Summary: When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 13th October 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 18th January, 2017
Country: United States, Japan, Turkey, Hungry
Director: Ron Howard
Screenwriter: David Koepp, Dan Brown (novel)
Cast: Cesare Cremonini (Ignazio Busoni), Ida Darvish (Marta), Jon Donahue (Richard Savage), Mehmet Ergen (Mirsat), Ben Foster (Bertrand Zorbist), Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Felicity Jones (Dr. Sienna Brooks), Irrfan Khan (Harry Sims ‘The Provost’), Sidse Babett Knudsen (Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey), Xavier Laurent (Antoine), Fausto Maria Sciarappa (Parker), Paolo Antonio Simioni (Dr. Marconi), Omar Sy (Christoph Bruder), Ana Ularu (Vayentha)
Runtime: 121 mins
OUR INFERNO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Inferno sees the arrival of yet another attempted franchise reboot in 2016. We’ve seen Ghostbusters and Bridget Jones’s Baby arrive with mixed success now we find Academy Award winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) rebooting the Robert Langdon franchise some seven years after its last instalment.
Based on the novel by Dan BrownInferno begins with Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump) waking up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there and being hunted by a assassin (Ana Ularu – Serena). After managing to escape with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones – The Amazing Spider-Man) Langdon starts putting together the pieces and realises that he must try and stop an apocalyptic event set by Bertrand Zorbist (Ben Foster – Warcraft: The Beginning) who believes his actions will actually save the world.
But as Langdon tries to overcome memory loss and put the pieces together to solve the mystery things are made even more difficult by him when he realises he doesn’t know which World Health Organisation agent he can trust, Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudsen – Westworld) or Christoph Bruder (Omar Sy – Jurassic World). To add to their confusion the audience also learns there is a puppet-master in the wings in the form of Harry Sims (Irrfan Khan – Life Of Pi).
While watching Inferno you do start to realise that this is going to be a film that divides its audience. For the regular popcorn set this is going to be a film that delivers a fairly decent, if not at times confusing, crime thriller plot that shows you just as many European landmarks as a Bond film. For the more seasoned film goer though this is a film that reveals some of the laziest filmmaking Ron Howard will deliver during his career with a clichéd plot that just follows the same sequence over and over – Langdon arrives in a city, goes to find the puzzle piece, is chased by Police and uses an ancient tunnel to escape and then moves on to the next city. There is also a level of inconsistence around the character of Robert Langdon that surfaces right throughout this film and despite the work of screenwriter, David Koepp (Jurassic Park), to pass it off as part of Langdon’s amnesia it simply doesn’t work.
Rather than being a gritty thriller Inferno becomes more of a fun ride as the audience gets to see European city of European city while there is a mid-level of suspense and you try in your mind to put the pieces together at the same time as Langdon does… although that it made a hell of a lot easier if you are up to date on your Dante. The big tip for the audience is to not let to get too bogged down in the ‘historical’ parts of this film or you will be scratching your head and hurling popcorn as you struggle to work out what the hell is going on.
Likewise this is a movie that Tom Hanks just seems to breeze through. While Sully recent saw Hanks once again reveal his wonderful character acting skills here Hanks wears the character of Robert Langdon like an old slipper, it’s a role that he is obviously comfortable in but doesn’t deliver the acting heights that we know he is capable of. The same can be said for Felicity Jones who isn’t given a huge amount to work with and even disappears for a quarter of the film. The big winner in the acting stakes is Sidse Babett Knudsen who makes good use of the screen time she is given. Omar Sy and Irrfan Khan are also wasted in their roles, the latter being given a role very similar to a poor man’s Bond villain as he plays a character that leaves the audience asking… is that even a profession?
The best way to enjoy Inferno is to just go into the cinema expecting a fun film. While it isn’t exactly a borefest it certainly lacks the suspense of Angels & Demons and is a lot more clichéd than the Da Vinci Code. Did the Robert Langdon franchise need Inferno? Probably not!
Summary: A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th October 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand
Cast: Joel Allen (Old Man Carl), Stella Allen (Sydney), Jonathan Angel (Gordon Jones), Peter Berg (Mr. Skip), Robert Walker Branchaud (Doug Brown), Anthony Centonze (Dan Barron/Roughneck #1), Joe Chrest (Sims), James DuMont (O’Bryan), J.D. Evermore (Dewey A. Revette), Henry Frost (Shane M. Roshto), Douglas M. Griffin (Landry), Garrett Hines (Wyman Wheeler), Michael Howell (Roy Wyatt Kemp), Kate Hudson (Felicia), Jason Kirkpatrick (Aaron Dale Burkeen), Garrett Kruithof (Karl Kleppinger Jnr.), Brad Leland (Kaluza), David Maldonado (Kuchta), John Malkovich (Vidrine), Terry Milam (Keith Blair Manuel), Dylan O’Brien (Caleb Holloway), Mayla Parker (Natlie (voice)), Jason Pine (Stephen Ray Curtis), Gina Rodriguez (Andrea Fleytas), Kurt Russell (Jimmy Harrell), Jeremy Sande (Adam Weise), Juston Street (Anthony Gervasio), Ethan Suplee (Jason Anderson), Deneen Tyler (Paula Walker), Mark Wahlberg (Mike Williams), Ronald Weaver (Donald Clark)
Runtime: 107 mins
OUR DEEPWATER HORIZON REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) has to be one of the most underrated film directors going around. Barring the ill-fated Battleship Berg has created always created films and television shows that felt as natural as can be. Lone Survivor made the audience feel that they were right there on the battlefield while many made the mistake of watching Friday Night Lights and thought they were watching a reality television show about a High School football team. Now Berg has taken that natural style of film-making and introduced it to the disaster film genre.
Deepwater Horizon tells the true story of electrician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor) who in 2010 left his wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson – Almost Famous), and once again went to work on the oil rig named ‘Deepwater Horizon’ in the Gulf Of Mexico. What he didn’t know was that on that fateful day due to poor work safety practices by BP an accident would occur that would cause the rig to erupt into flames. Suddenly Mike and his colleagues including his boss Mr. Jimmy (Kurt Russell – The Thing), radio operator Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez – Filly Brown), hard worker Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien – The Maze Runner) and BP representative Vidrine (John Malkovich – Red 2) all find themselves fighting for their lives.
As a filmmaker Berg should be congratulated for his work with Deepwater Horizon. It was no secret that some of the survivors of the real Deepwater Horizon disaster were hesitant in wanting this film to be made, but they need not of worried. Berg certainly doesn’t ‘trivialize’ the memory of the men who died on that fateful day by making this a popcorn action film. Instead he makes this a character drama about not only the men who died on that day but also shows the world the valiant actions of people like Mike Williams whose brave acts saved many of the workers. To his credit Berg also doesn’t hide the facts of exactly what happened that day – no he points the finger firmly at BP without any hesitation even though he wouldn’t have known how the huge corporation would have reacted to it.
Many films these days claim to be suspenseful but few filmmakers have the skills to make the audience feel as part of the action and suspense as Berg does here. While with Lone Survivor the audience felt they were there on the side of the hill during the battle here Berg’s realistic style of directing makes the audience feel you are right there on the rig with Mike… you even at times feel like you can feel the heat of the flames against your skin.
Berg’s filmmaking is also well supported by his screen writers who don’t waste time making this film too scientific. The audience is given bite-sized pieces of information about what an oil rig does and what has gone wrong here but they never forget that at the heart of this film it is a character drama. So instead of focusing on the ins and outs of the rig they concentrate the suspense around a man trying to get home to his daughter and wife and a scared woman trying to survive in order to see her partner again. The fact that little things like a dinosaur tooth for show-and-tell and car problems back home are so seamlessly inserted into the script just go even further into humanizing this story. Having said that though it is also important to point out the Berg and his cinematographer, Enrique Chediak (The 5th Wave), also create some amazing action sequences as the rig burns against a night sky.
As a director Berg also brings the best out in his cast. Here Mark Wahlberg delivers the best of both worlds as he plays the action hero extremely well but also has the dramatic acting ability to pull off the character driven elements of the screenplay as well. Kurt Russell also benefits from one of the more meatier roles he has been given over the years and he is well matched by John Malkovich who is technically this film’s ‘bad guy.’ Despite her limited screen time Kate Hudson is also one of the standouts of the film.
Deepwater Horizon is proof that a modern day disaster film can actually find the right mix of action and character drama. Brilliant directing by Peter Berg makes this one of the must see films of 2016.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Deepwater Horizon Reviews: Nil
Summary: A successful investment banker struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. With the help of a customer service rep and her young son, he starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 14th July 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Screenwriter: Bryan Sipe
Cast: Madison Arnold (Ray), Stephen Badlamenti (Mickey), B Bastian (Jennifer), Blaire Brooks (Amy), James Colby (John), Ben Cole (Steven), Chris Cooper (Phil), Polly Draper (Margot), Brendan Drooling (Todd), Jake Gyllenhaal (Davis), Royce Johnson (Secuirty Marty), Tom Kemp (Dr. Brodkey), Judah Lewis (Chris), Heather Lind (Julia), Alfredo Narcisco (Michael), Wass Stevens (Jimmy), Naomi Watts (Karen),C.J. Wilson (Carl), James Young (Ahmed)
Runtime: 101 mins
OUR DEMOLITION REVIEWS & RATINGS:
For me as a critic ‘Demolition’ is like a five star explosion. The director, Jean-Marc Vallee, received five stars from me for his last two films – the heart-gripping drama ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and the visually spectacular ‘Wild’, while leading man Jake Gyllenhaal has garnished the same scores for his recent films – ‘Prisoners,’ ‘Nightcrawler’ and ‘Southpaw.’ I would be lying if I said I was expecting something brilliant from ‘Demolition’ and this time I was disappointed.
‘Demolition’ is the story of a broken man. To the outside world Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal – ‘Nightcrawler’) is a man who has everything. He has an amazing looking home, a successful career in finance and the perfect marriage to Julia (Heather Lind – ‘Mistress America’). But then when Julia is killed in a car accident he re-accesses his life through a series of letters to a convenience machine company and soon he finds himself wondering whether or not he really loved Julia and also suddenly discovering a need to want to demolish everything. These letters also bring him into contact with the emotionally damaged Karen (Naomi Watts – ‘The Ring’) and her troubled young son, Chris (Judah Lewis – ‘Deliverance Creek’)… something that causes an even big rift between Davis and his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper – ‘American Beauty’).
It’s not a cliché that I normally like to use but ‘Demolition’ really is one of the movies of the year, in fact it is a lesson in filmmaking (from the screenwriting up) to any young filmmaker out there. Screenwriter, Brian Sipe (‘The Choice’) doesn’t waste a single second of screen time. He sets up the relationship between Davis and Julia in less than a minute and as the film delves into the life of a man falling apart the audience are kept guessing exactly what is going to happen next in that special form of character driven suspense… something that we previously have only got to experience in special films like ‘The Safety Of Objects.’
‘Demolition’ is one of those amazing films were the director really understood what the screenwriter was trying to do and captures the vibe from the page and brings it to the screen in a remarkable way. So many lesser directors would have taken Sipe’s script and tried to make everything painfully obvious to the audience but here Vallee keeps his audience guessing. There are a tonne of questions that need to be asked about the brilliantly written and edgy character of Chris while the will they/won’t they tension between Davis and Karen is ever present without ever becoming clichéd or cheesy. That also leads to a second level of suspense as the audience waits to see what happens with Karen’s ‘boyfriend’ Carl (C.J. Wilson – ‘The Intern’).
Sipe’s screenplay also allows the cast to put in some amazing performances that are deserved of any awards that they should pick up. As we saw in ‘Nightcrawler’ and ‘Southpaw’ Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance goes to a whole new level when he is asked to play a character who is falling apart and here Gyllenhaal certainly brings his A-Game. Whether it be a scene where he is mentally breaking down while demolishing his home with a sledgehammer or sharing a touching emotion scene with Judah Lewis… his performance is truly captivating.
Follow in Gyllenhaal’s footsteps in Naomi Watts who has sadly been wasted in woeful films like ‘Allegiant’ and ‘Diana’ recently. But here as Watts is given a meatier script and able to play the drug affected Karen she really comes to the fore and reminds audiences just what a fine actress then she really is. Then there is the arrival of Judah Lewis. This young actor seems to relish playing a young character struggling to cope with his sexuality and the fact that his drug addicted mother is not paying enough attention to him. Lewis breezes through even some of the more difficult scenes and he really announces himself as a young actor to watch in the future.
In a cinematic world where bigger is considered better and every film released seems to what to out do it’s predecessor’s special effects it is a real relief to be able to sit down and watch a film like ‘Demolition’ – a film that relies on the fact that it has a brilliant screenplay and actors who are at the top of their game to pull it off. ‘Demolition’ is one of the films of the year and also shows why Jake Gyllenhaal now has to be considered one of the best actors of our generation.
Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a hot shot financier whose wife is killed in a car crash. He goes into denial and his life goes into melt down and he begins to alienate everyone around him. Including his father-in-law Phil (Chris Cooper), who also happens to be his boss.
A minor incident involving a vending machine in the hospital though is the real catalyst for his frustration. He writes complaint letters to the company, which attract the attention of Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts), the sympathetic customer service representative. She finds something about the personal revelations in his letters of complaint that intrigues her. An unlikely relationship slowly develops. But it is his relationship with her troubled delinquent son Chris (newcomer Judah Lewis), who is struggling with his own sexuality and identity, that really starts the healing process. Davis becomes something of a surrogate father figure for the wayward adolescent.
Davis also finds release through demolishing things, from household appliances up to his own house. Wrecking his own beautiful, architecturally designed house with a sledgehammer proves cathartic, but it is also a heavy handed metaphor for leaving his old life behind and moving on. Ironically, in one of his letters Davis writes: “For some reason, everything has become a metaphor.”
Written by Bryan Sipe (who also penned the recent adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice), this is a rather downbeat and unpredictable drama dealing with death, grief, and the process of moving on.Demolition has been directed by French-Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee, who directed Matthew McConaughey to an Oscar in Dallas Buyers Club. Demolition is full of some of his trademark stylish flourishes – such as dreamlike shots, slow motion flashbacks and looped images – that give parts of the film a similar surreal quality to his enigmatic Cafe de Flore. Music has also been an important element in Vallee’s films beginning with the coming of age tale CRAZY, and here he has compiled a great soundtrack that mixes older acts like Heart and Free with indie bands like Cave and Half Moon Run, and some classical music. Demolition has been shot by his regular cinematographer Yves Belanger, and there are some crisp and striking images. But this vaguely disappointing tale attempts to explore similar territory to that Vallee essayed in the more successful Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to find herself through an arduous physical experience.
There are solid performances all round, particularly from the charismatic young Lewis who brings a spark of energy to the film that contrasts with Gyllenhaal’s downbeat and quietly compelling reading of his grieving character. The always reliable Gyllenhaal appears in virtually every scene, and he anchors this quirky but ultimately flawed drama, delivering another of his intense, edgy performances as the self destructive and emotionally stunted Davis. Cooper brings his usual stoic, gruff and world weary persona to an underwritten role, while Watts delivers another strong performance as a woman who is also dealing with her own emotional issues.
But despite the emotional content and late bursts of sentimentality, Demolition is a film that will not have broad appeal. However, it should do well on the festival circuit and in art house cinemas.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Demolition reviews: Nil.
Summary: Clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, young Momo moves with her mother from bustling Tokyo to the remote Japanese island of Shio. Upon their arrival, she begins to explore her new habitat, meeting local children and learning their routines and customs. However, it’s not long before several bizarre occurrences crop up around the previously tranquil island. Orchards are found ransacked, prized trinkets start disappearing and, worst of all, each morning after her mother leaves for work, Momo hears strange mumblings coming from the attic of their home. Annoyed by these creepy goings-on and her mother’s refusal to believe them, Momo embarks on a strange and supernatural adventure to discover the source of the mischief, which leads her to a trio of troublesome imps: the flatulent lizard Kawa, the childlike Mame and their hulking ogre leader Iwa. Momo also learns that her visit to the island is in some way connected to her father’s mysterious letter.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016
Director: Hiroyuki Okiura
Screenwriter: Hiroyuki Okiura
Cast: Daizaburo Arakawa (Kazuo Miyaura (voice)), Frank Ashmore (Great Uncle (voice)), Bob Bergen (Mame (voice)), Kota Fuji (Yota (voice)), Kanoa Goo (Yota (voice)), Katsuki Hashimoto (Umi (voice)), Mia Sinclair Jenness (Umi (voice)), Karen Miyama (Momo Miyaura (voice)), Yuichi Nagashima (Mame (voice)), Toshiyuki Nishida (Iwa (voice)), Takeo Ogawa (Koichi (voice)), Amanda Pace (Momo Miyaura (voice)), Yoshida Sakaguchi (Great Uncle (voice)), Philece Sampler (Great Auntie (voice)), Stephanie Sheh (Ikuko Miyaura (voice)), Dana Snyder (Kawa (voice)), Ikuko Tani (Great Auntie (voice)), Fred Tatasciore (Iwa (voice)), Kirk Thornton (Kazuo Miyaura (voice)), Koichi Yamadera (Kawa (voice)), Yuka (Ikuko Miyaura (voice)), Rick Zieff (Koichi (voice))
Runtime: 120 mins
OUR A LETTER TO MOMO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
A Letter To Momo is a Japanese animated feature, produced by Production I.G. and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. It is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
A Letter To Momo is a beautiful story and very true-to-life in it’s character portrayal and relationship aspects. This then melds with the fantastic and supernatural as Momo meets her ‘guardian angels’ who have taken unique forms from an old comic she was reading.
Shocking and hilarious moments ensue as she tries to deal with an unreal situation on top her own emotional ordeals after the death of her father and sudden move to a new home.
As we settle into life at the same time as Momo we experience childhood again and feel her bashfulness as her mother tries to force a friendship with local children (only to embarrass Momo) and relive all of the typical moments of childhood.
The real stirring begins when we learn what has brought Momo and her mother to this new life and how deeply the impacts of recent tragedy still play on this child’s heart and mind. The natural and ‘everyday’ way that the storytelling works is something the director and writers should be commended for.
The characters are brilliant – the humans are believable and ‘true’, while the otherworldly are fantastic and engaging and lovable despite their mischief.
One cannot help but care for Momo and want the best for her in each situation. A few moments I wanted to cry for the emotional jolts and later again for the pure joy and enjoyment I took from this movie.
As usual, I watched the production in the original Japanese which I think is an absolute must for this movie. The portrayals are true for each character and not ‘hightened’ like mass media anime. This is a real character piece with honest emotion and performances which I think would be harmed by dubbing over language and mannerisms of an entirely different culture.
The honesty in which it is played makes for a unique and touching experience.
The production overall was, in a word: beautiful.
The unique style, much different than the usual anime ‘manga style’ adds to the believability and draws the viewer more deeply into the story. The production staff have made every effort to bring the audience into the story.
Beautifully painted backdrops, realistic characters and a realistic sense of movement in the animation show just how great the thought and effort has been in the making of this film. The simpler character style and painting creates a more realistic look than expected, with the more predictable and fantastic stuff left for the supernatural figures.
Great direction and storytelling has paid-off for a highly rewarding and encapsulating viewing experience.
This is a great DVD from Madman, which includes Featurettes on the making of the production (which is really great to watch to see how this splendorous movie came to life from concept to completion).
Also included are an art gallery, test clips and trailers. All of these make for a value-packed DVD and an intensely enjoyable and uplifting experience which has quickly become one of my favourite movies.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Black Butler: Book Of Murder reviews: Nil.
Summary: As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 23rd July 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: 3rd August 2016
Director: Sam Liu
Screenwriter: Brian Azzarello, Bob Kane (characters), Bill Finger (characters), Jerry Robinson (characters), Brian Bolland (graphic novel), Alan Moore (graphic novel)
Cast: Kevin Conroy (Batman/Bruce Wayne (voice)), John DiMaggio (Francesco (voice)), Robin Atkin Downes (Detective Bullock (voice)), Brian George (Alfred (voice)), Mark Hamill (The Joker (voice)), JP Karliak (Reese (voice)), Andrew Kishino (Murray (voice)), Nolan North (Mitch (voice)), Maury Sterling (Paris (voice)), Tara Strong (Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (voice)), Anna Vocino (Jeannie (voice)), Rick D. Wasserman (Maroni (voice)), Ray Wise (Commissioner Gordon (voice)),
Runtime: 76 mins
OUR BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Few movie/television franchises have evolved as much as Batman has over the years. For those of us older enough we grew up watching the campy Adam West led series that saw Batman’s violence limited to ‘POW’ and ‘KAPOW’ being placed on the screen as Batman almost playfully put down his enemies. For anyone that had never read the original Batman comics and graphic novels there was no hint at all at just how dark this series could be. Tim Burton touched on it with ‘Batman’ and ‘Batman Returns’ while Christopher Nolan fully embraced with his Batman trilogy. Now however comes what is possibly the darkest ‘Batman’ adaption to ever grace our screens – the animated cinematic event that is ‘Batman: The Killing Joke.’
Loosely based on the Brian Bolland/Alan Moore graphic novel of the same name ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ sees the successful duo of Batman/Bruce Wayne (voiced by Kevin Conroy – ‘The Office’) and Batgirl/Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong – ‘Ice Age’) pretty much keeping Gotham City crime free. But things sour when their relationship turns sexual and it seems to Barbara that Bruce still wants to treat her like a child. As she decides to quit the Batgirl role both her and her father, Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise – ‘RoboCop’), are attacked by The Joker (Mark Hamill – ‘Star Wars’) who is determined to prove that anyone can break the way he did.
Anyone who is expecting that ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is aimed at children because of the fact that it is animated is in for a very rude shock indeed. I say that because those have read the graphic novel know that the treatment that Barbara and Commissioner Gordon receives from The Joker is extremely violent and adult orientated and here director Sam Liu (‘Green Lantern: The Animated Series’) doesn’t hold back. And while Liu doesn’t tone things done ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ is far from the perfect film.
Liu and his screenwriter, Brian Azzarello (‘Batman: Gotham Knight’) actually do a pretty good job making this a Joker origins story and while they produce a great insight into how the Joker ended up the way he did and what he is capable of doing there are also weaknesses in the plot. The opening scenes which show Batgirl and Batman trying to bring down Paris Franz (Maury Sterling – ‘The A-Team’) are massively too long. As a film this should be a Joker origins story but having a whole early sub-plot of having Paris develop a crush on Batgirl before the Joker is even properly introduced makes the film feel clumsy and awkward as it suddenly switches from being a Batgirl movie to a Joker movie… not a great move when you know what the Joker does to her here. It’s also a weird thing to say about a film that only runs for 76 minutes but that added Batgirl story makes the film seem over-long.
Perhaps the worst crime though that ‘Batman: The Killing’ commits though is its rushed ending. Liu does a great job setting up what appears like it is going to be an epic battle between Batman and The Joker after Joker has tortured Commissioner Gordon in an old fairground. But alas the battle is never as epic as you expect it to be and the ending is just ever awkward as you see Batman and Joker laughing together… something you would never expect to see when you know what Joker has just done to Batgirl. Anyone that knows Batman would know that this would never be his response to such an act and it feels dangerously out of place here.
The darkness of ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ does ring out the best in its voice cast. Anyway who says that Mark Hamill has had a ‘nothing’ career since ‘Star Wars’ will be silenced by his eerie and manic portrayal of The Joker while Kevin Conroy is his typical smooth self voicing Batman. The other star here is Tara Strong who gets the benefit from the added Batgirl storyline and she reveals herself to be one voice artist who really knows how to get emotion out of her voice.
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ does have its weaknesses but they are somewhat overcome by the fact that this is one of the darkest Batman stories that we have ever seen on the big screen. While it may be animated it certainly doesn’t lessen the impact of the darker scenes and the filmmakers behind it need to be congratulated for not toning it down. Well worth a look if you are a hardened Batman fan.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Batman: The Killing Joke reviews: Nil.
Summary: A mother unexpectedly meets her son’s fiancée at a villa in Sicily and gets to know her as she waits for her son to arrive.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 30th June 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: Italy, France
Director: Piero Messina
Screenwriter: Giacomo Bendotti, Ilaria Macchia, Andrea Paolo Massara, Piero Messina, Luigi Pirandello (play)
Cast: Giovanni Anzaldo (Giuseppe), Juliette Binoche (Anna), Giorgio Colangeli (Pietro), Lou de Laage (Jeanna), Domenico Diele (Girogio), Antonio Folletto (Paolo), Corinna Locastro (Rosa)
Runtime: 110 mins
OUR THE WAIT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The first thing that hits you about ‘The Wait’ is that it is visually spectacular. The opening scene sees Massina take a leaf out of Australian filmmaker Jim Stamatakos’ playbook as he shows the audience a very visual look of mourners paying respects at Guiseppe’s funeral. This style of filmmaking is continued throughout the film as Massina will suddenly focus on things such as a piece of stitching hanging from a chair, that most other directors would completely miss. As a result some audience members will say that ‘The Wait’ drags along… but I dare to differ.
Massina’s style of filmmaking only makes this film even more suspenseful. As the film goes along the audience will find themselves waiting for Jeanne to pick up on a clue that Guiseppe is dead or eagerly wait for Anna to breakdown and finally bury the charade. At times during the film you even find yourself wondering whether or not Guisippe is dead… is his mother simply trying to hid the fact that he doesn’t want to see Jeanne. There is also the fact that this style of slow , drawn out filmmaking also matches the long, hot days that the characters are enduring.
Aside from the obvious suspense surrounding whether or not Anna will tell Jeanne what has happened or not the audience also find themselves drawn into a number of subplots including one that particularly suspenseful walk through the Italian countryside where you are left wondering whether or not the naive Jeanne is about to be attacked by two men she has just befriended at the lake. In a piece of cinematic brilliance Massina allows the whole thing to play out with looks between the characters and doesn’t rely on dialogue to raise the suspense.
In a lot of ways Massina’s style of filmmaking is very anti-Hollywood. He doesn’t spell everything out for his audience, instead he will have long scenes of no dialogue between the characters as they discover something new or are showing emotion or he’ll let the story move along through voice mails… but in an artistic way. The one thing I never found though was that ‘The Wait’ bored me. No matter how long a silent scene went for Massina’s amazing way he captured the visuals kept me totally intrigued to the screen. Even watching a fire-fighting helicopter pick up water from a lake seems strangely poetic when brought to the audience by Massina and his cinematographer, Francesco Di Giacomo (‘The Eternal City’)
As usual Juliette Binoche shines in an artistic film. She relishes on scenes where she has no dialogue and is forced to let her emotions be shown with looks and expressions… to be honest if you loved her in ‘The Clouds Of Sils Maria’ then you are going to be equally impressed here. She is also well supported by young Lou de Laage who announces herself as an actress that is set to take European cinema by storm. With her beautiful looks and brilliant acting skills… the world is hers.
To me ‘The Wait’ is a beautifully shot Italian film that makes me eagerly await for Piero Messina’s next film. His style his visually impressive and he can tell a story in a way that very few filmmakers can. ‘The Wait’ might be slow at times, but it is certainly far from a disappointment.
Summary: As the worst opera singer in the world, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) prepares to take her career to dizzying new heights a young pianist, Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) finds himself swept up into the world of lies that Florence’s hsuband , St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), has set up in order to protect her feelings.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 5th May 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United Kingdom, France
Director: Stephen Frears
Screenwriter: Nicholas Martin
Cast: Nina Arianda (Agnes Stark), Mark Arnold (Cole Porter), Richard Bevan (Stubbs), Dar Dash (Antonio), Carl Davis (Orlando Adams), Paola Dionisotti (Baroness Le Feyre), Rebecca Ferguson (Kathleen), Aida Garifullina (Lily Pons), Hugh Grant (St Clair Bayfield), David Haig (Carlo Edwards), Simon Helberg (Cosme McMoon), Tony Honickberg (Mr. Levi), John Kavanagh (Arturo Toscanini), James Sobol Kelly (Edgar), Elliot Levey (Edgar Booth Cunningham Jr.), Greg Lockett (Chuck), Nat Luurtsema (Tallulah Bankhead), Danny Mahoney (Clifford B Thornton III), Simon Markson (Charlie), Christian McKay (Earl Wilson), David Menkin (Carlton Smith), David Mills (Augustus Corbin), Georgina Morton (Pearl), Josh O’Connor (Donaghy), Sid Phoenix (Corporal Jones), Jonathan Plowright (Ernest Ziegler), Phillp Rosch (Archie), Liza Ross (Mrs. EE Paterson), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins),
Runtime: 110 mins
OUR FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The world of cinema can be a strange, strange place. Whenever a film comes out I hear people talking about what demographic the film will appeal to, whether it will appeal to men or women etc. I’ve never really taken much notice of it because when it comes to films my tastes are pretty varied. While I love my horror and science-fiction I can also settle down and watch a movie meant for kids, like Monster’s Inc. and enjoy it as well. The same with movies meant for older people, take 45 Years for an example, while some said it was for older people I enjoyed it to the point where it has been one of my favourite films of this year.
But now comes a film that is making me re-think whether some films are meant for different ages, and that film is Florence Foster Jenkins. Now I’m not going to sit here and say I hated the film because I didn’t. For me it was just a mediocre film, it didn’t bore me but it didn’t exactly have me labelling it a classic either. What did surprise me was the comedy aspect of the film. Sure the first couple of times Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) warbled horribly as Florence Foster Jenkins I chuckled, but there were some older members of the audience I was in who laughed themselves stupid every time Florence attempted to sing. Yes it really did have that kind of effect on the older audience.
So why was Streep singing so badly off key? Because in this film she plays Florence Foster Jenkins, a real life character who during the 1940s made a name for herself for literally being a bad singer. And while anyone that every heard her would know she was a dreadful singer she was spared those details by the fact that her husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant – Notting Hill) did everything in his power to make sure she never found out the truth. That included paying music critics and making sure anyone who ever laughed during her performances was quickly turfed out of the venue.
During the film we see Florence start off at a small level of singing for small groups of people but as she plans to take her career even further, to the point of recording a single and performing on bigger stages, she decides to team up with a young piano player named Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg – The Big Bang Theory) who quickly finds himself having to get used to St Clair and Florence’s web of lies.
As far as the film goes despite being very light hearted in style in does get to you emotionally. Such is the power of director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and screenwriter Nicholas Martin’s (Midsomer Murders) style of filmmaking that many of the scenes of the ailing Florence really do start to get you, so much so that you do want her to be happy. That style of filmmaking also raises suspense at times when you wonder how some people will be react to Florence’s singing and how their reaction will affect her.
It is those kinds of scenes that make this film well worth watching but there are also some downsides to Florence Foster Jenkins as well, and those largely centre around a huge issue in the casting. As you would expect from a film like this Meryl Streep puts in a brilliant emotionally driven performance and while Hugh Grant does match her remarkable well for me it felt like he was miscast in the role of Florence’s husband. While the wardrobe department have done all they can to ‘age’ Grant for the role it does come across as very creepy matching at times during the film… yes almost as creepy as the pairing of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery in Entrapment. Having said that though Grant does put in a good and charming performance, he’s just in a role that he should never have been cast in.
The other actor who really impresses in this film is Simon Helberg who most people will know as Howard Wolowitz on the successful comedy series The Big Bang Theory. Herlberg has shown throughout his television career that he has impeccable comedic timing and he certainly brings that to his character here – the socially awkward and very innocent McMoon. To his credit Helberg not only matches Streep and Grant’s performances but sometimes even manages to steal the limelight with his creative facial expressions.
Maybe I didn’t find Florence Foster Jenkins as funny as some of the other people screening that I was in but I still found it a heartfelt film that grows on you the longer it goes on.
Summary: The manager of a pancake stall finds himself confronted with an odd but sympathetic elderly woman looking for work. A taste of her homemade bean jelly convinces him to hire her, which starts a relationship that is about much more than just street food.
This gentle and delicate little drama from Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2016, and is now gaining a limited theatrical release. It is a deceptively charming little film that will win audiences over. The title itself An is the Japanese word for a sweet red bean paste which is one of the key ingredients of the film.
Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase, from Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, etc) runs a little pancake stall on the street selling dorayaki. A delicacy in Japan, dorayaki is essentially a pancake consisting of two small cookies filled with a sweet bean sauce. Business is rather slow until Tokue (veteran Kirin Kiki, fromLike Father, Like Son, etc), an elderly woman, applies for a job as an assistant cook. She is hired despite her crippled hands and her age. She makes her own sweet bean sauce from scratch, but it proves such a treat that soon customers are flocking to the small stand. Both have unhappy pasts and secrets, but when Tohue shares her recipe with Sentaro she helps him rediscover life. Shy local schoolgirl Wakana (newcomer Kyara Uchida) is another outsider who hangs around the shop. Together the trio bond over their love of dorayaki and their friendship changes the direction of their lives.
An (or Sweet Bean as it is known in some territories) is based on a novel written by Durian Sukegawa, and is arguably Kawase’s most accessible film. This is a low-key heartfelt and bittersweet film that centres around themes of tradition, food, friendship, loneliness, pain, secrets and second chances. Like Tokue’s unhurried approach to making her bean sauce recipe, Kawase’s direction is leisurely and sensitive. She takes her time over a lengthy sequence in which Tokue patiently makes her bean sauce.
However, the slow pace gives audiences ample time to get to know the characters and soak up the atmosphere. Kawase also suffuses the film with a warmth and gentle humour and a sentimental nature. The film’s final sequence blatantly tugs at the heartstrings.
The film is anchored by the remarkable performance of veteran actress Kiki, who brings grace and dignity to her role. Nagase brings a quietly unassuming quality to his performance as Sentaro.
An has been beautifully shot by first time cinematographer Shigeki Akiyama who gives the film an almost poetic quality. The colourful Japanese cherry blossoms which also feature prominently in the film become a potent symbol of the fleetingness of life, and the importance of seizing the moment and living in it.
An is another fine example of that subgenre of food porn cinema like Big Night, Babette’s Feast, etc, that will have audiences leaving the cinema feeling quite hungry and ready for a bite of something simple.
Summary: A father named Roy (Michael Shannon) goes on the run with his son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), after the boy’s special powers attracts the attention of a cult who believes he delivers messages from God and also the CIA.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 21st April 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Jeff Nichols
Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Lynn Berry (herself), Sean Bridgers (Fredrick), Kerry Cahill (Linda), Bill Camp (Doak), Adam Driver (Sevier), Kirsten Dunst (Sarah Tomlin), Joel Edgerton (Lucas), Lucy Faust (Caroline), Sharon Garrison (Jane Adams), Dana Gourrier (Sharon Davison), Nancy Grace (herself), Scott Haze (Levi), David Jensen (Elden), Allison King (Hannah), Sharon Landry (Merrianne), Jaeden Lieberher (Alton Meyer), Michael Shannon (Roy), Sam Shepard (Calvin Meyer), Paul Sparks (Agent Miller)
Runtime: 112 mins
OUR MIDNIGHT SPECIAL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Jeff Nichols has really announced himself as one of the best modern day filmmakers over the past few years. To be honest Nichols is yet to make a bad film, and his features which have included Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud have been gems that have regularly made my Top Ten films lists of the years they were released. Hell, I would go as far as to say that Mud is right up there as one of the best modern day films made. For that reason alone when I heard that his new film, Midnight Special, was a dark edged sci-fi that just happened to star two of my favourite actors, Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, I was just as excited as I was about the release of Captain America: Civil War or Batman vs Superman.
Midnight Special begins with Roy (Michael Shannon – Man Of Steel) on the run from the law after he and his childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton – The Gift) snatched his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent) from a cult where it is expected that Alton and his supernatural gifts will continue to be the cult’s bridge between themselves and God.
But as Roy and Lucas rush to get Alton first of all to his mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia), and then to the co-ordinates that he has been sent, the journey is made dangerous by the fact that they are pursued by henchmen sent by cult leader, Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepherd – Mud) and law enforcement agencies led by Sevier (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Then there is the fact that Alton’s supernatural powers seem to be changing all the time, sometimes with catastrophic results.
There is no doubt that Midnight Special is going to frustrate some audience members. The film begins with an amazing opening as Nichols has the courage not to let the audience be able to figure out too much. In fact for the first 20-30 minutes you are led to believe that Alton has been kidnapped and you have absolutely no idea who Lucas is. The film keeps you completely in the dark to key information and that just adds to the suspense as you try to piece everything together like a jigsaw puzzle. That works remarkable well for the beginning of the film but what is annoying is when Nichols decides to do the same thing with the ending the film. There are so many unanswered questions in the end that it almost drives you crazy. In fact there are so many things left open that this is the one time I wouldn’t be angry if they decided to make a sequel to the film just to finish it off.
For the most part though Midnight Special works sensationally well. The way the film drifts from the cult storyline to a road-thriller shows that Nichols has the maturity to be a filmmaker that doesn’t shy away from throwing all the traditional filmmaking styles right out the window to get his story across. The fact that Nichols also manages to mix tropes from road trip and thriller movies into a film that ends up being a sci-fi also shows why he is one of the most exciting filmmakers of the modern generation.
Nichols’ well written screenplay also allows his cast to shine. As you would expect Edgerton and Shannon at their usual brilliant best while the film also allows Kirsten Dunst to remind audiences that she is still an actress who can really deliver when she is given the right material to work with. The script also lets Adam Driver show those who have been critical since his performance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens just how good he has always been in the indie filmmaking society. But the star here is clearly Jaeden Lieberther who like he did in the Bill Murray film St. Vincent shows the world how is destined to become one of the finest actors Hollywood has ever seen.
Midnight Special is the kind of film that has the potential to frustrate cinema goers who like a simple linear story, but if you like your sci-fi a little left of centre then you are going to adore this film. In fact this is the kind of movie that you’ll go to see and then urge your friends to see because you’ve loved it so much. Sure Midnight Special is not as good as Nichols’ previous films but it is still well worth a look.
Summary: As Mother’s Day rapidly approaches various people find themselves going through different stages of life. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) finds that her ex-husband’s suprise is nothing like she expected, Miranda (Julia Roberts) decides to keep impressing her fans and ignore the fact the day is near, Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) find themselves having to hide their lives from their parents, Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) prepares to help his daughters through their first Mother’s Day after the death of their mother while Kristin (Britt Robertson) finds it impossible to accept Zack’s (Jack Whitehall) marriage proposal as she heads into her first Mother’s Day.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th April 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Garry Marshall
Screenwriter: Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker
Cast: Jennifer Aniston (Sandy), Ella Anderson (Vicky), Brittany Belt (Beth Anne), Ayden Bivek (Tanner), Charly Briggs (Baby Katie Zim), Remy Briggs (Baby Katie Zim), Caleb Brown (Mikey), Joseph Leo Bwarie (Principal Bobby Lee), Jesse Case (Rachel), Sarah Chalke (Gabi), Hector Elizondo (Lance Wallace), Cameron Esposito (Max), Adam Freeman (HSN Host Adam Freeman), Gary Friedkin (Shorty), Jennifer Garner (2nd Lt. Dana Barton), Lisa Roberts Gillian (Assistant Betty), Adreana Gonzalez (Publicist Inez), Suzanne Haring (Bella the Balloon Lady), Tom Hines (Brady), Kate Hudson (Jesse), Mia Jackson (herself), Genevieve Joy (herself), Beth Kennedy (Gwenda), Siena LaGambina (Paige), Kate Linder (Dog Walker Gigi), Loni Love (Kimberly), Jon Lovitz (Wally Burn), Natalie Machado (Soccer Referee Lisa), Aasif Mandvi (Russell), Penny Marshall (Narrator), Sam Marshall (Sam), Margo Martindale (Flo), Drew Matthews (Beanzie), Shay Mitchell (Tina), Ariana Neal (Evette), Anoush NeVart (Sonia), Timothy Olyphant (Henry), Robert Pine (Earl), Julia Roberts (Miranda), Britt Robertson (Kristin), Graydon Russell (Tommy), Gianna Simone (Val), Brandon Spink (Peter), Jason Sudeikis (Bradley), Sandra Taylor (Lexy), Owen Vaccaro (Charlie), Paul Vogt (Tiny), Matthew Walker (Randy The Clown), Lucy Walsh (Jody), David Wedil (Dog Walker Leah), Jack Whitehall (Zack)
Runtime: 118 mins
OUR MOTHER’S DAY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Over the past few years Garry Marshall’s movies haven’t always been easy to watch. The man who once brought as classic television shows like Happy Days and The Odd Couple has turned to a lazy style of filmmaking which has seen him use the quantity of stars to get people into the cinema rather than the quality of the film. The result has been films like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day which while have had star power but haven’t exactly been the most captivating films to watch.
It was because of that style of filmmaking that has meant that Mother’s Day has virtually been released in Australia with very little fanfare at all, a surprise when you realise that it stars three regular box office winners – Jennifer Aniston (We’re The Millers), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman) and Kate Hudson (Almost Famous). If you are one of those people that have been a little bit worried about going to see Mother’s Day you can relax because this is one of Marshall’s better modern day films.
The film centres around a number of characters as Mother’s Day rapidly approaches. There is Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke – Scrubs) who haven’t seen their parents in years because of their secret lives they know that their parents would not approve them. There is also Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) who is left reeling after she discovers that her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant – Hitman) has just re-married the much younger Tina (Shay Mitchell – Pretty Little Liars) which means her children know have a second mother. Then there is Bradley (Jason Sudeikis – Horrible Bosses) who has been left trying to bring up his daughters after the death of his mother while Zack (Jack Whitehall – Fresh Meat) struggles to comprehend why the mother of his daughter, Kristin (Britt Robertson – The Longest Ride) refuses to marry him. Last but not least there is Miranda (Julia Roberts), the television show host that brings the ensemble all together.
After watching Mother’s Day i found myself sitting down and going over the film like a crime scene. Why did Mother’s Day work so well when Marshall’s previous films have been such lame ducks. The first thing I realised was the fact that Mother’s Day seems to flow a lot smoother than the previously mentioned films. Some of the links between characters in the other films have been pretty lame where as in Mother’s Day the relationships are not only believable but help the film’s storyline to move along rather than get in the way of it.
There also seems to be a lot more heart and humor in the film this time around which in the end makes the whole film seem a whole lot more realistic. While the story revolving around Bradley might not be as well presented as the similar story in Steve Carrell’s Dan In Real Life Sudeikis does manage to mix comedy with some truly emotional scenes. Likewise Sarah Chalke and Kate Hudson brilliantly portray two sisters sadly forced to live secret lives despite the fact they live in modern times. Like Sudeikis the two manage to amazingly combine comedy with some scenes that are powerful enough to really upset anybody who has had similar things happen in their lives.
Perhaps the biggest breath of fresh air in Mother’s Day are the acting performances of Britt Robertson and Jack Whitehall. Whitehall largely comes from a comedy background and while he plays a stand-up comedian in Mother’s Day he shows a new side to his talents by also expertly portraying a lot of the more emotional scenes that he shares with Britt Robertson who is almost unrecognisable compared to the roles that she has recently played in Tomorrowland and The Longest Ride.
Marshall really does find the right mix of comedy and drama and manages to make Mother’s Day a credible film that is a joy to watch. This is a film that you can easily become emotionally involved with and with great acting performances from the likes of Aniston, Hudson and Sarah Chalke this is actually a film that you won’t groan at if someone in your family decides that want to watch it every Mother’s Day. Garry Marshall take a bow you have finally learnt how to make a good ensemble film.
Mother’s Day is the third film in director Garry Marshall’s unofficial trilogy based around Hallmark-like “special events” holidays, and it follows the bland template established by the romcom Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. All three films are multi-character narratives with interwoven storylines and a star studded ensemble cast in which a bevy of A-listers vie for screen time. In terms of quality thoughMother’s Day falls somewhere between the superior Valentine’s Day and the lacklustre New Year’s Eve, which seem a little contrived by comparison.
Given the title it’s not surprising that all of the narrative strands here revolve around different concepts of motherhood, maternal responsibilities, complex mother and child relationships, and the daily struggles of motherhood. The formulaic script has been written by four writers including Anya Kochoff Romano (Monster-in-Law) and three first time screenwriters in actor turned writer Tom Hines (a regular in many of Marshall’s films), Lily Hollander, and Matthew Walker, which accounts for a slight unevenness in tone at times.
The film is set in Atlanta and centres around a number of middle class women during the days leading up to the titular celebration day.
Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke, from Scrubs, etc) live next to each other, and they haven’t seen their parents for a couple of years, mainly because they fear that their judgemental mother (Margot Martindale) will disapprove of their lifestyle choices. Jesse has married Russell (Aasif Mandvi), a doctor of Indian descent with whom she has a young son, while Gabi is gay and married to her girlfriend Max (Cameron Esposito). But when their parents unexpectedly stop by for a surprise visit the scene is set for some emotional upheavals and broad racist humour before a reconciliation can be affected.
Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is divorced from her husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant, from tv’s Justified, etc), but they seem to share a good relationship. But then Sandy is shocked to learn that he has married the much younger Tina (Shay Mitchell, from Pretty Little Liars, etc). She is a little jealous and even bitter at having to share her two sons with their new stepmother who is barely out of puberty herself.
Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is a physical trainer still recovering from the death of his wife (a cameo from Jennifer Garner), a soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan a year ago. He is something of a mister mum, trying to raise his two daughters, but struggling to keep it all together. Several of the women at the gym where he works are trying to fix him up with a suitable partner. But as Mother’s Day approaches, Bradley is not sure how to handle his emotions.
Zack (Jack Whitehall) works in a bar but is also an aspiring stand up comic. He wants to marry his girlfriend Kristin (Britt Robertson, from The Last Ride, etc), who is the mother of his young daughter. But Kristin was adopted as a child and is still suffering from some abandonment issues. She is reluctant to marry him until she can come to terms with who she is.
The link that draws all these various characters together is Miranda (Julia Roberts), the popular host of a television home shopping network program and celebrity author.
The cast do what they can with their at times cliched characters. Aniston is a familiar figure in romcoms, and fittingly most of the best moments and best lines are given to her character. She manages to bring the material alive whenever she is on screen. Hector Elizondo, who has appeared in all of Marshall’s films, has a small role here as Miranda’s increasingly exasperated manager.
This is surprisingly lazy filmmaking from veteran Marshall, who of course gave us such classic television sitcoms as Happy Days, Mork And Mindy and The Odd Couple, and big screen romantic comedies like the classic Pretty Woman. Mother’s Day is suffused with his trademark mix of humour and warmth. Here he juggles his large cast and multi story lines deftly enough, and gives us a mix of slapstick humour mixed with sentimentality that sometimes slips into mawkishness.