Tuesday 24 June 2014

60 Second Film Reviews #12

Quick movie reviews, without the waffle. 60 Second Film Reviews is a regular feature where I compile together brief reviews of recent films I've watched at home or at the movies - and generally couldn't be arsed didn't find time to write a proper review for. 

This month, I watched The Spectacular NowDrinking Buddies and Chronicle

The Spectacular Now (2013)

The Spectacular Now is a coming-of-age dramedy from the creative minds behind (500) Days of Summer - starring Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment) and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, Divergent), this touching movie is really one for all you young adults and teens out there. It tells the story of Aimee (Woodley) and Sutter (Teller), two opposites who come together in their senior year of high-school. Aimee, a shy book-type who has never had a boyfriend and Sutter, a confident, live-in-the-moment kind of guy with a drinking problem. 

Mary Elizabeth Winstead also stars as Sutter's older sister, and Kyle Chandler gives a great performance as their deadbeat dad. With only 15 minutes screen-time, Chandler is pitch perfect, and his character is written really well as literally the mirror being held up to Sutter's face. It's this segment of the film that really stood out for me, and I thought that both Teller and Woodley acted wonderfully in the final third of this film. For people who haven't read the book on which the movie is based (such as myself), there is a moment here that will leave you stunned. It's powerful stuff, both written and acted to perfection.

The relationship crafted between the two leads is delicately handled, loaded with teenage emotional punch and hormones. Like any good high-school movie, there's bucket-loads of awkwardness and talking about the future. However, where this film really wins out is where it distinguishes itself from common coming-of-age film trappings - like I said, there are some great rug-pulls when things really start to hit the fan.

The Spectacular Now is last years' answer to The Perks of Being a Wallflower - touching and raw, it's an engrossing movie from start to finish.

I give The Spectacular Now: 9/10

Drinking Buddies (2013)

Drinking Buddies is a dramedy about two couples who get all tangled up - starring Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy, Rush), Jake Johnson ('New Girl'), Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and Ron Livingston ('Boardwalk Empire'), this film is an understated and effective drama that works in a really simple and straight-forward manner.

Luke (Johnson) and Kate (Wilde) are co-workers at a brewery who spend their evenings drinking and flirting heavily - a couples weekend away together with their significant others (Kendrick and Livingston respectively) starts to expose the fault lines their two relationships. Things start to crack, and before long the foursome have started to discover what they really want in life. Oh, and there is a lot of drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. 

The real winner (aside from the acting, which is great across the board) is the grounded scripting and dialogue. I found that the film was really well written and heavy-hitting at times. You really felt that these four people were totally relatable people, and the way their relationships are constructed is really well done.

That being said, the chemistry that actors like Wilde and Johnson shared really brought the laughs and chuckles too. It's a very well-balanced and enjoyable 87 minute film; not too long, it doesn't drag. Short, sweet and clever too.

I give Drinking Buddies: 8/10

Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle is the 2012 début feature film from director Josh Trank - it stars Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan and Alex Russell as a trio of teenagers who stumble across an alien ship and soon discover they possess superhuman abilities such as flight and telekinesis. Centred on the well-worn 'found footage' premise, Chronicle defies expectations of the often shaky genre in being one of the most striking and affecting début films from a film-maker. 

Two years on from Chronicle's release and its main star, Dane DeHaan, is now a big deal, starring in big-budget blockbusters (Amazing Spider-man 2) and acclaimed indie flicks (Kill Your Darlings). His performance in Chronicle however is his 'breakout' role, and earned him the attention he's duly received since. 

And watching the film for the first time as I recently have, it's easy to see why. DeHaan completely owns the show, and his transformation across the brief runtime is wonderfully played out. He plays a reclusive character, socially trapped by the unpleasant life he experiences at home. After mastering his newfound abilities , he channels this emotion into raw power and rapidly spirals into villainous territory.

That by no-means should undersell the impact the other actors have on this film; Michael B. Jordan also stood out from the talented and youthful cast.

Most importantly, it was Trank's direction that sets this film apart. The found footage genre has grown old fast, but Trank has found a new angle for it in Chronicle. It's kind of cheating, but it made the film watchable. Where others found footage films (mainly horror movies) deviate from the premise rarely, Trank played around with the genre conventions here to great effect.

I give Chronicle: 8.5/10


  1. With The Perks of Being a Wallflower topping my list of best films in 2012, I was hoping that The Spectacular Now could somehow match its success in 2013. Unfortunately, I didn't care for The Spectacular Now, and, while Drinking Buddies was a little better, it was quite underwhelming, in my opinion. However, I do love all things New Girl, so I'm always ready to watch Jake Johnson.

    Chronicle, on the other hand, was surprisingly good, and I can't wait to see where Dane DeHaan's career ends up! He is one of my favorite up-and-coming actors, for sure!

    1. I can see why people would think why Drinking Buddies was a bit underwhelming - the quietness and low-key tone is a little different, but I found it refreshing :)

      Likewise, Chronicle was awesome. DeHaan has had a really stellar run of films since then, and I haven't seen his role in Kill Your Darlings yet! :) Thanks for commenting.

  2. Glad you liked Chronicle. That was one of my favorites from 2012. Great movie, a nice, fresh take on the found footage genre, and that turned out launching a couple of careers at that. :)

    1. I had pretty high expectations, and was glad it didn't disappoint :) DeHaan certainly has done well out of it! Thanks for commenting :)



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