The Truth About Emanuel (2013)

emmanuel-truth-about-fishes02Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

Moving in across the street is single mother Linda (Jessica Biel) possessing a striking resemblance to Emanuel’s (Kaya Scodelario) dead mother. Emanuel blames herself for her mothers death at childbirth, she feels she has nothing to offer in this world. Uncharacteristically offering to babysit for her new neighbor opens up a relationship she has longed for ever since she was born. An obsession evolves as she can relate to her neighbors pain even if she lives a lie.

The Truth About Emanuel is a beautifully constructed film exploring human relationships in such a down to earth way. We are introduced to a 17 year old girl, Emanuel, claiming to have murdered her mother. She mentions this during an opening monologue where she later explains is from childbirth. She is guilt-ridden, convinced that she was never meant to belong in this world. Her obscured views on life and reality makes her cynical about her future and to an extent people. An important quote from Emanuel is when she claims “reality is overrated”, her feelings concerning her place in the world makes her absent of ambition, she lives in her own distorted reality. I find her character extremely real as teenagers at some point will feel lost, unsure of what lies ahead and where their choices will take them. Emanuel may be damaged but she has the personality of the average teen. She’s intelligent and extremely witty as we see her countlessly crack smart ass responses to people, she has an identity but no coherent outlet to express herself with.

Ultimately for a good thirty minutes of the film we are exposed to an Emanuel that is on the edge, she feels no one understands her and no one will. I like how the film progresses through her daily routine a number of times, driving home how little she allows herself to live at her age. The film really starts going when Linda moves in with her baby daughter across the street, Emanuel instantly feels a connection with her as we later realize she looks very similar to her mother. A relationship soon develops and we come to learn that there is more to that connection than we thought, it’s chilling but Emanuel’s understanding of Linda’s pain is compelling.

Performances from Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel were pretty solid. I felt Kaya Scodelario was perfect for this role, her face is so gentle and has this believable innocence that you rarely find. I knew she had something special when I first saw her on Skins and not because she was hawt (She’s older than me so not creepy). After seeing her in this I now have to see what she has to offer in her future films because this performance was perfect and surprisingly her accent to. Biel was business as usual, solid playing her role to an eerie believability,

Some parts of the film were shot beautifully typically involving montages and water. We see moments where water floods Emanuel’s surroundings to symbolize what I think is her rebirth, inner purity and subconscious as she develops a mother-daughter relationship with Linda which she has longed for since birth, it later illustrates a much self fulfilled meaning. Another great addition to the film is the soundtrack, it fits perfectly aiding the tone of the story.

It may be a film that proves to be unpopular as it lacks melodramatic moments and a generic tone but it just wouldn’t have been real if it went out to be these things. It’s a story about how human connection and relationships can help you as there are always people out that can relate to your problems and the only way to help oneself is to accept reality and make your own destiny. That was my take on it anyways.

The Iceman (2013)

180755.2 Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Based on true events, The Iceman explores the life of infamous contract killer Richard Kuklinski. The film spans from his time as small time pornography dubber to mob hit-man. To his family he is in the currency exchange business seemingly living a normal life but once too many kills gain the interest of the media he is inevitably arrested for over 100 murders.

The Iceman is intensely dark and gritty with the help of a powerful performance by Michael Shannon who independently makes this a must watch. There’s great performances everywhere within this film as we’re given a star cast to indulge in. Winona Ryder (haaaawt) is solid as Kuklinski’s wife, a crucial character within the hit-man’s world as she is the basis of the only human emotion Kuklinski feels. Ray Liotta is mob boss Roy Dameo, feeling quite at home having countless gangster experience on the screen. Chris Evans is perfect as Kuklinkski’s accomplice, he’s deeply dark but slick as he has no problem with what he does. Nice seeing Evans out of the Marvel universe and getting into these scary roles. Probably one of the most surprising performances comes from former Friends star David Schwimmer. Throughout the film I kept thinking I recognized his face but couldn’t put a name to it. Hidden behind a distasteful hair do and mustache he plays Dameo’s right hand man Josh Rosenthal. He’s like a son to Dameo but sloppy antics and a lack of integrity leave the mob boss a hard decision to make.

Stealing the show is of course Michael Shannon who puts it all on the screen. He’s dark, gritty and slightly misunderstood. I felt he played the character terrifyingly well and it could possibly be one of the best performances of the year. He gave Kaklinski a humanistic side as opposed to the emotionless person we see at the start. He’s molded by his disturbing childhood which gives him this ignition of anger whenever he is provoked. The difference between his jailed brother and him is that he has the ability to control it when necessary. Despite his ability to kill with no remorse he has a strong moral code of not harming women or children which doesn’t necessarily put him in the category of serial killer as he does feel something towards people. Having a violent childhood makes him somewhat cynical towards god, shown through a scene where he gives a man time to pray before he is killed, mocking the idea that god could possibly come down and stop him.

Despite a great performance by Shannon, it felt like the script was lacking character depth. We’re given a character that is compelling, he kills because he’s good at it and feels very little for the people he kills. But he cares dearly for his family just like anyone else. There’s no in depth exploration of who the Iceman really is. We are given small nit-picks of his personality and values, and it can be interpreted differently depending on how you see him. It just felt like an opportunity missed for a brilliant character piece. Ultimately it’s more of a gangster thriller than a thorough look into the Iceman.

The cinematography fit’s perfectly with the intended tone of the film, it’s dark, colourless and stylish. The combination of cinematography and music makes most of the film intense and relentless.

A scene that I love the most is when Kaklinski continuously bangs his head against an elevator wall while repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, it show’s how little that means in the gangster business but also gives him a vulnerability that we don’t see for the first half of the film.

Monsters University (2013)

Monsters-University-3D-Movie-WallpaperRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

This prequel of Pixar classic Monsters Inc follows the path of Mike Wazowski and Sully to their future scaring careers. They weren’t always the best of friends as we see their first impressions of each other were not the best. Their feud eventually kicks them out of scaring school leaving them with one option of getting back in. Reluctantly teaming up with a group of outcasts in order to win a scaring competition is their only hope of getting back on their path to their dream careers.

The premise may be overdone but taking a trip down memory lane makes this nostalgic fun (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it). They made a smart move in making this a prequel as Monsters Inc had ended so well. Seeing the likes of Mike, Sully, Randall and even Roz brought back a lot of memories from the first film but also made for an enticing watch as curiosity gets the better of us. We want to know how relationships were formed and developed even if it is a kids movie.

It was nice seeing the Monsters universe in HD, giving the characters a lot more texture and realism. The overall visuals are a delight to look as it is vivid in colour making their youth seem like such a bright time and yes kids will love it.

As with most Pixar movies this was a pleasant watch with your generic story line but a less predictable ending. I find in most animated kids films nowadays, the formula for story lines have been done countless times so they change the ending making it seem predictable then BAM not so predictable after all. It’s smart as it make’s the adults who may have been reluctantly dragged to the cinema feel like they haven’t wasted an hour and a half of their life.

It’s a charming film but I think it lacked the charisma of older Mike Wazowski, cause that guy was a joy to watch. The young up tight Wazowski was too… up tight for my liking. There were a few funny moments but not as many as there should have been. Other than that it was a pretty nice kids flick, definitely worth watching if Monsters Inc found a place in your heart.

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

kick-ass-2-justice-foreverRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

Three years on following the success of Kick-Ass, we are reunited with superheroes Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). Growing bored of living in the real world Dave Lizewski decides to suit up again and train with Hit-Girl hoping to become a legitimate superhero. Still mourning over the death of his gangster father, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) obsesses over the fantasy of killing Kick-Ass. After accidentally killing his mother D’Amico reinvents himself as the “Mother-Fucker” swearing to avenge his fathers death.

The first Kick-Ass was a huge success because it was such a new concept to the superhero genre. It’s a parody to how the like’s of Batman, Hawkeye and Black Widow would fair in the real world if they suddenly decided to get up and become a superhero. It was fresh, funny and stylish. The action was bad-ass and the violence shocking which made it a comic-book movie classic.

When I heard there was going to be a Kick-Ass two I was quite excited but was pretty sure it couldn’t improve on the first because all that freshness and shock value would be gone. That may have been the case but it indeed improved in some ways, compared to the first film.

I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the film as it seemed really out of place, it turned into this mean girls slash watchmen hybrid as we saw Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl go through their own journey’s; Hit-Girl to puberty and Kick-Ass to adulthood. It was entertaining but felt off as jokes were limited and not well executed. I felt comedic timing and editing probably had something to do with that as I was aware of the jokes but they didn’t come out as well as they could. For example a scene where The Motherfucker robs a store and an old man is told to get on the ground, he struggles as his arthritis kicks in forcing him to go down very slowly. I only noticed it second time round as the camera was panned back. Luckily the second half of the film did not disappoint as it was a lot funnier and provided loads of action.

The bar was set pretty high for action sequences after the first film which is why I was happy to see that the crunching punches and hits remained present. Overall the sequences were well choreographed and thought out as we were given some slick moves and executions to feast our eyes on. It was good that they really strived for original action sequences as it only pumps us up even more, although it was missing the stylish edge that made the first film ultimately pretty to look at. Little things that the camera did in first that it didn’t do in the second.

New additions to the cast meant new superheros and super villains, some of them were awesome and some felt like they shouldn’t be there. Jim Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, ex mafia con man who starts a superhero team in the name of Justice Forever. He may not be as funny as we hoped him to be but he sure plays the part well. As for the rest of the team we have Night Bitch (Lindy Booth), Battle Guy (Clarke Duke), Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Insect Man (Robert Emms) and two parents who are looking for their missing child. They make for entertaining additions to the cast except I didn’t see the need for the parents, they didn’t really offer anything comedically and seemed to get in the way. Overall the group of super villains were much more badass, but again they weren’t all utilized making some of them seem out of place.

Kick-Ass 2 may take awhile to get going but the last acts are worth waiting for as they are adrenaline filled scenes of epicness. Not as coherent as the first as it knew what it wanted to be, a violent parody to the superhero genre. Kick-Ass 2 takes on a more serious tone which continues on from the D’Amico vs Kick-Ass saga. Definitely worth the watch.

Masters of Sex (Pilot)

Masters of SexRoze-Verdict: Its premise will attract viewers for all the right reasons, it’s a 50’s period piece exploring social themes of that era, with Mad Men coming to an end soon this may be the perfect series to turn to for our 50s – 60s cravings.

The series follows protagonists Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson who we know in present day as the pioneers of human sexuality. Based on the biography by Thomas Maier “Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love”, we are taken on their journey as the duo risk their reputation and careers for science.

Starring;

  • Michael Sheen as William H. Masters
  • Lizzy Caplan as Virginia E. Johnson
  • Caitlin Fitzgerald as Libby Masters
  • Teddy Sears as Dr. Austin Langham
  • Nicholas D’Agosto as Dr. Ethan Haas
  • Beau Bridges as Provost Barton Scully
  • Allison Janney as Margaret Scully, Scully’s wife

The premise is entertaining, exploring a subject that almost everyone is curious about except it is taken from a time where sex was taboo, only meant for love and creating life. This makes it a hell of a lot more interesting and thought provoking as we get a genuine insight on the ideologies that society had given women and men about family, love and sex.

The title itself would attract enough viewers to make this successful because sex sells I suppose, as we all have our inner pervert. I’m happy to say that my genitalia did not have any input in watching the pilot (a first). I wasn’t surprised to find that it was a great pilot keeping me interested and entertained til the very end. It has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to binge watching the rest of the season once it ends next month.

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan look brilliant together, they seemed to gel really well in the pilot. It wasn’t just an instant connection but they gradually grew into this team who played off each other’s passion for the science of sex believably. Of course we’re left wondering where the next episodes will take us and what formula will be used but there’s a lot of potential for quite an entertaining chemistry between the two assuming they don’t take too much of a serious approach. Sheen performs as a cold, emotionless, egotistical doctor passionate about his work. He’s not a bad person, just too absorbed in his research. Caplan plays an unfamiliar character for her, as we see her cast as party girls and rebellious women, so this character should be a great challenge and way to push her acting abilities to its limit. her character is a strong woman driven by what she wants. Different from the women in those times who knew their place in society. A scene where she retaliates when getting hit by a man says a lot about her personality.

The pilot gave us a look at a few of the themes they may explore during the season. We get a glimpse of racial discrimination, pressures of having a family and the opinions of sex during the 50s. Most of all, I think the main theme will be women. As we hear both main characters explaining how their research will benefit women the most, for medicine and recreation. It’s an exciting time for women as they have just been given the right to vote and now the truth about female sexuality can overshadow society’s preconceptions on the matter.

Great pilot, only negative I think was the music. It felt out of place since it was quite modern but that is just my opinion. I like how Mad Men would stick to their time periods music, it really made you feel like you were there.

Trophy Wife (Pilot – Episode 6)

Trophy wife ABCRoze-Verdict: Nothing new in terms of sitcom formula, but there are enough hilarious characters to carry the somewhat unique premise. Give it a go.

Kate was a party girl until a night out at a karaoke bar sends her and future husband Pete to hospital where she meets his two ex wives and kids, all in one night. This doesn’t startle her as we meet her almost a year into their marriage trying to fit in to the crazy family dynamics.

Starring;

  • Malin Åkerman as Kate Harrison
  • Bradley Whitford as Pete Harrison
  • Michaela Watkins as Jackie Fisher
  • Natalie Morales as Meg Gomez
  • Ryan Lee as Warren Harrison
  • Bailee Madison as Hillary Harrison
  • Albert Tsai as Bert Harrison
  • Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Diane Buckley

Didn’t expect much from this sitcom even with the addition of Malin Akerman as the lead but after watching a few episodes I’m glad it’s not tainted with dated laughing tracks which seems to be the sign for cheesy comedies nowadays. The premise is pretty original and provides the show for a lot of potential in terms of future story arcs and episode plots. Once again I find that having a large cast with characters possessing varied personalities leads to a successful sitcom. So far within the six episodes they’ve utilized their large cast extremely well providing loads of laughs while exploiting the characters strengths. If a comedy makes you laugh then it succeeds in my opinion and this show definitely kept me laughing.

The characters are all likable and have their own crazy characteristics which gives us a load of different jokes to giggle at. For example we have Dr. Diane Buckley who is incredibly arrogant, competitive and controlling. Characteristics we’d all be able to relate to, from mother’s to wives, even though their not great personality traits she’s probably one of the funniest characters as we get heaps of smart ass comebacks and insults. Eventually we end up rooting for her because she is simply a badass. Another character we get to indulge in is Jackie Fisher a hippie like character with little knowledge of the modern world and… most things, we don’t love her because she is just pure weird but because of the relationship she has with her adopted son Bert who is THE MAN. I hate to say it but their chemistry is so real that it exudes cuuuuute. The other characters have their own traits which make them likable and relatable which is why this show succeeds for me.

Malin Akerman may not steal all the laughs but she makes for a charming lead that we can root for. I thought with such complicated family dynamics there would be some drama in there, what if Pete falls in love with one of his ex’s again as they spend way too much time together. Once seeing the chemistry between Akerman (Kate) and Whitford (Pete), they seemed inseparable and if that story arc ever happens it would probably complicate the show as the different family bonds makes the series enjoyable.

I would say Trophy Wife is a cross between modern family and cougar town except with much crazier family dynamics. It’s weird, crazy and pleasant all at the same time.

Warm Bodies (2013)

warm_bodiesRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie who thrives for more despite being dead. He is aware of the zombie epidemic but still feels there is still hope for them. It takes saving a girl from being devoured by a group of zombies to slowly feel again.

I was expecting this to be more of a parody of zombie films like Shaun of the Dead but was pleasantly surprised by the charm and unique approach to the Romeo and Juliet story. Right from the go we get to know R as being a lot different than your average zombie as he listens to old classics to feel, it’s refreshing to see a zombie film from the zombie’s perspective; definitely original. R’s opening monologue is funny and takes a few amusing stabs at modern society making some similar comparisons between zombies and people today, we’re not too different unfortunately. Straight away my preconceptions of the film were wrong so I sat back and enjoyed probably the most charming film of the year.

It took me a while to notice the Romeo and Juliet similarities (cause I’m slow like that), but when I did I let out quite a loud “ooooooooh” and mumbled “R is Romeo and Julie is Juliet!” was quite happy with my self at the time. It added this whole new originality to it which I loved, as if it wasn’t unique enough. I like how the film doesn’t present us with generic zombies, they give us zombies that can gain memories from a human’s brain once eaten, we also get “boneys” who are ultra zombies that have given up on “life”. Little details which make the story interesting and different.

It’s a pretty beautiful story which is totally held up by the filming style and music. It’s artsy but down to earth really tapping into the emotions of the characters and without the score it wouldn’t have made as much of an impact. It really is a zombie film with heart.