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Film Review: New Year’s Eve

14 Jan

Image: movieposter.com

I know, I know, I’m a little slow off the mark with this one. But much as I wanted to see this film as soon as it came out, I struggled to find anyone who was willing to see it with me (let’s all pause briefly for a moment’s silence in honour of my pathetic life). In the end I went to the cinema with my younger brother, who probably wouldn’t be overly impressed if he knew that that fact had just been broadcast to everyone on the internet. He’d probably be even less impressed if I let on that he actually enjoyed it!

As did I, although not as much as I had expected to. New Year’s Eve lived up to my expectations of being an American version of my favourite holiday movie of all time, Love Actually. However, the fact that it was American counted against it, at least in the humour stakes, and for the same reason neither did the cast inspire me in the same way, although it was undoubtedly well-acted. I also felt that the film suffered due to the brevity of its time-scale (all of the events taking place on New Year’s Eve itself), which allowed less room for character development.

New Year’s Eve features a veritable ensemble of characters, with a variety of heart-warming stories and cutesy morals about the importance of love in our lives.  At the centre of it all is the Times Square ball drop, organised by Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank), who is understandably neurotic about the whole thing going according to plan. Across town, Laura (Katherine Heigl) is preparing to cater the Ahern Records Masquerade Ball, while also trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend, rock star Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi). Also in attendance at the ball are heir to the Ahern dynasty Sam (Josh Duhamel) and courier Paul (Zac Efron), who has won his tickets by helping Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) to tick off her lengthy list of New Year’s resolutions.

The other storylines are those of Hailey (Abigail Breslin) who is trying to shake off mother Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) in order to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square, cancer patient Stan (Robert De Niro) and the nurse (Halle Berry) who stays by his side, two expectant couples who compete to win a prize for the first baby born in the new year, and holiday hater Randy (Ashton Kutcher) who ends up stuck in an elevator with back-up singer Elise (Lea Michelle). What strikes me though is the way in which the lives of all of these characters are woven together in time for midnight, with a few surprises along the way.

It may not be the best film I’ve ever seen, nor even one of the best, but if you’re trying to prolong the holiday season just a little, or just looking for a feel-good film, New Year’s Eve could be worth a watch!

Film Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic

4 Jan

As a devoted fan of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I felt the familiar excitement mixed with hesitation when I sat down to watch Confessions of a Shopaholic film. Would this be an adaptation which stayed true to the book, or would it be nothing more than a dismal replica?

For the first twenty minutes or so, I struggled to enjoy the film, unhappy that my beloved characters had been uprooted and moved to New York. The main character, Becky Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) worked as well as a vapid American as a ditzy Englishwoman, but her best friend Suze (Krysten Ritter) irked me. She did not survive the Americanization well, becoming little more than a Becky-clone when stripped of her upper-class English persona. I found myself picking up on every little difference and omission (and believe me, there are many), and I thought that I wasn’t going to make it to the end of the film.

But then Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) appeared, and my worries melted away. Because he may not have been exactly the same Luke as he was in the books, but he was still perfect. From then on I was able to relax and enjoy the film, seeing that although the plot and the characters had been adapted for the screen, it was still at times laugh-out-loud funny, and surprisingly true to the spirit, if not the minute details, of the original.

The fashion references were also divine, and I lusted after a large proportion of Becky’s wardrobe, but what I really liked about Confessions of a Shopaholic was that this was fashion with morals. While many will have laughed at the ridiculous situations which Becky landed herself in through a combination of white lies and one too many store cards, many will also have sympathised with her plight, which highlights the very real dangers of overspending (although if mannequins ever come to life for you like they do for Becky you may want to consider visiting a doctor rather than a Shopaholics Anonymous class).

A (just slightly) exaggerated tale of love, friendship and shoes, Confessions of a Shopaholic is definitely a worthwhile watch – just don’t expect it to stick too closely to the book!

 

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

20 Jul

(This is a review, therefore references to events in the film will be made and if you haven’t seen it you are liable to be spoiled. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!)

Last week I saw the last Harry Potter film. Harry Potter being something which my friends and I grew up with, we naturally decided to go to the midnight showing on July 14th (we would have also gone to the world premiere in Trafalgar Square, were it not for WB’s ridiculous wristband policy and the fact that we weren’t quite dedicated enough to camp in the rain without a tent). The experience itself was fantastic: some people screamed, lots of people dressed up, and everyone applauded at the end. But once the hype had faded, what did we think of the film itself?

Reactions from my friends varied from “my childhood is now complete” to “I really don’t care about half a book”, but the most apt description I heard was that “it was a good film, if you ignore the book.”

This, in my opinion, is good advice when watching any of the films. No matter how close they stay to the films, there will always be changes made, scenes cut (and invariably the ones which you most wanted to see come alive on the screen), moments added for the sake of extra drama. If you go into the cinema determined not to enjoy the film unless it is a carbon copy of the book then, quite frankly, you’re wasting your money. And missing out on what could be a very enjoyable two hours.

The highlight of the film is, of course, the adult characters. Someone (and I’m afraid I really can’t be any more specific than that) once described the films as a club for veteran British actors, and it’s certainly these actors that make the films for me. In this film it was Alan Rickman who stole the show as Snape, although Maggie Smith as McGonagall came in a very close second. And of course Helena Bonham Carter (who I could write an essay about usually, so be grateful that she doesn’t appear more in this particular film) as Hermione-pretending-to-be-Bellatrix, along with Julie Walters, David Thewlis, and a whole host of others.

The younger cast members usually irritate me, but in this installment I found them less annoying than usual (although the scene in which Harry and Ginny are re-united did grate a little). Rupert Grint and Emma Watson managed to make their kiss look much less awkward than any of Daniel Radcliffe’s on-screen attempts, and Evanna Lynch sparkled as usual, managing to make Luna Lovegood even more dippy and endearing than in the books.

Although the plot has been adapted for the purposes of what can only be described as cinematic showing off (as anyone who has seen the part of the trailer in which Harry and Voldemort appear to fall off a building will know), on the whole it remains true to the books. Unfortunately, this includes the epilogue, the only redeeming feature of which is the comedy beards which all the men are now sporting. But in general it was a wonderful film, and a great conclusion that this particular chapter of my childhood.