Film Reviews

Film Review: Last Vegas

It’s hard to believe that there will soon be a generation of moviegoers who will not see the likes of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and to some extent, Kevin Kline, as anything but “the old guys in a movie”. While these four may be at the tail end’s of their much lauded careers, their ability to find roles that while be diminished in terms of their scope, still give them enough room to show audiences that they were indeed the best of their time.

Last Vegas, a Jon Turteltaub (known best for 90s fair Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping) flick, can easily be labeled or dismissed as a senior citizens version of The Hangover. To some extent, it’s true, the story surrounds Michael Douglas’ everyoung ladies man Billy Ghershon who is finally getting married in his 60s (to someone half his age). His best friends are corralled together for one last hurrah in Vegas. Seems straight forward, yet what Turteltaub and the writers have done is given the film an added texture of personality and humility. It means that while Last Vegas is less brazen than The Hangover, it certainly isn’t anywhere near as provoking or memorable, however, it doesn’t mean it’s not without merit. Quite the opposite in fact. While The Hangover left behind no aspect of shame, Last Vegas‘ message is actually more about rebuilding and solidifying friendships broken by mistrust and miscommunication. Through an opening set in the 50s of Brooklyn, the heart of the film is born; four best friends will spend a lifetime sorting through the ups and downs of life.

When we are reconnected with them 58 years later, there is a rift between Billy Gershon and De Niro’s character Paddy Conners. Much of the friction comes between these two and both play it off really well. They’re like a more sophisticated rendition of Grumpy Old Men, set to the backdrop of the glitz and glam of Las Vegas. Through it all, we get lot of old jokes, lost in a generational gap jokes, and some old fashion “get off my lawn” jokes. Romance, age and time play a big part in the plot’s progression after we’re introduced to the still radiant Mary Steenburgen. And while there are elements that can be described as The Hangover type debauchery, it is far more toned down. In fact, much of the humour comes from the juxtaposition of old (people) and the young (Vegas, in spirit).

Yes, it’s funny, and all four actors play a substantial part in the appeal of Last Vegas. As the conclusion nears, we see that the point of the film isn’t about flying to Vegas to have one last debaucherous weekend reliving one’s youth, but rather rediscovering and perhaps, finally realising what really is important in life. Something that gives the film a true warmth. Fans of Grumpy Old Men will certainly find a kind hearted soul underneath a rough, agitated and cantankerous exterior they enjoyed from Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau. But perhaps, for a generation of viewers who have no idea who Lemmon and Matthau are, they’ve got De Niro and Douglas. Not bad really.



Last Vegas opens in Australian cinemas February 6th.


Directed by: John Turteltaub
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Cast: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen
Released by: CBS Films
Running time: 105 minutes


Trailer watch: Winter’s Tale

We’re closing in on the Valentines Day’s schlock as Hollywood starts tolling out the trailers for next February. First up on deck is the Akiva Goldsman directed Winter’s Tale, packed with stars (Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe) and fairy tale romance.

It’s one of the those films that jumps through time in the name of love. It makes no sense but it’s all romantic… and stuff. It’s based on the book of the same name by Mark Helprin.

The official synopsis of the film is as follows:

[quote]”Set in a mythic New York City and spanning more than a century, Winter’s Tale is a story of miracles, crossed destinies, and the age-old battle between good and evil. The film stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay (TV’s Downton Abbey), and Oscar® winners Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt , Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront) and Russell Crowe.  Winter’s Tale also introduces young newcomers Ripley Sobo and Mckayla Twiggs (both from Broadway’s Once). The film marks the directorial debut of Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind”), who also wrote the screenplay, based on the acclaimed novel by Mark Helprin.”[/quote]

The film opens, you guessed it, February 14th. Check out the trailer below.


Trailer watch: Paul Walker fights for family in Hours

Fresh from all the chasing cars and high-speed action, Paul Walker turns to some darker content in his next flick Hours. Facing the oncoming destruction that was Hurricane Katrina, Walker plays a husband whose premature baby is born as the storm hits. Stuck in the hospital without much help, Walker’s character must try to save the life of his young child while fending off the storm’s wake, the disappearance of others, and the trouble that comes with an abandoned city.

The Walking Dead without the zombies? Fast And Furious without all the cars? Probably neither, but Hours does look like a good psychological, heart-racing thriller.

It opens December 13th.


The joys and perils of being lost in your late 20s and early 30s, the familiar obstacle for many and the premise for the new Kristen Bell-starring The Lifeguard.

Bell plays Leigh London, a New York reporter who leaves her big city life to move back to her family’s Connecticut home in an attempt to reconnect with herself, her past and her future. Co-starring Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Party Down), the film is directed by Liz W. Garcia (who also wrote the film) and is currently available as a VOD title. The Lifeguard will see cinema release August 30th.

You can watch the trailer above and a short clip from the movie below.


Having conquered the art of the screenplay, Juno-writer Diablo Cody steps behind the camera for the first time with her directorial debut feature Paradise.

Starring Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars, Burlesque), Holly Hunter, Octavia Spencer and Russell Brand, the film tells the tale of a young woman who lets go of her conservative upbringing after surviving a plane crash. Set in Vegas, the once tightly wound woman is set free to the backdrop of attempted alcohol consumption, “extravagant” tattoo art, and the desire to set free her spirit alongside a Vegas bartender (Brand) and a showgirl (Spencer).

The film is set for release later this year.

Just me or does Russell Brand come across as far less annoying than all of his previous roles? May actually be able to sit through an entire Russell Brand film.

Film, Trailers

Trailer watch: Michael C. Hall in ‘Peep World’

Dexter’s Michael C. Hall leads an ensemble cast in this quirky family comedy/drama about the strained bond between a family after a book divulging their secrets is published. Co-starring Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ron Rifkin, Judy Greer and Kate Mara, Peep World was directed by Barry W. Blaustein (Beyond the Mat, The Ringer).

The film’s trailer can be seen above. Peep World was first released last year at the Toronto International Film Festival and will arrive in theaters March 25th.

Film, Trailers

Trailer watch: Josh Radnor’s ‘Happy Thank You More Please’

The trailer for Sundance-winning film Happythankyoumoreplease has been released. The film stars Malin Akerman, Tony Hale, Kate Mara and Josh Radnor and is about a group of New Yorkers trying to find the perfect balance in life between the trials and tribulations of love, loss and happiness.

Their interconnected lives are changed when a young boy comes into the lives after getting lost on the subway.

The film won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and is the directing debut of How I Met Your Mother star Radnor. It opens in March.

Film, Trailers

Trailer watch: Helen Mirren, Russell Brand in ‘The Tempest’

Shakespeare’s The Tempest gets its Hollywood makeover with Julie Taymor’s (Frida) big screen adaptation of the same name.

Featuring an ensemble cast of Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Djimon Hounsou, Alfred Molina, David Strathairn and Chris Cooper, the film is a drama comedy that features sorcery, love, betrayal, and stupidity … the hallmarks of a good Shakespearean rollick.

Yet after viewing the trailer, perhaps these sorts of old-fashioned yarns are best left in their classic state … this film looks to be a vibrant mess of acts that would appear disjointed in film form. We are not quite sure whether to be stricken with grief at the trailer, or to laugh uncontrollably at it. See for yourself above.

The Tempest opened at this year’s Venice Film Festival and will get its general release tomorrow, December 10th.

Film, Trailers

Trailer watch: Mark Wahlberg in ‘The Fighter’

The new trailer for the Mark Wahlberg starring boxing drama The Fighter has made its way online. The hard hitting trailer is the most action-packed we’ve seen for the film, about retired boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (played by Wahlberg).

The Fighter details the struggles of boxer Ward, overcoming the hurdles he had to face to find success as a professional fighter. Christian Bale co-stars as Ward’s brother Dickie (it looks like Bale pulled off another incredible The Machinist for this role) while Amy Adams plays love interest Charlene.

Directed by David O. Russell (who previously worked with Wahlberg in Three Kings), The Fighter opens in the United States December 10th.

Looks like a serious piece of drama with lots of emotionally intense fight scenes … somewhere in between Rocky and Million Dollar Baby? Check out the new trailer below.

Film, Trailers

Trailer watch: Halle Berry in ‘Frankie & Alice’

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry returns to the screen for her first role since 2007. The film, Frankie & Alice, is a drama about a young multiracial American woman with dissociative identity disorder who struggles to retain her true self from submitting to her racist alter egos. It is a dark drama that sees Berry move away from big budget affairs that appeared to have stalled the talented actress in recent years.

Directed by Geoffrey Sax (White  Noise) and co-starring Stellan Skarsgård and Phylicia Rashad, the film premiered at this year’s Cannes Festival to positive response.

Frankie & Alice opens to general audiences February 4, 2011. You can check out the trailer above.