Before I Go To Sleep (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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There’s a collective wince every time a novel is adapted into a film, with the literary fans protective of the work. Before I Go To Sleep – starring well-known Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth – is based on the novel of the same name, and is sure to continue the novel-versus-film debate.

The topic of ‘amnesia’ has been done so many times before, and is a good story element that allows the audience to learn about the world they’re entering as the lead character does. This is only good if done right, but the film needs to also have character progression, and in a film like this, proper grasp of the ‘thriller’ genre.

Before I Go To Sleep follows Christine (Kidman), who awakens every morning with no memory of the last number of years. Her husband (Firth) dutifully tries to calm her, and explain to her about the accident that caused her injury. It is only when Christine begins to remember things contrary to her husband’s retelling, that she no longer knows who she can trust. Was she involved in an accident, or something more sinister? Is her doctor really there to help her? And is her husband the caring spouse he claims to be?

Sometimes you can quite easily classify a film as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But then there are times when it’s not so black and white, and instead a rather unsatisfactory shade of grey. Unfortunately, this is where this film sits.

Kidman and Firth have been in the film industry for many years, and have shown that they can handle the pressure of feature films. Both have also had their fair share of mixed reviews. For Firth, his characters are usually popular, charming, gentlemen who makes women’s knees weak. This role is quite interesting for him, and he manages to play it very well. Kidman is also doing well in this darker genre, as she was in The Others (2001).

There are some plot holes and character progression issues. These are all carried over from the novel, but still should have been fixed in the scripting process. In regards to the story, picking a topic like ‘amnesia’ has been done so many times before, and this film then needs to be as good as those that have come before it. Memento (2000) was, and still remains, quite popular. Unfortunately, I don’t see Before I Go To Sleep as being as successful.

For the last few years, cinemas worldwide have been overrun by superhero films with out-of-this-world story lines, explosions, and extensive visual effects. It is good to see a genuine thriller film among the titles, and, however loosely, holding its own.

Critic reviews have also shown a mixed response, with the most common complaint being that the film’s action is too slow to be truly engaging.

This film had promise and good moments, but falls short in more ways. It is clear how these actors have progressed and will be interesting to see how they continue into the future.

3 out of 5 stars.

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The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


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Robin Williams, may he rest in peace, was a brilliant actor. He expertly played both comedic roles and serious roles, and everything in between. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn displays William’s ability to switch from silly to sentimental without missing a beat. Nevertheless, the finished product really let him down. Based on the Israeli film The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum (1997), it is not easy to rate the film at either ends of the spectrum, because while some aspects worked, others didn’t.

The film follows Henry Altmann (Robin Williams), the titled ‘Angriest Man in Brooklyn’. While some people have bad days, Altmann has one every day. He hates anything and everything, and as a result, he is not too popular himself. A car accident brings him to the doctor’s office, where Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) attends to him. Her day has not gone so smoothly either, and in a moment of weakness, she reveals he has a brain aneurysm – this is true – and that he has only 90 minutes left to live – this is false. The news hits Henry hard, and he rushes out of the office, desperate to find his loved ones and make amends, all within an hour-and-a-half. Of course, a lifetime of resentment is not so easily forgiven. Will Sharon reach him before the pressure overcomes him? Will Henry find a way to reconnect with all those he hurt? Or is it really too late to change the past?

As I said before, there are both equally good and bad aspects of this film that make it hard to give a definite rating.

Firstly, it is always a treat when we get to see both the serious and comedic talents of Robin Williams. Never again we will be witness to his brilliance, so any project he has been involved in automatically becomes a treasured product – whether it was successful or not.

Secondly, there is no doubt that the message of the movie is positive. No one knows exactly how much time he or she has left on Earth, and time spent fighting is time wasted.

Though the cast list boasts a lot of stars – Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Peter DinklageJames Earl Jones, etc. – their talents were not put to use. The latter characters were merely cameos, though it did fit with the ‘rushed’ theme of the movie.

The dialogue and story were also quite cliché and in no way realistic. A doctor would never deceive a patient like Kunis’ character did; and if they did, they wouldn’t keep their job for long. While the film is not supposed to be a true story, this does detract from its overall believability.

Online reviews have not been the most positive, either, and most consider it not bad enough to be comical, just plain bad.

With so many mixed opinions, it is hard to say either way. So, either watch the movie, or just watch the trailer, because the trailer is basically the entire movie in two minutes.

3 out of 5 stars

Mum’s Night Out (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


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When I first heard the name ‘Moms’ Night Out’, I feared it would be like Bridesmaids (2011) or The Hangover series (2009-2013), which are definitely not my type of movie. It only took watching the trailer to realise how wrong I was. This film has entertaining actors, comedy, and heart – which all adds up to a must-see family film.

Every mother, no matter where they are in the world, knows how amazing it is to be a mother. They also know how tiring and stressful it is. Allyson (Sarah Drew) is a mother of three, who gathers her two best friends, Izzy (Andrea Logan White) and Sondra (Patricia Heaton), and goes on a mums’ night out. Things go from bad to worse when a child is lost and the group search all over the city, getting into one adventure after another. This film is not about useless fathers or tired mothers, but about individual accountability and learning that no one is perfect.

No one is going to deny that the story of a stressed-out mother who needs to compensate for her unreliable husband is not a new idea. Of course it has been done before, but it is the ways in which this film makes it feel fresh and new that keep you watching.

The actors are not A-Listers like seen in Valentine’s Day (2010) or New Year’s Eve (2011), but they are ones that we love to watch and that know how to entertain an audience. Personally, my favourite is Patricia Heaton, who has definitely found her niche. She is best known for her role as Ray Romano’s wife in Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005), and has expertly taken on the lead role in the show The Middle (2009-). All of the actors showed how much they understood the characters and the genre, with many of the original lines being thrown-out and improvised by the actors – which even the writer loved!

Moms’ Night Out has been promoted as a ‘Christian-based comedy film’, and while that may turn some away, it made me more inclined to see it. It is proof that movies don’t need to be riddled with curse words and sex scenes to be entertaining.

Overall, this film has received generally unfavourable reviews. Comments on YouTube and reviews on online critic websites like Rotten Tomatoes, among other complaints, have labelled this movie ‘sexist’. This is so far from the truth that one questions whether they actually saw the movie. Upon watching the film, you will see that it is more about empowering women to understand that no one is perfect, and they aren’t expected to be. Yes, the men do sometimes behave in silly ways in the film, but so do the women.

Harsh online critics might be looking for something different (curse words, sex scenes, etc.) or they might just be reading a little too much into a fun story that has received a largely positive response from cinemagoers. Sometimes you have to ignore the critics and just watch the movie and see for yourself.

3 out of 5 stars

Breakup At A Wedding (2013) – Review

OK so I used to write film reviews for CinemaParadiso. It was a lot of fun, and I thought I would share some reviews and links over the next few days/weeks/months.


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I have never been to a wedding. The only wedding experience I have had has been through film and television. I don’t think I’m missing much. Breakup at a Wedding is a comedy that unfortunately falls flat. It does have an interesting new take on wedding movies, allowing us to see through the lens of the wedding videographer’s camera, seeing all that he sees and giving an almost found-footage feel, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the rest.

The story begins the night before the wedding of Alison (Alison Fyhrie) and Phil (Philip Quinaz). The church has been booked, the flowers are ordered, the dresses and suits look stunning, but then it all goes wrong. Alison suddenly gets cold feet, and does not want to go through with the wedding anymore. Phil is shattered, and to save him from further humiliation, Alison concocts a plan to continue with the wedding. With hopes of winning back Alison’s love, Phil agrees to the sham wedding, and what follows are a series of ridiculous complications set to ruin the day and reveal their separation.

Using the wedding videographer as the narrator and cameraman is the only positive thing about this film. It is a different way of showing an old setting, but the rest of the story felt like it had been done many times before.

Not only were the jokes unfunny, but the characters were cliché, ranging from the bridesmaids wanting to sleep with the groomsmen, wedding crashes, and the bridal party either laughing or depressed after taking drugs.

The most recent – and much more successful – wedding film Bridesmaids (2011) managed to make the same elements work much more effectively. This could be due to well-known comediennes such as Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy, playing the leading roles, while Breakup at a Wedding is only the first film from the comedy group PERIODS.

There have been some positive reviews, also commending the use of the videographer as our conduit to the story, and viewers finding the overall story and ending to be pleasant. Nevertheless, that does not sell tickets.

Breakup at a Wedding was filmed only a few days before real-life director Victor Quinaz got married, which would account for the lightness of the film, especially the ending. Overall, the characters weren’t realistic and believable, doing things that are so clearly set to fail, the major one being going through with a sham wedding all to simply ‘save face’ in front of their relatives. Then there are the illogical complications that seemingly come out of nowhere and are almost as ridiculous as a monkey slipping on a banana peel or a man being hit in the privates with a football.

The only unexpected part of the film is the contribution of Zachary Quinto, something he might now be viewing as ‘illogical’.

Let’s just hope their next film isn’t set at a funeral, because we all know how successful the 2010 remake of Death at a Funeral was.

3 out of 5 stars