Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

We should be in a hostel someplace with dreadlocked, Austrian girls!

Year Released : 2014

Director : Mark Raso

Cast : Gethan Anthony, Frederikke Dahl Hansen and Sebastian Armesto

So I’ve gone from pretty much never reviewing films with a romantic theme to two in the space of a few days as I prepare to look into “Copenhagen”, which appeared on Netflix a few weeks back and has been on my list since.

The trailer isn’t very good, but the rating on IMDB is an excellent 7.2/10, a rarity for films that I review on this site as most fall below six. Infact I think that I’ve only ever reviewed five or six films that were above six on IMDB. That’s not to say that that is a guarantee that it will be good as a lot I tend to like some of the films with poor ratings, whilst finding those with good ratings somewhat dull.

But anyway, we’ll see.

Plot

William (Anthony) goes on a European backpacking holiday with two friends, but they soon become tired of his immature antics and leave him in Copenhagen. This is exactly where he wants to be however as he is searching for his grandfather, whom he believes lives in the city. William is struggling to find the address but soon meets Effy (Hansen), a young girl working in a cafe.

She helps him to the address on the letter, where he discovers from his great uncle that his grandfather was infact a Nazi.

Whilst trying to process the information, William finds himself falling in love with Effy, but he is horrified when it turns out that she is only 14 years old. He initially wants nothing to do with her but then finds himself being drawn back into her. Even the return of his friend Jeremy (Armesto) from London and calling him a paedophile doesn’t stop him from falling for Effy to a dangerous level.

 

So is it good?

I’ve never been someone who finds romance films that entertaining, so I sat there expecting to be bored for nearly 100 minutes, and the quite frankly awful trailer really didn’t really help that, but come the end of the film I was pleasantly surprised that I genuinely enjoyed a film from this genre.

What helps the level of surprise was that William and Effy actually seem to have a genuine connection, even if it isn’t obvious at first. The performances of Anthony and Hansen aid this as you can picture them being a couple off screen. Their dialogue flowed without being ridiculously obviously scripted, and it didn’t overwhelm you with cliches either. Everything about them felt natural and realistic, and that’s something that you can’t really teach. It was quite refreshing.

Once such example of the relationship building in a natural way is quite a funny scene where William asks Effy to teach him how to ask what someone’s name is in Danish, and she instead teaches him how to ask if they want to be his “sex buddy”. It actually made me laugh out loud and then again when he actually uses the line towards the end of the film.

There isn’t really a lot to say about “Copenhagen” to be honest. It’s a nice story about an immature man that falls in love with a girl who helps him grow up, only to discover that she is not grown up herself and dealing with his emotions afterwards. It’s quite an interesting dynamic in the sense that ultimately William is a paedophile as later on the film he and Effy do have a romantic encounter, but the film builds it so it doesn’t feel like that.

Long time readers will know that I often have trouble talking about films that I liked, so I hope that explains why this review is shorter than normal, but “Copenhagen” is the first film I’ve reviewed in a while where I never doubted whether I’d still like it by the end.

Summary

“Copenhagen” is a smooth and charismatic look at falling in love in another country. It isn’t stated, the length is about right at just shy of 100 minutes and it doesn’t feel into the usual cliches of two people falling in love.

The moral confliction that you feel when you realise that William has fallen in love with a 14 year old is quite unique. You don’t really feel like there is a good reason that they shouldn’t be together other than her age and that is because the build of their relationship is very natural and feels very genuine.

I’d definitely recommend “Copenhagen”, one of the easier approved stamps I’ve been able to give for a while.

I’m not leaving until I find out something about you I don’t like. Right now you are pretty perfect

Year Released : 2015honeyglueposter
Director : James Bird
Cast : Adriana Mather, Zach Villa, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jessica Tuck, Booboo Stewart and Fernanda Romero

Those of you that have been following the site for a while will know that I have a Youtube playlist of films that I have been looking forward to for some time and want to watch, probably to review for this site (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL99qrMvtP4f7Kx2ZhIMEWayaaBOI861ta). One of the longest serving films on that list (which will be gone by the time you read this), the third longest to be precise, was a film called “Honeyglue”.

There are a few reasons why I haven’t been actively looking to watch it, even though it was on the aforementioned list, and one of them is that it looks remarkably formulaic, what with a girl that is dying and then suddenly find love. Infact, before I even start this list I think that I can predict what is going to happen.

You may also notice that I have filed this into the “romance” category, and I don’t tend to enjoy those sorts of films, even though one is currently in my top five for 2016, but largely it’s not a genre that I actively try to watch, if ever.

Plot

Morgan (Mather), suffering from an inoperable brain tumour, lies to her parents to celebrate her last birthday clubbing. There she meets the cross-dressing Jordan (Villa) and the two share a few intimate moments before she leaves, giving him a false number. Unbeknownst to Morgan, Jordan has stolen her purse to help settle a debt with room-mate Misty (Romero), but he has a last minute change of heart and instead decides to return it by going to the address on her driving licence.

His cross-dressing nature is met with generally mixed reactions and confusion by Morgan’s family, her father Dennis (Heyerdahl), mother Janet (Tuck) and brother Bailey (Stewart), with Dennis in particular not keen on the idea of the two of them being friends, or more.

Upon hearing the news that she only has months to live, Morgan tells Jordan about the tumour and the family leave for Houston for further medical care. Jordan’s relationship with Misty falls apart in the meantime, and he is left homeless. Morgan eventually decides that she wants to spend her final months at home, something which Jordan jumps upon, and the next stage of the relationship shocks everyone in the family.

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As predictable as I thought it would be?

It’s hard not to call a film like this predictable because ultimately you that chances are the character with a tumour is going to die by the end of the film, especially when it is made clear that nothing can be done to help them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film of this nature in which the character hasn’t died by the end of the film, so in that sense yes, it was very predictable.

That being said, I only had one issue with the entire film and I’m going to get it out of the way now. My one and only issue is that a subplot develops in the first half of the movie in which Jordan owes money to Misty, and she eventually has two men beat Jordan up and threaten him with two days to get the aforementioned money, but the subplot is neither referenced nor in any way part of the film thereafter. It is simply dropped. It would have made a more interesting and fuller close to the film if that subplot was finalised, but it is pretty much completely dropped.

Other than that I have no issues with any part of this film and I genuinely loved it. I first added the trailer to the aforementioned list at some point early last year and I never thought I’d get the chance as it never seemed to have a release date, but I’m glad that I eventually got the chance to watch it, and more importantly that it was what I had hoped.

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Whilst a little rushed in parts, the relationship between Jordan and Morgan does seem to flow fairly naturally, and this is aided by the occasional interruption from the live action film with a cartoon version of a story that Jordan is making about the love between a bee and a dragonfly, and in many ways it is a very summation of the relationship between the two up until that point in the film. That mini-story is easy to follow and fun to listen to.

I felt a deep connection to the characters and they weren’t stereotypes in the slightest, even the family. Whilst the acting from the members of Morgan’s family is a little suspect, they do seem to have a fairly natural feeling bond between them and this is refreshing to see.

For me Jordan is the stand out character and it’s great that the filmmakers found an actor that can pass quite comfortably for female when in make up. It’d have been easy for them to cast a very generically handsome twenty-something and simply drag them up, but they have seemingly gone with an actor that would suit the look. The character has a lot of depth and Villa’s portrayal is excellent.

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Summary

“Honeyglue” is a generally decent film and whilst it does drag in places, it is largely a very enjoyable film and it gets my approval stamp. If you can ignore the disappearing subplot then I think you’d have a great time with a film that will more than likely stay approvedunknown and largely unheard of for many, many, many years.

The acting from the two main characters is excellent, and even though the portrayal of the family members doesn’t quite match it, everyone does an all-round decent job and this allows you to connect to each of the characters.

Don’t go in expecting brilliance, but if you do go into in then I think you’ll enjoy what you’re going to watch.

 

Year Released : 2013Treading-Water
Director: Analeine Cal y Mayor
Cast : Douglas Smith, Zoe Kravitz, Ariadna Gil, Carrie-Anne Moss, Don McKellar and Brian Bridger

Whilst looking online for a film to watch, I saw numerous titles that didn’t leap out, that was until I saw “The Boy Who Smells Like Fish”. Now that’s a title that jumps off of the page, although it turns out that it was actually released in 2013 as “Treading Water”.

I quickly looked up the trailer and the IMDB rating and I was genuinely surprised to see that it only had 390 votes on that site. That is one of the lowest vote counts that I’ve seen for a film that I intend to review, and based on that I knew that there wasn’t a reason for skipping by this.

That being said, the rating of 6.2/10 out of ten doesn’t fill me with hope that this is a film that either excites, or bores to tears. Even the trailer makes it look fairly unremarkable, and that might explain why a lot of people seem to have generally avoided this film, or why many won’t have heard of it.

Plot

Newborn Mica (Young – Bridger, Teenager – Smith) is taken home for the first time by Sophie (Gil) and Richard (McKellar) , but everyone who comes in contact with him notices that he smells of fish. Growing up in a museum dedicated to singer Guillermo Garibai, the numerous visitors also notice the unusual smell, but Mica soon meets Laura (Teenager – Kravitz) and the two share a bond before he accidentally offends her at his birthday party.

Richard soon leaves the family, and Sophie is killed just seconds after going on holiday when she is flattened by a van. Trying to cope with his psychologist since childhood, Catherine (Moss), Mica struggles to see the point in doing anything, although he has developed a strong passion for swimming due to it hiding his smell. One day he is approached by Laura (although he doesn’t know it’s her) and they two start a relationship).

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Bang average and completely unremarkable.

I waited until the day after watching the film to write this specific section and I’m not going to lie, other than the notes I have written, “Treading Water” is completely unmemorable. It is, as I pondered in the opening section, a film that is completely average, being neither good nor bad, and this for me is a big problem.

Ultimately you don’t care about the characters in the slightest. Mica doesn’t seemingly have a personality trait that doesn’t revolve around his smell, and the character of Laura is just there, she offers nothing overly impactful to the story. It feels like a forced romance from the first meeting between the two as youngsters, and nothing about the 85 minute film feels natural. Even Smith and Kravitz seem unconvinced by their characters as neither put in a particularly interesting display.

Don’t get me wrong, “Treading Water” isn’t an awful film, but there is precisely nothing that makes me want to watch it again, and there isn’t really a single likeable character. Sophie is painfully one dimensional and I refuse to believe that any museum that is basically someone’s home that has been dedicated to a long retired singer would get as many visitors as the film suggests.

Away from the characters, the story itself is a case of missed potential and could have been done so more. Mica smelling of fish seems almost like a subplot in the film and other than a brief flash of the air freshener that he wears to hide to smell, he’s fish-like smell is barely mentioned in the second half of the film, and almost seems like it’s forgotten. It would have been slightly more interesting had she visually made reference to the smell at some point during the film, therefore having to get over it, but she never does. Whilst it’s a nice sentiment that she ignored his smell and got to no him, there’s no proof whatsoever that she was able to smell him in the first place.

 

Despite nothing thinking it an awful film by any stretch, I actually can’t think of a single positive to say about the film, it’s just kind of there. It’s 85 minutes of your life that you’re not going to get back if you watch it, and you won’t feel any overwhelming emotions either way. It’s as bland as bland can be.

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Summary

“Treading Water” is one of the most bang average films that I’ve ever seen. It’s 85 minutes of sitting there trying to figure out if there is actually anything worthwhile in the movie and ultimately you’re left with a film that you will struggle to remember afterwards.

It took me nearly four hours to write this considerably-shorter-than-normal review because I simply couldn’t think of anything to say, it’s that forgettable.

If you have 85 minutes spare then there are far better options to fill that time with.

Who are we kidding? I’m blind. I can’t see see. I don’t belong here. I’m not meant to see.

Year Released : 1999At_First_Sight
Director :Irwin Winkler
Cast : Val Kilmer, Mira Sorvino, Kelly McGillis, Steven Weber and Nathan Lane

I’ve mentioned in a few previous reviews that my favourite film is the 1988 adventure film “Willow”, for me it is everything a film should be. It’s got everything you could want, action, adventure, comedy, romance, a bit of science fiction and an ounce of horror, but one of the main highlights is the performance of Val Kilmer, who stood out in the film and oozed charisma, and since first seeing “Willow” at the cinema when I was four years old, I have been a big fan of his. Although his choice of films since the turn of the century has been questionable, not helped by that he seems to take any job going, back in the late 1980s and the 1990s he was involved in some excellent films, including “At First Sight”.

The film focuses on the relationship between a New York architect and a blind man that she meets whilst on vacation and touches on some very interesting points that you would never even consider if you were in the same situation and whilst it has it’s flaws, “At First Sight” is arguably one of the most intelligent romantic films I’ve seen in a while. Yes, I said romantic, which is a new category for me on here.

Plot

Amy (Sorvino) is a busy architect who, after some convincing, decides to take a break from work and go on a much needed vacation. Whilst there she meets Virgil (Kilmer), a masseuse and following a rather interesting conversation whilst he was giving her the massage, Amy decides she wants to get to know Virgil more but is then shocked to realise that he is blind.

The two become romantically involved and Virgin eventually agrees to move to New York to be with her, much to the general distaste to Jennie (McGillis), Virgil’s sister, who thinks that he will never adapt to life outside of his quiet town. She is even less pleased when she finds out that Amy has convinced Virgil to have an operation to restore his sight.

Virgil undergoes the operation but struggles to adapt to his surroundings, putting a heavy strain on the relationship with Amy.

Virgil-Adamson-At-First-Sight

So….what makes it intelligent?

The thing that always struck me about this film as being intelligent was that in a lot of films where a blind person suddenly has their sight restored, there is no learning curve, they’re just able to adapt almost seamlessly, but that doesn’t happen here. Virgil, who has been blind since early childhood, often doesn’t know what he’s looking at. One such example comes just after his operation, he goes to look for a job but ultimately is left frustrated because he is unable to complete the application forms as he can’t read non-braille forms.

It’s things like that, the things that most films don’t take into account, that adds a level of intelligence and realism to the film. A person who has spent virtually their entire life blind won’t know how to read and on that basis would really struggle to adapt. You genuinely empathise with him because realistically he has no chance. He’s effectively reverted back to being a small child and having to rely on others more than ever, whereas when he was blind he was not only happy, but was able to lead a life without many complications.

In many ways Jennie turned out to be right and ultimately on reflection, Amy’s motives, whilst selfless on the surface, are actually done to make everything to her liking. Even after Virgil says that he doesn’t want to go through the surgery, she still persists and he ends up doing something that he ultimately regrets.

You can actually feel Virgil’s conflicts both before and after having the surgery done and that is in no small part down to Kilmer, who does an excellent job in portraying a blind man with a generally happy demeanor, and it’s almost ironic in a way that his performance is made more believable by his eye-acting. A lot of blind people that I know/have seen tend to still move their eyes when talking, and Kilmer has borrowed that element excellently. Whilst it may not have the tour-de-force feel from his performance in “Willow” or his bravado of “Top Gun”, I would go as far as saying that in terms of pure acting, this is arguably one of Kilmer’s better performances on screen.

McGillis also does a great job as Jennie as, much like Virgil, she is internally conflicted as she wants Virgil to be happy, but is uncomfortable with him taking the risk of having surgery to see again, especially as there was no guarantee it was going to work anyway.

The relationship between Jennie and Virgil is very well played out and I think you genuinely believe the bond is real because of the choice of the writers to make all the characters either in middle-age, or rapidly approaching it. There are no characters, other than one or two via minor ones, under the age of 35 (or at least around that age) in the film, so you don’t have any of the usual issues that plague romantic films where there is just too much angst from a younger cast in similar films.

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“At First Sight” is one of the few romantic films I like because it doesn’t follow the usual format of romantic films. Think of a few romantic comedies you’ve seen recently and you’ll realise that the below formula happens…..

Step 1) The two people meet

Step 2) They fall in love

Step 3) At least one of them has already done something, or does something bad.

Step 4) The other person finds out about it and the two have a massive fight and split up.

Step 5) They eventually get past what split them up and end up together anyway.

Those five steps are the formula to pretty much every romantic comedy ever. I challenge any of you to come up with at least five well known films that don’t follow that formula. It’s one of the reasons I have a serious dislike to the genre, but this is different, perhaps it’s because it’s not a romantic comedy, or maybe because it’s more realistic.

When couples have a fight about something big, the chances are that they won’t get back together. That’s why movies are so ridiculous when that follow the format because if you found out that your partner only got with you because of a bet (She’s All That), they were paid to (My Best Friend’s Girl), you were writing a magazine article (10 Things I Hate About You)…..I could go on.

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Anyway, my point is that it’s very rare that you will find yourself watching a romantic theme (either drama or comedy, or on one occasion I saw, a romantic horror….that was strange) and don’t see that formula, and whilst “At First Sight” does still borrow some elements of those five steps, it’s not all of them.

There are however a few negatives from the film. At over two hours long it does have a lot of filler in there. There is a lot of enjoyable elements to the film, but there are also a lot of parts where you think to yourself that they could have done without that.

I also found it very difficult to get behind Amy because I don’t think she was portrayed particularly well by Sorvino. I’ve seen her in three films (this, “Mimic” and “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” (I can’t believe I’ve just admitted I’ve seen that)) and to be honest I haven’t really liked her in any of them. She is a very good romantic lead in the sense that she definitely has that “girl next door” vibe her, but she doesn’t bring enough charisma to the screen for me to become emotionally invested in her as an actress.

Having said that it’s not unusual for the female lead in a romantic film to be portrayed by actresses that can’t act. Kirsten Stewart, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johannson, Katherine fucking Heigl….again I could go on. If I must for some reason watch a romantic film then I least want both of the leads to be played by people who can actually act, have charisma, or to a lesser extent, be reasonably attractive…..all on that mini-list lack at least one of those, one lacks all three.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it there otherwise I will end up properly ranting about it. If I were you, I wouldn’t expect too many romantic theme reviews on this site.

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Summary

It’s save to say that I am not a fan of romantic films at all. It’s a very tired genre with very few films standing out from the rest, but approvedunlike most films in the genre, “At First Sight” is a very enjoyable, if somewhat over-stretched film that actually has a lot of intelligent points to make about the difficulties that blind people face.

Val Kilmer does a good job portraying Virgil in one of the final roles he had before his career started going a bit downhill (believe me, I’ve seen some of the films he’s done over the past ten years and they are shocking. I’m not saying that he was, but the film was) and it brought to end an excellent 90s for the former Batman star.

I would definitely recommend this film for a Friday night in with your other half.