Film: The Hangover Part 3

I really shouldn’t like The Hangover series. I usually abhor laddish comedy films. There’s Something About Mary had me rolling my eyes and tutting throughout. Not so, with The Hangover, call it a guilty pleasure if you will, but I bloody love it!

So far, so franchise. How did part three measure up to its earlier counterparts?

As the film opens you’re made aware that the lads are older and (seemingly) wiser. Their trouble-causing days are behind them…or are they? When Alan’s mother becomes alarmed by his erratic and brattish behaviour she calls for an intervention and for him to be sent to a centre for treatment. Who better to take him there than his trusty pals Phil, Stu and Doug? What could possibly go wrong? Enter Mr Chow, newly escaped from prison and on a mission to reap revenge on his rival. Yep, this is the part where we jump aboard the formulaic roller coaster and enjoy the familiar scenes of bad taste, unbelievable run-ins, near death experiences and brotherly love.

Yes, OK, so it’s somewhat predictable, but in a way that’s what makes it good. It’s like that familiar sweatshirt. The one you sling on to watch these kinds of film – comforting, familiar, trustworthy and guaranteed to make you feel good. There’s also the fact that it’s a no-brainer kind of film, with no complex plot lines, you can just switch your brain off and groan and giggle along with the exploits of the ill-fated four. Basically if you liked parts one and two you’ll enjoy this. It’s not rocket science, but it doesn’t need to be.

If the schmaltzy flashback scenes at the end of part three are anything to go by, The Hangover is indeed a trilogy. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the lads are dusted off and presented to us in a different guise in the near future.

Fabulous rating: 4/5


Film & TV: Black Swan

Yep – before you say it – I am perfectly aware that I am, like, a-gazillion years behind the rest of the population in terms of watching films. But hey! I’m catching up… slowly (nose grows as I tell a bit fat lie!).

Anyway, I watched Black Swan for the first time the other night. It’s been out for so long that I’m not even going to bother to do a review. I will say that I was blown away by how disturbing, yet brilliant it was. You may be thinkingblimey she’s got quite a thing for dark, twisted films’ and you would be quite right! I likes a good film that leaves me feeling a little harrowed for at least a few hours after viewing. Not sure what that says about me..?

So, because I like taking life lessons from the popular media. Here’s what I reckon we could all learn from Black Swan…

1. Self harm is real – if you’ve a friend who you think might be self harming get them to seek help. I had a friend who all too frequently had scratches up her arms and on her hands and I foolishly believed her tales of ‘riding her bike through the lanes and getting scratched by brambles’. Turns out that was just the start of a descent into mental health issues for her. We’re not friends any longer. But I can’t help but wonder if I’d spotted the signs earlier if things would be different…

2. Are you holding yourself back? Thomas continually accuses Nina of this. Who else is guilty of this? I know I am! Let’s believe in ourselves peoples!

3. Be true to yourself – Reach for the stars, sure. But don’t try to be something you’re not. After all it was Nina’s pursuit of the darkness needed to portray the Black Swan that was her ultimate downfall. Work to your strengths and don’t be ashamed to walk away from opportunities if they’re not for you.

4. Big up respect to ballet dancers everywhere – that shizz is hard work. Next time I’m moaning about paper cuts in my office job I’ll think of those poor ballet dancers wrecked feet and, well, feel like a big fat whinger!

5. Don’t push people away – Was Lily really the frenemy she was portrayed to be? Sometimes it’s OK to have someone who wants the things you have. Don’t push them away. Feed off their ambition. Work with them. Form a support network. Mentor them. Learn from them. Pushing people away just leaves you, well, alone…

6. It’s perfectly normal to have those sorts of fantasies over Mila Kunis. Phew!

7. Spread those eggs about – if they’re all in one basket, what happens when that basket is taken away? When Beth is retired she has nothing. Make sue you have a rounded life full of friends, family, work and whatever else makes you smile. Life is transient, things can be cruelly snatched away from us. Make sure that by losing one thing you don’t lose everything!

8. It’s OK to take a break – Agreed, working hard is the only way you’re going to make those dreams come true. But all work and no fun? Well, Black Swan shows you where that gets ya…

9. The story of Swan Lake – was I the only one who didn’t know it..?

Film: Review: Filth

It’s not often that I find myself thinking about a film a few days after I’ve seen it.

I did with Argo. Now, that, was a good film.

But more recently, Filth, has been taking up some serious space in my brain.

I was an avid Trainspotting fan. I watched the film umpteen times. I struggled through the Scottish dialogue in the novel. Heck, I even had the ‘line-up’ poster (looking back there’s something slightly weird about a teenage girl having a poster of some fictional drug addicts on her bedroom wall – but hey!). More recently I went to see the stage production of the novel at the Birmingham Rep.

I always meant to read Irvine Welsh’s later novel, Filth. But for one reason or another never got around to it. With my love of all things twisted and Trainspotting, when I saw it was being made into a film, I knew I had to see it. Fortunately a very rainy Sunday afternoon provided the perfect opportunity.

I knew it would be twisted. I was prepared for scenes of a graphic sexual nature, hard drug taking and swearing. What I wasn’t prepared for was that I would get drawn in on an emotional level.

Put simply the story revolves around Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), a corrupt detective in-line for promotion who will stop at nothing to get it. As he spins his web of lies and deceit he becomes increasingly ruthless and more and more depraved.

I don’t know whether it’s McAvoy’s excellent acting, or Welsh’s brilliant story, or perhaps the direction, or what, but even though Robertson is despicable you still care what happens to him… and that’s what makes this film work. You come out feeling as though you’ve done battle and slightly disturbed. But that’s not a bad thing. If Filth didn’t make you feel uneasy, it wouldn’t work. Sure, there are comedy moments, but even some of these are dark and that’s good. If they weren’t this could easily become a cheap parody.

This is not a film for people who like Rom Coms, or fluffy kittens. This is a tough film, which is twisted beyond belief. It’s odd. But that’s what makes it excellent. It makes you think about mental health, about loss, about the choices people make in life. There’s sex, drugs, violence… and lots of it. But none of it is done in a gratuitous or glossy way. It’s real. It’s pure deep down and dirty…and then a bit more dirty. After all it’s not called Filth for no reason.

One thing I will say, is try to avoid some of the other reviews and even the full trailer. I hadn’t seen them ahead of seeing the film and now having read/watched them, I’m glad, as they give quite a lot away… Although you can spot where we had our anniversary dinner if you do view the full trailer.

Fabulous rating: 5/5

P.S. Look out for Jim Broadbent’s excellent part too. Just brilliant!

P.P.S If you were an original Trainspotting fan, like me, you’re probably of the right age to really appreciate some of the tunes on the soundtrack.

Film: Review: The Great Gatsby

The era, the fashion, the soundtrack, Baz Luhrmann’s impressive back catalogue (I lurve Moulin Rouge)… I was all ready to poo poo the critics and get down to seriously enjoying me some Great Gatsby action. And, to some extent, I did.

Luhrmann’s touch of magic is evident throughout. Slightly kooky, with sweeping atmospheric shots across city scapes and a contemporary soundtrack accompanying a story set in a different era. The combination of shots of 1920’s opulence set to a bling-tastic Jay-Z soundtrack should have worked. And it did, again, to some extent, but it wasn’t as amazing as it perhaps coulda/shoulda been. In fact, it was Lana Del Ray’s haunting ‘Young and Beautiful’ which became the stand-out track of the film.

I’ve not read the book, in fact, I purposefully avoided reading it before seeing the film, as, in my experience, films rarely live up to their paperback counterparts. With this in mind, it’s difficult to comment on whether the casting was up to scratch, but I can say that Leonardo DiCaprio seemed to play a good Gatsby, portraying him as a man who had everything and nothing all at the same time. A man who was surrounded by everyone, but oh so lonely. He was charming, eccentric and ever so slightly thoughtful. Carey Mulligan played a graceful Daisy and Tobey Maguire a wide-eyed, innocent Nick Carroway.

The fashion is gorgeous, yet there’s no single outfit which makes you gasp with desire. The parties are fun, but kind of reminded me of the hedonistic nights at legendary Ibiza superclub night, Manumission. The story line played out well, but sometimes time seemed to drag and although I can’t see what section they could have cut down (or out) we did seem to be in the cinema for a bottom numbing length of time. There are some very funny moments, as well as some heart wrenchingly sad ones. But it’s more like an emotional ride on the tea cups, rather than the rollercoaster which I guess I was expecting. That said, the story unfolds nicely in the way that the truth about Gatsby’s character is revealed and the way in which Nick learns more about human nature.

Another bug bear was all of the obvious balls/wine glasses/curtains/fans/pointy fingers/reaching arms which had been added to make the show more appropriate for 3D audiences. Let me tell you something Mr Luhrmann et al, for us bods who don’t chose to watch it in 3D because 3D gives us a stonking headache, all of those 3D bits get really annoying after a while. Can we just stop getting so excited about 3D and concentrate on giving the film a bit more oomph instead, maybe?

In conclusion? Well, it’s been difficult for me to write a review of this film. It isn’t a bad film. Some of it is fab. But, whether it’s because it’s been over-hyped, or my expectations of it were too high it’s not as an amazing as I was expecting. If nothing else, party shops and fancy dress stores will do well out of it. If Moulin Rouge was the party theme of choice a few years back, I can see this being the summer (and Christmas for that matter) of the Great Gatsby get together.

Best enjoyed with a tummy full of Chiquito’s goodness.

Fabulous rating: 3.5/5 (old sport)

To find out what other films I’m looking forward to checking out, take a look at this post.