19th Jun2015

Accidental Love (Film)

by timbaros

TN_00261“Accidental Love,” shot in 2008 but not released until now, is not as bad as expected considering it’s been on the shelf for 7 years.

Why did it take this long to be released? During the making of the film, when it was called “Nailed”, “Accidental Love” encountered financial difficulties (production was shut down four times in 2008 as the crew was not getting paid). After several production delays, Director David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) disassociated himself from the film. He then quit and the studio took over and finished the film, but it’s a film that almost hits the nail in the head in it’s humor and story.

Rollerskating waitress in a small Indiana town Alice (Jessica Biehl) literally has a nail fly into her head at a local restaurant just as her boyfriend, percentage quoting policeman Scott (James Mardsen) is proposing to her. Alice isn’t insured so the local hospital won’t remove the nail from her head, which causes her to have extreme mood swings. And she’s too old to be insured under her parents (Beverly D’Angelo and Steve Boles). Even the local town veterinarian, her Aunt Rita (Kirstie Alley), tries to take the nail out but is unsuccessful. So after seeing a campaign commercial on television about their local Congressman Howard Birdwell (Jake Gyllenhaal) who urges his constituents to visit him in Washington, D.C., anytime, Alice does just that. She’s accompanied by other people who aren’t insured but who have strange and unusual medical injuries (including a man with a long-term erection and another man with an introverted arse). They meet with Birdwell, and eventually Alice and Birdwell fall for each other, but in between this we are treated to a funny plot that involves a murderous female Representative (Catherine Keneer) and her loyal assistant (Paul Reubens) who are pushing for a bill to fund a base on the moon, (but what is obviously needed more is more money for healthcare), girl scouts who are promised a visit by Shakira, and Birdwell who takes part in an all-male Shaiman Circle to find his inner man. Yes, this all takes place in the film’s 100 minute running time.

The humor in “Accidental Love” is quite hit or miss – jokes about men’s baskets and bowel movements – “It’s like a fantastic number 2, “litter the movie. But the film’s cute and original opening sequence (Americana at 100% full speed – Chevy’s, drive-in restaurant, hamburgers, shakes) set to the tune of “Mr. Sandman” does not sustain itself throughout the film. “Accidental Love” gets sillier and sillier and less funny, continuing until it’s cute but predictable, and unbelievable (Alice gives a speech to Congress) ending. It’s a film that pokes extreme fun at the lack of universal healthcare in America, and it’s quite fun to watch. “Accidental Love” was co-written by Russell (who appears in the credits as Stephen Greene) and Al Gore’s daughter Kristin.

19th Jun2015

Dior and I (DVD)

by timbaros

Dior_and_I_Dogwoof_Documentary_Still_1_800_450_85In April 2012 Raf Simons was hired as the creative director of Christian Dior. He then had eight weeks to put together the 2012 spring collection. Dior and I captures the ups, and downs, of this very short time period.

Simons was known for his menswear collections, and for putting his own personal stamp on fashion label Jil Sander, so it sent shockwaves through the fashion industry when he was appointed as the new creative director of one of the most iconic of French fashion brands – Christian Dior. And Simons had big shoes to follow, not just in name but in scandal and reputation. He was replacing John Galliano, who was fired for making anti-semitic remarks in a Paris bar. Also, Simons didn’t at the time speak fluent French, he is from Belgium, but Dior owner Bernard Arnault and fellow LMVH (Dior’s parent company) executives wanted to move away from the Galliano years and inject new blood into their iconic brand, so they hired Simons. So this 90 minute documentary takes us from Simons’ first days at work, meeting the mostly French staff while having someone translate his speech into French, to working closely with two of the most important women in the company – the ‘premieres’ – Florence Chehet and Monique Bailly – the women who are in charge of the staff, which include the seamstresses, basically the people who make the dresses what they are and what they become. Simons also brings in his assistant of over ten years – Pieter Mulier – who does speak French and gets on better with the staff, and premieres, then Simons does.

Dior and I takes us through the taut and stressful short time period in which Simons has to put together a collection. As anyone in the fashion world knows, 8 weeks is not enough time to get a whole collection ready, from ideas to drawing up designs to getting the dresses actually made to getting them ready for the runway (it usually takes six months). Simons insists that some of the dresses he wants to make be identical to paintings from one of his favorite painters. He also asks the dedicated seamstresses to remove beads from the front of one gown, even when it takes them all night to do so. It’s this drama, of Simons and his team having to produce a haute couture collection, intermingled with 68 years of historic Dior footage, that has earned Dior and I the great reviews that it has received. And at the end, we are treated to footage of the fashion show, which takes place in an old empty house where Simons has the walls covered in flowers in front of a star studded crowd including Donatella Versace, Selma Hayek, Sharon Stone, and more emotionally, his parents. And the dresses, wow, they are simply stunning. Dior and I is also stunning. It will give the viewer an understanding of what it takes to make a collection and how the whole process works, and more importantly, the vision of one man and his large team who made it happen. Dior and I is now available on DVD – and it is highly recommended viewing.

17th Jun2015

Love is Strange (DVD)

by timbaros

Film Set - 'Love Is Strange'Gay relationship movies almost never make it into the mainstream. And they almost never attract A-list stars. The exception is “Love is Strange,” a beautifully acted film with amazing performances from it’s two leads.

Starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, “Love is Strange” is about their characters’, Ben and George respectively, long-term relationship, together for 39 years. They are finally legally allowed to marry and do so surrounded by friends and family. They live in a cosy Manhattan apartment, but things start to fall apart when Ben loses his job as a Catholic school music teacher when word of his marriage reaches the archdiocese (isn’t this illegal?). With no salary, Ben and George can no longer afford to live in their rented apartment. So they must move, and to separate, as that’s their only option. Ben goes to live with his nephew Elliot (Darren Burrows), Elliot’s novelist wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), and their teenage son Joey (Charlie Tahan), who is not that happy that he has to share his room with his older uncle. George fares no better. He stays with policeman and former neighbors – gay couple Roberto (Manny Perez) and Ted (Cheyenne Jackson), who always have company over, late into the night, partying in the living room where George sleeps. Ben and George hope that this situation is only temporary as they long to live together again as a married couple. But financial obstacles keep getting in their way, delaying their longing to be together harder and harder.

“Love is Strange,” directed by Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”), and co-written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, is more of a performance film and less a well told film. Lithgow and Molina are incredibly believable as a gay couple. The passion and love they have for each other, and the many onscreen kisses between them, are heartfelt and a bit emotional. Tahan is very good as the nephew who feels that his uncle is encroaching on his territory, and taking away his best friend. Tomei, who is always very good in any role she is in, is frustrated that she can’t get to work on another novel because uncle Ben is always around, chatting specifically about nothing. But “Love is Strange” doesn’t quite reach the pinnacle it aspires to. It’s the film’s way of telling Ben and George’s story, the elapsed gaps, and easy to guess details, that make this film fall short, missing the truly emotional depths thats needed in telling this story. Sachs missed the mark on his last film – “Keep the Lights On” – which had similar problems with it’s storyline. He’s wasted an excellent cast in what is a graceful but flawed film. In the hands of Ang Lee, who directed the ‘other’ gay relationship movie “Brokeback Mountain,” “Love is Strange” would’ve been a masterpiece. “Love is Strange” is now out on DVD.

06th Jun2015

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken (Film)

by timbaros

FH-0638In 1983, beer magnate Freddy Heineken was kidnapped right in front of his Amsterdam home. Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is about this event, and the six men who committed the crime.

Cor (Jim Sturgess) and his fellow pals are down on their luck, with a failed business, no money, with wives and girlfriends, and children on the way. They need money, so they hatch a plan; kidnap one of the wealthiest men in their city – Freddy Heineken. But before they do this, they need to get their hands on some real money in order to successfully (and professionally) kidnap Heineken, so they rob a bank, and pull it off.

Now with their newly found resources, they minutely plan the kidnapping, renting a warehouse on the edge of town, buying equipment and vehicles, and spending weeks training for the actual kidnapping. Then the day comes – and they snatch Heineken (played by Anthony Hopkins) and his driver Ab (David Dencik) right in front of Heneiken’s luxurious brownstone. Heineken and Ab are held in the warehouse for days and days on end, and a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders (about $20 million) is asked for their safe return. Cor and co-ringleader (and Cor’s brother-in-law) Willem (Sam Worthington) are confident they will pull this off. Jan (Ryan Kwanten), meanwhile, is less so and has second thoughts on their dirty scheme. Weeks and weeks go by and the ransom is not paid, and tension among the group gets worse, but eventually the men get their money, and the hostages are found by the police. Weeks later, all men involved are arrested.

Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is based on the 1987 book of the same name by Peter R. de Vries. It’s a compelling, dramatically told story, directed by Daniel Alfredson, that’s fast-paced and quickly edited. And all the performances are very good, especially Sturgess as the ringleader, and Thomas Cocquerel as Martin ‘Brakes’ Erkamps, the youngest of the gang. Hopkins, always good, doesn’t have much to do, he’s a prisoner in a small room, taunting his captors, waiting and waiting. At a short 95 minutes, Kidnapping Freddy Heineken provides a lot of action in the short period of time.

06th Jun2015

Foxcatcher (DVD)

by timbaros

o-FOXCATCHER-facebookJohn du Pont was a multi-millionaire, a scion of the very wealthy American family that made their fortune in chemicals. He also died in prison 2012 while serving time for murdering a famous Olympic athlete.

Foxcatcher tells the riveting story of du Pont and his involvement in the sport of wrestling in the late 1980’s. It’s also a tale of how one man with so much money can buy whatever he wants. And du Pont pretty much buys Mark Schultz, an Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler in Athens in 1984. Du Pont Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) away from his post Olympic miserable life and places him on his amazing estate called Valley Forge in the hopes of transforming him back into a world class athlete. Du Pont lures Schultz by offering him practically whatever he wants, including his own lodge on the estate as well as a newly-built state of the art wrestling auditorium. And Du Pont tells Schultz that he’s in charge. But there’s something more that seems to be taking place between Du Pont and Schultz. There is not only a business relationship between them, but Du Pont seems to have had a homoerotic fixation with Schultz. And while there are no explicit homosexual scenes in the film, Du Pont’s fascination with Schulz and with the sport of wrestling is homoerotic and at the same time very creepy. It becomes more so when Du Pont starts sharing cocaine with Schulz and even has him speak the opening remarks at an important speech in front of politicians and wealthy people.

But things turn sour when all of a sudden Du Pont says he’s not happy with Schulz’s way of coaching as he catches all of the wrestlers taking a morning off, and he slaps Schultz in front of the men. It’s an action that sets off something in Schultz in which he (probably) realizes that Du Pont sees their relationship as something more. It gets more complicated when Du Pont brings in (at any cost) Schulz’s brother David, who was also an Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler. Du Pont has David coach the team, while Mark goes through the motions, trying to stay out of Du Pont’s way but at the same time focusing on his training. His goal is to get to the next Olympics – Seoul – and he does, but things don’t turn out the way Du Pont had in mind. And it all leads to a devastating conclusion.

Foxcatcher is the name the du Pont’s gave to their racing horses. It’s also an appropriate name for this film – what was the Fox trying to catch. Is du Pont the fox who was trying to catch something with his sudden and strange interest in wrestling? The lure of money was all that was needed for him to catch Mark Schultz, who was down on his luck living in a small apartment on the top of a garage years after his Olympic win. David Schultz had a happy life with his wife and two kids, but it was also the lure of money that got him to go work for Du Pont, a job that cost him his life at the hands of Du Pont.

Foxcatcher is an excellent movie. It’s also excellent because of the performances of it’s three leading men. Tatum has never been better. His Mark Schultz is vulnerable, bold, athletic, infantile yet very masculine – Tatum pretty much carries the whole movie. Ruffalo gives David Schultz a face – a family man who heeded the call to coach a world class team which included his younger brother. And Ruffalo does a very good job in the role. The performance, however, that everyone is talking about is Steven Carrell as Jon du Pont. Carrell, unrecognizable, wears a prosthetic nose to match the large nose that du Pont had. Everything about Carrell’s performance is all Jon du Pont – even down to his gait. Carrell, the star comedic movies such as Anchorman, Date Night, Knocked Up, among others, is completely amazing. And it’s a transformation that needs to be seen to be believed. It is, unfortunately, Carrell’s performance that is getting all the attention, but in my opinion Foxcatcher is Tatum’s movie. He’s the actual star of the film as he’s in most of the film. Foxcatcher begins with him and ends with him, and throughout his performance is consistent, solid, and amazing. Tatum deserves the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Best Actor nominations as much as Carrell does, yet Tatum’s not been nominated. Ruffalo performance is gentle, simple, low key, the kind of performances that Ruffalo always gives, successfully.

Director Bennett Miller (Moneyball) and writers E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman have crafted a film that succeeds on every level. It’s directed and shot tight, the story never gets dull, and it’s intensity builds up to shattering conclusion. Miller has directed three actors who all come from different cinematic backgrounds into one film where they all excel in ways they have never done before. Foxcatcher is one of the best films of the year.

Foxcatcher is now at on DVD – buy it below.

Foxcatcher [DVD] [2015] (DVD)

Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

New From: £1.87 GBP In Stock
Used from: £0.01 GBP In Stock