A Star Is Born: Film Review

I am a huge Lady Gaga fan and have been for years, so I went into A Star is Born at Venice really wanting her to be good in her first lead feature film role, and she didn’t disappoint me. She didn’t exactly blow me away, but I was impressed by her solid performance and her powerful, moving voice.

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A Star Is Born: Venice Film Review

I am a huge Lady Gaga fan and have been for years, so I went into A Star is Born really wanting her to be good in her first lead feature film role, and she didn’t disappoint me. She didn’t exactly blow me away, but her performance is solid and her singing is both moving and powerful.

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Concussion: Film Review

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Will Smith scored a Golden Globe nomination for Concussion and it was released in the U.S. aaaages ago so I was keen to see what the fuss was about and I can safely say that it is such an incredible true story and Smith gives his best performance in years.

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Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Film Review

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By my count Tom Cruise’s agent Ethan Hunt should have died at least four times in Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation – that is just how ridiculous the stunts have become in the franchise. I never expected the films to reach this number and I’m never blown away by them (except the 1996 original) but they are still entertaining and Tom Cruise is a brilliant action hero.

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Still Alice: Film Review

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Julianne Moore deserves all the awards season wins she received for this because her performance is so convincing and affecting and Still Alice is a beautiful film with a great supporting cast.

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Alec Baldwin bitches about Shia LaBeouf

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Alec Baldwin wrote a massive article for New York Magazine, detailing his problems in recent months including accusations of homophobic slurs, being fired from his MSNBC talk show and also financial repercussions. He also used it as a tool to bitch about plenty of people, namely the media for making up stuff about him and the paparazzi for harassing his family, but also certain famous people – including Shia LaBeouf, who has also fallen out of the public’s graces recently.

Shia and Alec were cast in the Broadway production of Orphans alongside Tom Sturridge but Shia was famously fired from the role  and replaced by Ben Foster. Alec has shed some light on what really went down. Here’s an extract from his article:

 

“Getting back onstage seemed like a good idea. I loved Lyle Kessler’s play and was anxious to work with director Dan Sullivan. Then Shia LaBeouf showed up. I’d heard from other people that he was potentially very difficult to work with, but I always ignore that because people say the same thing about me. When he showed up, he seemed like a lot of young actors today—scattered, as he was coming from making six movies in a row or whatever.

There was friction between us from the beginning. LaBeouf seems to carry with him, to put it mildly, a jailhouse mentality wherever he goes. When he came to rehearsal, he was told it was important to memorize his lines. He took that to heart and learned all his lines in advance, even emailing me videos in which he read aloud his lines from the entire play. To prove he had put in the time. (What else do you do in jail?) I, however, do not learn my lines in advance. So he began to sulk because he felt we were slowing him down. You could tell right away he loves to argue. And one day he attacked me in front of everyone. He said, “You’re slowing me down, and you don’t know your lines. And if you don’t say your lines, I’m just going to keep saying my lines.”

We all sat, frozen. I snorted a bit, and, turning to him in front of the whole cast, I asked, “If I don’t say my words fast enough, you’re going to just say your next line?” I said. “You realize the lines are written in a certain order?” He just glared at me.

So I asked the company to break. And I took the stage manager, with Sullivan, to another room, and I said one of us is going to go. I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll go.” I said don’t fire the kid, I’ll quit. They said no, no, no, no, and they fired him. And I think he was shocked. He had that card, that card you get when you make films that make a lot of money that gives you a certain kind of entitlement. I think he was surprised that it didn’t work in the theater.”

 

Getting rid of Shia did not help the play and following that incident, the director was no longer friendly with Alec and the play closed early.

Really interesting insight there, although I’m not sure how reliable Alec is as he seems pretty bitter in this article.

To read the full thing, see here.

Rock of Ages: Review

I really enjoyed this because it is fun, a laugh and will leave you with a smile on your face yet there are times when I doubted this. It isn’t consistently good. It was weird in places and I wasn’t 100% convinced on the singing and acting abilities of the two leads- Julianne Hough (Sherrie) and Diego Boneta (Drew).

In the 1970s, Sherrie moves to LA from Oklahoma to pursue a singing career. Upon arrival in the city, she is mugged outside rock club, The Bourbon Room. Drew, a bartender, helps her out and tries to sort her out with a job there. Romance blossoms between the pair but all that changes once Drew gets his first gig opening for Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). Jaxx is the lead singer of Arsenal who is planning to go solo. He has got to the level of fame where nobody says no, he is arrogant, an alcoholic, ladykiller and always gets his way. It has turned him into a bit of arsehole.

There are plenty of supporting characters so the plot doesn’t just focus on Sherrie and Drew. Russell Brand is the manager of The Bourbon Room and Alec Baldwin is the owner. They are having financial difficulties with staff walking out, to Stacee’s greedy manager (Paul Giamatti) taking all their money and the possibility that rock music is dying out and being taken over by pop music. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the mayor’s wife who has a vendetta against Stacee and plans to ruin The Bourbon Room because of it.

Like I said, the film is very enjoyable and that is mainly due to the amazing rock songs used with it such as We Build This City, Here I Go Again, Hit Me With Your Best Shot and many, many more! However, there is a stage in the movie where the musical numbers are really close together and you start to lose the excitement. You just groan and think “not another one”. The numbers were good but the film was saturated with them in parts.

The cast also have questionable singing abilities- on some songs, I really like Hough’s voice and in others, I thought it was weak and childish. I was only convinced about the singing talents of Zeta-Jones and Boneta. I was impressed that all the cast could sing (including Tom!) but not all amazingly. With the songs being rock, they can get away with shouting or speaking some of the lyrics so the song choices hide weaknesses well. Diego and Julianne are both relatively new actors in a sea of seasoned professionals (bar Brand!) and it did show in some places. Some of their lines I cringed on for being so cheesy or cliched. They definitely grew throughout the duration of the movie and they became really convincing as the film progressed.

The main problem I have with this movie is the casting of Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx. I’m not saying I hated it but I just had trouble taking the character seriously. I just kept thinking “I can’t believe Tom Cruise is playing this part!” It is a very bold move for Tom and I commend whoever sent him the script. It is such a departure from his normal roles that is is hard to get into his character. Jaxx is an arse who talks a lot of mumbo-jumbo and a lot of time I just wanted him to shut up. Once you’ve got over the novelty of the character, he becomes quite annoying. You also wish he would put a top on because I was getting grossed out by his torso after a while. For me, he wasn’t convincing as a rockstar. My favourite part of his was when you first met him and when he is trying seduce journalist Constance (Malin Akerman). Their musical number together is hilarious and Malin is a great singer!

There was a weird scene where it was revealed that Russell and Alec that were homosexuals or just had feelings for each other. It came out of nowhere. They started singing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” on their own in the empty club, ended up dancing together and then kissing. It was awkward and unnecessary because it was never referred to again and it seemed completely irrelevant to the plot so I just wish it was cut.

So, as you can see from my examples, there are some things about Rock of Ages that didn’t quite work for me. There were some “WTF?!” moments, but not in a good/funny way, but in a “that’s just too weird to enjoy” way. It’s not as innocent as some other musicals and it can be a bit sexual and also a bit bleak at times. Besides those instances, the film is really enjoyable and funny. It is great laugh and you will have the songs in your head for ages afterwards.