Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Cake (15)

Watching the BBC's back-up movie programme Film (insert year here) recently, presenter Danny Leigh was less than kind about Cake - basically saying it was Jennifer Aniston playing Rachel Off Of Friends only without make-up.

And this pissed me off, because Aniston can act - she's not just rehashing the character that made her famous.

You only have to watch We're The Millers and The Good Girl to see that.

But don't watch Cake to find out. Because Danny was right. Which has pissed me off again.

Billed as a film about addiction (it isn't) and clearly aimed at The Oscars (it missed), Cake is actually an essay on suicide and grief. With jokes.

Not great jokes, sure, but a couple of half-way decent stabs at black humour are attempted.

The film centres entirely on Aniston's character Claire, a woman recovering from an accident and using pills to numb all manner of pains.

And Claire's not nice.

She gets kicked out of her therapy group, her aqua-therapist threatens to drop her, her house keeper only puts up with it because... Well that's not made clear. It's probably the money.

And through all this, Claire embarks on an ill-advised relationship with a dead friend's widower and takes up drug smuggling to keep the habit going.

All of which raises more questions than it ever answers.

Aniston, meanwhile, is basically playing Rachel.

Sure, a potty-mouthed, barely-able-to-walk Rachel with no friends, but it's Rachel nonetheless. Right down to the hair.

Amazingly this doesn't make it a bad film, but it doesn't make it brilliant either.

Especially when both Anna Kendrick and Felicity Huffman act her off the screen during their brief appearances.

The problems start with the central character being so unlikeable, and are compounded by the flimsy plot and weak supporting characters.

And yet it's still not a bad film.

It helps that Aniston is essentially a likeable screen presence, even if her character isn't. It also helps that Cake is shot so beautifully.

It's glowing warmth does all it can to cover up the flaws, and the lack of music - bar one 'key' scene - actually works well.

But it's not great.

Partly because of the aforementioned issues, but also because of what this film could have been.

There's a gritty intent that gets given a glossy sheen, there are real issues (chronic pain, drug addiction) which don't get covered in the depth they deserve.

The fact it's so clearly aimed at the Oscar judges also goes against it.

As mentioned, there are some attempts at humour, but they're ill-judged and would have been best left on the cutting room floor.

What Cake should have been was a nasty, gritty film about a woman falling apart which had the courage of it's convictions instead of trying to get mass appeal.

Instead, it's an Oscar wannabe, a film that wants to be liked (even if the central character can't be), a goodie-two-shoes that thinks jaywalking is a real crime.

And that's criminal.

To be fair to Aniston, she's taken this role (and helped produce the movie) to prove she's got depth and range.

Instead, we get to see what happened to Rachel after she left New York.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The 2015 EE Baftas

Hello, good evening and welcome. We've got our wine, Richard Parker is in his best bib and tucker, and we've switched Twitter off so we can find out who wins with Stephen Fry and the rest of the universe.

It's what God intended.

Well, not God, obviously. Him and Stephen don't get on so much. But you know what we mean.

Anyhoo, sit back, relax, and enjoy...

OK, who the hell invented Beckham and that pointless bunch of twerps from Leicester?

Julianne Moore looks baffled by Kasabian. Join the club love, never seen the point. In fact, we seem to have a whole room of people wondering why they have to put up with this crap.

"That. Was amazing."

It really bloody wasn't.

Aha, here's the main man, the newly-wed Stephen Fry.

Mr Gervais could learn a thing or two about how to make smut sound innocent from Mr Fry.

Here we go, Outstanding British Film...

Only slightly marred by David Beckham blithering on, reading an autocue like a man more used to picture books.

But I digress...

Outstanding British Film
The Theory Of Everything

No great shock, but from a list that included Paddington, Pride, Under The Skin, '71 and The Imitation Game, no less deserved.

(1-1 so far)

Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Get in! Brilliant and so well deserved.


(Might have forgotten to mention the prediction game with Bang The Drum Mag - it's what the scores refer to)

Good grief, Cuba Gooding Jnr actually has a sense of humour.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Sorry, but no. Everyone else (Knightly, Staunton, Russo, Stone) deserved it far more. AND IT'S NOT A BLOODY WORK OF SODDING ART!

(Still 2-2)

Well, Wes Anderson wins the prize for best speech (and we're only half way through).

Oh damn, we've run out of wine. Onto the Jim Beam we go...

Hmmm, so that's two prizes for Theory Of Everything (Best Adapted Screenplay has just been handed out). Money says it doesn't get the big one now...

Bloody hell, missed Lauren Bacall snuffing it last year.

'Ey up, star of everything James McAvoy is now here to present the Rising Star award (what he went and won 10 years go - how time flies, eh?).

And Jack O'Connel l (off of '71 among others) is that rising star. Bloody well deserved.

And now we have Steve Carrel to discuss Best Director.

Best Director
Oh look, Richard Linklater. (3-3)

Seriously, just because he bothered the same damn kid for 12 years - doesn't mean the film is actually any bloody good!

Although the film is slightly more fun than Ethan Hawke's tedious waffle we've currently got to endure as Linklater had better things to do than turn up apparently.

Now we're into the big stuff.

Leading Actor
Eddie Redmayne (for playing The Prof in Theory, obvs)

In a tough field (Fiennes, Cumberbatch, Keaton, Gyllenhall) was there ever any doubt?

(4-4 if you're keeping score. And I am)

Leading Actress
Julianne Moore (for Still Alice)

No one has seen this here in the UK yet (unless you took advantage of Sony's security breach), but she's playing an Alzheimer's sufferer. The others never stood a chance.

(That's 5-5).

Some young upstart called Tom Cruise is presenting the Best Film gong. Ever heard of him? No, me neither.

Best Film
Boyhood (6-6)

Oh fer... Really? Maybe if they'd taken 15 years to make Theory, or 20 years to make Budapest? Would a decent film have won then?

Meanwhile, in the background, Tom Cruise is talking to an gay man. Hope he's had his jabs...

Right, as people try and explain why one of the most tedious films in living memory is worth all the fuss, we just have to search out Best Animated Film to see who has won this year's prediction fandango.


Best Animated Film

Oh bloody get it in! Have that Oscars! You didn't even deem it worthy of a mention, but Bafta has shown the way. Everything is indeed awesome!

And that's it, we're all done for another year. We've tied 7-7 with Bang The Drum (who are currently streaming the excellent new Subways album), so it's double or nothing when it comes to The Oscars.

See you there?