THE HANGOVER III – REVIEW

8 Jun

I regard films as a piece of modern day art, whether they are Oscar-contenders, an under-budged independent film or a predictable romantic comedy.  And art has been exceedingly thought and judged as a subjective form.

But, I guess when you gather your friends for an epic movie night and buy tickets to watch the end of the highest grossing comedy franchise, you go in with high expectations and specific requirements.

hangover31The Hangover was watched, re-watched, loved and adored by millions of people. It became a completely unexpected global phenomenon. That’s what was so great about it. It was not advertised or expected to be this big blockbuster comedy mega-movie that it turned out to be. It was a merely a well put-together, unconventional comedic relief that attracted and grabbed everyone’s attention.

The Hangover II carried with it all the praise and glory and high expectations of the first movie, which inevitably led to endlessly unnecessary comparisons and, of course, a massive hit at the box office.

The last part of the trilogy, The Hangover III, seems to have neither praise, nor an explosive success.

But what it does have going for it is that ultimately, it’s subjective.

Audiences and critics have been gushing over the numerous unwatchable and disappointing moments of the movie, from animal cruelty to racist jokes, typically banal acting and desperately forced efforts of the writing.

The ‘wolfpack’ manages to unintentionally find itself involved in another action-filled, jaw-dropping series of events that lead them back where it all began, Las Vegas. The link of it all is Mr.Chow (Ken Jeong), the humorous Asian gangster, whose style and one-liners in the previous movies have become clichés and regular references. Mr. Chow is the centre of the storyline and once again draws Stu, Alan and Phil into his crazy, drug-filled, gun-firing, dangerously mischievous undercover world.

hangover32There’s car chases, abductions, parachuting, a funeral, a giraffe, some familiar faces (Heather Graham and ‘Carlos’) and some new appearances (John Goodman). There’s plenty to watch, but perhaps in a rather more subdued and not as grand fashion as in the previous movies.

Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is on a soul-searching journey, whose naive charm and child-like behaviour is magnificently manifested and exploited throughout the film, as clearly the most unexpected can be expected from him. Galifianakis proves that comedy acting is not a natural or easy remedy, but rather a skilful process in itself, as even through such a borderline idiotic and cringe-worthy character, his performance as Alan throughout the trilogy has been consistently spot-on, admirably rigorous and difficulty imitated.

His character ends up having a rather happy ending (this is where I should mention that Melissa McCarthy’s short, but spectacular cameo appropriately fits the movie), especially for a type such as Alan. However, some things never change, and Alan is a clear example of that, mostly proven at the end of the movie and, assumingly, the trilogy.

Despite Bradley Cooper’s newly granted A-list status in Hollywood, especially after his Oscar nomination and critical praise for his role in Silver Linings Playbook, his role as Phil is as the Alpha wolf, who’s got the face, the style and the sunglasses to attempt to control and get ahead of the action, is as typical as ever. Stu (Ed Helms), the nerdy dentist, completes the trio perfectly with his irrational overreactions, and it never gets old how much he does not fit in all the circumstances they find themselves in.

As for Doug (Justin Bartha), he once again finds himself in a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ kind of situation.

hangover33The way I see it, some things should just be left alone. But in the world of Hollywood, where money and success are the guiding trails, that’s difficult to do. You give a little, and get a lot in return, only to go on and ask for even more.

So, let’s not treat such a beloved and praised movie like it’s Lindsay Lohan.

The Hangover trilogy, whether it will be regarded as a great one or a good enough as a whole, has raised the comedy standards and expectations to a whole new level, and it was about time.

Perhaps the last part, The Hangover 3, is simply a victim of its own game and creation. But let’s not forget where it all began.

Personally, I loved it. I thought it was a great ending to a comedy trilogy. In the midst of all the massive action and superhero movies, 3D spectacles and sci-fi extravaganzas, I think The Hangover trilogy should give itself a pat on the back.

THE OFFICE – “FINALE” REVIEW

17 May

Last night was the last episode of The Office. Ever.

The series finale, after 9 successful years for this revolutionary comedy TV show, was aired on May 16th, 2013.

I think that’s a date that the fans of the show will remember for a while. This was my experience of those 50 minutes of that day.

About 20 seconds into the episode, I started crying. Correction. I was sobbing. Nothing really happened, but I knew that many things would happen until it reached its end, when nothing would ever happen again. It was almost over and I had a hard time accepting that.

Jim Halpert, said it best when Michael Scott was exiting the show at the end of Season 7.

“Goodbyes are a bitch”

The finale was compiled of two important events for the employees of Dunder Mifflin: Dwight and Angela’s wedding, and a Q&A local panel for the employees of Dunder Mifflin after the episodes of their documentary had aired. Both were great reasons for the journeys of these characters to come to a completion.

The “Finale” episode, however, wasn’t a full-stop to their rides. It was a semicolon, a thought-out and emotional conclusion to their television personas, but also a great gateway to even bigger prospects and possibilities for them. They just wouldn’t be written into storylines anymore.

The episode had a sense of, just because we won’t be witnessing their journeys on television, doesn’t mean they won’t be continuing.

The panel happens 1 year after the documentary has been aired, which is a great opening and excuse for the characters to come together again.

Darryl comes back to Scranton and his job at the newly-merged Athleap seems to be going well, judging by the limo that picks him up from the airport. Nelly also returns from Poland, where she now works. Toby lives in New York with 6 roommates, writing the Great American Novel. Andy, after his disastrous audition at America’s Next A Capella Sensation went viral, he was mockingly invited to give the commencement speech at Cornell, which led him to getting a job at the admissions office.

Little by little, they all find themselves back where they started, with the people they started with. When all the characters are sitting in line on stage, with an anxiously embracing audience waiting for their answers and explanations and points of view, you can’t help but get an inevitable smile on your face.

The line between reality and fiction at that point was very, very thin. It was surreal, reminiscent and prophetic. These characters are up there, giving inside into their lives and experiences, while engaging with their fans from the documentary, who so eagerly awaited to see them and hear them and tell them how much they enjoyed or appreciated something they did.

Just like Jenna, John, Rainn, and all the people in the show have been doing for years now. It was a perfect circle for the people and their characters.

At the Q&A of the panel, a woman asks Erin if she hates her mother for abandoning her. Erin’s sincere and heartfelt response in that instance summed up everything that she represented in the show. As if that wasn’t beautiful enough, the woman asking the question was indeed Erin’s birth mother, even though Erin was characteristically the last one to realize it. Her reconnection with her birth parents was the most unexpected of events in the finale, but it was much fitting for Erin’s journey.

Admittedly, I was disappointed that Andy and Erin’s love was not rekindled in some way, but their separate stories were so equally fulfilling and fitting that I freely let go of that hope straight away.

The panel was a turning point for Pam, as well. People’s harsh reactions to Pam asking Jim to leave his job prospect with Athlete in Austin so they can stay in Scranton, seemed to have an effect on her. And even though Jim was as lovely and reassuring about it not being the case, as he always is, Pam pulled a ‘big-Jim-gesture’ by selling their house, so they can move to Austin for a new beginning.

Pam and Jim were always one of my favourite, if not THE favourite, TV couples. There’s a realness and a truthiness to their characters and their relationship. There’s no parody of any sorts, no silliness, or anything that is not believable. That was the key. We believed them. We believed in their love, and subsequently to that, we believed in love, period.

So, whether they are in Scranton, in Austin, whether we are watching them on our TV or dreaming of what would happen to them, we can always be sure that they are in love and have each other.

Dwight and Angela’s wedding was a great opportunity to bring everyone back together, from past and present, and allow for closure or completion to the stories of these characters. It made for the perfect excuse to have so many pleasant return cameos from such beloved characters from the show, which made the finale that much more appropriate and satisfying.

Kelly Kapoor was reunited with her ex-lover obsession, Ryan, who was now a single dad. Of course, it was just as easy for Kelly to leave behind her boyfriend and fall back in love with Ryan in seconds, as it was for the self-inflated Ryan to abandon his child and run off with Kelly, shouting “I finally mastered commitment”. Honestly, there could not have been a more representative, spot-on ending to the story of these two.

Nelly finally had the child she always wanted (even though it was originally Ryan’s baby). Stanley’s a happy, retired man now living in Florida and carving birds out of wood. Phyllis is just being Phyllis. Kevin works at a bar and he’s actually good at his job. Oscar is running for State Senate. Meredith’s proud of her son for being a stripper, and apparently, she got a PhD. Creed is, naturally, wanted by the police for an assortment of crimes.

And Toby..well, Toby is still sad, and confused, and lonely. But, he’s still trying his best.

And then there was one. Michael Scott. And of course, I saved the best for last.

After much speculation, many rumours and continuous denials of Steve Carell’s return for the series finale – which no one believed or wanted to believe – the inevitable happened.

It was the best unsurprising surprise ever.

Even his first entry in the episode was predictable after a while. But at the same time, the moment itself did not lose any of its excitement, momentum and shock.

Jim pulls the ‘Best prank ever’ as he gets Michael Scott to come back and be Dwight’s best man at his wedding. Can anyone think of anything more fitting for these characters?

“Dwight: Michael, I can’t believe you came.

Michael: That’s what she said.”

I’ve never been so unsure of whether I had tears of joy or tears from laughter in my eyes. I was sobbing, but I was so happy. They nailed it, and I’m sure they know it.

After that, Michael wasn’t around much in the episode. I’m sure that fans would have liked to see much more of him, but I was more than happy with the few glimpses we got, of Michael just looking around at his old friends, smiling and seeming so at peace and just..happy. Michael’s farewell came two seasons ago, when it was all about him, when Steve Carell was the star of the show, and that was concluded in its own time, in its own way. Everyone moved on and it was obvious and it was the right way to do it.

Michael Scott’s cameo was not done to steal any spotlight, make a statement or rehash the past. Actually, Michael Scott himself explained it perfectly:

“I feel like all my children grew up and they married each other. It’s every parent’s dream.”

Well, at least as perfect as Michael Scott could ever explain anything.

Steve Carell’s cameo was subtle, contained, but beautiful and gratifying.

———————————————————————————————————————

The Office is over after 9 years and 201 episodes. It was a show that introduced audiences around the world to an unconventional treatment of comedy. It upped everyone’s game and took television comedy to a higher level, with new boundaries and new ideas. A show with a simple storyline, so simple, that perhaps was almost banal to some people. A workplace and its employees. A paper company and its suppliers. A family and its loved ones.

The show and its characters were hilarious, insane, strange, unconventional, awkward and unfiltered. But above all, amidst all of the shenanigans, they were human, they were heartfelt and they were sincere.

They had flaws, they made mistakes, but at the end of the day they made long-lasting friendships, were taught life lessons and essentially were simply perfect in their imperfections.

Rainn Wilson said it best in “The Office Retrospective”: “It’s the heart that kept people coming back. The romance between Jim and Pam. The loneliness that you saw underneath in Michael Scott. That aching, vulnerable ambition of Dwight. These are little glimmers of emotion that keep you vested and interested.”

We don’t know if Jim and Pam will have another baby or how their house in Austin will look like. We don’t know what Dwight and Angela’s son will be like when he grows up. We don’t know if Oscar becomes Senator. We don’t know if Toby will finally find his path in life and what that is. We don’t know if Ryan and Kelly will make it work. We don’t know how Nelly will deal with being a single mother.

But, yet, somehow, we do.

———————————————————————————————————————

Additionally, The Office taught me so many things that I will always cherish and remember:

-          Real, unconditional, ever-lasting, exhilarating love can exist.

-          Great prank ideas.

-          There’s a depth to every kind of person.

-          We are all different people, but at the same time, very much alike.

-          How to make good ‘That’s what she said’ jokes

-          How to mastermind excellent openings for ‘That’s what she said’ jokes

-          To always check for any dirty cartoons imprints on my paper

And more importantly:

-          Ryan started the fire.

But, MOST importantly, the last words that were ever said on The Office:

“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things, isn’t that kind of the point?” – Pam Halpert

That’s all she said. 

We Thank You. 

Time’s 100 Most Influential People Issue

18 Apr

Jennifer Lawrence was among the chosen ones to cover the 2013 issue of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, along with Jay-Z, Rand Paul, Aamir Khan, Malala Yousafzai, and Elon Musk.

g9530.70_jennlawB.inddIs anyone even surprised? The Academy Award winning actress, for her defining role in 2012′s highly acclaimed film Silver Linings Playbook, seems unstoppable. With already 2 Oscar nominations and 1 win at the age of only 22, Jennifer Lawrence’s genuine aura, humorous persona, beautiful face, blockbuster movie success with the franchise of The Hunger Games and critic admiration for her refreshingly impeccable talent, it’s easy to assume that this is only the beginning.

Some other artists included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People issue are: Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, Christina Aguilera, Steven Speilberg, Mindy Kaling, Bryan Cranston, Jimmy Kimmel, Lena Dunham, Daniel Day-Lewis and Frank Ocean.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ISSUE: 

- ARTISTS: 

Jennifer Lawrence (Actor, 22) – By Jodie Foster: “You’ll remember where you were when you first felt it, how you were stuck to one spot like a small animal considering its end. The Jennifer Lawrence Stare. It cuts a searing swath in your gut. A reckoning. I remember going to the cutting rooms of Winter’s Bone. I thought, Sure, this girl can act. But, man, this girl can also just be.”

Christina Aguilera (Singer, 32) – By Celine Dion: “Without a doubt, she’s one of the most talented artists the world has ever seen and heard, and I think she’s going to continue to amaze us for many, many years to come.

Mindy Kaling (Comedian and Creator, 33) – By Ed Helms: “Mindy Kaling embodies the trifecta of being brilliant, wonderful and hilarious. Because that is statistically impossible, it can mean only one thing: she was created by an evil scientist to lull us into a giddy stupor in order to control our minds. How else can you explain someone who simultaneously commands respect and affection?”

Bryan Cranston (Actor, 57) – By Jon Hamm: ” (On his Breaking Bad character, Walter White) The transformation is mesmerizing. The performance is fearless. Bryan is that good. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him…as he has collected accolade after accolade, as his film career has flourished, as more and more people realize just how good he is.”

Jimmy Kimmel (Talk-show host, 45) – By Ben Stein: “He can interview a major star and be impressed and still cut the star down to human size with the deftness of a brain surgeon. He is the stand-up guy that young male viewers want as their pal late at night. He projects it because he is it.”

Jimmy Fallon (Late-night host, 38) – By Justin Timberlake: “Jimmy’s lightning wit — mixed with a kindness you don’t normally find in comedy — is what makes you feel so comfortable having him in your home every night. And no matter where the joke goes, the audience feels like they are in on it too. That’s because Jimmy loves to share the moment.”

ICONS:

Daniel Day-Lewis (Actor, 55) – By Tony Kushner: “He’s a concerned and active world citizen, a spectacular husband and father. But when Daniel acts, he makes the physical metaphysical, and vice versa. He’s an actor-creator whose performances aren’t just great — they’re essential.”

Beyonce (Diva, 31) – By Baz Luhrmann: “No one has that voice, no one moves the way she moves, no one can hold an audience the way she does…When Beyoncé does an album, when Beyoncé sings a song, when Beyoncé does anything, it’s an event, and it’s broadly influential.”

Justin Timberlake (Musician and Actor, 32) – By Stevie Wonder: “Justin has accomplished a lot at a young age, taking advantage of all the possibilities, and yet he’s found time to give of himself too — he gets and gives back. He has a spirit. He does God’s work through using the most of his talent.”

TITANS:

Jay Z (Artist and Entrepreneur, 42)- By Michael Bloomberg: “He’s an artist-entrepreneur who stands at the center of culture and commerce in 21st century America, and his influence stretches across races, religions and regions…In nearly everything he’s tried, he’s found success. (He even put a ring on Beyoncé.) And in doing so, he’s proved that the American Dream is alive and well.”

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More: http://time100.time.com/

Robert Downey Jr. GQ – April 2013

17 Apr

Love him or hate him, this guy is one talented actor in an unconventional character.

One of my personal favorites, Robert Downey Jr. has the ability to shock and awe. His newly embarked road of becoming a memorable super-hero on the big-screen franchise, Iron Man, with the third installation expected to premiere on 3rd May 2013, has been a highlight. in marking his presence in recent generations.

But his skillfulness and diversity have been lasting for decades now. From classics such as Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and Chaplin – which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in 1992 – to hidden gems like The Soloist,  up to his latest critically acclaimed portrayal of Sherlock Holmes,  Downey Jr. has surprised, excited, touched and challenged masses of audiences.

Going through a Hollywood-typical downward spiral of drug abuse and jail time, Downey Jr.’s comeback story is as atypical as his eccentric persona,  in that it actually worked.

Put eloquently perfect by GQ’s Chris Heath in this month’s issue: “His resurrection has all the characteristics of an origin story for a Hollywood superhero: A gifted young actor loses his way, cheats death again and again, then straightens himself out just in time to conquer the world.”

Some Quotes from the Interview:

On the inevitability of his winning an Oscar: “I, personally, would be shocked if we went to the end of the tape now and I didn’t have at least one. …Because I’m young enough, and I’m running down being occupied with these kind of genre movies, close enough. Even the next thing we’re doing with [my wife], I’m so confident about it. It’s the best script the studio has; it’s the best thing I’ve read in years. You know, honestly, my real answer to that is: I don’t care. I used to think I cared, and I couldn’t care less. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t get a little choked up, but it is amazing to see how people are literally hyperventilating when they get up there, because they have such an attachment to this outcome. I mean, it’s not like we’re at the f–king Olympics or something. …Look, even if I don’t get one directly, eventually they’re just going to have to give me one when I get old. So no matter how you slice it, I’m getting one.”

On his acting abilities: “I’m probably one of the best. …But it’s not that big a deal. It’s not like this is the greatest swath or generation of actors that has ever come down the pike.”

On knowing what will and won’t work: “I’m very good at deconstructing. I’m a very good troubleshooter for why something is unlikely to work. And most everything is unlikely to work.”

More: http://www.gq.com/entertainment/movies-and-tv/201305/robert-downey-jr-profile-may-2013

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CRAZY, STUPID LOVE – REVIEW

17 Apr

Certificated: 12A, 118 mins

Written by: Dan Fogelman

Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Tomei

It’s your typical romantic comedy, but yet somehow it’s different. Perhaps it’s because its success has been so unlike any of the most recent, unoriginal, obsolete, one-of-the-same rom-coms. It seems to be a genre that is fading from people’s interests, as it’s cursed by its very own predictable formula.

220px-CrazyStupidLovePosterCrazy, Stupid Love is superior in that, while maintaining the typical characteristics of a romantic comedy, it equally manages to have an ambition and sharpness beyond expectations that pays off.

It has the all the potentials and credentials of becoming a classic, one that can reach the status of the most recent totally re-watchable and generational rom-coms such as How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days or Two Weeks Notice.

The impeccable cast also helps. Steve Carell is one of the protagonists, who plays the role of Cal Weaver, a middle-aged father, whose seemingly dreamy family and ideal life start to crumble once his wife and high school sweetheart, Emily (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce, after confessing to an affair with another man. With his mid-life crisis now being defined by his failed marriage, a dated wardrobe and an inability to let go of his misfortunes, Cal finds himself embarking on an unconventional friendship that opens him up to a new beginning.

That new friend is Ryan Gosling’s character, Jacob, appropriately portraying the ultimate playboy, always dressed in a perfectly tailored suit, who picks up women like trophies, night after night. Gosling’s ability in presenting a rather despicable and disgusting character as charming and lovable, speaks multitudes about his talent as an actor.

crazy-stupid-love-jerk

This unlikely relationship between Cal and Jacob – equally to the unexpected pairing of Carell and Gosling, who accomplish a great on-screen chemistry – provides some genuine comedy as their rather contradictory attitudes and personas clash, in Jacob’s attempt to turn the decent, boring Cal into a ‘catch’.

However, things start to get complicated when Jacob crosses paths with Hannah, a perky and quirky lawyer played by the oh-so-charming Emma Stone.

The scenes of the first night that Hannah and Jacob spend together are as classic and lovely as they get. Jacob mixes in smoothly with his near-perfect modern apartment, parodying step by step his seduction routine, while trying to make sense of a senseless Hannah, who is drunk and soaked from head to toe, feeling completely unconfident after a momentary act of braveness.1319562226_crazy-stupid-love-467

What occurs between the two is superfluously perfect and movingly romantic. Their connection is honest and sincere, it clicks all the right buttons and it’s appropriately sexy and cheesy. It’s everything and more than rom-coms needs it to be.

And of course, it’s all downhill from there. Their fairytale eventually becomes a date-gone-bad, but only to the evolution of an intolerably romantic and entertaining movie.

Crazy, Stupid Love only becomes a cliché once it comes to a conclusion. The natural unfolding of the story still holds a sense of unpredictability, and throws a curveball that makes everyone go ‘Oh, didn’t see that one coming’. And for a romantic comedy, that is basically the key to success.

A mixture of skillful acting, memorable one-liners, sharp comedy and a whole lot of romance definitely make Crazy, Stupid Love a wonderful and enjoyable move that will most certainly end up in every girl’s movie collection. Definitely a keeper.

LOUIS C.K at the O2 Arena, London & HBO Special, ‘Oh My God’ – REVIEW

16 Apr

You wouldn’t have guessed that Louis C.K has been a struggling and unknown comedian for almost three decades by the exceptional show-up of people thrillingly filling the seats of the O2 or the overwhelming reception of his brilliant comedic performance.

What is further more amazing is the fact that a comedian, whose hugely successful and critically acclaimed TV show Louie had yet to broadcast in UK channels before his appearances, can be so widely known and appreciated in a country with its fair amount of respected comedians and comedy shows.

A 45-year-old, overweight, bald, red-bearded man in scruffy jeans and T-shirt stood alone on a huge stage and made thousands of people laugh continuously, endlessly and genuinely.

Louis C.K winning 2 Emmy Awards for his critically acclaimed TV show, Louie.

Louis C.K winning 2 Emmy Awards for his critically acclaimed TV show, Louie.

C.K epitomizes the essence of stand-up comedy. He is just a plain, every-day man standing in front of an audience telling jokes and entertaining a crowd.

The secret, however, lies in the simplicity and reliability of his material. The bland and harsh realism behind his jokes are essentially scenarios of people’s everyday life. His brilliance lies in the fact that he understands the unnatural and rushed progression of humanity and people’s routines. He is a participant in it and he incorporates every single bit of it in his act.

That’s a massive part of his success. C.K is more often than not the bud of his jokes. He pokes fun of his lazy appearance, the boredom and frustration that comes along with fatherhood and the fact that his divorce has been the happiest part of his life because ‘unlike marriage, it lasts forever’.

The absurdities of our human nature act as an avenue to C.K’s stand-up material. He sees through the nonsense and appropriately exploits the reality that surrounds us.

Essentially, what he always acknowledges and preaches is that if you have food on your plate and a roof over your head and go on to live another healthy day, you have not much, if anything to complain about.

C.K goes relentlessly dark at times – for example, by suggesting there’s always a sympathetically sincere ‘of course’ side and a rather darker oblique ‘but maybe’ side to things; and those things range from nut allergies to slavery. But most importantly, the audience goes deep into the darkness with him. We embrace the darkness because essentially his realistic approach to even the simplest example is refreshing and essentially, there’s no argument against it. There’s a logic to every bid he does. He has a good point, and the audience knows it.

His seeming cynicism isn’t negative or mean-spirited. C.K simply understands that in order to survive this brutal, disappointing and selfish world, we need to embrace it. This is how it is, so let’s move on. C’est la vie. 1774087

His stand-up consists of endlessly relatable stories and random observations told from a bleak, but also refreshingly accurate perspective. He pokes fun of our obsession with technology by referring to parents experiencing their children’s dance that is taking place right in front of their eyes, through the screen of their phones. He explains the incomprehensibly monstrous transformation we experience once we are behind the wheel. And more brutally than ever, how the legalization of murder would mean stepping over corpses of children, who had deceased at the hands of their parents.

C.K’s material is rather difficult to replicate. They are not stories that can be retold or explained with a similar level of pleased reception. His abrasive honesty, instinctive timing and every-man sensibility are all significant attributes to his stand-up success.

There has been a constant praise associated with his name and act in the last couple of years, with C.K being consistently referred to as the ‘funniest comedian at the moment’. But for once, the hype is completely justifiable.

The magic and genius behind Louis C.K’s comedy execution is the fact that with such seemingly rude, morbid and rather inappropriate material, it shouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

But yet, somehow, it is. Effortlessly so.

And it is brilliant.

Louis C,K's latest HBO Special, 'Oh My God', aired on April 13th, 2013.

Louis C,K’s latest HBO Special, ‘Oh My God’, aired on 13th April, 2013, and has almost all the material performed at the O2 Arena show on 20th March, 2013

READY FOR LOVE – Review

10 Apr

Ready For Love is the title of the new reality show (because God knows there aren’t enough of them on air already) launched by NBC, as the network seeks a fresh version to join the battle of the dating shows franchise.

Have they not been watching television for the past decade or so? And following the ultimately horrific and inevitably catastrophic endings to the doomed-from-the-beginning relationships from such similar shows in the past?

31462 And even worse seems to be the fate and structure of this new dating reality Hunger-Games-sham show, Ready For Love. NBC, has teamed up with Eva Longoria, who is the executive producer, in shamelessly promoting and broadcasting this demeaning show.

The premise of it is for 3 semi-famous and irrelevant, but rather good-looking bachelors to find their next true love, with the help of 3 matchmakers. Yes, matchmakers. I guess what’s left now is a dating show with tea leaf readers and a taro fortune teller and we are all set for the apocalypse. These matchmakers have each compiled a team of 3 women, who they have chosen from thousands as the most appropriate matches for the specific gentlemen, and who they will be coaching in the process with advises and tips on how to succeed in gaining their man’s love.

If you can’t tell what’s wrong with that, then you are probably part of this unreasonable show. The assumptions that are pre-associated, endorsed and generated for the composition of this show are simply disgraceful.

Take out the disguised glamourness of an in-love couple as hosts, the glitziness of one-hit rockstars and fanciness of referring to ‘matchmakers’ as successful professionals, and this the show put in simple, human terms: women being told what is wrong with them or what they are doing wrong in their pursue for a man that they don’t even know, who is seemingly perfect as he does not need any direction on how to play the game of dating. giuliana-bill-ready-for-love-w724

And yet, while everyone within the show are preaching about the importance of developing a true connection and an honest understanding between two genuine human beings, they are doing exactly the opposite.

These women are being manufactured into a desirable product, where they will be repeatedly manipulated and appropriately recreated into an artificially ‘better’ version of themselves, while being criticized for being flawed human beings by the matchmakers.

The visual of the women standing in huge, human-size boxes while introducing themselves to the hidden bachelor or descending to the mysterious ‘garden’ where a woman will be chosen to leave the show (What’s next? A creepy garage where the woman eliminated will actually be murdered?) was rather appropriately reminiscent of imprisoned and voiceless Barbie Dolls.

Sure, The Bachelor puts women on display as well and yet the show has received tremendous success in ratings – although, not so much in the happily-ever-after department. However, the superficiality and blandness of Ready For Love have exceeded the limits of what is bareable and acceptable.

Dating is hard. Relationships are hard. Finding that special someone that everyone yearn for some time in their life is challenging. It takes courage and plenty of patience. It takes truthfulness and confidence. And although it takes time and can be complicated, it shouldn’t be this complicated.

Most importantly, you shouldn’t have to change the little things to get to the big picture.

Ready For Love gets it completely wrong, and portrays the most beautiful experience, love, in the most wrongful way possible.

DRIVE – REVIEW

22 Mar

DRIVE (2011)

Certificated: 18, 100 mins
Written by: Hossein Amini (screenplay), James Sallis (book)
Directed by: Nicholas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Albert Brooks

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When Ryan Gosling approached Nicholas Winding Refn to offer him the directorial position for the movie Drive, they were both stuck in an uncomfortable situation, when Refn, being a bit “high as a kite” from some anti-flu drugs, was unable to make it to the end of their meeting. He asked Gosling to drive him back home. Now, they were stuck in an awkwardly silent car, as if ending a date-gone-wrong. Suddenly, the song “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” comes up on the radio, which finds Refn bursting into uncontrollable tears, as he turns the volume up, with his own personal issues and memories rushing through his mind. He turns to Gosling and says: “I got it now.” And thus, a bromance flourished that brought to reality one of the best movies of 2011.

So, Drive is definitely not just another Fast and the Furious wannabe film. At the heart of it, it is merely a story about a man who uses driving as a way of expressing himself, whilst listening to pop music, going back to Refn’s first meeting with Gosling. Only this time, it is accompanied with enthralling scenes filled with pure instinct, love, adrenaline, raw violence and plenty of gasping bloodbaths.

Ryan Gosling gives the most captivating performance of his career. As one of the most promising Hollywood young actors, Gosling is rewarding in every single scene, and on every possible level. As the nameless protagonist of the movie, he has been granted with a lot of charisma behind the wheel. Therefore, he acts as a stunt driver by day, but moonlights as a getaway driver by night.

Gosling is brilliant in portraying a drifter who has little to say, – suggestive of Alain Delon in Le Samourai – other than profound half-smiles and intense gazes. But when the missing ingredient enters the scene, the struggling mum, Irene, from down the hallway, played brilliantly by the beautiful Carey Mulligan, The Driver gets involved in a scheme he cannot escape. In his attempt to assist Irene’s ex-con husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), The Driver enters the body of a ruthless and relentless man, with his car as his regular partner-in-crime, as he breaks all rules and boundaries to protect the vulnerable sweetness of Mulligan’s character. But, of course, nothing goes as planned.

It is a true triumph as a 80s classic film noir. Gosling acts as the private eye, adding to the dark visual flair of the film, as the unsmiling and unidentified driver, who constantly twitches a toothpick that hangs from his mouth, dressed in aviator glasses and a satin racing jacket with a scorpion embroidered on the back. Mulligan is the ultimate femme fatale in a story filled with a very stylish presentation of extremely jolting violence, which is unveiled in a frenzy of gun-crazy, skull-crunching and pulse-pounding scenes throughout the velvet-dark nights of L.A.

With this perfect combination of tough and tender, the Danish director, Refn, makes his Hollywood debut with this modern-day Western film, after a resume that holds the respectful success of cult movies like Bronson and the trilogy Pusher. His whiff of Tarantino-reminiscent stark violence and archetypal marks from old noir films like The Driver (1978) by Walter Hill are refreshing in the midst of Hollywood’s commercial remakes of superhero strips and carbon-copy rom-coms. His slick and dynamic direction, accompanied by a 80s retro feel and narcotic pop soundtracks – like “Nightfall” by Kavinsky in the opening credits – are a winning recipe as an equally effective Hollywood spectacle.

All in all, Drive is the ultimate cinematic experience compressed into a rather lethargic and silent setting – not to the extent of the highly acclaimed The Artist – just like its robust protagonist. The movie relies on visually graphic captures of the characters’ expressions, on their wild routes – whether that’s a car chase or an emotional ride – their cowardice smirks and their erotically charged goodbyes.

Science Museum: Making the Modern World Exhibit

28 Jun

Making the Modern World exhibit, Science Museum – Review

The contemporary exhibition, opened in July 2000, has something for everyone, as it provides a spacious platform that holds man’s most iconic and revolutionized objects, while maintaining a family and kid friendly environment.

“In no former age was ever the light of knowledge so extended and so generally diffused.” This quote by James Kier in 1789, during the Enlightenment Era, is the first caption of historical information displayed in the Making the Modern World exhibit. The applicability and relevance of Kier’s statement throughout the centuries is as real and timeless as the Science Museum’s appeal over the last century.

The contemporary exhibition, Making the Modern World, chronicles a sequence of the technological and scientific achievements through a perfect mishmash of historical background information and an extensive display and excessive variety of props and objects.

The exhibit is an inspired labyrinth of discoveries, displaying the giant creations of man’s best work and exceptional achievements throughout the centuries, in an extremely captivating and educational timeline. The tour starts off with a rather long, but ever-detailed historical analysis of science and technology from the Enlightenment Era until the 21st Century, which can be an informational geek heaven.

Visitors of any adult age and any expertise are bound to pick up some new interesting knowledge, whether it is the invention of penicillin during the Cold War as one of the greatest achievements of British science, the Age of the Mass introducing the different types of engineering as we now know them, or the evolution of the car culture and the significance of Rachel Carson’s book ‘Silent Spring’.

Portrayed in grand sizes and stylish displays throughout the spacious exhibit are the most important marvels and iconic artefacts of mankind. From Stepherson’s ‘Rocket’, the Apollo 10 scorched from its 1969 moon mission, the Lockhead 10A Electra aircraft and Ford Model T 1916, the massive display of the industrialization of science and technology can be as much appreciated by a flabbergasted toddler in a stroller as a couple on a first date or a pioneer engineer.

There is equally guaranteed enjoyment and entertainment for children of any age, whether it’s a group of teenagers on a school trip or over-excited young boys experiencing jaw-dropping displays, while secretly trying to touch a piece of history. The element of drama and exaggeration, from the loud suspense melodies echoing as background music to the immensely overpowering, yet fascinating, displays of old locomotives, hanging planes from the ceiling and vintage cars stacked on the walls, the exhibition can one way or another, captivate the scientific senses and technological imagination of younger souls.

The enormous and delicate vitrines are jammed packed with hundreds of props and objects from throughout the centuries. The evident evolution and noticeable progression of every single group of items, whether it was wooden to silver spoons, type-machines to pens or small rounded to grand squared sunglasses, is a fun and memorable experience.

Whether its appeal is instant or gradual, and despite its lack of any interactive activities – which can be enjoyed at The Garden or IMAX 3D of the Science Museum – the Making the Modern World exhibition can captivate and inspire people of all ages and characters, and fill its visitors with a feeling of grandeur and awe.

MONEYBALL – REVIEW

23 Jun

Moneyball (2011)

Certificated: 13A, 133min

Written by:  Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), Michael Lewis (book)

Directed by: Bennett Miller

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman

On the surface, Moneyball appears to be a sports movie about the national game of baseball, and as a rather incomprehensible story for societies outside the American tradition. On hindsight, however, it is a soulfully crafted production, which romantically universalises the sport of baseball by combining a story of statistics and sports, with the journey of a visionary man who thinks outside the box.

Moneyball is truly not just another baseball movie. Brad Pitt’s eloquent performance as Billy Beane, the revolutionary general manager of the Oackland Athletics, combined with the intellectually honourable direction of Bennett Miller, is the perfect combination for a moral story that goes beyond the theme of sports and athleticism. Miller’s elegantly crafted direction manages to adapt Michael Lewis’ best-selling book about statistical analysis and economical concepts into a compelling narrative.

The movie adaptation tells the tale of a former professional athlete, Billy Beane, who as the general manager of the impoverished Oakland A’s baseball team in the 2002 season, is faced with a financial crisis that threatens the future of his team. Unable to keep up with the perennial favourites, like the Yankees and the Red Sox, Beane teams up with an Ivy-League economics graduate, Peter Brand, played brilliantly by Jonah Hill, on his first dramatic role. Brand introduces him to the unconventional world of sabermetrics, in an attempt to reinvent their strategy by exploiting the inefficiencies in the market and the game, or in his own words, assemble “an island of misfit toys.”

Behind all this statistical crumble and athletic commercialism, however, lies the quixotic tale of a man who searches beyond the obvious, defies tradition and struggles to reconnect with his daughter. After Pitt’s highly recognised role in Tree of Life by the Cannes critics, his charismatic performance as Billy Beane is another proof of Pitt’s professional defiance. He is no longer your typical blue-eyed, six-packed Hollywood eye-candy, and has repeatedly raised his own bar, alongside his pal George Clooney, to be now recognized and envied as a serious dramatic actor.

Pitt is miraculous as Billy Beane, on a role that many have called the best of his career. Beane says “I hate losing more than I wanna win.” Pitt portrays a relentless manager who sees further than what meets the eye. Even though his ‘hate’ for losing is better translated as fear – as Beane cannot even stand to watch a single one of his own games – his endless spirit is fuelled from his unconfirmed hopes. And he will not give up until “it means something”.

The confrontational and truthful scenes between Pitt and Hill throughout the movie are truly enjoyable, mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, the awkward contrast between the ambitious manager and his nerdy counsellor ends up being a winning recipe for their chemistry. Secondly, one simply cannot help but applaud Aaron Sorkin’s Ping-Pong dialogues. Reminiscent of his Oscar-winning script for The Social Network, which moved him up the ladder in the world of Hollywood screenwriting, Sorkin’s superbly sharp and effective writing is the closing argument in every scene, the signature that signs the deal.

The movie adaptation already has Oscar-buzz all over it, and rightly so. It exceeds expectations and ticks all the boxes as a highly-acclaimed movie about beating the odds. It’s the ultimate storytelling of the ultimate underdogs, which is unveiled by the most warm script and spot-on performances. It surpasses any commercial, up-market purposes, with its success expanding to any scenes done outfield. Moneyball is about alternatives, and about recreating your own destiny in the search of one’s self. Wins and losses are merely statistics.

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