Saturday, July 16, 2016

Movie Review … Demolition

‘Demolition’ explores moving on from tragedy.  This can be difficult to do with someone eternally bound to another and various emotions hard to shake.  If in a marriage, one half is gone with the other searching for ways to go forward.  With the thespian skills of Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Demolition’ benefits from his acting and a strong story.  It can be heavy at times but like any rewarding film offers much in return for viewer investment.

When his wife is killed in a car crash, investment banker Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) falls to pieces.  Although his father in law Phil (Chris Cooper) tells him to pull himself together, Davis can’t easily let go.  While writing a letter of complaint about a faulty machine, Davis captures the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts). Despite having her own issues, she and Davis form a mutual connection.  With her help, Davis sets out to demolish his old life in favour of a new and potentially hopeful one.

A film about a man going through a nervous breakdown and dealing with grief hardly sounds like a good time.  Although ‘Demolition’ deals with weighty issues, it has elements making it absorbing.  Davis’ anguish feels genuine thanks to Gyllenhaal’s magnetic performance.  He is ably backed up by Watts who gives a fine performance as an equally lost soul.  Their strange combination helps them through their emotional turmoils even if those around them can’t deal with their behaviour.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction delivers the authenticity ‘Demolition’ needs to feel believable.  Despite a meandering narrative and a few scenes not quite working, Vallee ensures the characters hold the attention.  Along with Gyllenhaal and Watts, Cooper delivers his usual solid rendition of a father coping with losing his daughter.  You feel his character’s perplexity at Davis’ actions with the cinematography and soundtrack adding much to these sequences.

Re-connection and re-discovering who you are become the key points ‘Demolition’ makes.  It is an often confusing and difficult journey to take but ‘Demolition’ proves dealing with death is like that.  How we come to terms with loss and how long it takes are issues ‘Demolition’ effectively explores.
 


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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Movie Review … Sing Street

‘Boy meets girl’, ‘Boy loses girl’, ‘Boy gets girl again’.  This scenario has been around since cinema’s birth.  We should be fed up with it by now but aren’t. The reason is how it is told with many movies using this simple device to huge effect.  Put in some cool music, striking fashion and a hit is sure to materialise.  ‘Sing Street’ is one such film.  Full of those elements, it’s a shameless crowd-pleaser with 1980’s fashion making one wonder if we ever looked like that.

Living in Dublin during the 1980’s, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is a teenager wanting to impress the new girl in town Raphina (Lucy Boynton).  Unsure how to do this, he comes up with the idea of forming a band.  With his wayward father Robert (Aiden Gillen) looking on, Conor hopes to capture the girl of his dreams.  This is easier said than done with obstacles and calamities the order of the day on Conor’s rocky romantic road.

Whilst ‘Sing Street’ is filled with clich├ęs, the way it tells the story is charming.  You can’t help but be engaged in Conor’s plight not only in securing the girl but his family and social situations.  Spending days at a Catholic school with tough Christian brothers along with bullies makes his life intolerable.  Using these to fuel his desire to write songs and break away from his fractured existence is something many can relate with.  The ‘give it a go’ mantra and following dreams motif is universal and is well conveyed by strong performances.

Writer and Director John Carney must be an 80’s child as he generally captures the era perfectly.  His script is fairly well realised even if it’s filled with a few too many sub-plots.  He also loses focus on certain characters who aren’t as interesting as others detracting from the film’s cohesiveness.  Overall ‘Sing Street’ is enjoyable with original music mixed amongst 80’s classics. 

Although corny in places, ‘Sing Street’ has plenty of ragged energy successfully capturing an era where raw initiative was applauded.  With characters determined not to stay in an emotional bind, ‘Sing Street’ is worth checking out for that and seeing how big hair got in the decade of excess.




Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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Movie Review … Love And Friendship

The TV series ‘Downton Abbey’ saw period dramas return to popularity.  The British channel BBC virtually built its name on them with many going into television history.  A well written period drama can be timeless, with stylish wit and amazing costumes on display.  Adapted from the Jane Austen novella ‘Lady Susan’, ‘Love and Friendship’ is an amusing tale of class and romance.  Those versed in Austen’s prose such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ will know what to expect with this film leaning heavily on her enduring words.

Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsdale) is staying with her in-laws whilst riding out yet another scandal.  A woman often in trouble, she doesn’t let mishaps stand the way of enjoying life.  Wanting to find a husband, whilst attempting to set up a romance for her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark).  One of the likely romantic candidates is the suave Reginald (Xavier Samuel) who becomes an unwitting player in Lady Susan’s wicked match-making game.

Directing from his adapted screenplay, Whit Stillman seems to be in his element shooting beautifully coifed performers amidst luscious surrounds.  Money couldn’t buy that and ‘Love and Friendship’ is easy on the eye.  The cast do a fine job inhabiting their characters who are pawns in Lady Susan’s clutches.  A manipulative and opportunistic woman, Lady Susan uses her friends like chess-board pieces.  Well defined by Beckinsdale, you understand the way she is and her hopes for her daughter. 

In spite of her good performance, Beckinsdale can only be good as the story she’s given. Unfortunately Stillman doesn’t quite know how to tell the tale with several narrative gaps evident.  Events move too quickly to keep up with what’s happening, leading to a somewhat confused conclusion.  It’s a shame ‘Love and Friendship’ is lumbered with a patchy script as it had potential to be one of the better Austen adaptations.

‘Love and Friendship’ will probably appeal to those wanting to see period costumes and wonderful locations.  They’ll receive plenty in spite of a rather under-cooked script.  It shouldn’t dampen their enthusiasm for similar works with Austen’s books continuing to enchant in this digital age.




Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


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