Audrey Rose (1977) & A Good Marriage (2014) Movie Reviews

I appear to have watched one too many horror films in the past year so I’m doing a special 2 for 1 deal for my dear readers. Today only! Get it while supplies last! I figured I’d put these two together as I don’t have a whole lot to say about either. I don’t mean that in a bad way – I really liked them both but, well, sometimes there’s just not a lot to say. This is why I’m not a writer… 😉 Let’s have two quickies, shall we?

Audrey Rose (1977)

Directed by Robert Wise

Based on Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta

Starring: Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck, Susan Swift

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger attempts to convince a happily married couple that their daughter is actually his daughter reincarnated.

My Opinion:

This is the kind of supernatural story that’s right up my alley PLUS it’s set in one of my two absolute favorite decades (the groovy Seventies, when everyone looked like an ugly porn star) so I jumped at the chance to finally see this when it popped up on Netflix a while back. I love the pulp novel feel to the film’s story and I found out after watching it that it is indeed adapted from a book (with a great pulpy cover, which appears to have been partially used on that cool orange poster up above).

I find reincarnation a fascinating topic & thought this film had a pretty strong story. I’d probably enjoy the book (has anyone here read it?). The movie is helped by some very good performances, especially from Marsha Mason as the young girl’s mother & Anthony Hopkins as the heartbroken stranger who is convinced that Mason’s daughter is the reincarnation of his own daughter, who died in a car crash at the same time this girl was born. Hopkins was very convincing as a man, understandably, slightly crazed with grief while the girl’s parents were very believable as a loving, close-knit family who would do everything possible to protect their daughter.

Unfortunately, and I feel super bad saying this, the girl (Susan Swift) is the film’s weakest link. Which isn’t good as she’s the character who links everyone together… I can handle this as I grew up on 70s & 80s movies but younger people who watch these older films nowadays have to remind themselves that the quality of acting from children wasn’t in the same league back then. It still almost freaks me out how amazing Jacob Tremblay was in Room! Or Sennia Nanua in The Girl With All The Gifts (a fantastic “zombie film with a brain” that I highly recommend, by the way). “Bad” child acting was common in older movies, though, and I don’t think it’s the fault of the kids – I think maybe they just didn’t know how to direct them back then. But other than the girl’s distracting acting… Ha! That could be a song. Like Conjunction Junction! What’s your function? Distracting Acting! What are you, um, lacking? That doesn’t quite rhyme. What rhymes with acting?? I’m off topic! Now back to your regularly scheduled review:

I think Audrey Rose is a decent psychological thriller (despite distracting acting!) that’s been forgotten about as it’s definitely not at the same level as others from the same decade such as The Exorcist, Don’t Look Now, The Omen, etc. With so many greats being released at the time, it’s easy to see why this gets overlooked. Audrey Rose is more psychological than a full-on “horror” like those, though, and I’d compare it more to something like The Changeling (1980), which had a similar feel. I really did enjoy it and want to give it a higher rating but I have to admit it’s not perfect & I was sadly disappointed with the ending. It’s worth your time if you’re a fan of this decade & genre, though. I’m happy that I finally saw it.

My Rating: 6/10


“Distracting Acting! It’s DETRACTING!” *sing it!*

A Good Marriage (2014)

Directed by Peter Askin

Based on A Good Marriage in the short story collection Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Starring: Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Kristen Connolly, Stephen Lang

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After 25 years of a good marriage, what will Darcy do once she discovers her husband’s sinister secret?

My Opinion:

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost every single one of his books (other than The Dark Tower series & Carrie for some strange reason – I love that movie). I think his short stories are just as fantastic & I recently reviewed one collection, The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, in great detail HERE. That took me ages! And two people read that post. Thanks, you two! 😉 Anyway, you would think it would occur to me that I’d read the short story this film was based on but, nope, I totally didn’t remember reading it. Then, as I watched, I was like “Why does this seem familiar?”. What an idiot. I worry about my memory lately. I think it’s partly why I keep this blog going! Someday I’ll look back at that Bazaar Of Bad Dreams post to refresh my memory on what I read.

A Good Marriage is from King’s Full Dark, No Stars collection & it’s odd I didn’t really remember it as it’s a good, basic story of discovering that the person you married isn’t who you thought they were. This is one of those very “straightforward” King stories. I don’t want to give too much away but this isn’t in any way weird or supernatural, which may be why I didn’t remember it as I usually love his weirdest stuff the most.

Joan Allen gives a great performance as the wife who must decide what to do when she finds out the truth about her husband (Anthony LaPaglia, who perfectly plays a creepy horndog). Allen is the true star of this film and helps elevate it from something that otherwise had the potential to feel like a made-for-TV Lifetime movie. I’ve always thought she deserves more recognition than she seems to get. I also found her quite attractive in this… She has that “sexy older lady” vibe. She plays this character well, going from vulnerable & insecure to a woman determined to take charge of the situation in which she finds herself. And… I like the ending! I’m so rarely satisfied with the conclusions to films of this nature that I feel the need to point it out when I do like an ending. So, once again, good job on writing an enjoyable story Mr. King! Sorry I didn’t remember it. I think it’s just because I’m getting old. Old but with a sexy vibe, hopefully!

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, this is totally stuck in my head now…

**Starting Sunday, join me for Creepy Dolls Week! I’ll be reviewing some “creepy doll” movies, including a Blind Spot review for yet another Anthony Hopkins film released a year after Audrey Rose… 🙂

Room (2015) Review

Room (2015)

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

Based on Room by Emma Donoghue

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H. Macy

Plot Synopsis:
I’m not putting a synopsis in this time. I, like most everyone who has seen this movie, knew exactly what it was about before going to it. My hubby didn’t know a thing, though, and I think it helped – he thought it was fantastic. If you somehow still know nothing about this movie, keep it that way before watching it. My review will be as spoiler-free as possible.

My Opinion:

This film has finally come out in the UK (along with all the other big Oscar nominees) so, therefore, I’ll be considering it a 2016 movie when I do my year-end lists in December. Then half the bloggers will go “that’s a 2015 movie!”. So annoying. 😉 I know I’ll be having to address comments like that once again, though, because I know already that Room will still easily be in my 2016 Top Ten by the end of December. It’s so good.

As I said when I didn’t include a plot synopsis, I’ll try to remain as spoiler-free as possible but this won’t be an easy film to discuss without giving any idea what it’s about (the pictures will be a clue as well but I won’t include many). It’s one I’d highly recommend to any fellow movie bloggers who still haven’t seen it as it’s the exact sort of movie that us (often misunderstood!) cinephiles can truly appreciate. It doesn’t assume its audience isn’t smart enough to fill in some of the blanks and it leaves just enough not fully explained and/or explored, leaving the audience to think about the movie afterwards and to wonder how they may behave in similar circumstances (as crazy as it may seem, it is a real thing that happens).

This movie may also be a “drama” but it’s not one that plays up to that fact. There are no over-the-top melodramatic moments that feel fake or contrived, which is something that drives me nuts about a lot of films. The characters feel like very real people who happen to be in a situation that most of us can, luckily, not even begin to imagine. I know this was a book but it’s one that I wasn’t at all aware of until now. After the film, I looked it up to make sure it’s up for best adapted screenplay (which it is – I was happy to see that). That’s when I noticed that the novel’s author also wrote the screenplay. Well, she did a fantastic job so I now really want to check out the book as well. I think a novel’s author should also write the screenplay more often if this is the kind of result.

I think one sign of a really good film is how much it gets people talking about it afterwards. My husband & I discussed it for a pretty long time. We go to quite a lot of movies but, most of the time, we have very little to say. Well, we’re big movie fans so we perhaps don’t really count anyway – we discuss movies more than the casual cinema-goers. But a lot of the time I’ll come out of a movie and, if people are even discussing the film at all, they never say much more than “that was good” or “that was bad”. This time there was a woman who clearly wanted to discuss it with everyone who walked by. I thought it was quite cool to see that for a change! She asked people if they’d just seen Room and said how fantastic the kid was and that she’d not felt anything like that for a kid in a movie since Kramer Vs Kramer and The Champ (oh, yes! a Ricky Schroder mention in 2016! made my day!!). As we left, I saw that she’d gone over to discuss the movie with those working in the cinema. It was just great to see such public enthusiasm for a film that so genuinely deserves a lot of praise.

Onto the acting (as mentioned by the lady at the cinema)… The performances in Room are superb – not only from Brie Larson (who very much deserves that Oscar nomination) but especially from the young Jacob Tremblay. Wow. The cinema lady is partly right – it’s up there with Ricky Schroder’s tearfest in The Champ in a way. However, it’s a much more understated & more “mature” performance than Schroder’s. It does make me wonder how you get such an outstanding performance from a kid so young. I assume some of the credit must also go to the director? So I’m very glad that he’s also up for the best director Oscar. It’s great when small films such as this one do get some recognition: It’s nominated for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Director & Best Adapted Screenplay. Excellent! But I’m not stupid – I don’t think it’ll get anything other than, most probably, Best Actress (I really wish Tremblay was up for Best Actor too, though – the Academy so rarely likes to nominate kids. What a shame).

The little films like this never win much, though. But hopefully the big nominations will at least get this film watched by people who otherwise may have never even heard of it. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and should be seen. Room is only in its second week of release in the UK and I’ve only just managed to catch it (on a tiny screen where my local cinema shoves all the indie films that no one wants to watch, which means it’s unlikely to be showing anymore beyond this week). Why don’t people go to movies like Room? It makes me sad in a way, which is why I enjoyed hearing that woman talking so excitedly about it after seeing it. This is the kind of film that I want to experience more often. Yes, it’s a difficult subject matter but it’s handled respectfully and the film is very well written with characters who are so believably portrayed. And Jacob Tremblay’s character may just make you want to look at life in a whole different light. Only the best movies can do that.

My Rating: 9/10

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_0728

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of The Fluff Is Raging. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Niall! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Bourne Ultimatum, IMDB rank 182 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

IMG_0727

The Bourne Ultimatum

*review written in shaky-cam*

“People, do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? This is Jason Bourne. You are nine hours behind the toughest target you have ever tracked.”

Pamela Landy

When I still watched TV the old-fashioned way, The Bourne movies seemed to be on all the time. They were on so much, in fact, that they began to blur for me and become one long, furiously-edited, shaky-cam mess of people speaking spy-jargon while looking at banks of computer screens, vicious hand-to-hand combat and incredible car crashes. Mostly, they provided a much-needed exciting jolt to the action genre.

There is a lot more to the Bourne movies than just action, of course, which is probably why they were so successful, touching as they do on ripped from the headlines topics like surveillance, rendition, sleeper agents, intelligence leaks, and torture. They are, in short, action movies for grown-ups and, if memory serves, they’re a lot better than the Robert Ludlum potboliers that are their source. They’re spy capers, but they are realistically grounded spy capers. After Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, the amount of eavesdropping going on in The Bourne Ultimatum is truly frightening.

To do justice to the third in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum, you really should watch the first two. A quick catch-up on The Bourne Identity: an unconscious man is rescued by fishermen in the Mediterranean. He has no idea who he is, nor why he has a microchip with a Swiss bank account number embedded in him. He heads to Europe to find out, meets a nice girl who helps him get to Paris, and then the baddies come after him.

Mayhem ensues. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The second film, The Bourne Supremacy, is both a retread and a continuation of the story, with Bourne cracking bones and crashing cars in Berlin and Moscow. The film has an added twist of vengeance – they kill his girlfriend, and we learn more about the secret government assassin programme, Treadstone.

You may recall that after a climactic car chase in Moscow, The Bourne Suprenacy ends with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) in New York, speaking to Bourne on the phone, unaware he’s watching her from a rooftop. “Get some rest, Pam, you look tired.” The Bourne Ultimatum begins several weeks earlier, with Bourne still limping around Moscow, before stopping off in Berlin, London, Madrid and Tangiers. In real life Euro-railing is nowhere near as exciting as this.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a fitting end to the series. It’s a chickens coming home to roost story, as Bourne tries to find out who he really is and who started all this. I really don’t rate the follow-up The Bourne Legacy at all, and am dubious about the possibility of another Bourne film, even if it will reunite Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass.

Who started it all is Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney, seen in woozy flashbacks) as a psychiatrist who specialises in behaviour modification, and who erased the identity and personality of Capt. David Webb to create the hitman Jason Bourne as part of a secret project called Blackbriar. (except nobody would ever be so gauche to call him a hitman: in government-speak he is an asset – until, of course, he becomes a liability.) It’s inevitable that the two are going to end up in the same room together, so most of the film is about getting Bourne to New York.

Landy, meanwhile, is trying to help him, and playing office politics with a shadowy CIA operative Noah Vosen (David Strathairn). Their scenes together are every bit as thrilling as the chop-socky fighting stuff.

There are several exciting sequences including Bourne performing a brilliant piece of tradecraft in a crowded Waterloo Station; a rooftop chase in Tunis that ends with the most brutal fight in the entire trilogy; and a thrilling Manhattan car chase.

Okay, it’s still a big Hollywood movie, and even the smartest movie can have dumb moments. There are an awful lot of coincidences in The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s mighty convenient that the hunt for Bourne is actually a news item (would that really happen?) allowing for him to meet a Guardian journalist, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) who provides some necessary exposition. Bourne finds a photo of Finney that accidentally falls out of a file.

And it really helps that Bourne`s old handler, Nicki Parsons (Julia Stiles) is now stationed in Madrid, where Bourne meets her at the CIA office. I`ve always liked Stiles as an actress, and she has never got the breakout role she deserves; she does very well in a small but important role. It’s heavily hinted that she’s in love with Bourne. There’s a moment in this film that a lesser movie would turn into a love scene, but the closest we get to romance is the following brief exchange:

Bourne: Why are you helping me?

Nicki: It was difficult for me … with you.

They stare at each other silently for a long moment.

Nicki: You really don’t remember anything.

Bourne: No

As for Damon, he’s great as always in the role. He looks weary and hollowed out, not the relatively spry youngster he was in the first film. He doesn’t smile once. He trained for months for the fight sequences, and he does look like he could handle himself in a scrap. The fights were choreographed by Jeff Imada.

Of course, one of the reasons why these films are so exciting is how they are shot and edited. An awful lot of information is crammed into two hours, and the film seldom stops for a breather. And it’s urged along by John Powell’s score. Even a mundane moment like Bourne picking the lock on a door is given urgency by how it’s filmed and edited (four shots in less than two seconds). There’s a fascinating interview with the film’s editor Christopher Rouse  here.

Spare a thought for Dan Bradley. He was the second unit director and stunt coordinator on the film, and many of the movie’s more memorable action moments are down to him, including the Tangiers rooftop chase and the Manhattan car chase.

Niall McArdle

http://www.ragingfluff.wordpress.com