Tag Archives: kristen stewart

Welcome to the Rileys (2010)

“I guess I’m just not used to being around young women who talk about their private parts.”

Cast: James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo

After the death of their teenage daughter, Doug and Lois have grown estranged in their marriage. When Doug goes on a business trip to New Orleans, leaving his agoraphobic wife at home, he meets Mallory, a teenage stripper whom he forms an unusual platonic bond with.

Welcome to the Rileys is directed by Jake Scott, son of famed director Ridley Scott. Unlike his father, Scott Jr. has a more toned down element to his films (his first since 1999) and seems to focus more on the message, rather than the size. While the film does employ the old ‘lost love’, ‘damaged hearts’ and ‘seeking solace’ themes, there are a few strands of originality mixed in which is a nice touch.

There is no question that this story is completely driven by its characters though, and this trio can certainly act. While the story can seem a bit predictable in places and the dialogue can be a little flat, the three of these bring it home.

Firstly we have James Gandolfini, widely known for his run on The Sopranos. As the heartbroken and troubled Doug, he seems to be constantly searching for some form of escape or relief for his heavy heart. The film mainly follows his story though is not restricted to it. Where he really shines as Doug though is when he’s acting off of Leo and Stewart. He manages to get the audience where he wants them, and make them feel his every emotion along the way.

Melissa Leo is fantastic too. Her chemistry with Gandolfini along with how she carries herself in the opening scenes are just great. As the film progresses we also see more from her character, which adds so much to the film and its story, giving both her’s and Gandolfini’s characters a nice developmental angle.

The most impressive acting however, came from Stewart. A lot of people know her from her lacklustre, emotionless and stiff perfomace in the Twilight Saga, though to really see how great she can be, I would urge the audience to watch her in something else. Welcome to the Rileys is just another platform on which she really showcases her talents, which I honestly believe have gone amiss thanks to those teenage films.

Welcome to the Rileys is not a film full of action, but one more of a humble nature with a strong message. Where the script and already-seen formula let it down in some respects, the perfectly cast trio of actors lead the way and pull it right back up again. Full of emotionally charged material, yet unfortunately leaving the ending feeling a bit rushed and unfinished, Welcome to the Rileys has a bit of a ‘take it or leave it’ element. I would recommend a viewing though, it’s nice to see Scott Jr. working the camera!

Star rating:   5.5/10

Directed by Jake Scott.

Running time 110 minutes.

The Runaways (2010)

“You hear that? That’s the sound of hormones raging.”

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon

The Runaways marked a massive change in rock and roll history, taking it in a brand new direction. The first all-girl rock band not only broke the rules but garnered huge success which saw the industry change for the better. This film is a coming of age biopic about the 70s band and shows the beginnings of one of the biggest all-girl rock bands to date, The Runaways.

Now, I’m too young to really know about The Runaways, but I’d definitely heard of them before the film was announced. What really enticed me was the casting of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie which happened to be Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning respectively.

Stewart has always been a bit ‘rock and roll’ so to speak, so I knew that she would be able to emmerse herself in the role and her somewhat toughened attitude would be of use as notorious Jett. Yet as people are getting used to seeing her as Bella Swan in the Twilight Franchise, this type of film ensures Stewart isn’t being completely typecast just yet. Fanning also had me really intrigued here. I was excited to see what she was going to do with the role of Currie given the content and attitudes carried by the rock industry back then. Having a bit of prior knowledge on the things the band also got involved in, I knew this role would be one to test both of their acting skills, perhaps Fanning more so as she had always seemed so innocent and sweet in her earlier films.

Regardless, Fanning did fantastically well. As we have all grown to previously know her as a huge child star, I bet she relinquished the fact she was now playing the sexy jail-bait, and with such conviction. She gave everything in her role and it was truly great to watch. Stewart was also brilliant. From her rough-edged demeanour to her foggy voice, everything about her screams Joan Jett. The songs they perform are also freakishly similar, and yes, they did re-record some of The Runaways’ songs for the film!

Another performance that stays with you came from Michael Shannon. As the eccentric and wild Kim Fowely, Shannon in no way over-plays his character as some might believe. From his actions to his beliefs and fashion, everything was just as Fowley had done, if not under-played in some ways. Obviously the soundtrack is fantastic too and the fashions are all superb, totally placing it in the zeitgeist of the time.

Unfortunately there are a few things that let the film down. Firstly it doesn’t give enough focus to the band as a whole, but instead brings both Jett and Currie into the spotlight, it would have been nice to see other band members explored too. Another element which I feel the film could have included was what happened with them in later years as they did continue, a further 3 years on from where the film leaves, with considerable success too. While I realise the paragraphs in the end credits kind of do this, I think it could have been better approached as only Jett, Currie and Fowley are mentioned. The biggest letdown here is the omission of Sandy West, The Runaways drummer who tragically passed away from cancer in 2006. She and Jett essentially started the band, as shown in the film, and it was a real disappointment to not see her mentioned.

While the film doesn’t stick to the literal truth about the ins and outs of the band, it does convey what it was like as an adolescent teen in the mid-1970s. The Runaways is a great account of the all-girl rock band that changed history and most definitely does the band proud.

Star rating:  6.5/10

Directed by Floria Sigismondi.

Running time 107 minutes.

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)

“Let’s start with forever.”

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner

I love it and I hate it. Simply because I read all the books before I saw any of the films, and I was a massive fan immediately, I feel my review may be a bit biased. So, I’ll do it purely from an objective angle and try and be less of a Twilight geek for the next 5 minutes.

Breaking Dawn opens as the final touches of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) wedding is being put together. While Jacob (Taylor Lautner), shirtless and broody as always, receives an invitation from the happy couple and runs away in a strop all werewolf like. With the lucky girl that Bella is, Edward treats her to a honeymoon on Isle Esme, a private island just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Bella – having decided she wanted to remain human to experience her wedding night just like everyone else – soon finds herself in a dangerous and what she believed, impossible situation. She thinks she’s pregnant.

The remainder of the film is largely made up of baby bump, vampire vs werewolf, what’s going to happen to Bella? territory. Very typical of Twilight, though it seems the love triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob has been toned down and replaced by a vamp-baby conundrum. At least the story actually moves forward and we get to get past all of this “I love her more” nonsense that we had to endure in Eclipse. Though it lingers on the pregnancy throughout, having nothing else to really clutch at.

The acting in the film is very average, though it seemed that Lautner was just that bit better than the rest, mainly because he actually conveyed emotion, even if it was just that of an angry kid. Stewart’s efforts at a withdrawn and anxious teen see her fall a little short in the acting department, and Pattinson doesn’t have that many lines, he just looks pretty and manages to drop his English accent and adopt an American one.

If you’re not already a fan of the franchise or on Team Edward or Team Jacob, the chances you will enjoy this film are slim. Because it’s pretty flimsy and involves a lot of close up glances, sideways smouldering looks and awkward exchanges, it doesn’t stand alone as a great film. There are also quite a lot of awkward visuals in the film. Ranging from a montage of flashing bright lights as werewolf Jacob runs through the woods, to flashbacks of previous films that don’t really add anything to the story. Then there’s a conversation between the pack of werewolves, which although much more visually improved, is just awkward and cringy – their mouths don’t move and their voices very suddenly become coarse and angry. It doesn’t fit with how we’ve seen them previously and interrupts the flow (if it can even be called that) of the film.

Breaking Dawn does get a bit more exciting towards the end of the film though; Bella goes into labour, the werewolves and vamps prepare for a fight and just as it reaches this point, the film stops, making way for the next instalment. Typical of a franchise, especially a teen franchise, but then this is how they’re going to cash in massively. Breaking Dawn raked up an estimated $138 million around the globe on its opening night alone, so there is no doubt that even if the film is crap (which it kinda is), those dedicated Twi-hards – including me – will always be there to watch it.

Star rating: 4/10

Directed by Bill Condon.

Running time 117 minutes.