100 Word Review – Experimenter (2015)

Whether or not you’ve ever heard of Stanley Milgram, this brilliant biopic is definitely worth your time.

Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) is a social psychologist whose experiments in the early 1960s may have been decried by some as unethical and immoral are still talked about today and focus on the obedience to deemed authority.

Written and directed by Michael Almereyda (Hamlet (2000), Nadja), it is insightfully told from the perspective of Milgram himself. Rather than a conventional drama, Almereyda uses archive footage, photos as backdrops and breaks the fourth wall regularly.

It is dark, engaging and thought provoking with truly educational elements.

 

100 Word Review – Seven Psychopaths (2012)

If I tell you this was written and directed by Martin McDonagh of In Bruges fame, that may give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect.

Starting Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish and Michael Pitt, it sits somewhere between comedy and killing spree.

Set in the criminal underbelly of LA and following a struggling screenwriter (Farrell) in a search , it is as bat shit crazy as you could hope for. Expect violence and dark humour from the outset and it

The moral? Don’t mess with a man’s shih tzu.

100 Word Review – Secretary (2002)

Adapted from Mary Gaitskill’s short story by Erin Cressida Wilson (Men Women and Children, The Girl on the Train), this film has accrued the kind of cult acclaim that Fifty Shades could only dream of.

Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a troubled young lady with self-harming tendencies when she starts working at a small law firm for the demanding Mr. Grey (James Spader).

With strong themes of sexuality and BDSM, this film is dark and erotic and really human. It’s not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, but it is beautifully, stylishly done and the two leads are perfection.

100 Word Review – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

Someone told me that if I’d seen the original trilogy and enjoyed it, I would like this film and in a way had already seen it. Having now seen it, I would agree.

The original cast is back for the continuation of the story thirty years after the Empire was destroyed by the rebels. Expect plenty of references to the original trilogy and director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8, Lost) does a wonderful job of combining the old and the new in a way that makes me very excited to see what comes next. Currently number 78 on IMDb’s top 250 films.

100 Word Review – The Departed (2006)

If the film that (finally) won Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Shutter Island) his Oscar isn’t worth watching, then I’m not sure what is.

Screenplay by William Monaghan (Body of Lies, Edge of Darkness), it’s set in the duplicitous world inhabited by Boston’s mafia and law enforcement.

Intense, beautifully shot and with a cast to die for (Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winston), it has a truly brilliant soundtrack.

With four Oscars and at #43 on IMDb’s Top 250, I’d call it perfect, if only there were some strong women in it.

100 Word Review – Porco Rosso (1992)

In classic Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke) style, this Japanese anime perfectly captures the spirit of adventure and freedom that permeates throughout it.

Set in the skies above a 1930s Italian coast, a WWI veteran pilot makes a living in his sea plane as a bounty hunter, taking down air pirates. His name is Marco Rosso and he was cursed to look like a pig.

Definitely family friendly, but with hidden depths that might have made me cry. There’s humour, there’s romance, there’s a sense of history and the dubbed version even has the voice of Michael Keaton.

100 Word Review – The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)

After 9/11, you could choose your side. I had my side chosen for me.

– Changez

Adapted from the extraordinary novel by Mohsin Hamid and directed by the wonderful Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair), this film should be compulsory viewing for everyone living in the 21st Century.

A journalist (Liev Schreiber) interviews a suspected terrorist (Riz Ahmed) about how his life, his family and his current situation.

Co-starring Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson, this film is exciting, dramatic and hauntingly understandable.

Ahmed is spectacular in his role as Changez, brilliantly capturing all the dimensions of a truly complex and intriguing character.

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100 Word Review – Tammy (2014)

Written by, directed by and starring the wonderful Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone, this deserves far more than the pitiful IMDb score it’s received.

Tammy (McCarthy) is fired from her job (by Falcone) and finds out her husband (Nat Faxon) is cheating on her (with Toni Collette) in the same day. Against her mother’s (Allison Janney) wishes, she takes off with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) on a road trip that will change her life.

Watch it for the awesome cast, the brilliant moments of understated humour and the raucous laugh-out-loud comedy. It’s wonderfully human and just downright delightful.

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100 Word Review – Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)

Written by and starring the wonderful Jennifer Westfeldt (Friends With Kids, Ira & Abby) and Heather Juergensen.

After a series of unfortunate dates, Jessica (Westfeldt) decides to explore her sexuality when she reads a personal ad that piques her interest. Unsure of where her preferences lie, she sets forth to meet Helen (Juergensen) and find out what she needs from a relationship.

Sweet, awkward and funny, it explores the fluid nature of sexuality and what is required in a relationship without being crude, obvious or overtly sexual. Westfeldt is fantastic as the uncertain Jessica, playing perfectly of Juergensen’s sexually confident Helen.

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