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Review: Halloween H20

Although it was released over a decade ago, Halloween: H20 is as creepy as ever. Centred around mask-wearing psycho Michael Myres, the movie is the follow up to the original 1978 hit. And guess what? It’s set 20 years later (hence the rubbish title).

The story of Halloween begins in 1963 and  follows Michael Myres who, at only 6 years old, brutally murders his older sister. He’s then put away for 15 years in a mental institution until he escapes on Halloween night and goes on a killing spree – mainly to try and murder his other sister Laurie Strode.

The second film kicks off 20 years later – with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) still having nightmares and struggling to get on with her life.

As well as sharing the same dramatic theme tune, Halloween: H20 is just as creepy and well shot as the first. The movie mostly takes place in a private school, where Laurie is teaching and living on campus with her teenage son (Josh Hartnett). It’s quite an achievement to make a film so gripping with repetitive set shots and only a handful of characters to work with. But H20 does achieve this – it might be because of L L Cool J’s amazing *sarcasm* supporting role or it could just be down to the sheer brilliance of Curtis. Things get interesting the moment her character decides to ‘face up to her demons’ and take on Michael alone. She is surprisingly quite handy with an axe.

Although we reckon the film definitely borders on cheesy, it’s a classic teen horror flick that rivals others of its kind including Scream. It has just about enough gore (just watch the scene with Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and you’ll agree) and just about enough of a storyline to keep you gripped.

While it’s not worthy of an award for ingenuity, H20 is a definite must-watch during the trick or treat season and is staying firmly put in our halloween dvd collection.

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Review: Crazy Stupid Love

Looking at the title it’s easy to judge Crazy Stupid Love as ‘just another rom com’. But Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have broken the traditional rom com mould and produced something that’s both entertaining and complex.

The script tackles some interesting complexities – mainly family relationships and generational interaction.

Steve Carell plays Cal, a middle aged man struggling to come to terms with the dissolution of his marriage. After finding out his wife (Julianne Moore) has cheated on him he takes to roaming bars and nightclubs in a bid to meet women and prepare for his impending divorce. It’s here that he bumps into womaniser Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who – although half his age – takes Cal under his wing and teaches him how to woo women. Cue some hilarious and slightly uncomfortable pick-up scenes.

Carell is brilliant as Cal. Although he seems to play the same character in every movie he is in his awkwardness and funny one liners fit perfectly with this role. Cal is what most men in his position would be – unsure of how to approach the opposite sex after spending the past 25 years with the same woman and watching him try out pick-up lines is cringe worthy to say the least. He is so relateable though – it’s this that makes the film such a good watch.

Gosling plays slick ladies-man Jacob superbly. His arrogance is ultimately irritating but it’s the character layers that are most enjoyable, if not a tad predictable. Once Jacob has a bit of screen time we begin to see his confident exterior melt, mainly due to Hannah (played by Emma Stone). The on-screen chemistry of this pairing is subtle and addictive. In some ways it’s a bit dissapointing that they don’t get more screen time. We could have quite happily watched an entire film based on their relationship.

The addition of Kevin Bacon is a treat. He plays ‘the other man’ and has some funny scenes, including an interrogation by Cal’s angry teenage son.

Although we doubt this movie will win any prizes for  innovation, it does capture the essence of relationships extremely well. Every character has some interaction and some of the twists along the way are totally unexpected. An easy and enjoyable watch.

Review: Blue Valentine

Although at its core Blue Valentine is actually quite a depressing film, it’s tinged with realism and it’s so addictive – anyone who watches it will no doubt re-visit it over and over again.

Director Derek Cianfrance brings such compassion and beauty to the screen – mainly by the clever on-screen positioning of the central characters. Their love story is brutally examined for all to see.

Blue Valentine centres around a modern day couple, Dean and Cindy, and explores their courtship and subsequent marriage. With scenes flickering between the past and present, the film focuses on the experience of falling in love and the tragedy of falling out of it.

Dean is in his early twenties and working for a removal company when he bumps into Cindy – an aspiring medical student. The pair quickly fall in love and begin a relationship. Cindy’s past with high-school jock Bobby catches up with them though and she finds out she is pregnant. Loyal Dean declares his love for Cindy and promises to stay by her side. The couple end up marrying and it’s their struggling marriage (6 years later) that we see as the present day.

The flashback scenes are intricate and the performances from both Ryan Gosling (Dean) and Michelle Williams (Cindy) are outstanding. Stand out scenes include their first date where Dean serenades Cindy with a Ukulele and his rendition of You Always Hurt The One You Love (this is so poignant and is undeniably linked to their present). The bus ride scene where Dean suggests they ‘become a family’ is also beautiful to watch – we defy any cynic that says they are not affected by their emotional performance and youthful optimism.

Flash forward to the present day and things are harshly different. Dean is sporting a receding hair line and is contently plodding along in a painting and decorating job. Cindy, stifled by her marriage, is working as a nurse but can’t help wanting to progress to the next level – something that her marriage seems to be in the way of.

It’s so evident that Gosling and Williams spent a month living together before the making of this movie. Their arguments are so real – everything about them screams married couple.

Although the flashback scenes fill you with hope for the couple, the relationship seems doomed. Both Dean and Cindy come from dysfunctional families and the cracks in their relationship are always on show. Dean is happy to stay in his dead-end job and is frustrated with Cindy’s nagging; Cindy can’t stop nagging at Dean’s lack of enthusiasm and waste of potential.

If you’re one of those people that looks for a significant message to a film you might be disappointed with Blue Valentine. Their really isn’t much of a moral – it’s more an exploration of human relationships and how love can blossom and, sadly, how it can dissolve.

If you don’t strain too much on the message and just enjoy the story and the characters then Blue Valentine will no doubt make it into your DVD collection.

Review: Super 8

Super 8

With both Jeffrey Jacob Abrams and Steven Spielberg involved, it was obvious from the start that Super 8 was going to be a hit.

Set in the 70’s the film beautifully explores relationships, friendship and is packed with a healthy dose of adventure from the offset.

Super 8 is centred around a group of friends who are obsessed with making the best home-made movie in the country. Lead character Joe (Joel Courtney) and on-screen best friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) spend their time writing zombie horror scripts and practising make-up and special effects techniques. But one night their world is changed when they witness a horrific railway accident and what appears to be evidence of alien life.  Abrams then takes you on a really vivid journey involving suspense, alien fights and explosive action scenes.

One to watch out for in the film is Elle Fanning who plays Joe’s love interest Alice. The chemistry between the two actors is believable despite their youth.

Although the actual alien effects in the movie leave a bit to be desired, we were really impressed with the kids own horror movie (which you can see during the credits.) The make-up, awful one liners and shuddery acting is hilarious to watch and the authenticity of the characters had us believing we were a part of their group.

Super 8 is an easy Sunday afternoon watch that will no doubt have you reminiscing about your childhood, whatever the decade.

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