31st Jul2014

The House of Magic – Film

by timbaros

images-209The House of Magic is the animated world’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, without the chocolate. And yes, it’s fun, charming, cute, colorful and magical.

In the beginning of the film we see a cat who has fallen from a car packed to the rafters with possessions. It looks like the family the cat was travelling with is moving away, but unfortunately for the cat after falling out of the car he’s left alone. He encounters a Mexican Chihuahua, whose a bit stuck up and won’t help the cat find a new home. So the cat is left to roam around the neighborhood until he stumbles into an old large house. He enters and encounters Maggie the mouse and Jack the rabbit. They aren’t too keen with a cat taking over their territory as they know their owner, Lawrence the magician, loves cats. So they tell him to go away and don’t come back. But what does the cat do? Well, he needs a home really bad so he goes back to the house later in the day, climbs up a tree, and see Lawrence in a room surrounded by all of his gizmos and gadgets. The cat jumps into the room, and immediately Lawrence loves what he sees, and names the cat Thunder. So now the cat has a name and is part of a family and finally has a home! But Maggie and Jack don’t want Thunder to stay, so they devise ways to get him out of the house. Meanwhile, Lawrence’s scheming nephew Daniel wants uncle Lawrence out of his house so that he can sell it to make a lot of money. Unfortunately, Lawrence ends up in the hospital after a mishap and this gives Daniel the chance to start showing the house to potential buyers. But Jack, Maggie and Thunder will have none of that. They will do anything to deter anyone from entering the house, including Daniel, who is highly allergic to cats!
So all the gizmos, gadgets and other pets of house band together to save their home. This includes the lovebirds Carla and Carlo, lightbulb Edison, ballerina doll Clara, mustached toy Gunther, and then there’s Chef, Bubble Tom, and the Gizmos – who are all sorts of gadgets. And there are a whole load of other characters that magician Lawrence has made that all come to life!
While Lawrence is in the hospital recuperating and entertaining the sick kids with his magic, Daniel shows the house to potential buyers, including a very rich couple. But before they can walk in the house, the lovebirds poop all over them. Other buyers show up, including a rich artsy fartsy couple, and the gang do their best to deter them as well, trapping the wife in the kitchen while subjecting her to a cooking frenzy that she will never forget. Will the inhabitants of the house deter Daniel from selling their home? And what about magician Lawrence, will he ever come back home from the hospital or will Daniel succeed in putting him in an old folks home? And what about the pets, gizmo’s and gadgets of the house? What will happen to them?
There are actually 50 characters in The House of Magic, all very unique and entertaining. And they are what make this Belgian animated movie stand out from other animated movies. Sure this is not the creation of Pixar or Disney, but Director and Producer Ben Stassen, who also co-wrote the screenplay with James Flynn and Dominic Paris, have created a unique film experience, not just for children but for adults as well. Each of the 50 characters are unique to themselves. Who would’ve thought of a dancing camera (Cronien), or a Handy hand, or a water bottle called Sprinkly who waters the plants in the house and gets up to no good as well. At 85 minutes, The House of Magic is a bit short, but believe me you will get your money’s worth with a great movie that may be the best animated film of the year.


13th Jul2014

Boyhood – Film

by timbaros

images-199Boyhood was filmed over the span of 12 years (one week per year) to capture the story of a young boy, who right before your eyes, turns into a young man. But that’s the only revelation this film brings us.

Clocking in at two hours and forty-five minutes, Boyhood is a bit of a struggle to sit through. It’s an ingenuous idea, getting the same actors to commit to taking part in the filming of Boyhood over the course of 12 years of their careers, but it’s epic length destroys any sense of realness the film is trying to convey and you’ll find yourself looking at your watch several times, and when you think it is over, another year in their lives is tacked on. Even The Wolf of Wall Street, which was three hours long, didn’t feel as long as Boyhood.
Directed by Richard Linklater, he started shooting Boyhood in 2002, with Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr., Lorelei Linklater (his daughter) as Samantha – Mason’s sister, and as their parents Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). Every year Linklater would gather the cast and crew together to capture another year in their lives, and especially Mason’s life. As very young children, Mason and Samantha are adorable, especially Samantha as she teases Mason and hits him but then turns the tables on him and tells their mom that it was Mason who had started it. Of course their mom believes her. The kids grow up through the divorce of their parents and the ups and downs of adolescence. They also endure their mother’s second marriage to an aggressive controlling alcoholic, fleeing from their home after he becomes violent and hits Olivia, not for the first time. But as Boyhood continues, and the older Mason and Lorelei get, the less adorable and fun they are, and they are complete bores when they reach puberty, with very little personality to match. There is nothing interesting going on with them as they get older, and they less confident and less adorable on screen, whether they were forced to take part as they got older and didin’t want to, it appears this way on the screen. Luckily for them, and us, Hawke appears every so often to take the kids out, whether it be bowling, or to sit around in a cafe and talk about grown up stuff, Hawke easily steals every scene he is in. But it’s near the end of the film where where Olivia breaks down as Mason is about to leave for college and proclaims to him “what have I done to my life, why am I here.” It’s a strange moment that I didn’t quite understand, made even more strange when Coltrane looks into the camera. We wonder why she’s saying this at the moment that her son is leaving the nest and going off to college.
And as Boyhood winds down, Mason meets his college roommate in their dormitory and off they go, with two girls, to explore the local mountains. And as Mason and one of the girls sit on a rock and talk and then kiss, we immediately know that this is the girl for him.
Boyhood is an ambitious project. Director Linklater has been successful in the past with his Before Sunrise and it’s sequel films, also starring Ethan Hawke – Before Sunrise was released in 1995 with Before Sunset coming out in 2004 and then Before Midnight in 2013, all to very good reviews. At least these three films had superb acting and plots that made sense. In Boyhood, nothing really happens. The screenwriter, Linklater, seems to have decided to let the scenes in each year of their lives play out without achieving much, and that’s what the whole film feels like. Not much of an achievement for sitting through two hours and forty five minutes.
13th Jul2014

The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Theatre

by timbaros

images-205Five sisters make up The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is now playing at The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn.

India, Willow, Gemma, Garden and Mouse are their names, and they’re all very beautiful women. Some of them lead a charmed life, and a couple of them don’t. Coming from a wealthy and famous family (though we are not told exactly how wealthy and what they’re famous for), they all live on that island called Manhattan. Gemma (Charlotte Parry) is the wealthiest of the sisters, and everywhere she goes so does her maid/p.a. Heather (Ronke Adekoluejo. Willow (Claire Forlani) is the oldest of the sisters, grounded, smart, and easily likeable with 2 sons, though her husband is not working so she needs a handout from Gemma.  Garden (Patricia Potter) is the unstable one who can’t accept the fact that her husband is having an affair and wonders what she could have done to keep him. India (Isabella Calthorpe) is in a very happy relationship with an artist, so she has no issues. And then there’s Mouse (Alice Sanders), the youngest of the bunch, she’s a free spirit who will go with any man who simply smiles at her, she’s acts innocent and dumb, and is a bit adventurous.
So there you have it, the five Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now living in Manhattan.
The show begins with the women getting their dresses for a photo shoot and dresses that will be worn to an upcoming fundraising ball. India agonizes about her financial situation, Garden agonizes about her cheating husband, and Mouse continues to rhapsody about the many men that she meets. All the meanwhile, Gemma walks around with a not a care in the world – with Heather tagging along a few steps behind. The sets are very minimal, which I think is to match the minimal script. A living room, a ballroom, a closet, a tennis court (smartly done) and an almost bare stage backdropped by picture frames take us through 75 minutes of these woman’s lives, and one event that should change them forever but doesn’t. The event (I don’t want to give it away as it’s a key plot point) is meant to shock the audience and to make the woman pause to think about their lives, but moment’s later they are back to wearing their beautiful dresses with their sunglasses on, in a way to avoid or to welcome the paparazzi. And that is pretty much the show. Sure, the acting is very good, especially from Forlani (Meet Joe Black, NCIS: Los Angeles) and Potter (Holby City), the rest of the woman are playing caricatures of women we’ve seen portrayed on film and stage for many years; the socialite, the depressed wife, and the free spirt. And poor Adekoluejo, not only is she relegated to playing a maid and p.a., but in between scenes she is the one who moves stuff around on the stage! Writer Adam Brock seems to have watched a lot of Sex and the City to find personalities for the women, and some of the scenes don’t just come across as realistic. And it would have made for a more complete play if we knew more about the women and how they got from Pittsburgh to Manhattan. But the Set Design by Richard Kent will catch your eye as huge picture frames beautifully backdrop the show, and for a few minutes one of the picture frames shows them women as young girls, in happier times, as a family, with each other. This is the part of the show that stuck with me, and nothing else. And at the end of the show Mouse says “Nobody knows us, they think they do, but they don’t.” Yes, that’s correct, after seeing show I still don’t know who the Colby Sisters are.
05th Jul2014

Chelsea Handler – Theatre

by timbaros
images-203You either love her or you don’t love her. America’s most biting talk show host – Chelsea Handler – is coming to London.
Promoting her new book “Uganda Be Kidding Me”, Handler is most well-known for her eponymous television show on the E Entertainment Channel Network, Chelsea Lately, which she’s hosted for seven years. It’s a fast and funny talk/comedy show where she and three other comedians (and her Mexican sidekick nugget Chuey Bravo) discuss, and make jokes of, the day’s news. The second part of the show is where Handler interviews celebrities – A-list celebrities – and most of them seem to be friends of hers (Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Eric Bana, the list goes on). And as Handler is Los Angeles- based, she rubs shoulders with these people at parties and other events in the Los Angeles area.
Chelsea Lately airs at midnight here in the U.K., a bit late for some, but it’s worth staying up for.
Handler has written five books, all bestsellers, including her funny titled second book “Are  You There God, It’s Me Chelsea.” Her new book, “Uganda Be Kidding Me”, immediately topped the best sellers list when it came out.
Handler has been all over America promoting the book, and now she’s coming to the UK. Handler will be in Dublin on Friday, July 11th, and on Saturday July 12th she will be appearing at London’s Palladium Theatre. There is still tickets available for both shows, so if you are a fan of hers, or not, now’s the time to experience Handler’s sarcastic and edgy humor in a no-holds-barred live setting. And you won’t be seeing much of Handler after September, she has decided to end her talk show. What’s she going to do next? She’s signed a contract with Netflix to have exclusive rights to her next television show. She’s said that Netflix is the cutting edge new kid on the block, so she’s going to them. Chelsea, we will miss Chelsea Lately!
For tickets to the Dublin and London shows, click here:
05th Jul2014

Delivery Man – DVD

by timbaros
images-201David Wozniak is a meat delivery driver. He also owes money to the mob. He has a girlfriend that can’t trust him. And he’s the father of 533 children. All of this in the new film Delivery Man.

Wozniak, played by Vince Vaughn, works for the family meat business in New York City – Wozniak & Sons. He also happens to owe $80,000 to the mob. His girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant, and she doesn’t even want him to be in their kid’s life. David is also not very good at his job, according to his father Mikolaj (Andrzej Blumenfeld), his meat deliveries are always four hours late.
So when one day David finds a lawyer at his house who announces to him that he has fathered 533, how can his life get any worse?
David realizes that his college days are coming back to haunt him as he was a very frequent donor to the local sperm bank to help him pay his way through college. And unfortunately, according to the lawyer, the sperm bank ended up using all of his sperm (instead of the other donors) to impregnate women, and now 142 of these children have filed a class action lawsuit to find out who their real father is.
David definitely does not want to be known as the father. He also decides that it is time to step up and be a man and to try to prove to Emma that he will be a good father to their child. David enlists his best friend and lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) to represent him in court to make sure his name does not get out, especially as he doesn’t want Emma to find out as well. Brett hands over to David a package which includes all of ‘his children’s’ profiles, so what does David do? He decides to start meeting them, one by one (anonymously of course). The first on the list is a basketball player for the New York Knicks. The second kid he visits happens to work at a barista who is an aspiring actor, so David works one of his shifts so that he can go to an acting audition. The third child he visits, Kristen (Britt Robertson) happens to take a drug overdose while he is visiting, so it is up to David to save her and make sure she goes to work and stays on the right path. Other children he visits include a lifeguard, a drunk, a nail salon worker, a busker, and a severely retarded son, who he visits quite often and who he wants to build a relationship with. He also tells the boy that he is his father.
As he gets to meet more and more of ‘his’ kids (who have formed one large support group and call themselves Starbuck – the alias name David used at the sperm bank), and with his girlfriend about to give birth, David is ready for more responsibility then what he can handle.
Delivery Man is a film that won’t change the world, but it is a cute and funny look at a man who has no cares and responsibilities in life who all of a sudden has more than what he can handle. Vaughn is very good and funny in this role. We are used to seeing him in similar roles but with worse scripts. In Delivery Man, directed by Ken Scott, we have sympathy for him and at the same time want to cheer him on to step up to the plate. It is a film worth checking out.
Delivery Man is a re-telling of the 2011 French-Canadian film Starbuck, also directed by Scott.

Delivery Man is now out on DVD.

05th Jul2014

Last Vegas – DVD

by timbaros
LV_03450aFirst we had The Hangover parts 1, 2 and 3, for the boys. Then we had Bridesmaids, for the girls. Now we have Last Vegas, for the baby boomers (a/k/a Old Age Pensioners).
Last Vegas brings together Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline (all Academy Award Winners), to Las Vegas (58 years after they have all last seen each other). They are there for a Bachelor party to celebrate the upcoming wedding nuptials of Michael Douglas’s character Billy, a very rich Malibu lawyer who never got married, and who is now marrying a woman less than half his age (32). Sam (Kline) is living in Florida with his loving wife, settling too quickly for old age. Archie (Freeman), who’s had a stroke, lives with his overprotective son in New Jersey. Paddy, meanwhile, has recently lost his wife, lives in a Brooklyn apartment and is all alone and very lonely. They were all best friends when they were younger, but their lives have taken them different ways and to different parts of the country. So with his first wedding Billy thinks it would go a good idea to get the gang back together again for a bachelor party to end all bachelor parties, and where else? In Las Vegas! So Billy calls everyone up (this time not to tell them that somebody’s dying, but to tell them that he is finally getting married), and he convinces them to meet in Las Vegas. Archie has to sneak out of the house to avoid his son stopping him, while Sam’s wife gives him permission to fool around while he is in Las Vegas (what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas). Paddy, meanwhile, is just so miserable that he doesn’t want to leave his apartment, but the boys succeed in getting him to go to Vegas.
So the men all arrive, not having seen each other for decades, and any animosities between them, especially between Billy and Paddy (especially after Billy did not attend Paddy’s wife’s funeral), still simmer but take a while to disappear. Of course, the hotel that Billy booked them in is full, so they wander around figuring out what to do. Immediately Archie has a winning streak at blackjack, and with all the money he has won, he feels that him and the boys can get Billy a very good wedding gift as Billy has financially helped each of them in previous years. And as a bonus, the hotel where he won the money gives them one of the hotel’s best suites. It is the Aria Hotel, which really exists, and at times it seems like this movie is one long ad for the hotel as its logo appears in almost every other scene. So at the Aria Hotel the men are set to have a fun and wild weekend. But then they happen to stumble into a cabaret lounge and find a lovely, a bit younger singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). She takes a shine to Paddy, and spend lots of time with him and the boys during the weekend. This is when the film goes downhill quick.
As their weekend progresses, so does the silliness and embarrassment. The men are asked to judge a bikini contest competition at the hotel pool but the most memorable part of this scene is when a guy in a speedo shakes his package in Robert De Niro’s face. And De Niro get backs at Billy by pushing  him into the pool. Is this good fun or a case of ‘close my eyes two major movie stars are resorting to this’ moment?  The evening culminates in a huge party in their suite, with all the characters they had met during the day attend, including some women they met at the nightclub, another bloke who they beat up the night before but then who answers to their beck and call. Why? It is not fully explained.  And all four men hope to get lucky at the party. And then there are  the ageist jokes – Archie asks the guys “Do you have any drugs?” One of them replies “Does Lipitor count.?” Ba da bing! And then 50 Cent shows up to the party (is he playing the Mike Tyson character from The Hangover film? I would say most likely.)  So in this Bucket List of a movie, I’m not giving too much away by saying that the wedding doesn’t happen, and that all the men have a good time and, when the weekend is over, they can go back to their miserable lives. And luckily for us this movie is over.
Last Vegas is now out on DVD.