Tag Archives: new york

Mary and Max (2009)

“When I was young, I invented an invisible friend called Mr Ravioli. My psychiatrist says I don’t need him anymore, so he just sits in the corner and reads.”

Cast: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana

Mary and Max

Mary Daisy Dinkle is a lonely 8 year old girl living in Australia. She has no friends, comes from a broken home and is often teased at school for a birthmark on her forehead. One day she decides to write to a random person from the phone
directory and by pure chance, chooses Max Jerry Horowitz. Max is a 44 year old obese man who lives in New York. He suffers with severe mental problems that have left him without many close friends of his own.

After the exchange of a few letters an unlikely friendship is struck up between the two, and so the story follows their letters back and forth over a period of 20 years.

Mary and Max, hands down, has to be one of the best claymation films I have ever seen. I also
never really expected a film like this to leave such a lasting impression on me, but it has.

As a dark comedy, Mary and Max is such a step away from these glossy, generic animations pouring out of Hollywood that it makes you sit up and take notice. What we have here isn’t a cliched piece of work, but something that feels original, personal and innovative. Rather than going for the biggest audience possible, the story has stuck to some of its more heavy plot lines and kept true to its roots. Whether than means sacrificing some of its potential audience, never mind, as it secures the film as one above the rest.

The first wonderful feature you will notice about the film is that it is narrated (by Barry Humphries). It gives the film a beautiful ‘storybook’ feel and really suits its nature. It must be noted though, that just because Mary and Max is an animation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s aimed at a young audience. The film surprisingly tackles issues ranging from depression to
alcoholism and in my eyes, could be classed as more of an adult’s film. However, the scenes in which these heavier things happen aren’t too traumatising and with a nice narrater giving us the low down, it distracts from some of the heavier topics.

The film is also wonderfully funny. With Philip Seymour Hoffman as the voice of Max, we get a great delivery of Max’s lines, which are accompanied by a strong New York accent, very suited to his burly figure. This bumbling, naive man is a real treasure and having him struggle throughout life with a mental illness is really heartbreaking. However it does ensure a sense of innocence follows, which is perhaps why he connects with Mary so well.

Bethany Whitmore voices a young Mary and it just fits superbly with the character. Managing to get to the core of Mary, Whitmore really understands the young, troubled girl and gives a wonderful performance. Toni Collette and Eric Bana play smaller roles yet they are as equally as impressive as the bigger ones; this cast has been well thought out and it shows.

Mary and Max is a brilliant adaptation of a true story. Told through claymation, it has to be one of the most endearing stories and is voiced by some great people. I can’t recommend this film enough.

Star rating:  8.5/10

Directed by Adam Elliot.

Running time 92 minutes.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

“All I have are the choices I make, and I choose her, come what may.”

Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Michael Kelly

The Adjustment Bureau

Some say it’s like the lesser version of Inception – I can see where they’re coming from, sort of.

When a rising New York congressman running for State Senate meets an enigmatic and enthralling young lady in a men’s restroom, she inspires him in ways he never thought possible.

Though upon persistence of this relationship he sees one main obstacle standing in his way, a master plan that cannot be messed with, not even by the agents who ensure the world is running the way it’s supposed to.

When David Norris (Matt Damon) unexpectedly walks in on a team of men performing a non-consensual and obviously unheard of mind-altering procedure on his panel of political advisors, he is immediately threatened with having his memory completely wiped if he does not keep what he saw a secret. He comes to learn that the Men in Grey have to make sure people live by ‘The Plan’ and make the right decisions.

This leaves David with his only option being to continue on his path of politics like he was meant to all along. He is also told he mustn’t pursue his relationship with Elise – the girl he met in the men’s room – as it isn’t a part of the plan. However chance sees the two meet on several other occasions, in which these Men in Grey must step in and intervene on a regular basis.

The whole film is a bit unconceivable, though I guess many science fiction films are. First off, The Plan. We are never explained this in the ways in which I hoped. While we are told it is to stop the world having another War, Holocaust or a period like the Dark Ages (which is what happened when the scrapped the plan the last time), I still had no real idea or justification as to why people should have to live by it. It also implies no free will, which I hated. The film suggested that the Men in Grey were like angels, further hinting that it was God who put The Plan together. While this is never directly confirmed, there are always shades of suggestion.

The Men in Grey also have the ability to walk through a door at the top of a skyscraper and end up on a completely different side of New York when they walk out. Funnily enough, it reminded me of Scooby Doo when they’re being chased through the corridors. While some of the tricks and special effects are clever and inspired, the film makes sure to stay true to its character driven storyline.

Matt Damon does a great job as the lead. Possibly the most enthusiastic and passionate role I’ve seen him play opposite a woman – his connection with Elise (Emily Blunt) is completely fathomable, which is just as it needed to be. Blunt also does a great job as the woman with no idea as to what is going on. Simply annoyed by David’s inability to be in a relationship with her, which is through no fault of his own but by the frustrating levels of control that the Men have over their meetings. She’s also a superb dancer which we get to see a bit of.

I did like the whole concept of the ripples. When something in The Plan must be altered, there are ripples affecting everybody else that can be somehow related to the alteration in question. It was a nice touch and something that I wouldn’t have instantly thought of when watching.

The ending of the film felt like a cop out. I hated it. It completely defied the rules that had been stressed upon throughout the film but again, it’s Hollywood’s way of leaving us with that great feeling of success and accomplishment. I suppose in a way it also leaves us with the feeling that we do have free will, but only if we fight for it.

I don’t really like the comparison made with Inception as that was such a stunning film and The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t really compete in my mind. However, there are slight similarities and with Inception being a reference, you might as well give it a watch. It’s a good film, with a good concept and some great lead roles. Give it a go and see if you like it.

Star rating: 7/10

Directed by George Nolfi.

Running time 106 minutes.

Cocktail (1988)

“I don’t care how liberated this world becomes – a man will always be judged by the amount of alcohol he can consume – and a woman will be impressed, whether she likes it or not.”

Cast: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown and Elisabeth Shue

Tom Cruise stars as Brian Flanagan. Fresh out of the army he decides to move to New York where he hopes to “make a million”. After many interviews, he soon learns that big companies don’t want to hire people off the street, so enrols at collage to hopefully get a degree.

Along side this, he gets a job at a local bar where he meets Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), who starts to teach him the tricks of the trade. After Brian discovers he has a talent for flaring the bottles and hypnotising an audience, his dream becomes to one day open his own bar with fellow bartender and best friend, Doug.

From here on out the story is pretty predictable. Cocktail isn’t a film with many depths, but it is enjoyable if you’re looking for a bit of light entertainment. Cruise is funny and charming, making the audience fall in love with a young, cheeky Brian. Elisabeth Shue stars as Jordan Mooney, Brian’s love interest and bringing a bit of sass to the film. Kelly Lynch who plays Kerry Coughlin wears a bikini thong in one scene, so there’s always that to satisfy the male audience who may have been made to watch this by their female companions.

Cocktail is a predictable chick-flick about love and ambition, but don’t hold that against it. It entertains and dazzles along the way, and is a simple feel good movie that you don’t need to pay a massive amount of attention to, but it will still leave you smiling nonetheless.

Star rating: 5/10

Directed by Roger Donaldson.

Running time 104 minutes.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)

“And I always heard people in New York never get to know their neighbours.”

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard and Patricia Neal

Audrey Hepburn gives one of her most iconic performances ever in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Based on the short novel by Truman Capote, he never envisioned Hepburn being cast as Holly Golightly; he was hoping for someone like Marilyn Monroe who could perhaps relate more to the character.

Nevertheless, Breakfast At Tiffany’s was a smash, being dubbed as “one of Hollywood’s most engaging romances of all time.”

50 years after its release, this romantic comedy is as chic as ever. Albeit an ordinary film, the timeless fashions and simple romance between lead characters allow the story to be conveyed over five generations thus far.

As the film opens we are introduced to Holly. She’s a young woman whose obsession with rich men, expensive outfits and determination to climb to the top of the socialite ladder, group her in a very vain and fabricated crowd. After a struggling writer moves into Holly’s apartment block in New York though, we begin to see that she is rather vulnerable, using the façade of fancy clothing and high profile parties to hide behind.

Paul Varjak (George Peppard), and Holly immediately spark up a flirtatious friendship. Even though she is looking for a rich man to marry, she seems weak to his charm and confidence, reminding her somewhat of her brother whom she was very fond of. We soon discover Paul is a kept man, his services to an older, wealthy woman (Patricia Neal), ensures that he is comfortable when it comes to money and materialistic things.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s chronicles the on/off again relationship between Paul and Holly. On one level a relationship between a gigolo and prostitute, and on another, one between soul mates. The characters aren’t complex, and the story isn’t deep and eccentric. It’s the simple formula that the film adopts that has gathered it such a huge fan base.

Sometimes it would seem that the film is more about Holly as a character though. Paul acts our eyes as we continue to become intrigued by Holly’s personality. She befriends ex-mobsters, cares for a nameless cat, has no issue with causing chaos in her tiny apartment by throwing oversized parties, and won’t settle in a relationship – yet is convinced she’s going to marry a very rich man in South America. She copes by chasing away her worries, eating her breakfast outside a Tiffany’s store every morning, staring at all the wonderful jewellery and presumably dreaming of a different life.

The film only dragged a few times in its storyline, mainly the scenes with Mickey Rooney who played Mr Yunioshi. His failure to deliver a true comedic performance made each scene with him hard to watch. It’s also a rather racist and stereotypical view of Japanese-American’s, even though they were the views in 1960s America. It’s an unfortunate depiction, but at least it shows how times have changed for the better over the past 50 years.

When asked, a lot of people would only recognise the song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, rather than the film, or even the novel. Although the song is indeed about two people that share a common liking for the film, it seems that people aren’t aware of how much of a classic it is.

Whether you’re interested in Audrey Hepburn, one of Hollywood’s most treasured romances, or even wanting to watch an old classic, I can’t recommend this film enough.

Star Rating:   7.5/10

Directed by Blake Edwards.

Running time 115 minutes.