Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Available on DVD and Blu-ray July 1
(Image and text courtesy of WDHSE)
To celebrate the release of Alice in Wonderland to Disney DVD and Blu-ray July 1 2010, Australia’s official Alice in Wonderland DVD Ambassador, Donny Galella, a Sydney based designer of clothes and headwear under his self titled fashion label ‘GALELLA’ (launched in mid 2004), has created 10 Top Hat Tips that will make the Mad Hatter proud.
1. A hat is the ultimate accessory to top off your look. Because of its visibility (clearly seen at eye-level), a great hat can really finish off your outfit and make the strongest statement of all the accessory options. Allow your hat to project your personality and sense of style. Most importantly a hat should frame your face.
2. The basic rule for hats over the seasons is: for Autumn/Winter – your hat should be felt or wool based and for Spring/Summer – straw, sinnamay or fabric based hats. Fascinators and headbands can be worn all year round.
3. There are loads of hat styles, the most popular styles are: pillboxes, cloches, berets, trilbys, turbans, floppy brimmed styles and a fusion style called ‘Hatinators’ (a cross between a hat and a fascinator). If you want a style that will last you forever, you can’t go past the classic elegance of a pillbox style hat. Often worn by the eternally chic Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn.
4. Choosing a hat style to suit your face shape. If you have a strong angular face (such as Sarah Jessica Parker), try wear rounded style hats. If you have a rounded face (such a Jennifer Hudson), then choose a hat with angular lines or a broad brim such as a trilby. Heart shaped faces suit most style hats, especially styles that sit high on the head. Narrow faces need a full rounded crown, such as a cloche. Long faces (such as Tori Spelling) need some softness, so something feathery would be ideal.
5.Choose a style to bring out your features or detract others. Shorter people can use tall hats (with a tall brim or high feathers) to make them look taller. If you have blue or green eyes, then choosing a hat with peacock feathers for example will highlight your eyes. If like the ‘Red Queen’ if you have a large forehead, then choose a hat with a large brim.
6. Hat colours – keep your hair colour in mind. If you’re a brunette or have black hair, then a dark coloured hat will blend in with your hair and not stand out. To make more of a visual impact try choosing a coloured hat that will stand out.
7. Look after you hats by investing in hat boxes when you store them away. Try filling the hat with tissue paper, as this will help prevent the crown from crushing. A lint brush is a handy tool, to take off the dust.
8. To find the perfect hat: you can buy one from a good department store, a hat shop, get one made by a milliner, vintage shops or have a ‘hat swap’ party with your friends. It’s a great get together for the girls, and you all go home with a new hat. Accessory shops often have seasonal hats that are very affordable.
9. The great ‘Fascinator debate’ – each year I get asked if the fascinator is in vogue. Fascinators are the “L plate” of headwear; they’re great for your first or second race meet. Once you’ve mastered the fascinator try and progress to a hat. It’s better to wear a fascinator, rather than nothing on your head at all.
10. Don’t over accessorise, let your hat do all the talking. When wearing a statement hat, don’t overdo the jewellery and accessories. Definitely don’t pair a hat with a big pair of earrings, the will be way too over the top.
Original Alice In Wonderland review
Pixar/Walt Disney Studio Films
Now Showing (in 2D and 3D)
Toy Story, the first computer animated film, was released into cinemas in 1995 and who knew that 15 years later Pixar would have become the most successful animation studio in the world, producing not just the best animated features but some of the best features full stop. I certainly would have bought shares in the company had I known then what I know now (their films have accumulated a worldwide box office in excess of $5b).
I was 20 in 1995 and in my second year of university. I had put aside most childish things but Toy Story allowed anyone, regardless of age (gender, religion), to embrace their inner child. Toy Story 3 begins with Andy, the child from the first two films and owner of the gang of toys we have come to know and love over the past decade and a half, preparing to leave for college. His toys, led by Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and 2IC Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), are anxious: he hasn't played with them for years and with Andy preparing to leave their future is either the attic, donation or the dump.
As luck – or misunderstanding – would have it, the toys are donated to Sunnyside, a day care centre where the promise of being played with forever more sounds too good to refuse. And too good to be true: anyone knows that a place with sunny in the title can't be all sunshine, just ask Sunnydale resident Buffy Summers. But I digress.
Unlike his friends, Woody decides to make his way back to Andy but learns the secrets of Sunnyside from a trio of toys, including a classically trained hedgehog named Mr Prickelpants (delightfully voiced by ex-James Bond Timothy Dalton), belonging to Bonnie, one of the daycare centre's pupils.
So Toy Story 3 becomes a prison escape film, and a little darker in tone than its predecessors. Screenwriter Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine, is new to the Pixar fold but the studio's team of directors have ensured that the enterprise has not been compromised; story, and characters with heart, have always been key to the success of Pixar's films and while a sequel to a sequel, and shot in 3D (which I'm assuming has more to do with the bean counters at the House of Mouse than with those at Pixar), Toy Story 3 is a worthy entry in the Pixar canon and an almost perfect end to the trilogy.
There are some people who have never lived in a world without Woody, Buzz, Jessie the cowgirl, Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Rex et al, and saying goodbye won't be easy. Nor will it be for those of us who have known and loved them for 15 years.
It certainly elicited my most emotional response to any of the Toy Story films, and indeed any film this year: I'll admit it, I cried liked a baby for the final 10 or so minutes. For for all its fun and excitement, this third and final installment is about letting go, saying goodbye and, so as not to end on a downer, new beginnings.
Sunday, 27 June 2010
Time magazine named three animated features as the best three films of 2009. Not surprisingly, Pixar's Up, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature as well as landing among the 10 Best Picture nominees, was one of the three. That it wasn't the #1 choice was a surprise.
FANTASTIC MR FOX
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson's idiosyncratic take on the Roald Dahl classic, was Time's #3 choice (and an Animated Feature Oscar nominee) and it's easy to see why. As charming as its eponymous hero (voiced by who else but George Clooney), who takes up the straight life when his wife (Meryl Streep) becomes pregnant but then falls back into old ways just as his son (Jason Schwartzman) discovers teenage angst, Fantastic Mr Fox is a delightful caper film that is as faithful to its source material as need be while being every inch a Wes Anderson film, from character neuroses to wardrobe choices. The old fashioned stop motion makes it even more, dare I say it, charming.
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Time's #1 choice as the best film of the year was even more of a surprise, not that The Princess and the Frog, Disney first 2D (non CG) animated film in seven years, is an unworthy selection. In going back to 2D, Disney seemed to have rediscovered the magic that made their animated features of the early '90s – Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King – such delights. There are musical numbers in keeping with the story's setting – New Orleans – which wouldn't be out of place on Broadway but not necessarily as showtune-y as late '90s Disney efforts (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan). There's also a sense of fun that was missing from those films.
Friday, 25 June 2010
The opening credits of Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love positively scream melodrama: 1950s Hollywood melodrama to be precise. An insistent and lush yet foreboding score, and even the font chosen for the titles all hark back to those women's pictures of old Hollywood, the ones which Todd Haynes paid such perfect homage to in his 2002 film, Far From Heaven.
Guadagnino doesn't succeed quite as well Haynes for while the ingredients are there – wealth, beautiful things, hidden emotions, forbidden love – the drama is sorely lacking, as though in transporting the genre to modern day Milan, something has been lost in the translation.
That's no fault of leading lady Tilda Swinton who's as engaging and enigmatic as ever, playing the young matriarch of a Italian textile family. Emma (Swinton) is originally from Russia which explains her outsider status within the Recchi family as well as her halting Italian (although props to Swinton who learnt to speak Italian with a Russian accent specifically for this role). It's when Emma learns of her daughter's secret love and soon embarks on an affair of her own that the wheels of inevitable tragedy are set in motion.
Sadly, those wheels move at an awfully languid pace making the two hour film feel much longer. Yes it's beautiful to look at and adorned throughout with cinematic references, both of the aforementioned era of Hollywood as well as Italian cinema. But beauty – and enjoyment – is in the eye of the beholder, and this reviewer needs more than pretty things to sustain his interest. Unfortunately, Tilda Swinton alone simply wasn't enough.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
If you've seen the trailer for the latest Adam Sandler vehicle, Grown Ups, then you've more or less seen the film. Like a lot of trailers for comedies, it shows all the “funny” bits, which only leaves you with the barest of storylines to keep you in your seat as you wait for each expected laugh to appear.
Not that the audience I viewed the film with seemed to mind. A mix of reviewers and public (competition winners, perhaps?), there were solid laughs throughout and applause at the end. I'm assuming most of the laughs and all of the applause were from the public (we reviewers don't clap); Adam Sandler fans, no doubt.
I'm not a Sandler fan: he's on my list of funny men I simply don't find funny. But a lot of people do enjoy his brand of comedy and Grown Ups, about a group of childhood friends (played as adults by Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Sandler) who reunite at a lakeside summer house over the Independence Day long weekend, will no doubt find an audience, and wide one given its PG rating. Grown Ups is family friendly with nothing to offend unless you happen to be an old woman, fat or suffer from bunions (or possess an IQ higher than a house brick).
Just what actresses the calibre of Salma Hayek and Maria Bello are doing here amongst the bodily function humour I don't know. As for Steve Buscemi, who has a history of popping up in the occasional Sandler pic, well, character actors need all the high paying gigs they can get.
Adam Sandler doesn't need your money, so don't feel bad for him if you choose to see something else – anything else – this weekend.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Audiences were first introduced to rock star Aldous Snow in the 2008 comedy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where he appeared as the new boyfriend of the titular Sarah, holidaying in Hawaii where her ex-boyfriend (played by Jason Segel, who also wrote that film) also happened to be. Snow, played by a scene-stealing Russell Brand, was on the wagon, abstaining from drugs and alcohol and pursuing spirituality through meditation, yoga and sex (hey, he's a rock star!).
Get Him To The Greek sees Brand reprising the role of Snow, although this time we find the rocker well and truly off the wagon. After a critical drubbing for his most recent album, African Child, and the separation from his partner, pop starlet Jackie Q (a comic turn by Rose Byrne), Snow has been indulging in every vice imaginable.
Record company employee, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill, who was also in Forgetting Sarah Marshall but plays a different character here), is charged with bringing Snow from London to LA for a 10th anniversary gig at the Greek Amphetheatre. He has 72 hours to get the rock star sober and presentable, for media appearances along the way as well as the concert. Aaron's boss Sergio (a crazy-eyed and surprisingly funny Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs) will accept no excuses.
That's basically it as far as plot is concerned with the film's running time taken up with Snow corrupting and abusing the innocent Aaron (there's a lot of drunken behaviour, usually climaxing with Aaron vomiting) as they make their way to the Greek. And Brand and Hill make for an enjoyable odd couple; Brand has a certain charm but as for his alleged sexual appeal, what's up with that, ladies?
Like a lot of comedies, Get Him To The Greek is perhaps a tad too long, running out of steam before the final credits roll. But for the most part it's a fun walk on the wild side which won't disappoint those fans of the Judd Apatow stable of comedies.
Saturday, 19 June 2010
Exclusive to Palace Verona Sydney, Kino Cinemas Melbourne, Palace Barracks Brisbane
Jeffrey Blitz's feature directorial debut opens with such a flurry of indie tics, it threatens to implode under an abundance of quirkiness, but this odd little film soon settles into a rhythm and plot, of sorts. Our “hero”, Hal Hefner, despite the surname, is no playboy. He's an awkward junior high student rendered even more so by his stutter; Hal's resigned himself to eating the cafeteria fish at lunch instead of the preferred pizza simply because it's easier to say fish.
But then he's approached by Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick), captain of the school debate team, who sees the potential in the speech-impaired Hal. Hal, not convinced of Ginny's belief, is smitten and, despite all evidence to the contrary, joins the debate team.
The relationship between Hal and Ginny escalates but Blitz has more in mind than teen romance, the first sign being Ginny's shock defection to a rival school. Other plot lines involve Hal's tracking down of a former champion debater to aid in his revenge, surviving his bullying older brother, and a passive-aggressive proxy step brother, the son of a judge who is also a neighbour and begins dating Hal's mother.
The film's oddness and refusal to conform to genre may explain why it has taken so long to reach Australian cinemas (however limited a release it is receiving). Rocket Science screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, while the production notes, which the distributors hand out to media at screenings, make no mention in Kendrick's bio of her recurring role in the Twilight films or her Oscar-nominated performance in Up in the Air.
Still, whether on or not a film receives a cinema release has less to do with quality than it does with other factors, and Rocket Science has a more going for it than a lot of other big title releases which flood our cinemas this time of year.
I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to see it (of course, that's the only way you can), but if you have to choose between this and The A-Team, well, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know which one I'd opt for.
Now Showing (in 2D and 3D)
It's not easy being green sang Kermit the frog, and Shrek would concur. This fourth (and promised to be last ) installment in DreamWorks' successful animated franchise sees the ogre (voiced again by Mike Myers) married to true love, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and the father of three green bundles of joy. Except Shrek isn't feeling so joyful. He's having a midlife crisis, longing for his bachelor days when he had a swamp to himself and people feared him: now, he's a celebrity and tourist attraction.
Following a meltdown at his kids' birthday party, Shrek happens upon Rumplestiltskin, an embittered litle man with a knack for evil legalese: he can make your dreams come true if you simply sign a contract giving him one day out of your life in return.
Shrek, wishing for his pre-marital existance, foolishly signs on the dotted line (without reading the fine print) and before you can say 'It's A Wonderful Life', the ogre is transported into a parallel Far Far Away where he never existed. Oh, yes, and Rumplestiltskin is king.
And the little guy likes to surround himself with witches; their flying sequences one of the justifications for filming this fourth installment in 3D. It also adds a darker tone to the colour palette which is in keeping with the story's darker themes, but I'm guessing that's more coincidental than intentional (you won't miss anything by catching Shrek Forever After in 2D).
The 'what if I never existed' storyline is also a hoary old chestnut, perfected in Frank Capra's classic, It's A Wonderful Life, and imitated, for better or worse, ever since. In a children's film it serves as morality tale: be careful what you wish for, or more pertinently, be happy for what you've got, especially if it's a loving family.
But animation is no longer just for kids and adults don't go to the movies for moral lessons (even if some should). Having Shrek never exist in this parallel world provides the joy of having us re-introduced to the series' best characters: Donkey (Eddie Murphy), who's as endearingly annoying as ever, and Puss-In-Boots (Antonio Banderas), the Latin assassin who's let himself go. Both actors are in fine form once again, reminding us why we fell for them in the first place.
Of course everything works itself out in the end; the Shrek series of films may have begun by fracturing fairy tales but they never skimped on the happy ending. And if this is to be the last of the Shrek films, than Forever After ends the series well; not so much on a high but with a fond farewell.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray
I enjoyed Joe Johnston's update of The Wolfman earlier this year, a lot more than I expected to and more than most of my fellow reviewers. While not quite a guilty pleasure, The Wolfman has a castle load of gothic gore that's surprisingly entertaining: I'm usually a wimp when it comes to bloodletting but I found the murderous rampage of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) across the misty moors of the English countryside to be rather fun.
When Lawrence's brother goes M.I.A. on the moors, he returns to his manor home to investigate and it's not too long before family secrets, revealed by a scene chewing Anthony Hopkins as Lord Talbot, are jumping out of the closet – and out from behind trees and, eventually, across London rooftops.
After being attacked while in the woods, it's a case of once bitten, never shy for Lawrence as he in turn becomes a wolfman, by the light of the full moon, of course. But can the love of a good woman (talented Emily Blunt given little to do but looking good doing it) save Lawrence before Scotland Yard's Inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving) pounds this puppy? Curl up on your couch and find out.
Link to orignal review:
ALSO OUT NOW:
EVERYBODY'S FINE (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) While I welcome Robert De Niro's return to drama (I'm not a fan of the Meet The/Analyze series of films), this tale of a recently retired widower attempting to reconnect with his adult children during a whirlwind cross-country trip over Thanksgiving weekend doesn't exactly stretch the veteran. Writer Kirk Jones has assembled an impressive cast – Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore and the always watchable Sam Rockwell – for his first directorial outing, but they come across as somewhat selfish offspring while De Niro's Frank is also hard to sympathise with. Still, the ending has an emotional impact when we learn the fate of the fourth sibling who has been M.I.A. throughout.
NINE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) Rob Marshall's return to the musical wasn't as warmly received as his Oscar-winning Chicago, but Nine, based on the stage musical which in turn was inspired by the Fellini film 8 ½, has much to recommend it and not just starlets in under garments. A singing Daniel Day Lewis, as the Fellini-like director, Guido Contini, suffering writer's block, is one point of interest; so, too, is the cavalcade of actresses who strut their stuff. And although Penelope Cruz scored an Oscar nod, it is Judi Dench, effortlessly stealing every scene she's in, and Marion Cotillard, playing Guido's long-suffering wife, who make the biggest impressions. Dion Beebe's cinematography is, of course, perfect.
BRIGHT STAR (Roadshow Entertainment) Jane Campion's first film in six years is an ode to love, detailing the chaste yet doomed relationship between poet, John Keats (Ben Whishaw), and neighbour-cum-muse, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). And only a woman, and perhaps only Campion, could make a chaste love affair so involving, helped greatly by her two leads, especially Cornish, who, at the very least, should have received a Best Actress Oscar nomination. I mean, if Sandra Bullock can win . . .
And speaking of Oscar winners, PRECIOUS (Icon Home Entertainment) was this past year's 'little film that could', scoring Best Picture and Director nods, and winning for Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique who, as the mother from Hell, was never in doubt to take home a gold statuette. Her daughter, Precious (nominee and first time actress, Gabourey Sidibe), overcomes her many obstacles, including rape, pregnancy and parental abuse, thanks to the loving support of a teacher – but Dead Poets Society it's not. Precious is heavy going but rewards those who see it through. http://thelennoxfiles.blogspot.com/2010/02/film-review-precious.html
Thursday, 10 June 2010
20th Century Fox
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I reviewed The Losers? I said that I always thought the trailer resembled a poor man’s A-Team but that I hoped the actual A-Team movie would aim higher than the ‘better than expected’ critical consensus? Oh well.
I’m not sure if fans of the 1980s TV series, where a unit of disgraced military men went about righting wrongs for money, will find this feature film remake a worthy update or a fat steamy dump on their childhood memories (I’m assuming most fans were kids in the ‘80s). I remember watching the show but I wouldn’t call myself a fan and I certainly harboured no desire to see it revisited.
The film opens like an origin story, with a mission in Mexico introducing us to Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) and Face (Bradley Cooper), who are in turn introduced to B.A. Baracus (Quince ‘Rampage’ Jackson) and Murdock (District 9’s Sharlto Copley), thus forming the A-Team (A is for Alpha). Cut to eight years later and we find the men in the Middle East and called on by the CIA to retrieve US currency printing plates which the enemy has in its possession. But it’s all a set-up: the plates are stolen and the A-team, believed responsible, are dishonourably discharged and imprisoned.
The rest of the film (it clocks in at 2 hours) concerns itself with the A-team escaping from their various prisons and going on a global search for the plates and the men who set them up. It’s one set piece after another, mostly in Germany but climaxing in Los Angeles; a blur of action and noise and very little else.
Fans of The A-team will come away from this film either bitterly disappointed or, like a lot of Transformers fans (to cite another '80s re-boot), accept it as a fond trip down memory lane however inferior.
The very similar The Losers has struggled to reach $1 million after two weeks of release in Australia so I’d be interested to see if The A-Team surpasses that take in its opening weekend or struggles similarly. I suspect nostalgia, and the marketing clout of 20th Century Fox, will ensure the former. To paraphrase Hannibal, the plan will come together.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Judging by the television ratings, Australian audiences love watching stories about the local criminal underworld. And if some of that appeal can attract a similar number of bums on seats for Animal Kingdom, then it could be the biggest homegrown hit of the year.
It's certainly the most buzzed, following on from its raved reception at this year's Sundance Film Festival where it picked up the World Cinema prize. American critics, no strangers to crime and gangster films, were full of praise for David Michod's debut feature; and we Aussies love nothing more than the approval of others.
Which isn't to say that Animal Kingdom doesn't succeed on its own terms – it does. As an examination of a Melbourne crime family - the Codys - rotting from the inside out, it's uncompromising, uncomfortable viewing. Those rocking up in the hopes of catching some Underbelly on the big screen will be somewhat disappointed, and not just because the T and A quota is zero; Animal Kingdom doesn't seek to glamourize its subject, rather it depicts the banality and ordinariness of evil, and the inherent sinking inevitability, with an unflinching eye.
We witness the Cody family through the eyes of J (James Frecheville), a 17-year-old who comes to live with his relatives following the drug overdose death of his mother. Embraced by the family matriarch, Smurf (Jacki Weaver), who dotes on her sons a little too much, J is soon caught up in the world of drug running and bank robbery.
But it's not until his uncles – Luke Ford, Sullivan Stapleton and Ben Mendelsohn - kill a couple of police officers, in retaliation for the death of a mate and business partner, that his eyes are opened to the true nature of his new environment. And the true nature of his grandmother becomes all too apparent when a sympathetic detective (Guy Pearce) offers J a chance of escape.
Performances are all top notch here, from newcomer Frecheville, whose J is somewhat of a blank slate and the eyes through which we witness events, to Mendelsohn as the psychopathic, most dangerous of the Cody brothers, and Jacki Weaver, somewhat of a revelation as the mother who will do anything – anything – to protect her boys.
Animal Kingdom is not a fun viewing experience, but it's gripping, tense and intense. As a debuting writer-director, David Michod has made an accomplished film which has already proven to be as universal as it is Australian. Let's hope those foreign plaudits are followed by Australian audiences.
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Who would have thought there could ever be too much Sex? But at almost two and a half hours, Sex and the City 2, the sequel to the 2008 film spun off from the hit TV series, is very much a case of quantity over quality. “Do you want it long or do you want it good?” the producers seem to have asked on the audiences' behalf, and answered in the former: they obviously believe that size matters.
That running time shouldn't deter fans of the franchise, and the four women – Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha – with whom millions of women (and plenty of men) love and identify with. We catch up with the girls some two years after the previous film, with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mr Big (Chris Noth) married and happily ensconced in their New York apartment. Well, maybe not so happily since Big's idea of a pleasant evening is a night in front of the flatscreen watching black and white films. But Carrie wants sparkle and not of the diamond variety.
The others are not so happy either. The new senior partner at Miranda's (Cynthia Nixon) law firm seems to hate her; Charlotte (Kristen Davis) is struggling with motherhood; and Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is in a war of attrition with menopause.
All of this is revealed during an elaborate gay wedding which opens the film and it's not too long (or far too long, depending on your point of view) before the gal pals head to Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco) and a week of luxury in the Middle East at the generosity of a Sheikh, a prospective PR client for Samantha. Cue a procession of Arabian Nights-inspired wardrobe changes, some desert misadventures and a cavalcade of instances that, if not racist and/or anti-Muslim, are certainly culturally insensitive on a cringe-inducing level.
It's a bit much for us to be onside with the sexually aggressive Samantha when she's in a country that has a very strict code of conduct for women. It's also a bit rich for Carrie and co., to preach against the Middle East's 'mistreatment' of women when these four Westerners are very much slaves to fashion, commercialism and the ideology of 'a woman can have it all but she's nothing without a man'.
But Sex and the City 2 is supposed to be fun, and it is, but only sporadically which isn't nearly enough to warrant its 150 minutes (or another sequel). Still, fans know exactly what they're in for and non-fans know not to even bother.
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Anchor Bay Films
Like every family, especially those in American indie films, the Rizzos are dysfunctional. Which is to say, like every family, real or imagined, they have their problems, issues and, in this instance, a lot of secrets.
Rizzo patriarch, Vince (Andy Garcia), a corrections facility officer, harbours a dream of being an actor. But so ridiculous does this seem that he tells his wife that he's playing poker once a week when he's actually attending acting class. Joyce (Julianna Margulies), of course, believes he is having an affair.
Joyce's only secret seems to be that she (like everyone in the family, kids included), smokes. But then Vince brings home an inmate from work, supposedly to build a second bathroom, and she begins to contemplate a bit of extramarital tit-for-tat with the convict. He's Tony Nardella (Steven Strait), who unbeknown to everyone is Vince's son from an adolescent dalliance.
Then there's the younger Rizzos: Vivian (Dominik Garcia-Lorido), whom everyone believes is at college but is working as a stripper after losing her scholarship; and Vince jnr (Ezra Miller), a smart ass with a predilection for overweight women.
All of these secrets will eventually be revealed but writer-director Raymond De Felitta takes a leisurely route in getting there. City Island is not an hilarious, laugh-out loud comedy but one which observes the humour which arises from everyday family life, if a little heightened.
Andy Garcia anchors the film wonderfully, relishing his best role in years, while Margulies is more animated here than in the entire first season of TV's The Good Wife. Good, too, is Emily Mortimer (currently seen in Harry Brown) as Vince's acting class partner with secrets of her own. Not quite Little Miss Sunshine but a family you'll enjoy getting to know.