Money Monster

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I actually rather enjoyed this film despite it being a bit far fetched. The ending was inevitable although I’m still not sure why they did it? There is a nice twist in the middle and definitely a message to be shared.

The story begins with George Clooney character Lee getting ready for his show Money Monster. A show that gives sound advice on which companies to invest in on the stock market. He is a brash show off with very little in the way of modesty. He is the star, not the stock market and he really doesn’t care what happens to people’s money as long as he can wear expensive suits.

Lee is introducing the show when a gun man enters the stage. A desperate man who has lost everything following the advice of the Money Monster. He has blown 60,000 pounds of his inheritance money and its all Lee’s fault. The events are broadcast live on TV. Lee with the help of his director Patty played by Julia Roberts have to negotiate their way out of this mess. Police are waiting to storm the studio and take the gun man down.

Throughout the show we see how unpopular Lee is, how blagging his way through shows is helpful in this situation, we learn about the gunman and why he is so desperate and begin to unravel why this company collapsed and lost peoples money. It was no glitch in the computer system. Emotions are very high and you really feel the plight of this gun man, particularly when you hear what his girlfriend has to say.

This is an original story line although pretty far fetched and unlikely. Despite the severity of the situation there are still some laughs. I am not a Clooney fan but this egotistical character is perfect for him and he plays it well. Julia Roberts as usual is brilliant as she is stuck on the wrong side of the camera. Jack O’Connell puts on a New York accent for at least the second time playing Kyle the Gunman. It’s a really good performance despite the idea being a tad over the top and unrealistic.

If you can get over the unrealistic nature of this film then you will enjoy it. Don’t try to decipher or question it too much and it won’t disappoint. I think there needed to be more tension surrounding the event as at no point do you really believe that Lee will die or is at risk. Despite this, it was an easy watch with a heart warming message and the bad guy gets it in the end.

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7/10

Bad Neighbours 2

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I must say that I am not the biggest fan of modern American comedy, however, I enjoyed the first Bad Neighbours film. The second film is pretty much the same but this time we have a group of girls next door.

Mac and Kelly are trying to sell their house as they have a baby on the way. The sale has been reached, but there is a 30 day period where the buyers can pull out. Of course with the house empty next door this should be easy, but unfortunately a sorority move in and plan to party ruining the chances of the sale.

The sorority is made up of girls that just don’t fit in. Apparently sororities are not allowed to party? This group want to change this, but move away from the sleazy frat parties. They want to smoke lots of weed and shake things up. Zach Efron’s character having been made homeless by his friend joins these girls so that he can impart his wisdom and teach them how to stay together. This of course leads to a neighbour battle.

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The jokes are pretty stupid stuff and try and offend. I usually hate this type of comedy, but in this film it works. There is a great deal of bad language, toilet humour, sex humour and a young child walking around with a vibrator. This is an easy watch and you don’t have to think too much. The girls are a bit annoying and I found that the message of feminism and strong women didn’t really work with these characters. There were definitely elements to make you cringe.

If you liked the first film then you will definitely like the second. Will there be a third? Possibly? There are so many bad neighbours out there. Seph Rogen and Rose Byrne work really well together as the dysfunctional parents who try to be functional. They have great chemistry! Zach Efron shows his abs a great deal and looks like he enjoys playing the masthead, it’s a pretty fun and easy roll to play. The supporting cast play off the main cast very effectively and enjoy a great share of the jokes.

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7/10

Miles Ahead

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I must confess that I knew very little about Miles Davis before I watched this film. I left the cinema knowing he played Jazz, he took lots of drugs, was a womanizer and abused his wife. The film probably depicts the worst parts of his life, which is a shame. It is the late 70’s when Davis is doing very little apart from taking drugs and fighting Columbia over a private session.

Ewan McGregor plays a reporter from Rolling Stones Magazine. In his desperation to get an interview he gets mixed up with Davis’ unconventional lifestyle. We have shootings, theft, drugs, music and lots of smoking. This is a slow burn with a few action pieces and some nice Jazz.

Throughout the film there are flashbacks of his life with Frances Taylor, his former wife. The flashbacks show his controlling and abusive personality with a rare glimpse of the inequality that black people had at the time. They were married for 10 years, but the film concentrates on all the negative elements. In all honesty there is very little light until the end.

Don Cheadle plays Davis and directs the film. From the footage I have seen this is a very good performance. I think fans of Davis will get more out of this film. I just didn’t find this element of his life very interesting really. It was the typical cliche of musician using drugs and sleeping around. I’m sure from what I have read there is more to Davis then that? Maybe fans can educate me?
This is an ok film with good performances. I just didn’t find the film very interesting and surely a film about one of the best Jazz musicians should be?

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5/10

Six Feet Under

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My wife had been on at me for years to watch this series with her and I tended to respond in quite an unenthusiastic fashion. I thought it would be just a little bit too weird and melancholy. It came out when I was 17 and I saw glimpses of the series and I don’t think I was quite ready for it.

We had come to the end of Game of Thrones and we were lacking shows to watch. I suggested Six Feet Under much to Amy’s surprise. I have now watched every episode and my opinion is that this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. I warn you that it is not for the faint hearted and it tackles some tough and taboo subjects.

The show follows the Fisher family after the death of the father Nathaniel. He was head of the house in quite an old fashioned traditional sense. He ran the family funeral parlour from their large house, which was now left to his sons David and Nethaniel Jr. David had always been involved in the business working with his Dad. Nathaniel Jr ran away from the responsibility at home and never wanted to return. The death of his father left him little choice but to return although this was always a struggle.

As you can imagine, death holds a prominent part of the series. It covers grief, pain, anger, tradition and religion. Some deaths are gruesome where as others are peaceful. Their father is a constant presence in their life and a source of guidance. His death brings up many questions about him. How well did they actually know him?

There are a great deal of hard topics covered in the show. From the outset we have death which is the main focus. We see characters struggle with their own and others homosexuality, we see drug use, mental illness, sex, religion, racism, violence, cultural difference, physical illness, family break ups, incest, murder…. I could go on. I have to confess that I did at times get a bit down about it all. The acting is absolutely fantastic from all those involved. Never once do you see the actor, only ever the character they are playing. You feel their emotion and go along the rollercoaster ride. They all suffer at some point in their lives and struggle, but somehow they always stay together. Beyond the chaos there is a great deal of love.

The family consists of Mother who struggles with her own mental health issues. She struggles with the fact that she married so young and started a family without really experiencing things that young people do. It is clear that her relationship with her husband was not easy or loving. She is often on the cusp of breakdown and feels confused.

The oldest son is Nethaniel who is an idealist who likes to run away from reality. He never wanted to be part of the business although his father even in death had other ideas. The business is left to him and his brother which left him obligated to run the funeral business. He often picks the most destructive relationship, but finds solace in sex and love with others. His physical health plays a major role in the show.

The middle child is David who has always been part of the business in the hope to get acknowledgement from his father. He feels that he is often taken for granted, has to take on everyone’s burdens, move the business forward and hold everything together. He has his own troubles, particularly a secret which he has kept from his family. A secret that has challenged his faith, friendships and love life. He has always felt like the odd one out.

We finally have the youngest Claire who is often self destructive. She dabbles in drugs and alcohol despite only being a teenager. She was her Dads favourite and his death has left a major void. She struggles to develop a relationship with her mother. She also struggles to find the right man who can support her and doesn’t need her support. She is an artist and enjoys experiencing many different things. She tries to live her dream although her grief often takes away her focus.

There is a really strong supporting cast who have a major role. Their lives bring up a multitude of issues and often become tangled up with the Fisher family. There are are few happy and funny moments, but generally the issues are hard hitting and dark. This is one of the best series I have seen. The acting is brilliant and worthy of many awards. It us not a show for everyone, but there will be elements that nearly everyone can relate to.

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9/10

Captain America Civil War

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I didn’t fall asleep through this film, so it can’t have been that bad? Right? Again I know I’m going to be a minority in my view, but I found this film really boring. I loved the first two although I admit I’m not the biggest Marvel fan. There are just too many heroes out at the moment. Captain America has by far been the best of them with the best storyline, but it failed here for me.

In all honesty despite Captain America being in the title this is more about Civil War and the collection of heroes. We have Captain America, Iron Man, Ant Man, Falcon, Black Widow and even Spider-Man. It’s all a bit too much in one film if you ask me.

The story starts with a disaster caused by the super heroes. This is one of many they have caused in their aim to save the world and governments are questioning the use of super heroes. The UN want to take charge and want to use the gifts of these special people, but in a controlled manner and on their terms. They don’t want these heroes to go off when they like, fighting evil and leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

The civil part is that not all the heroes agree with this action. Tony Stark is head of the For party and Captain America is part of the Against. This leads to some long battles which take up most of the screen time. We also have the tale of the Winter Soldier who is part bad and part good. He is being used as a way to divide the group as well. He is being controlled by a man hell bent on revenge.

The story line for me is really weak and is dragged out over 2 hours and 27 minutes. I don’t mind watching fairly long films, but this really went slow for me. I felt every minute and I struggled beyond an hour really. For Marvel fans this will be a treat and in all honesty most people will like this. I heard a few raving about how much they liked it as they left the cinema. It just wasn’t to my taste.

The performances were good and the choreographed fight scenes were brilliant, full of imagination. This is also a great film for female superheroes as they play a major part in the story line. There are a few good jokes in there too, mainly shared between Iron Man and Ant Man. There will no doubt be a fourth film as Marvel churn out film after film.

I think many will enjoy this film, so don’t let me put you off. It is a blockbuster full of action and if you love action then you’ll love this.

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5/10

The Jungle Book

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This is basically the same as the animated version, but with CGI rather than drawings. There is very little deviation from the cartoon Disney. I haven’t read the book by Rudyard Kipling since I was a child and so I can’t remember the whole story, so it’s hard to compare book and gilm. I understand Favreau has tried to incorporate more of Rudyards story as well as a few songs from the cartoon version.

I really enjoyed this , but would I watch it over the cartoon version? Probably not! In saying that, the film really works. The CGI is brilliant and the scenery of India is beautiful. I think this is more for an older child rather than the young, but really this is a film for nearly everyone.

The cast is very strong and works well. We have Sir Ben Kingsley as the wise Baghira, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Bill Murray as Baloo, Christopher Walken as King Louis and Scarlet Johansen as Car. The voices are perfect for their roles particularly Idris Elba who is terrifying as the dominant tiger Shere Kahn. Scarlet Johansson is very good as Car and it was great to have a female voice as the part. I didn’t even recognise Scarlet Johannson voice, which is testament to how well the part was being played. I did find Neel Sethi a tad annoying and wasn’t quite convinced by his performance. This was the only criticism I can mention.

King Louis is a great character and the creation of the Orangutang is amazing. This huge monster who wants fire swings around the abandoned city with menace. Car is pretty scary as she mesmerises the young boy with her eyes and slithering tongue. The characters are very strong and this makes this a must see of 2016.

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8/10

Eye in the sky

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If you could save 80 lives at the risk of killing one, would you do it?

If there was only the possibility of 80 dying, but the certainty of a young innocent child dying, would you do it?

This is the basic premise of this film involving government officials, the army and known terrorists. The targets are well known terrorists who have been sought after for 6 years. They are known extremists who do not care who they hurt. They are all in one building and capture is impossible. The only way to complete the mission is to use an air strike, which puts innocent civilians at risk. As the film continues the terrorist threat increases to a large extent.

Those who are the decision makers pass the responsibility from one to another all scared of making the wrong decision. I really hope this is not the way these things work because there is a distinct lack of conviction and courage. This is an extremely tense and tortuous film and somewhat frustrating. The technology used in tracking the terrorists is pretty impressive! It’s amazing where you can place cameras and how small they can be.

There is only so long that the scenario can be dragged out, which makes for a fairly short film. The performances from Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman are very strong. I’m just not sure how believable the story is? These people are paid to make life changing decisions, but somehow they can’t? There is a distinct lack of doing the right thing and more worry on how it will look? Those carrying out the action do not seem to be particularly well trained or mentally strong enough. It all comes down to the questions I started with, could you do it?

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6/10