worst Guy Ever, is forever trying to destroy and takeover the city of Ninjago.  He also happens to be the father of, Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco), the Green Ninja, who is the secret leader of the Ninja Force.

Constantly having to battle his evil father (who’s also kind of a doofus and the funniest character of the film), it’s a stressful life, being hated by everyone because he’s the son of the villain constantly attacking the city.  Only Lloyd’s fellow Ninjas:The Lego Ninjago Movie

Kai (Michel Peña), Red/Fire

Jay (Kumail Nanjiani,) Blue/Lightening

Nya (Abbi Jacobson), Gray/WaterThe Lego Ninjago Movie

Zane (Zach Woods), White/Ice

Cole (Fred Armisen), Black/Earth

(See how much I’ve learned about Ninjago?!!)

know of his secret identity as a ninja who’s also protecting the city from his father.

Even the warlord himself doesn’t know the Green Ninja’s his son, leading to many funny and awkward moments.

There’s a weird kind of humour here, filled with an abundance of puns, aimed at the pre-teen/teen sense of silly.

The themes of being different at 16 years old, yet trying to fit in – the difficulties of relationships with parents and the advice from Master Wu (Jackie Chan) of finding strength within, are all relevant for teens and younger.

However, butt jokes and the tongue-in-cheek vibe with overlying sarcasm didn’t always gel with the father/son dynamic, as some things, I felt, you can’t joke about.

So, some of the film translated for me, some missed the mark.

What I did appreciate was the clever, added detail like the attack sharks expressing their hunger with, nom, nom, nom sounds (hilarious!), and fire for tears and kids trying to hide thinking they’re hidden but very obviously not (like closing your eyes and thinking no-one can see you) – there’s a real tapping into that funny bone.

And some weirdly wonderful montages of the animation cutting to people doing stuff like slapping their painted bellies to highlight the importance of the, ‘ultra-weapon’.

So, it’s a colourful film, and kinda weird and definitely aimed at a younger audience.

As an adult I had a few laughs, and certainly enjoyed sharing the experience with my nephew.

Victoria & Abdul

GoMovieReviews Rating:
PG-13Victoria & Abdul

Director: Stephen Frears

Based on journalist Shrabani Basu’s book: Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant,

Screenplay by: Lee Hall

Casting Directors, Leo Davis & Lissy Holm. Casting Director – India, Nandini Shrikent. Music by Thomas Newman. Make-up and Hair Designer, Daniel Phillips. Costume Designer, Consolata Boyle. Production Designer, Alan Macdonald. Editor, Melanie Ann Oliver, ACE. Director of Photography, Danny Cohen, BSC.

Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Beeban Kidron, Tracey Seaward.

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Tim Pigott-Smith, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar, Paul Higgins, Robin Soans, Julian Wadham, Simon Callow and Michael Gambon.

In 1887, Abdul travels from India to present a ceremonial medal as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

As the title suggests, Victoria & Abdul is a film based on the (mostly) true events of a previously unheard of close friendship between Queen Victoria and a Muslim Indian, Abdul Karim.

The film opens on a caricature portrait of the queen: an elderly, overweight woman, bored and cantankerous as she attends seemingly endless engagements to celebrate her 50 years on the throne.  Until a tall, handsome ‘Hindu’ catches her eye.

Aside from the difference in age and race, Queen Victoria blossoms under the attention of this most attractive, warm-hearted man.  And you can see the romantic overtures of the relationship as the elderly monarch falls in love with Abdul’s (Ali Fazal) bright eyes and unique perspective of the world.

Although not a physical relationship, Abdul becomes her close confident and Munshi, a spiritual advisor and teacher – completely unheard of in 17th century England.

She persists in keeping Abdul by her side against the pressure and ultimate rebellion of her Court and family, demanding she stop keeping the Indian man’s company, let alone promote him.

And it’s fascinating to watch the iron will of the Queen as she insists – because, after all, isn’t she the Empress of India?

In 2001, journalist Shrabani Basu, while researching the origins of curry, discovered not only Queen Victoria’s love of curries but also a portrait and bronze bust made of an Indian gentleman.   After further investigation, 13 volumes of Queen Victoria’s diaries were found, previously unread because they were written in Urdu (a Persianised and standardised register language of the Hindustani language).

After translating the diaries, Basu discovered the unconventional relationship between the Queen and a young clerk, Abdul.Victoria & Abdul

The book has been adapted for the screen by writer, Lee Hall (who also wrote the beloved, Billy Elliot (2000)), changing the journalistic style of the book into a drama more suited to a wider audience.

Victoria & Abdul

The setting and costuming were carefully crafted, showing the extravagance of royalty while also showing the silliness of ceremony.

Victoria and Abdul is a period drama, which isn’t really my cup-of-tea, but there’s true brilliance in casting Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria (again) – Dench depicting the Queen’s grit beautifully with guidance from director, Stephen Frears (both Frears and Dench having experience portraying Queen Victoria with Frears directing The Queen back in 2006 and Dench cast as Queen Victoria in, Mrs Brown (1997)).

Victoria & Abdul gives a glimpse into the personality of the woman, her iron will and the simplicity of her nature; the drawing reflected so well in Abdul’s eyes.

It was like watching an elderly, sick woman come to life.

And inspiring to see one so sure of her wants and needs against all other opinions, even those of her son.

Fan’s of Judi Dench you will enjoy seeing her play the borderline dirty old woman cradle snatching a younger man (Abdul, 24 when he first arrived in England and the Queen, in her 80s), and to admire her strength of character while surrounded by pompous idiots.

So, an enjoyable watch with highlights of humour and emotional undertones – a chance to look behind the curtain of English Royalty, to glimpse a remarkable woman who, against all odds and so late in life, found love and friendship in the most unlikely person, her Munshi, Abdul.

Ali’s Wedding

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MAli's Wedding

Produced by: Sheila Jayadev, Helen Panckhurst

Directed by: Jeffrey Walker

Written by: Andrew Knight, Osamah Sami

Starring: Osamah Sami, Don Hany, Frances Duca, Helana Sawires.

Ali’s Wedding is a comedy about an Iraqi Muslim, Ali (Osamah Sami) who doesn’t want to get married – not to the girl his parents want him to marry, anyway.

What he wants is to make his father proud.  Even if it means lying to the Muslim community about his Entrance Score, pretending to study medicine, and becoming engaged to one girl while being in love with another.  It’s a tangled web of lies and deceit sprung from the idea that if he doesn’t live up to expectations he will make it up as he goes along.

Based on a true story (‘Unfortunately’, states Osamah who wrote the screenplay based on his own life), Ali’s Wedding is about a Muslim community living in Melbourne, Australia.

Melbourne is an incredibly multi-cultural city with many religions and traditions floating around.  But it’s rare to be given insight into the Muslim traditions here and to realise how strict it remains.

The women are segregated from the men in the mosque, watching the proceedings broadcast to their separate room via a TV, the girls are looked down upon if they go to Uni and going out with a guy is strictly forbidden unless they’re married (if only temporarily).Ali's Wedding

I hate that girls are still so caught up in these traditions, that their intelligence can’t be celebrated, yet the men are put on pedestals.

I know, I know, a comedy.  But, how is this still possible in Australia?!  And how is it that dirty old men can have many wives?  Is this not polygamy?  And therefore illegal?  It’s legal to have multiple de facto relationships, but does this not go against Islamic religion because it’s not marriage?

Aside from this sticky issue (meaning I have an issue with polygamy not the film itself. And that I promise my rant is over, well temporarily, like these supposed marriages), I can say this film is about how Ali attempts to keep up the traditions while also living in a country so very different to where his parents grew up.  Ali's Wedding

There’s an adorable idiocy to Ali, with his genuine need to make people happy at the cost of being himself.  There’s a sincerity with a turning of prejudice into humour.  And an honest exploration of what it means to be a Muslim in Australia.

There’s been real effort to give the film authenticity, such as bringing extras in from the community and writer, Osama Sami as himself, AKA, Ali.

Don Hany as Sheikh Mahdi, Ali’s father, conveys a wise and warm-hearted man.  Who loves his family with a godly patience.  And I found some of what was said by the father both amusing and thought-provoking.

So, some of the humour hit the mark; some, for me – not so much.

A debut feature film for director, Jeffrey Walker (previous experience including the JACK IRISH TV movies starring Guy Pearce), Ali’s Wedding is full of heart.  And although I question some of the humour, this is something new – a film about the Australian Muslim community told from the perspective of a Muslim that’s managed to be funny while also providing insight.

 

Girls Trip

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA 15+Girls Trip

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee

Produced by: Will Packer, Malcolm D. Lee

Screenplay by: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver

Story by: Erica Rivinoja, Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver

Starring: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Larenz Tate, Mike Colter, Kate Walsh, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah.

After 5-years apart, four lifelong female friends reunite for a wild weekend in New Orleans, unleashing their Class of 95 sisterhood, ‘the Flossy Posse’, older and wiser, little do they suspect just how wild and unwise unleashing their former selves will be.

Before the posse join the reveling hundreds of thousands, the throbbing mass of the Essence Festival crowd – where every temptation is overripe for the plucking – they are led into prayer – before their sins begin – by the provocative insanity that is Dina (Tiffany Haddish) a shameless, man crazy, hothead with anger management issues.

  ‘Dear God, my heart is so full of joy for these women right here. Lord please make sure that Lisa don’t get an STD and nobody has kidney failure because we plan to get messed up. And let me get pregnant by somebody rich. Amen’.Girls Trip

Sweet divorcee Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) doesn’t get an STD, but does get a man endowed with an appendage the size of a third arm. How she overcomes the colossal feat of fellatio with grapefruit requires audience tissues, not for crying but for snort out loud laughter that is wet and uncontrollable in a cinema full of strangers.

At the movie’s heart is the tale of Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) A svelte, successful, self-help author, selling her soul to uphold a marriage now stripped of love but needed to maintain celebrity image and fortune.

And Sasha (Queen Latifah) towers as the Judas character, a celebrity gossip blogger tempted by the fortune she could make by exposing her friend’s marriage to the world before the weekends over.

With an insanely relatable quartet of women, Packer dramatizes his characters alive not with the traditional single-woman qualities of cute man-pleasing sexiness but with women aware of their beauty, outrageous in their partying, their crowd surfing pantyless libidos and their criminal if convicted brawling. And he throws in just a few explosive public golden urine showers over innocent revelers to keep them dangerously unforgettable.Girls Trip

Dina is by far the most outrageous and controversial and in some scenes her motives teeter dangerously between pure funny wrong and pure wrong.

In one scene, she threatens to glass Ryan’s unfaithful husband with the broken neck of a wine bottle and in another she spikes the ‘posse’s’ cocktails with a heavy pour of 200-year-old absinthe – their night turns out hilarious and hallucinogenic but the concept of spiking one’s girlfriend’s kind of breaks that momentum of sisterhood.

In just over two hours, the movie edit could be tighter, but its outrageous moments will propel the word of mouth success of, Girls Trip.

In America, the film grossed over $85 million dollars making Packer 43 one of the world’s most prominent African American filmmakers with 26 movies grossing over $1 billion.

Packer has an innate sense of what his market audience wants and he delivers just that.

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA15+The Hitman's Bodyguard

Directed by: Patrick Hughes

Written by: Tom O’Connor

Produced by: John Thompson, Matt O’Toole, Les Weldon, Mark Gill

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, and Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim De Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell, with Richard E. Grant.

Darius Kincaid: Well, when life gives you shit, you make Kool-Aid.
Michael Bryce: Life doesn’t usually give you shit and then turn into a beverage.

When Triple A rated executive protection agent, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) loses or should I say, watches in disbelief as his client is shot by a seemingly impossible bullet in front of him, his life falls from living the dream, like, right up there, to right down there: escorting coked-up stock brokers.

It’s a wasted talent.

So, when super-hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is put under witness protection so he can testify against, Vladslav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), an Eastern European fallen dictator for crimes against humanity, it’s up to Bryce to get him to court alive.

If only Kincaid hadn’t tried to kill Bryce 28 times and wasn’t a complete pain in the arse.

The Hitman's Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard uses that old-school formula of two guys who annoy the crap out of each other, leading to funny one-liners in between the explosive action of car, boat and motorbike chases to jumping from buildings gracefully or being ejected through a car windscreen.

There’s loads of action here and plenty of gun fights and bloody bits – a surprising amount of blood and swearing.

But the bromance/comedy/action formula is a classic one and works well if you’ve got the right cast, such as Ryan Reynolds versus Samuel L. Jackson.

It was interesting between Jackson and Reynolds because they’re both strong leads. Yet, they worked well with two very different characters bouncing off the other – Bryce (Reynolds) completely unfazed by the intensity that was Samuel L. Jackson as Kincaid which added to the comedy.

Ryan Reynold’s deadpan facial expressions of disbelief and perfectly timed deliveries were what really made the film for me.
The Hitman's Bodyguard

I can understand why the script written by Tom O’Connor was immediately sold as it’s a lot of fun, particularly with so many cars getting blown up (being more of an action entertainer then a thought provoker) but there’s enough development of the characters to create a satisfying emotional tone, so it’s not all just superficial explosions, there’s also a roundness to Kincaid and Bryce that develops as the relationship progresses.  And thankfully not sappy try-hard, but believable, funny and a bit cute with hard-arse Kincaid giving Bryce love advice.

Director, Patrick Hughes, who’s becoming an experienced hand at superstar casted action flicks (think The Expendables 3 (2014)) has put together a well-balanced and entertaining film.  And I was happy to leave the cinema with a grin.

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