#853 – The Trials Of Cate McCall

Thriller

The second screener was The Trials Of Cate McCall due out on the 7th July. Now this might be just me, but courtroom dramas do feel like a bi-product of the 90s and this is no exception.

Does this make it bad? No. Does it hamper it? Yes. It doesn’t feel relevant or as significant as it should. It’s all a bit ‘90210’ (original series). Beckinsale is miscast and although she is more than capable of carrying a film she has to, through no fault of her own, battle against this. She’s too ‘perfect’, something her character is constantly shown not to be to the point of distraction. It’s as if the film is fighting against the associations an audience has with the actress. Nolte does his grizzled thing and aside from that no-one else has much to do.

There is also a lot of chat. All the significant incidents are discussed rather than shown. A choice most likely to keep the viewer’s perspective in line with McCall’s and a legacy of its made for TV origins. But even so there is still no dynamism to anything, there’s barely a raised voice.

Intriguingly too Taye Diggs is way up on the cast list, yet never appears. It’s a conspicuous absence…

The Trials Of Cate McCall Kate Beckinsale Nick Nolte

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#852 – Expecting

Drama

A screener for Expecting arrived slightly premature of its VOD 30th June due date and as it stars Michelle Monaghan I reckoned it would be well worth a look.

Monaghan plays wild friend to Mitchell’s settled down desperate to have a kid Lizzie. Monaghan becomes pregnant thanks to a one night stand and the plot runs with it from there. The outcome is a sort of reserved version of Knocked Up. There isn’t the explicitness or commitment required to make things really comedic or dramatic, and setups seem forced meaning nothing rings true.

That’s not to say it’s a terrible movie, it’s just too easy going, too matinee. Monaghan does lift proceedings but even she struggles to nail down her characters traits, a vital flaw of the whole shebang.

It’s worth mentioning the scenes with the therapist played by Mimi Kennedy because these although almost outside of the actual plot hint at what could have been. Unfortunately the lack of a strong hand in both the writing and behind the camera leave this flick floundering.

Expecting Michelle Monaghan

#851 – The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Fantasy

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is a trick. I sit for two hours happily enjoying myself at the spectacle of it all, admiring Evangeline’s pointy ears and then the film ends. And it dawns on me that nothing has happened. That’s not strictly true, a lot has happened I mean the screen is packed with stuff going on. In terms of narrative though, the journey has moved barely to the end of the street. It’s so frustrating, basically you’ve been fed padding for the duration and only at the end do you realise this.

Amongst all this though it has to be said Freeman is sensational as Bilbo.

#849 & #850 – Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & Nymphomaniac: Vol. II

Drama

Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & Nymphomaniac: Vol. II are out there and Shia’s accent is every bit as incomprehensible as you’ve heard. Nevertheless it wasn’t quite as horrific and sordid as I’d expected, which was a relief. Obviously these preconceptions came in the light of having seen Antichrist, so I should probably caveat that sentiment with a ‘relevantly’.

There is no denying that Von Trier is as interesting as he is controversial and this pair of films reflect that. However I wouldn’t be put off, if you’ve enjoyed his previous work you’re going to get something out of these films too. Who can resist masses of meaningless sex on a train compared to the finer points of fly fishing!?

Flaws, Vol. I is better than Vol. II. The second movie pushes the suspension of disbelief too far for my liking and I hated the end. It wouldn’t surprise me though if that was intended by design.

Nymphomaniac Stacy Martin

#847 – Don Jon

Comedy

This is tough for me because I usually like the work of everyone involved in this film, however Don Jon isn’t good. It feels like a bad 80s sitcom of New Jersey life was used as the only reference point. The cliches pile up to smothering levels before characters break type unfathomably to become ‘better’ people. Heart was in the right place, execution was scattergun at best, offensive at worst.

Don Jon

#846 – Philomena

Drama

Philomena is a staggering story. In part because of the coincidences and revelations it revealed to those involved and in part because you can’t believe what atrocities are carried out by some frighteningly self-righteous nuns. Dench is phenomenal, she’s never not her character, which is quite the achievement when you’re arguably the most famous actress on the planet. Coogan too, does not fall short. This film is well worth the accolades bestowed upon it.

#843 – Inside Llewyn Davis

Drama

Unfortunately I was not entirely swept up by Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s a good film but I found the eponymous lead played by Oscar Isaac not that likeable, and even worse, not that interesting. The vignette with Goodman and his driver I enjoyed a lot predominantly because the dialogue changed pace, quickened and had a real beat to it. Obviously the music is sensational too, but this Coen brothers fan was left a little indifferent to proceedings.