Film Friday #272

Boiler Room (2000)

After dropping out of college, Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) runs an underground poker table from his apartment. When his judge father (Ron Rifkin) finds out he is unexpectedly horrified putting their already tense relationship under even more strain. Some of Seth’s most regular customers are stock brokers at JT Marlin so when one of them suggests that he try out for the job at the firm he agrees hoping to bring some legitimacy to his life and win his father’s approval. At first he revels in the work-hard, party-hard, close the deal at any cost environment but it’s not long before he realises that things at JT Marlin are not what they seem. Now Seth will have to decide whether the trappings of success are worth abandoning his ethics and the clients he’s sold down the river, especially when the FBI gets involved. On the one hand this is an early 90’s brat pack thriller with Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Jamie Kennedy and Tom Everitt Scott forming part of the supporting cast but it’s just as much a story about a father-son relationship, which to me was often the more interesting story. Ribisi gives an excellent performance and his internal conflict is arresting to watch. There is also some cracking dialogue, especially from Affleck who seems to be having a whale of a time playing the fast-talking JT Marlin principal. Fast-paced and relevant following recent attention on the fallout follow the 2008 financial crash. 3.5/5

Boiler room

Fast and Furious 12: Love in an elevator

Miss Congeniality (2000)

Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is an FBI Agent who has made a name for herself for being completely dedicated to her job to the complete exclusion of any kind of personal life… but also for having a fiery temper and shooting/hitting first and asking questions later. When her latest blow up leaves a colleague in hospital she is suspended from active duty until her superior, Eric Matthews (Benjamin Bratt) needs someone to go undercover in the Miss America Pageant. Ungroomed, ungainly and disinterested in anything “girly”, Gracie is hardly prepared for integrating with what she is convinced will be a group of airheads. This is where disgraced former pageant coach, Victor Melling (Michael Caine) comes in. As Gracie delves into the case and gets to know some of her fellow contestants she begins to realise that she might have been closing herself off to some of what life has to offer. On the face of it Miss Congeniality should be a total bust. However Sandra Bullock’s amazing comic timing makes her totally believable in this fish out of water comedy and the character’s transformation is so charming that it bypasses the typical “makeover movie: look we just took off her glasses trope”. Caine is excellent as the acerbic, sarcastic Victor and he and Bullock have the most amazing chemistry. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Bullock and Bratt, who is as wooden as Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare. And you can’t talk Miss Congeniality without mentioning Heather Burns’ scene stealing take on Miss Rhode Island. I might be viewing this movie through total rose tinted glasses because the whole thing is so silly but it is a total guilty pleasure of mine and one I never get bored with. 3.5/5

miss congeniality

Gracie believed in always putting her best boob forward

The One I Love (2014)

Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) and Ethan’s (Mark Duplass) marriage has been on the rocks since his infidelity. In an attempt to salvage things they see a counsellor (Ted Danson) who suggest that they visit a weekend retreat, which has had excellent results in improving his other clients’ relationships. When the couple wakes up in the morning after their first night away they discover that they have somewhat different memories of what occurred the previous evening. Soon it becomes clear that there is something strange going on at the retreat, which could be the best or the worst thing to have ever happened to their relationship.  I went into The One I Love with very little knowledge of the plot which I think enhanced my experience of the film so I don’t want to give away anything more in this review. What I will say is that both Moss and Duplass give excellent performances and they are very believable as a long-term couple who are coming to terms with the realities of unfulfilled marital expectations.  Whether the viewer is supposed to take the happenings in the retreat at face value or as a metaphor for how people change within a relationship is up for interpretation but the premise is fascinating and layered with symbolism. I felt like the ending lost its way a little and it felt like director, Charlie McDowell kind of ran out of steam. Definitely worth a watch though. 3.5/5


Sophie and Ethan were not expecting the sudden shock of Donald Trump’s real hair

The Cell (2000)

Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) works as a psychiatrist using a cutting edge technology that enables her to enter the minds of patients and help identify the cause of their issues. In the meantime serial killer, Carl Stagher (Vincent D’Onofrio) is on the loose, drowning his victims and turning them into human dolls.  In the process of his apprehension by FBI Agent, Peter Novak (Vince Vaughan) Stagher goes into a schizophrenic coma. He is the only person who knows where his latest victim is and she’s on a timer to be submerged in water so Novak convinces Catherine to enter Stagher’s mind to try and find out what he has done with her.  This pitches her into the dark labyrinth of Stagher’s tormented past as well as his twisted and dangerous fantasies where the risk of becoming trapped is very real. On the upside, director Tarsem Singh has created a fascinating visual pallet that is completely immersive as well as being deeply disturbing and watching this on our shiny new 42-inch HD TV I was blown away. On the downside aesthetics only count for so much when you take a premise that could have had lots of potential and relegate character development, coherent writing and dialogue to the lowest priority over production design and special effects. It doesn’t help that Lopez and Vaughn are both dire and while D’Onofrio tries his creepy best, there isn’t very much for him to work with. In the end it’s like a long, complex music video – worth watching for the sheer spectacle as long as you don’t expect anything special from the story. 2/5


I call this look “dominatrix meets home dip dye accident”


  1. I laugh so much whenever I see Miss Congeniality. Loved this post, the caption underneath The Cell image made me laugh.

    1. Thanks! It’s such a fun, heartwarming movie.

      1. Sandra Bullock is hilarious in it.

  2. wow! havent seen boiler room in such a long time.. it was one of my very first dvd’s

    turned off miss congeniality in the middle.

    have no desire to see the other two 😦

    great job as always abs!

    u show probably try and watch look who’s talking before u give birth 🙂

    1. Sorry to hear Miss Congeniality didn’t do it for you. I have seen Look Who’s Talking but it was years ago.

  3. You can have Miss Congeniality. I’ll take The Cell for guilty pleasures. Just got swept into the nightmare. In 1999, there was this shocking YBA group that did an art show called Sensation. It featured gross art like the sliced cow and mannequins behaving badly and art out of shit. They stopped in Brooklyn and I went. It was all disturbing and controversial. Well, wouldn’t you know they took some of the art and placed in the film? Perhaps that’s another reason I liked the film. It was like going to the art show.

    1. Wow that’s so interesting. The bit where the horse gets dissected made me think of Damien Hirst.

      1. He’s one of the leaders of the Young British Artists.

  4. Yeah, The Cell looked good but I can’t remember a damn thing about it otherwise. Boiler Room actually sounds quite good, though. It’s not one I ever thought about watching but I think I will sometime. And I liked Miss Congeniality too. I do like the fun chick flicks sometimes! 😉 Plus I like Sandra Bullock, so that helps. Always preferred to watch her chick flicks instead of ones with Julia Roberts!

    1. I love Sandra Bullock. She always seems like someone who’d be fun to go for a beer with.

      1. She does! Unlike Julia Roberts… 🙂

  5. theipc

    Sandra Bullock can Bullock my Bollocks any day!


    1. I do not blame you. Her legs are unreal!

  6. I have a soft spot for Miss Congeanility too. Don’t remember Beart being too bad. All about Sandra in that movie mind.

    1. His role was quite small so I don’t think it mattered much that he wasn’t memorable. I think they almost didn’t need the romantic subplot. It was kind of tacked on… but that’s Hollywood for you.

      1. Well you knew that would happen. Didn’t he date her too? Or was that Julia Roberts?

  7. Urgh, I hated The Cell so much. I saw it at the cinema and it’s the only film I can remember ever genuinely wanting to walk out of. I’m not sure why I had such a visceral reaction to it, considering the shit that I watch.

    Miss Congeniality is one of those that I feel I shouldn’t like, but I can’t help it. I’ve got a real soft spot for Sandra Bullock and she’s especially likeable in this one.

    1. It’s pretty unsettling so depending on your age at the time I can imagine it being pretty freaky. Even now some bits of it gave me the creeps.

      You’re definitely not the only one who feels like that about Miss Congeniality.

    1. Thank you! I love seeing all the interesting ways people see themselves so it’s really special to me to be part of it.

      1. It fascinates me too. I guess that’s the main reason I have that blog. And it’s good to have you joining in. 🙂

  8. The Cell sounds…. interesting! Boiler Room sounds great too. I don’t think I have actually ever seen Miss Congeniality!

    1. Whether you like Miss Congeniality or not will depend on whether you like Sandra Bullock because it’s pretty much just a vehicle for her.

  9. Hmmm, nothing here seems to scream a ‘must see’ eh? I thought Miss Congeniality was a hoot, but I love Sandra Bullock. It’s funny seeing Michael Caine in it!

    1. It was a pretty average week but sooo much better than some of the horrendous ones I have had in the past. Lol!

  10. Looks like you had quite the consistent viewing week 😀 As for Miss Congeniality? I loved that when I was younger! Haven’t seen it in the longest time though.

    1. You should check it out again. It still amuses me even though I have probably seen it fifty times!

  11. […] Abbi posted four reviews in her Film Friday series, including The One I Love which sounds the most intriguing of them all. […]

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