We Brought a Zoo

Another film based around true events. This story is based on Dartmoor Zoo in the UK and the Mee family who brought the zoo in 2006 in an attempt to refurbish and reopen it to the public.

Hollywood tends to have a history of taking true stories and twisting them for their own ends, ether to make the film more profitable or create a more interesting or marketable story for the American public. In the case of We Brought a Zoo this seems to be the case. They have changed a few key details such as location switching it to California and not mentioning the fact that originally the zoo was brought not just by Benjamin but one of his brothers their mother whose idea it was to begin with. If you start to change the details of a true story that story tends to suffer for it and you begin to lose its heart and soul.

Thankfully in this case it is still a watchable film but it does seem to suffer slightly the story arcs around the relationship between Benjamin Mee and His son as he struggles to come to terms with being a single father due to the death of his wife as well as the children dealing with the loss of their mother. So he decides to move house and look for somewhere quite in a country setting to start over. He finds the perfect house but with only one problem there is a slight catch it comes with a zoo attached and if he was to buy the property he will become legally responsible to care for the animals.

With a predictable story arc and no outstanding performances along with the tampering with the original story have had its effect on the film. I think there was a much more interesting story to tell here but they went in a different direction. Credit where it is due I have to say the director Cameron Crowe has done a good job still creating a reasonably enjoyable film. Matt Daemon and Scarlett Johanson performance are nothing special but it all comes together and it is quite enjoyable in the end and you are willing them to successes.

Overall I can not forgive the embellishments, changes and misrepresentations of the true story even if they are endorsed by the Mee family themselves I wanted to see the real story and that’s not what we got, although Cameron Crowe has created a heartwarming yet predictable story from this twisted truth. If you can forgive the embellishments or forget them entirely you will enjoy this film much more than I did.

 

Hugo

Even though I have never paid much attention to film awards I cant help but getting dragged in to watching some of these films even if I’m not sure about them I have to find out what all the fuss is about.

I never sought this film out until it got so much attention in the recent awards. The trailers where underwhelming and there did not seem to be a very big premise to the film. The reality is I did not think this was worth watching.

Hugo a film about a young boy, who recently through a tragedy has lost his father and became an orphan. He has been sent to live with his alcoholic uncle. Living and working inside the stations walls trying to fix a broken automaton (a mechanical man) he had been given by his father. He has worked hard scrounging and even stealing parts to fix it but needs a special key to operate it. This leads to a chance encounter with Ben Kingsley’s character and his adventure seeking god-daughter. They have a key connection that will lead to the discovery of the automatons secrets.

With Martin Scorsese Directing and a stellar cast this film should be a complete banker but unfortunately I think it has been let down by some weak performances from the supporting actors and the irrelevant side stories with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character not bringing too much to the film although he is still funny I don’t think the role was that well suited to his talents.

The main story including the ending is very heart warming and Chloe Grace Moretz performance was brilliant. That along with the Ben Kingsley who is never a disappointment again plays his role beautifully. I have to remind myself this is a family film so keeping that in mind I can forgive some of the simplistic story telling and enjoy this as the film its meant to be for a family and for that its very good. For me as an adult I could have not done with some of the side elements of the film overall worth a watch especially if you want to sit down and watch with your family this film will have something for everyone.

Moneyball

I have been looking forward to watching this film for a while and although I‘m not a baseball fan I have always enjoyed films based around sport. I have always seen true stories usually make the best films as the characters are easier to relate to and you just can’t make some of these stories up. The real world often troughs up some of the best stories that writers can only dream of creating.

This true to life story is based around Billy Beane who is the general manager of the Oakland A’s team. The team struggling with little money and loosing their best players to the big teams who will pay them substantially more money.

Billy comes across Peter Brand who has a theory that the way Baseball teams are picked and play the game is completely wrong and looks at it in a much more statistical way and he convinces Billy Beane that they can build not just a successful team but a championship winning team out of his very small budget.

I really like the film it has a great balance to it following Billys struggles with being separated from his daughter because of the split from his wife as well as the relationship and struggles between himself along with Peter Brand against the rest of the management of the Oakland A’s who are very old school and don’t trust or believe that Peters new methods will work. Brad Pitt’s performance is average and there is no stand out performance in the film it all just clicks together nicely. A great a feel good film well worth watching.

Frost/Nixon

Review – Frost/Nixon 

I found my self-watching Frost/Nixon last night and to be honest I was not really in the right frame of mind for a film about a political interview, yet I have always been intrigued by the Watergate scandal and was interested to learn more. The only previous knowledge on the subject was from watching All The Presidents Men (1976).

I was surprised at the documentary style of the film, they would cut to interviews throughout the film and I thought this broke up what was an interesting story. From the outset I don’t think this worked they should have let the story speak for itself without having to cut to the interviews.

The problem is I don’t think there was much of a story to tell. The interviews at the time where obviously a huge historic event but dramatically recreating a Television interview for a film did not work well for me and the struggles of David Frost to get the production off the ground was not delved into deeply enough for it to play any substantial roll in the film.

Where the film was probably most interesting was the off camera relationship between David frost and Richard Nixon during the interviews themselves. This gave us an incite into the man himself Richard Nixon more than the interviews themselves probably have. He certainly did deserved his nickname tricky dickey.

My favorite aspect of the film had to be Frank Langella performance of the ailing Nixon. I have often thought and discussed is imitation of a real life person on screen acting or just that imitation, I’m of the opinion that its probably more difficult to study someone with such detail to get there accent spot on and the mannerisms right than it is to be given a character that you can mould to fit your needs as an actor. At certain points you forget your watching a film and you think your actually watching Richard Nixon himself Frank Langells’s performance was at times immense and mesmerizing.

The films production values, casting was spot on Ron Howard is making a habit of making great movies. This is not his best work by a long way but is still an interesting watch.

Random Fact

Frank Langella who played Nixon Also Played skeletor in Master of the universe movie and he considers it one of his favorite rolls.

Quick thoughts on Stand By Me, Hereafter and Faster

 Over the last week I have watched a few films as I have promised this will be a full diary of all the films I watch these are the recent ones I have seen but have not felt the need to do a full review due to them ether being not worth the effort or just due to the fact I don’t have the time to review every film I see in full.

Stand By Me

It had been a long while since I had watched Stand By Me and maybe it was the expectation that came with not having seen the film in so long but it did not seem as good as I remember. Since its release it has moved into Hollywood legend due to the death of River Phoenix. The acting seemed a bit wooden, though the story of the coming of age tale of the young kids is as relevant today as it ever was. Weather its that child actors are getting better and more skilled over the years or just that the film seemed slightly dated. I still very much enjoyed watching it, although I just wish it were as if it was for the first time. Sometimes memories of films can be better than the actual film Itself.

Random Fact

The little fat kid went on to become the only stable a reasonably successful actor out of the lot.

Hereafter

I had not read anything about this film prior to watching it as I read the synopsis on the slip case its not the type of film I would have normally picked but I have an open mind especially when it comes to films, so I gave it a go with Clint Eastwood directing and Matt Daemon staring I was expecting at least a half decent film. What I actually got was one of the most below average films I have seen from Clint in a while, coming of the back of the recent successes this was a bitter disappoint.

Faster

Lastly I just finished watching faster with Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock the less I say about this film the better. I got so bored during this dry uninteresting film but no bother it will slip into distant memory with all the other below average films I cant remember.

Random Fact

Dwayne Johnson cannot act

Up In The Air

Review – Up In The Air

I just watched Up In The Air directed by Juno director Jason Reitman. George Clooney plays a character that has shut him off from the world, he spends most of his life in hotels and flying across the country firing people.

This seems like a depressing subject but the film very funny in places and has that same dry wit you would expect from the director of Juno and thank you for smoking. Even with the dry wit and the cancer joke yes there is even a cancer joke aside this film runs deep delving into subjects I was not expecting to from the start of the film as you see Cloony’s character start to question his life and why he separates himself from the rest of the world.

A very good film but it has not made me want to rush out and tell everyone they had to see it. When it was released it obtained rave reviews and nominated for numerous awards, I really can’t see why. As well as this Vera Farmiga was nominated for an Oscar for this film. Her performance was not bad in any way it was good solid performance but I don’t think the roll she played demanded a huge amount of work or effort on her part. Clooney was defiantly the stand out performance of the film but I cant actually remember the last film he was in that he didn’t outshine everyone else on screen… batman maybe?

Julie & Julia

 

Review – Julie & Julia

My girlfriend decided we should watch this after I said I was setting up a blog. She actually but it on the pad via my Love Film subscription while I was still setting up this webpage and have to admit the first 10 minutes my attention was more on the website rather than the film.

As the film continued I found myself paying less attention to the site and more not to the film but to Merlyn Steep. Now I have to admit I have never been a huge of hers… well so I thought. Maybe its just the fact I’m only twenty seven year’s old and most of the movies she appears in are probably not aimed at me or that I have not actually seen most of her films at all.

As I continue to watch and then start to realize as I am in fits of laughter from her performance that every film I had seen her in recently she was phenomenal. So there you have it non-Streep fan to fan in one evening.

The film is a true story of two people, Julia child a famous American food writer’s early life learning to cook in 1950’s France and Julie’s life set in the modern world stuck in a job she neither loves nor hates. They both are at crossroads in there life and both do not know what to do with them selves.

The main focus on the film is not on Childs but Julie a set in New York living in queens above a pizzeria all her friends are succeeding and she seems stuck. So she decides to start a blog and sets herself a chanllenge of cooking all of Julia’s recipes from her first and most famous book in all over 500 recipes in one year. The two stories unfold and show the different struggles of both trying to find there place in the world discovering that while they are cooking they are at there most happiest.

Although the main focus is on Julies cooking of Julia Child’s recipes it’s hard to get attached to the character well played as they are. Just because the story of child’s is much more interesting and played better by Streeps stand out performance in a other wise average cast. Amy Adams didn’t have much of a chance competing with the story of one of the greatest cook books ever written. And lets face it Julie Powel’s story is just about a blogger!

All round worth a watch just to see Meryl Streep in action, Who knew that she could be so funny.