Hey hey hey! You know, when my brother and I were little guys, we used to fly a lot with our parents for conventions or travels or what have you. I recall one time on the way to California, when the flight attendant was serving us breakfast, my brother and I started joking in really loud voices that we couldn’t wait to see Uncle Spielberg when we landed. We were obviously jocking ourselves as cooler than cool, but it all stemmed from a complete admiration of Spielberg and his films…and inflated egos, which have been humbled since then I assure you. Watching his take on one of the classic children’s book by Roald Dahl, Steven Spielberg’s newest fantasy flick The BFG (Big, Friendly Giant) is undoubtedly one of his efforts for his kids and grandkids, and while the intensity of the visuals is breathtaking, I couldn’t help but feel that the Spielbergian charm, existent though it is, is slightly lacking in realism. Suffice it be said, I was rather disappointed walking away from the screening. Little Ruby Barnhill as Sophie is adorable, but as an actress for this role it all felt very forced. The BFG has its set of neato visual gags that are sure to delight the very young or simple, what with the massive giants, impressive sets and CGI, it’s hard not be impressed by the spectacle. But when you take into account that Dahl once said that ‘The BFG’ was his favourite piece of work, I, myself (who grew up with his literature as my young lad’s second Bible), wanted more emotionality from the actors. Oscar winner Mark Rylance does the BFG some justice with his character, but only at times did it feel that the two main stars connected at all. How can you when everything is done via green and blue-screens and CGI effects? Perhaps, something a bit better next time. ###
Buddy comedies are usually cop, uni or stoner-driven affairs (or all three!) that plug in just the right amount of laughs and silly guffaws as to keep men coming in their droves for the pratfalls and popcorn. Central Intelligence, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and comedian Kevin Hart (the new wannabe Chris Rock…he is not!) does just that, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this silly film more than my beloved Spielberg’s latest. And I learned one thing from it, as well…Dwayne Johnson deserves to be a big action and comedy star. Unto! There, I’ve said it. He is SO damn marvellous in this film and I swear to God, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to cinema and acting, but he totally won me over, and not just because you feel for his character at the beginning of the film when the most embarrassing incident happens to his chunky ass on the last prep gathering of the school year. Flash forward 20 years and Kevin Hart’s big-man-on-campus street cred is gone and his character Calvin is a mid-level accountant, disappointed with his life, but man has he got a gorgeous wife. Meanwhile, chunky-butt Robbie is now going by the name Bob Stone and has evolved into a rippling god of a man who’s strong enough to carry this entire movie on his back—with or without Hart. I won’t give the details away, but we are thrown the question of whether or not Bob is a legitimate informant for the CIA or a brutal killer and the shtick just runs with it, and it runs a fair-to-middling race! One thing to note though…Kevin Hart is NOT funny…he’s annoying…very, very annoying in this film. He’s hiding something, but I shan’t tell what it is. ###-1/2
Lastly, comes Jodie Foster’s latest directorial outing starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, two of my faves (three actually because Foster is a queen). Foster has directed a real-time drama that’s lean and efficient and relies on the nature of its timely stars. That said, the film’s rage against the machine feels a tad late on arrival and all of that is only overshadowed by Clooney’s formulaic but on-time approach to his character Lee Gates, a CNN war room-style financial guru with a popular, loaded CNN- uh, I mean, FNN- show called Money Monster; believe me, Clooney knows how to rev up the crowd. When an intruder called Kyle (Jack O’Connell) takes him hostage live on-air, all hell breaks loose and Julia Roberts, as his longtime director, has to guide him from behind an A/V room wall and a headset when it’s revealed the intruder has a bomb. Tension starts off very real in this nice thriller, though starts to feel bogged down by its own subject matter when all is revealed to be more than the sum of it parts. Haven’t we already seen something slightly similar before (at least in feeling) with Inside Man from Spike Lee, which incidentally also starred Foster? Still, Lady Foster steadily builds that tension throughout the film, and I must say it was nice to have her back in the director’s chair again. Perhaps next time, something less retro as a theme might serve a better purpose. After all, we all know the stock market is a smokescreen. Give me something new, love! ###-1/2
Have a great rest of your week and see you back here soon!