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Archive for the ‘TV/Film adaptation reviews’ Category

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45 Years is a British film, about a couple named Geoff and Kate Mercer, who have been married for 45 years. The story takes place over the week leading up to their anniversary party.At the beginning of the week Geoff receives a letter telling him that the body of his former girlfriend Katya, from before he ever met Kate, has been found perfectly preserved in a mountain glacier.

The news has a profound effect on Geoff, making him angry and frustrated, and in turn upsetting his wife – although he is largely oblivious to the effect it has on Kate.

Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are outstanding in this understated film about a seemingly happy marriage which is thrown into a quiet and civilised crisis. It actually focuses more on the effect that Geoff’s behaviour has on Kate, than the news of Katya’s discovery upon Geoff, and Rampling’s acting is such that it is hard not to empathise with her pain and jealousy.

This is certainly not an action packed film – in one sense, not a lot happens, but so MUCH happens on Kate’s face, in her thoughts – which we sense through her expressions. It’s weirdly compelling and hard to tear your eyes away from – at least that was how I found it. So it’s bleak and sad, but also the actions of both main characters are so utterly understandable.

If you don’t need lots of action and special effects in your films, but enjoy a thoughtful character study, give this little known gem a try, and revel in acting at it’s finest.

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I’ve had this film on my planner for ages, and somehow never fancied watching it. But today, with a lazy day to myself, I finally took the plunge – and I have to say, it exceeded all of my expectations, made me feel every emotion, and was well….generally brilliant.

Greg (Thomas Mann) is a high schooler who is determined to avoid all the typical cliques and instead stays on the periphery of all high school groups (such as the jocks, the geeks, the stoners, etc). He doesn’t like to get close to people and his only friend – although Greg doesn’t like the word ‘friend’ so instead uses the term ‘co-worker’ – is the titular Earl (R J Cyler). The two of them spend their time making so-bad-they’re-good spoof movies such as Brew Velvet, A Sockwork Orange, Yellow Submarine Sandwich, and (my particular favourite title) 2.48pm Cowboy.

When Greg’s mother tells him he must be friends with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a schoolmate who he hardly knows and who has been diagnosed with leukaemia, he is initially reluctant, but what starts out as an awkward situation soon becomes a real connection. Earl is also drawn into the friendship.

Given that the film is narrated by Greg, and Rachel is the centre of his and Earl’s attention, it’s actually the character of Earl who I found most interesting. On the surface he seems like a bit of a slacker, but he reveals surprising depth and perception.

It’s a beautifully told story – it did make me laugh and also made me cry. Most importantly, it made me feel for all of the characters – the three main characters, Rachel’s mom Denise (played by the always brilliant Molly Shannon), even the relative small character of their teacher Mr McCarthy (Jon Bernthal). They are all believable, fully fleshed out characters. The three youngsters – all of which actors were unknown to me – were brilliant, and the supporting cast did a great job too.

I really enjoyed this film and have no hesitation in recommending it.

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Aaron Eckhart is Nick Naylor, spokesman and spin doctor for a big tobacco company, who has to balance his career with trying to be a good example for his young son. Naturally his job causes a lot of bad feeling towards him, with some surprising repercussions.

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Year of release: 2006 (UK)

Director: Jason Reitman

Writers: Christopher Buckley (novel), Jason Reitman

Main cast: Aaron Eckhart, J K Simmons, Cameron Bright, Maria Bello, David Koechner

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Genre: Comedy, satire

Highlights: The comedy parts are REALLY funny. Aaron Eckhart is perfect in the role

Lowlights: Um…none?

Overall: Great satirical movie, which doesn’t take sides on the non-smoking argument. Really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it

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This Irish film based loosely on Kevin Power’s book Bad Day in Blackrock, shows teenager Kevin, who lives a fairly typical teenage life with his group of friends, when a random act of violence inspired by jealousy over his girlfriend, changes all of their lives. He is forced to question his conscience and live with the consequences of his actions.

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Year of release: 2012

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Kevin Power (book), Malcolm Campbell

Main cast: Jack Reynor, Gavin Drea, Patrick Gibson, Sam Keeley, Roisin Murphy, Lars Mikkelsen

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Genre: Drama

Highlights: The brooding atmosphere, clever use of silence

Lowlights: None really but this is not a film to watch if you are in need of being cheered up!

Overall: Not for everyone, as for large portions of the film not much actually happens. I like how it viewed the effect of a violent act on the perpetrator rather than on the victims. It’s bleak but strangely compelling viewing

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American comedy about a college female acapella group called Barden Bellas. When rebellious Beca starts at the college she is not interested in making friends, but her great singing voice leads her to join the group which is made up of popular girls, bitchy girls, and other girls who would never have been friends otherwise (and are barely friends anyway). Story features on the quest to win a prestigious competition, their rivalry with male acapella group the Treblemakers.

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Year of release: 2012

Director: Jason Moore

Writers: Mickey Rapkin (book), Kay Cannon

Main cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Adam Devine, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: Rebel Wilson steals the show! Also the Treblemakers are really really good!!

Lowlights: None really. Possibly aimed at a more youthful market than this viewer, but overall lots of fun

Overall: Definitely worth a watch if you want a feel-good comedy

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Uptight lawyer Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is tricked into taking his recently widowed, lecherous and foul-mouthed grandfather Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) on a road trip to Florida for spring break. Chaos ensues…!

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Year of release: 2016

Director: Dan Mazer

Writers: John Phillips

Main cast: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: De Niro (goes without saying), filthy humour

Lowlights: Honestly, I found the very ending a bit ick. But it didn’t detract from the overall hilarity

Overall: If you don’t like sex or drug jokes, you might not go for it. Otherwise, give it a whirl if you need a good belly laugh

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This is the second in the Gourmet Detective series of tv movies, starring Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns, and which are based on the books of Peter King.

In this instalment, the titular detective Henry Ross once again finds himself teamed with Detective Maggie Price, when they investigate the murder of a journalist at a luxury spa. Naturally there are several possible suspects, and it is up to Henry and Maggie to sift through the evidence and uncover the killer.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Scott Smith

Writers: Peter King (book series), Dawn DeKeyser, Dylan Neal, Becky Southwell

Main cast: Dylan Neal, Brooke Burns, Crystal Lowe, Patrick Sabongui, Stefanie von Pfetten, Devon Weigel, Brendan Penny, Steve Valentine

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Genre: Cosy murder mystery

Highlights: Charming and undemanding fun throughout, chemistry between the two main characters, mystery kept me guessing until the big reveal

Lowlights: None for me, but those who like their films gritty and realistic might want to pass on this one

Overall: Good fun, perfect to unwind on a lazy weekend

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