Friday, 15 August 2014

Film Round-Up #4

Yes that's right, it's time for another Netflix round-up! Much of my time with this splendid service is spent watching TV shows (more posts on them later) but the wife and I do watch a few films too - in fact, all but the first of these were chosen by her (she doesn't like all my sci-fi 'nonsense' so I have to watch that on my own) which means some romantic mush had to be endured, but it's not all been bad...

The Heist (2009)

Also known as The Maiden Heist, this is a film that had a troubled release due to the bankruptcy of its distributor, but it has a strong cast which is what drew me to it. Christopher Walken is the star but he has extensive support from Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy, the three of whom are all security guards at a museum and have each become obsessed with particular pieces of art displayed there. So obsessed, in fact, that when they learn of plans to move the collection to Denmark they resolve to steal them, replacing them with hastily-crafted replicas. The problem? None of them have a clue what they're doing! That doesn't stop them from formulating a supposedly simple plan to make the switch during the removal process but, of course, not everything goes quite according to plan! It's all very silly of course, and is more of a light-hearted comedy than a 'proper' heist film, but it's great fun all the same, especially with such an appealing cast at the helm... 7/10

Everybody's Fine (2009)

This is another one with a decent cast that was previously unknown to me, but for some reason I had rather less confidence in it. It stars the great Robert De Niro as a recently-widowed retiree who is looking forward to an imminent visit from his children (Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale) but is left disappointed when they all cancel at the last minute. Instead of moping around at home, however, he decides to embark upon a road-trip to visit each of them and it soon becomes clear that they are not as 'fine' as he'd been led to believe. So yes, it's a 'reconnecting with loved ones' type of drama but it's not a bad one. It's occasionally amusing and often gets a bit sentimental but a typically engaging performance from De Niro just about pushes it from 'average' territory towards the 'good' end of the scale, but I've always had a bit of soft spot for Ms. Barrymore so I'd probably have kept watching for her anyway! It's not a masterpiece but it's far from the snooze-fest I was expecting... 7/10

The Good Guy (2009)

My lovely wife watches just about anything featuring Alexis Bledel (she loves The Gilmore Girls) which is pretty much the sole reason we selected this one. She plays Beth, the smart 'n' pretty girlfriend of Tommy (Scott Porter), a charming and successful investment broker who suddenly finds his team a man down. He fills the spot with Daniel (Bryan Greenberg), an intelligent but geeky former engineer, who he takes under his wing, teaching him how to dress, socialise, and score with women, as well as the essentials of his new job. Unsurprisingly, however, Daniel happens to have far more in common with Beth and ends up spending a bit too much time with her. To be honest though, despite only watching it a few weeks ago, I really can't remember much about this film, and I suppose that fact sums it up better than any attempts at a wordy evaluation could! A decidedly average love-triangle drama... 5/10

A Marine Story (2010)

I watched this one expecting some sort of critique of how military life has progressed (or possibly not) for the brave ladies who enlist but, whilst it does touch on several instances of sexual discrimination, it wasn't really what I expected. At the head of a largely unknown cast is Dreya Weber as Major Alexandra Everett, a US Marine who arrives home from the Iraq war unexpectedly. One of the first people she bumps into is Saffron (Paris P. Pickard), a 'troubled' local teen who she decides needs her help in shaping up, perhaps with a view to enlisting herself. After a bumpy start she sees some progress, but then the reason for Everett's return from The Gulf becomes known which threatens to ruin all the work she's put in. There are some good performances here considering the apparent lack of experience, particularly from Weber herself, and it's a fairly interesting story too, but it's also one of those films where you know you'd not really have missed out by not having seen it... 6/10

The Winning Season (2009)

You know, I'm really becoming a bit of a Sam Rockwell fan lately. The films he's in aren't always fantastic but I can't seem to remember any bad performances from him, and The Winning Season is yet another example of him taking a character and making it his own. Here he plays a deadbeat, alcoholic father whose daughter wants little to do with him, but thanks to a friend he manages to land a job at a high school coaching a girls basketball team - a very bad team, in fact, who have never had a 'winning season'. Despite a despondent start from both coach and team, they do gradually connect with each other and improve accordingly. Of course, the outcome is pretty predictable but I really don't think this is as bad as I keep hearing, thanks mainly to another superb turn from Rockwell who plays the loveable loser well. Things get a bit silly at the end but this is an enjoyable enough bit of fluff... 7/10
 

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