JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME

The First Step To Finding Your Destiny Is Leaving Your Mother’s Basement

Director
Mark Duplass

Starring
Jason Segel
Ed Helms
Susan Sarandon
Judy Greer
Rae Dawn Chong



As a follow-up to Cyrus, I was rather looking forward to this film. Jason Segel is almost always a sure-thing and with the Duplass’ distinct style, I was prepared for a solid, thought provoking comedy. But it’s not. It’s a poignant drama with humorous moments and underlying theological and philosophical concepts. The problem is, as heart-warming and sweet as it was, I just didn’t like it.

Ever watched the film Signs while on drugs? Well, Jeff [Segel] has.. a lot. So much so, that the opening ten minutes focus solely on Jeff’s analysis of Signs and his growing belief that fate and determinism guide him. The story takes place over one day, starting with Jeff receiving a phone call (looking for a ‘Kevin’), then traversing Baton Rouge searching for signs and evidence of some sort of cosmic fate. Simultaneously, we are introduced to Jeff’s brother, Pat [Helms], who is a bit of a self-centred dick – illustrated by his surprise purchase of a Porsche, much to the dismay of his wife, Linda [Greer]. The third story follows Pat and Jeff’s mother, Sharon [Sarandon], who receives several instant messages from a secret admirer. Frustrated and lonely since the death of her husband, Sharon appreciates the attention, pondering who the individual is and speaking with her co-worker, Carol [Chong], for advice. The second act kicks off nicely with Pat and Jeff accidentally meeting up and stalking Linda through the city as she spends her day with a man.

The cornerstone to this film is the central acting talent: Segel embodies the absent minded Jeff perfectly but also brings a loveable sweetness to him, ensuring he’s not a complete loser that no one can identify with. If anything, we envy him and his almost carefree hippie outlook. Then there’s Ed Helms’ Pat, who is openly cringe-worthy in the first act but after an hour manages to redeem himself and you slowly begin to root for him. Finally, Sarandon is refreshingly brilliant, utilising a very subtle performance, the likes of which we haven’t seen from her in a very long time. The supports, (Greer and Chong) offer decent reinforcement, managing to shine through despite the modesty of their roles. Ultimately, in lesser hands, these characters would have been flat archetypes and the story wouldn’t possess nearly as much redeeming weight as it does.

The more I think about this film and the more I write about it, the more I dislike it. Leaving the cinema my impressions were fairly mediocre, I was entertained but I didn’t necessarily enjoy the film, it was moving but wholly predicable; bit of an odd one. But when you break it down, beneath the brilliant performances and reasonable direction, you’re left with a series of events without resolution and excessive loose ends. I appreciate this is probably the point of the film, to offer the audience a snapshot of life without overly glamorising it but it is my belief that without dramatic consequence and psychological scarring, people fall back into their old habits – one of the things that pissed me off about Crash.

You could argue that any genre piece has a reasonably identifiable formula but if you’ve seen enough quirky independent releases, you’ll know what to expect from this film. Ting-ting-a-ling score that happily bounces along from start to end, tight close-ups and random zoom work, powerful familial confrontations, charmingly unrealistic setups and resolves, random encounters that endear you to the human spirit, slow drawn-out pacing, unassuming costumes and locations, downplayed cinematography, etc. As an audience member you either love this kind of artwork and actively seek it out or you absolutely hate it. Having seen so very many films of this nature, I knew exactly what was going to happen from the very start and was desperately waiting for the film to surprise me. Unfortunately, it didn’t. This film is far from awful, at no stage was I ever sickened or appalled, just thoroughly disappointed.


Release Date:
11th May 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
I have no desire to spoil the crescendo but I just wanted to briefly talk about its disorientating nature – largely in comparison to the first two acts. You know the story is building to some final cosmic alignment but when it arrives you’re reminded that you’ve been waiting for so long that it’s almost startling. Not the nature of the development but the sheer fact that it exists, when compared with the previous hour and a half. Anyway, my highlighted scene starts when Jeff hops off Kevin Kandy’s van and sees his brother at a motel and concludes with Jeff and Pat sitting in the bath. That’s as much as I’ll say without ruining everything. For that one moment, the sublime acting, decent pacing and natural camerawork all come together and produce a frankly surprising scene that really captivated me. The rest of the film was alright.

Notable Characters:
Each character personifies what they’re supposed to be (the frustrated drifter, the selfish sibling/husband, the frustrated widow) perfectly but seeing Susan Sarandon working slightly outside of her comfort zone – much more so than Segel or Helms – was a nice touch.

Highlighted Quote:
“First of all, Yoda would fucking.. be awesome in a business meeting”

In A Few Words:
“The atypical independent festival film; as such you’ll either love it or hate it. My opinion..? It was kinda nice”

Total Score:

3/5

Cinema City Film Quiz #69

[22 April 2012]


Winning Team:
The Christopher Nolan Sisters

Genre – Documentary about light entertainment singers who people think are better than they are

Runners Up:
Batman Biggins
Genre – Gritty panto reboot starring Christopher Biggins
Indepption
Genre – Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt enter Johnny Depp’s mind to stop him making those horrible films with Tim Burton
Contra-Inception
Genre – Inception.. backwards! or Batman doesn’t begin
Marley & Ali
Genre – Bi-biopic starring Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy
Schindler’s List 2: Hitler’s Revenge
Genre – War drama/Screwball comedy
The Man With The Batman Tattoo
Genre – Comic thriller


ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What type of aquatic animal is the main antagonist in Jaws?
SHARK
2. What is the name of Tommy Lee Jones’ character in the Men In Black franchise?
K
3. What was the first film to gross over one billion dollars at the box office?
TITANIC
4. Who played the title role in 1981’s Arthur?
DUDLEY MOORE
5. What was the title of the first James Bond movie?
DR. NO
6. What is the name of the inspector in the Pink Panther films? [bonus point for correct spelling]
JACQUES CLOUSEAU
7. Which two actors received top billing in The Cannonball Run? (one point per correct answer)
BURT REYNOLDS / ROGER MOORE
8. What year was The Big Lebowski released?
1998
9. Rydell High School is the main location of which film?
GREASE
10. In Blazing Saddles everyone in the town of Rock Ridge have the same surname. What is it?
JOHNSON

ROUND II: Filming [Christopher Nolan Special]
1. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are based on which DC comic book character? Superman? Batman? Aquaman?
BATMAN
2. How does Leonard keep track of the clues in Memento? Voicemails? Tattoos? Post-it notes?
TATTOOS
3. Which Batman villain appears in Batman Begins? The Joker? Scarecrow? The Riddler? [bonus point for the character’s actual name]
SCARECROW [Jonathan Crane]
4. Which of the following did not star in The Prestige? David Bowie? Rebecca Hall? Ellen Page?
ELLEN PAGE
5. In Inception, which character said, “Only I know the balance and weight of this particular loaded die. That way, when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt that you’re not in someone else’s dream”? Eames? Arthur? Ariadne?
ARTHUR
6. Which side of Harvey Dent’s coin is scarred in The Dark Knight? Heads? Tails? Both?
HEADS
7. What is the name of Nolan’s first feature film? Followers? Following? Follow Me?
FOLLOWING
8. The opening scene of Inception takes place in whose subconscious? Saito? Arthur? Fischer?
FISCHER
9. Memento: Unhappy with Panoliano’s delivery of the line “You don’t have a clue, you freak!” Nolan had the last two words ADR’d by whom? Alec Baldwin? Carrie-Anne Moss? Christopher Nolan?
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
10. Harrison Ford was first choice for the role of William Dorner (Al Pacino’s role) in Insomnia. True or False?
TRUE

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. In The Shawshank Redemption we see that Andy Dufresne’s cell has a single poster hanging on the wall. The first is Rita Hayworth, the third is Raquel Welch, who is the second?
MARILYN MONROE
2. What are the subtitles of the three Free Willy sequels? (one point per correct answer)
THE ADVENTURE HOME / THE RESCUE / ESCAPE FROM PIRATE’S COVE
3. What does Short Round say before jabbing Indiana Jones with a flaming torch in The Temple Of Doom?
INDY, I LOVE YOU
4. The following films are all based on which event, A Night To Remember, No Greater Love and In Nacht Und Eis (In Night And Ice)?
SINKING OF THE TITANIC
5. What was the iconic poster tagline for Ridley Scott’s Alien?
IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM
6. How old is Shirley Valentine in the 1989 film of the same name?
FORTY TWO
7. The following is a quote from which Steve Martin film, “It’s not the size of the nose that matters, it’s what’s inside that counts”?
ROXANNE
8. “If it bleeds we can kill it” is a quote from which Arnold Schwarzenegger film?
PREDATOR
9. Woody Harrelson has only appeared in one Coen Brothers film. Which one?
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
10. Which two actors starred in the lead roles in Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies? (one point per correct answer)
FRED ASTAIRE / BING CROSBY

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What was the top grossing US film in 1953, behind Peter Pan? The Robe? From Here To Eternity? Shane? [bonus point for naming the difference taken, in million dollars]
THE ROBE [$70,840,000]
2. Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack and Martin Scorsese were all originally approached to direct which Universal film? Minority Report? The Terminal? Schindler’s List?
SCHINDLER’S LIST
3. Melanie Daniels, Mitch Brenner and Lydia Brenner are the main characters in which Hitchcock film? The Man Who Knew Too Much? The Birds? Shadow Of A Doubt?
THE BIRDS
4. Which actor was originally cast as Barney Rubble before Rick Moranis in The Flintstones? Danny DeVito? Tom Cruise? Matthew Broderick?
DANNY DE VITO
5. Bengt Ekerot played which character in The Seventh Seal? Antonius Block? Jof? Death?
DEATH
6. Returning home from World War I, what does Eddie Bartlett try to order at the speakeasy, in The Roaring Twenties? Orange Juice? Milk? Coffee? [bonus point for naming the actor who played Bartlett]
MILK [James Cagney]
7. The cannibals in The 13th Warrior (the Wendol) live like and wear the skins of which animal? Bears? Deer? Wolves?
BEARS
8. Who directed Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? Mark Robson? Stanley Kramer? Mike Nichols?
STANLEY KRAMER
9. What is the title of the 1996 Ted Danson film about the Loch Ness monster? Magic In The Water? Nessie? Loch Ness?
LOCH NESS
10. Despite the complete lack of music in the car chase in The French Connection, the footage was cut to the tempo of Satana’s Black Magic Woman. True or False?
TRUE

THE AVENGERS

Assemble!

Director
Joss Whedon

Starring
Robert Downey Jnr.
Chris Evans
Chris Hemsworth
Jeremy Renner
Mark Ruffalo
Scarlett Johansson
Tom Hiddleston



I’ve been waiting for this movie for a very long time; I think it would be fair to say thousands, perhaps millions of people have been waiting for this movie for decades. I’m not specifically referring to the adaptation of Marvel’s The Avengers but a superhero movie that manages to perfectly capture the look, feel and flow of a decent comic book arc. We have the money, we have the technology, we have the talent and finally, we have the proof that when taken seriously, these adaptations can decimate any competition. If I’m being honest, this is only Whedon’s second directorial release and it’s fucking flawless! Subsequently, this review is going to get out of hand really quickly and will probably breakdown to little more than a gushy mess, with me at the centre, crying in a bundle, thanking everyone involved.

Set almost immediately after the events of Captain America, Avengers shows us that Thor’s [Hemsworth] half-brother, Loki [Hiddleston] is alive and has forged an alliance with an alien race, whose sole intention is to invade, secure the cosmic cube (called the Tesseract in the film) and rule over our planet. On Earth, the secret agency, SHIELD (led by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury), has been experimenting with the Tesseract in an attempt to harness its unlimited power. Once Loki arrives, Fury tries to forge his own alliance by manipulating a group of unstable but highly talented/skilled/gifted individuals: Captain America/Steve Rogers [Evans] the super soldier and hero of World War II, frozen in time; Iron Man/Tony Stark [Downey Jnr.], the billionaire playboy powered by a nuclear heart; The Hulk/Bruce Banner [Ruffalo], the victim of gamma radiation exposure, burdened with a second personality in the form of an unstoppable green rage monster; Thor, the god of thunder; Hawkeye/Clint Barton [Renner], an eagle-eyed marksman with a penchant for archery and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff [Johnasson], the ex-Russian spy with a mean kick and a dark past. To say anything else of the plot would ruin the film but you get the idea. Good guys fight the bad guys, fight amongst themselves, fight their inner-demons, it’s the awesome.

No matter whom you favour or which actor you thought would pull more focus, this is an ensemble cast and absolutely no one is awarded more screen-time, one-liners or.. er.. cool stuff, than anyone else. Each character is just as important and vital to the plot (and the team) as any other and everyone’s story offers a different outlook. Rogers is still hopelessly trying to catch up with a world that left him behind, Banner is just trying to get by without hurting anyone, Thor feels responsible for his brother’s actions and Stark wants to save the world any way possible (making sure everyone knows who’s responsible). Then we have the SHIELD agents, Hawkeye and Black Widow tending to their personal history while finding a place on a team of extraordinary individuals. On top of that no singular character is left in the cold, everyone bonds and everyone clashes with explosive and amusing results.

Technically speaking, Avengers is breath-taking. The cinematography was crisp and fitting, the editing was precise, Silvestri’s score lacked any memorable harmonies (considering he wrote the Back To The Future theme) but it was still brilliantly executed, the action flowed beautifully, the set design was futuristic yet wholly credible and the costumes were jaw-droppingly exquisite. All of which was heightened by the FUCKING ASTOUNDING visual effects – everything felt real. No uncanny valley shots, no ropey sequences or dodgy images, just immaculate artwork brought to life on-screen. An achievement which Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay, George Lucas and James Cameron have been attempting forever.

For those unfamiliar with his work, Joss Whedon has been dealt from the bottom of the deck since the eighties. Working his way slowly up the ranks, he’s been knocked down at every turn. What we know to be phenomenal writing and cinematic vision was quickly dismissed, re-written and flushed without thought. Looking back on all the projects he was involved in, one can’t help but wonder what they would have been like if someone actually listened to the man! In my opinion, Whedon is not only perfect for this film but perfect for this genre because of his tried-and-true formula. As stated in my The Cabin In The Woods review, the man opens unassumingly, builds slowly, delivering what people expect and want – a few brief action scenes, lots of heart and drama undercut with pitch-perfect wit – before kicking everything into high gear for the third act. The only comparison I have is watching a surprisingly entertaining puppet show, before the curtain pulls back and you realise you’re actually strapped into a roller-coaster, hurtling at Mach 3 with the puppets screaming and fighting everything thrown at them. In conclusion, Whedon is a genius and anyone who ever doubted it should be publically slapped.

Some would argue that in order to fully enjoy this film, you would need to have seen the other Marvel releases that led up to this event. By extension, those same individuals would argue that in order to enjoy those lead-in films, you would need to have read the comics.. and you’d have to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the entire sixty year history of the characters. Utter bollocks. This film is essentially a sequel and by rights anyone who is coming into this fresh is a bit of an idiot. However, if that is the case there are more than enough expositive scenes and clever use of dialogue to explain every character’s backstory – or as much as one would need to follow the events of this film. Sure, a decent understanding of where the characters come from and what they’ve done in print form is nice and for those people, there are plenty of nods and in-jokes (the end credits monk’s reward comes to mind) but it’s hardly necessary. If I had to draw on one flaw, I would say the opening two minutes were a little startling. Following the production logos, we’re shown a very rushed glimmer of some alien race and Loki’s deal with them before the plot really kicks in. In a comic it would have worked as a nice opening, maybe even an event prelude but in this film (especially when compared to what followed) it felt incredibly messy. But that’s it. That’s literally the only problem I had.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen a film that has entertained me to the extent that my adrenal gland started properly pumping; a film that opened its arms to me and said, “Don’t worry, you’re with us.” Yes, I realise how pathetic that sounds but I’m a geek. This is my thing. For me, this is home and to see true justice done to the characters, story and the art of cinema brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. Thanks, Joss. You’re the man.


Release Date:
27th April 2012

The Scene To Look Out For:
Whedon gets comics, he also gets TV/Film and knows that tender emotion, gritty drama and outrageous action are nothing without a keen semblance of relatable humour. Not fart jokes and immature antics but genuinely hilarious setups that pay off beautifully. Choosing a single scene or moment that stood out from all the others is actually incredibly difficult. The whole film is a steady stream of brilliance that flows from start to finish without issue and every time I isolate one memorable interaction, I’m instantly reminded of countless more of equal greatness. As such, I will not be highlighting a single scene. Sorry guys, this entire film is astonishing and I refuse to pick – like that shitty grandmother line, “You’re all my favourite grandchild”

Notable Characters:
As an ensemble, the entire cast from the top billed talent to that one guy who was playing Galaga when no one was looking, offer amazing performances. But two individuals really resonated with me and deserve special mention. The first is Loki. Without question, Tom Hiddleston has not only retained the key aspects of his stellar performance in Thor but he’s managed to elevate himself to scene-stealing magician. The man is literally unstoppable in this film, as suave, powerful, resourceful, cunning, intelligent and amusing as any of the main team – a simultaneously menacing and riveting villain. Then there’s Cap. Chris Evan’s Captain America went from unlikely element to natural leader in the space of two hours. A man without purpose, a fish out of water, a lizard without a shoe… whatever, he brought something new to the character and felt more like Brubaker’s Cap than I could have hoped for.

Highlighted Quote:
“What are we doing here, Shakespeare in the park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”

In A Few Words:
“Glorious, spectacular, hilarious, ridiculous, engrossing, emotional, stunning, wonderful, sublime, divine.. words fail me but I’m such a biased source here so you should probably take every single word with a pinch of salt”

Total Score:

5/5