Film Friday #220

Selma (2014)

Selma follows the life of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jnr (David Oyelowo) in the lead up to a groundbreaking march for equal access to the ability to vote for African-Americans. As someone with a limited knowledge of US history, I didn’t know much about King apart from the fact that he was influential, he made a famous speech and he was tragically shot, so this film was a powerful introduction into just how much impact he had and I have to admit I was blown away. My connection with this true story might in some way be related to the fact that I grew up in a place with a history of racial segregation and oppression but whatever it was, I was deeply touched. A lot of this has to come down to the performances, particularly from Oyelowo who was absolutely shafted when it comes to an Oscar nomination because I could not take my eyes off him. He is ably supported by Carmen Ejogo, playing his stoic wife, Coretta – always consigned to playing second best to the movement, as well as, Tom Wilkinson playing President Lyndon B. Johnson and Tim Roth playing the Governor of Alabama. I liked that the film didn’t portray King as a saint, refusing to shy away from his infidelities, insecurities and willingness to do whatever it took – even if that sometimes meant the loss of innocent lives. A lot has been said about the idea that Johnson is portrayed as a villain but as an outsider to the actual history to me he just came across as someone with a lot on his plate trying to balance everything. I am very glad that I managed to see Selma in advance of the Oscars as it’s definitely one of my favourites for 2015. 5/5

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Do you know who I am? I’m fucking Oprah! Put me down!

Cake (2014)

When Nina (Anna Kendrick), a fellow member of Claire Bennett’s (Jennifer Aniston) chronic pain support group commits suicide, Claire finds herself obsessing about Nina’s life. To some extent Claire is jealous of Nina because she’s escaped yet she cannot bring herself to to do the same. As the bitter, disconnected, pill-popping Claire sleepwalks through her life she forms rather odd friendship with Nina’s husband, Roy (Sam Worthington) as well as dragging her long-suffering housekeeper/carer, Silvana (Adriana Barraza) on a series of random adventures. There are some issues with Cake. It’s slow-moving, Worthington is as wooden as ever and some of the direction around the effect of Claire’s pain medication on her vision and perception is a little bit obvious. On the other hand, Aniston’s performance is impressive. She makes you believe that every movement she is making is agonising and as more and more of the circumstances of her accident are revealed she moves from being very difficult to like to a deeply sympathetic character. Overall I found Cake to be a touching study of grief, blame, loss and ultimately hope. 3.5/5

What do you mean i don't  look like a twenty-five year old stripper?

What do you mean i don’t look like a twenty-five year old stripper anymore?

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Minutes after being released from prison, master thief, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) decides to bring together a team to take on the biggest heist of his career – knocking over three Las Vegas casinos in one night. The crew includes, Basher (Don Cheadle) – a British demolitions expert, a pair of Mormon brothers (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan) – who never stop arguing, a Chinese acrobat (Shaobo Qin), the legendary Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner), pickpocket, Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) and Danny’s right hand man, the permanently hungry Rusty (Brad Pitt). It won’t be easy though. The three casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), known not only for having an unbeatable security system but also for exacting brutal retribution on anyone who crosses him. But is the job really about the big score or is it about the fact that Terry is dating Danny’s ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts)? The reason this excellent crime caper is so enjoyable is threefold. Firstly it’s packed with outstanding performances and an electric chemistry within its ensemble cas . Secondly its dialogue is sharp, witty and clever. And finally it balances exposition and suspense perfectly. The audience is only ever half in on what is happening so every twist in the story hooks you even further… plus we all secretly love the idea of a bunch of clever guys getting one over on a a dodgy fat cat. The only real downside is Cheadle’s horrific British accent. It’s so bad he could have had a lead role in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. I mean I love Cheadle but why they didn’t just hire Idris Elba is anyone’s guess. I haven’t seen the original but this remake is definitely worthy of its classic status. 4/5

Let's hurry this up! Downtown Abbey is about to start.

Let’s hurry this up! Downtown Abbey is about to start.

Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Chris Parker’s (Elisabeth Shue) boyfriend stands her up so she decides to take a babysitting job looking after Thor-obsessed, Sara (Maia Brewton). Sara’s brother, Brad (Keith Coogan) is supposed to be staying over at his friend, Daryl’s (Anthony Rapp) house but once the two realise the sexy, Chris is going to be there for the evening they decide to stay in. Chris settles herself in for a quiet night but it’s not long before her friend, Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller) calls her to say that she’s run away from home, regretted it and is now stuck at the bus station in the city needing a ride. Against her better judgement, Chris bundles the kids into the car and heads into central Chicago. Throughout the night the gang will face crazed mechanics, a chop shop, a subway gang, frat boys and the blues… but will they make it back before their parents do? Adventures in Babysitting is so very 80’s it hurt, which is awesome – especially if you grew up in the 80’s like I did. And I loved the fact that Sara wanted to be Thor rather than some kind of princess. On the downside there are some things that have not dated as well. There are a lot of homophobic jokes in this movie that made me cringe and the way that Chris  eventually gets the money to get her mother’s car back seemed a bit dodgy.. as did the weird subplot that she was the doppleganger of a Playboy centrefold but if you can get past that and enjoy it as a “period” piece, you’ll probably have just much fun as I did. 3/5

What do you mean these clothes won't be back in style until 2006?

What do you mean these clothes won’t be back in style until 2006?

31 Comments

  1. MIB

    Glad you enjoyed “Adventures In Babysitting”. It’s been a while since I last saw it so I don’t recall how contentious some of the material may be through today’s eyes although I am sure the dodgy fashions and haircuts have dated badly! 😛

    1. Abbi

      It was a really good laugh and not so whacky that is stopped making sense (which happens quite a lot with 80s movies). The thing that jarred the most for me was all the gay jokes. It just wouldn’t be considered funny (and rightly so) now. And there’s a bit of an undercurrent of sexism that’s very dated.

  2. so glad u enjoyed Selma so much. AIB is such a great 80’s flick!

    1. Abbi

      Selma was great. It deserved more attention from the Academy.

      AIB was such fun. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before Table 9 Mutant reviewed it.

      1. Its because u grew up on the wrong side of the Atlantic 😉

  3. theipc

    Great post, Abbi!

    I’ve seen the original Ocean’s Eleven and I liked it : )

    1. Abbi

      I need to check it out!

  4. What a busy week for you! Good choices, good reviews. Oprah is fine actress even though I’m sick of her as a personality. David Oyelowo was as much shafted as J.G in Nightcrawler. Hard to pick the top 8 of the year!

    1. Abbi

      Oprah isn’t very popular in the UK so we don’t see much of her but I used to watch her show when I lived in South Africa and it really did get tedious.

      1. She’s grown tedious. Of course, if she wanted to stamp her seal of approval on my novel, I would grovel shamelessly with gratitude 😉

  5. Adventures in Babysitting is one of my favorite movies that I never owned. I used to watch it every time it came on tv, but I haven’t seen it in years now.

    1. Abbi

      I think we all have movies like that from our teens. For me it was Dazed and Confused.

  6. Selma was fantastic!

    1. Abbi

      I loved it!

  7. smilingldsgirl

    Fun eclectic set of reviews. I totally agree on Selma. It made MLK feel like a normal person and made me feel like I could do great things which is tough in that kind of movie

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! It definitely humanised him which I felt made his achievements seem that much greater.

  8. The clothes and the hair ha. Selma really was a very powerful film. Scary to think that kind of stuff only happened a few decades ago. And what a soundtrack! Do you think Jennifer Anniston will now do more drama?

    1. Abbi

      I think it would be nice if she did. She has the ability and I think she’s selling herself short by doing crap romcoms.

      1. She’s been doing them for years. I remember Picture Perfect

  9. Great reviews. Pretty much looking forward to Selma and Cake, and I absolutely adore Ocean’s Eleven.

    1. Abbi

      Selma is excellent. I feel like there was a real lack of love from the Academy and I’m not sure why.

  10. […] Abbi posted her Film Friday reviews, including Selma & Cake […]

  11. YAY on Selma, glad you appreciate that film which I agree is excellent and powerfully-moving. Oyelowo and DuVernay were definitely snubbed IMO, who knows what the real reason was but it’s really a shame.

    I’m curious about CAKE to see Aniston’s performance. Ahah, I didn’t realize Worthington is even in this but sounds like his acting hasn’t changed much. I did like him in Avatar and Terminator Salvation though.

    1. Abbi

      I really don’t understand why DuVernay missed out on a nomination. It seems like a no brainer to me.

      Poor old Worthington, he’s like a plank of wood but Cake doesn’t suffer much from having him in it and I like you would enjoy it.

  12. Theo

    Ocean’s 11 is one of my life-long favourites! I’m so glad you liked it!

    1. Abbi

      I hadn’t seen it in years before this but it was such a good laugh.

  13. Not sure I’d be able to watch Cake. Way too close to home for me…

    1. Abbi

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      1. Thanks. Some days are better than others, but I don’t feel the need to salt the wounds :-p

  14. Selma gets 5 stars?! I will have to be looking into this at some stage! Ah, Ocean’s Eleven is a wildly entertaining movie.

    1. Abbi

      I would highly recommend Selma. I was very impressed. And Oceans Eleven is an essential heist movie!

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